Have you considered that when a tree grows it starts from a seed, sprouts, becomes a sapling, then a tree and eventually it may break in a storm and it’s trunk then lies in the forest and decomposes back into earth... The tree from a small seed becomes a large organism capable of sustaining itself, until it dies and is recycled. All the things that tree learned to do from it’s environment, the ways in which it extracted nutrients and water from the soil and drew them up to its leaves to photosynthesise into starch, all of that vanishes again.
It makes me wonder about what part of our consciousness would survive the death of the body. Like the tree, our bodies get craggy and old, and at a certain moment fail and die and return to the soil. Like the tree, the things that we’ve learnt about our world likely will vanish as well. Our memories and patterns of behaviour probably will not survive... stories of how brain damage influences memory make that seem likely.
So what would survive? If the Tibetans are to be believed and after death we wander through the Bardo, what is it that wanders and perceives? Our consciousness and mind evolves along with our bodies as we live, and deteriorates as we get old. We don’t naturally remember our time in the womb, or as very young children. So that shows that many of the functions of the mind grow as we get older.
It’s curious that even for a tree there is dukkha... when a tree breaks in the storm and it’s trunk crashes down onto the forest floor, it’s functioning is disrupted, the pathways which carry juices from the ground up to its leaves are broken, it’s bark is torn, and the dysfunctional wreckage is left on the ground. For a while, as life fades, there is the tree-equivalent of pain and stress.
I find it interesting, looking at what nature can tell us.