|Massive Japanese Buddha statue in Bodh Gaya, India (Gallery: thezensite.com)|
|Gandhara Buddha (buddhaskulptur.de)|
They begin by doing parikrama (circumambulation) around the tree as a mark of reverence.
|Idealized image of Siddhartha awakening under a tree|
The love and significance of trees goes much farther than this. In the Buddhist history of previous buddhas, the Buddha lists their names, parents, chief disciples, and the kind of tree they gained bodhi ("enlightenment") under.
It is not limited to Ficus religiosa, the sacred fig, or the Buddha's own Bodhi tree.
Moreover, the Bo tree is not the only tree to have gained prominence by the Buddha's life in ancient India. He gained final nirvana under two Sal trees. And he meditated under a Banyan and other trees before choosing that one tree that, according to legend, had waited more than 30 years for him. It is said that at the birth of the Bodhisatta (in his final life born as Siddhartha), his wife Yasodhara and his tree, the Bo, were also born, such is their significance.
The amazing thing about trees, about biotic life interdependent with materiality on this planet, is that they go way back to the beginning of the current cycle. It is said that the "first trees" were in fact massive mushroom with network roots (mycelium) running into the Earth and connecting them. The forbidden fruit in Judeo-Christian lore also seems to refer to a mushroom rather than a viper's apples.