Why is it that when buddha was meditating under a tree, all the other trees' shadows lengthened?
I'm doing a project on Buddhism and I came upon this story about Buddha's first meditation. There was this one profound moment where Buddha was sitting under a tree; the shadow of the tree did not move...but the shadows of all the other trees around him did move. What is so "great" about this and what could it mean/symbolize?
I see this story in reference, as you say, to the first time Prince Siddhartha did meditation as part of a legendary account of his youth and spiritual education.
I notice that in the source I see ("The Life of the Buddha," by Andre Herold, 1922) it mentions the tree's shadow "sheltered" Siddhartha during his meditation. So my sense of it is this:
He remained in meditation a fairly long time, long enough for the shadows of the trees to lengthen and move. Maybe, had his tree's shadow not remained still, he'd have been exposed to the scorching sun.
Also, there may be a sense of "timelessness" connoted by that image. In meditation, things get quiet and clear and undisturbed.
Finally, that portion of the account of Buddha's young life is concerned to convey the idea that there were signs all along -- despite what his military/ ruler father wanted him to be -- that the Buddha was destined to be a great World Teacher. So, along with a miraculous birth and recognition by Wise and Holy Men, this is another sign of his worth and impress on our world.
Meditation in it's peak point connects you to timeless 'self'
When Buddha got enlightenment he was connected to ageless and timeless self, then everything around him stopped in time, even the shadow of the tree!!
There is certainly an element of symbolism. The communication through symbols, stories have been a tradition in Indian subcontinent. This is a different way of communicating deep thoughts and subtle message that stick to subconscious mind.
You must experience the meditation yourself, the simplest ones are the guided meditation which are available for free at
Try them and have a subtle feel of the meditative state.
The same reason that when Jesus died, the sky went black.
The same reason that Joseph Smith felt a burning in his bosom...
The same reason Mohammad saw a light that was an angel...
The same reason KALI's eyes glow in the dark.