This is probably by far the most interesting theory that I have heard (Yes a theory or you may call it a story. I just don't have a reference to back this up!) about the life of Gautama Buddha.
The "Animisa Locana Pooja" was a act of gratitude. This is what I know and have been taught. Lord Buddha stared (wish I had a better word for this) without blinking at the Bo tree that gave him shelter during his enlightenment. But is it really the reason why he kept looking at this tree? For one whole week? I met this really interesting guy when I went on a pilgrimage that asked me these questions. And all I had to say was "Yeah he was being an example to us all by showing how to show gratitude".
Then the man asked "Son, Buddha is possibly the most perfect being we know, at least from a Buddhist's perspective. Couldn't he have been a better example by showing gratitude to his father perhaps right after enlightenment? Even as normal people whenever we achieve something the first person that we tell to are our parents. If you win the Nobel prize for literature would you rather show gratitude to your parents/teachers or your pen?"
I would be lying if I said I wasn't annoyed at this point. "Do you mean that as an insult?" I asked. He burst into laughter and said "Yes, but not an insult to Buddha but to the person who came up with the gratitude story. Son, he never showed gratitude to the tree. When Buddha attained enlightenment, at first, he felt that he had been liberated from all of the sorrows. But there was still doubt within himself as to whether he was actually a Buddha or just an Arahath. So he sat facing the tree. Using all his past lives experience and knowledge he looked at the tree and imagined that it was another Buddha and started a mental conversation with this imaginary Buddha to convince himself that he himself was a Buddha".
Honestly I was astonished! Was this man lying to me? To be honest I sort of do believe he is correct but I just could not ask him where or how he found this piece of information. What do you think? Is it what it is?