Friday, November 21, 2014

A bird in the hand - a parable for our times

I heard a story at a school assembly many years ago.

A sly young man approached an elder and said, "I know you have wisdom and know all things. I hold in my hands, behind my back, a small bird. Tell me, wise one, is the bird alive or dead?"

The wise master knew that he was being set up and so he thought very deeply for some time.

He knew if he said dead, the young man would bring his cupped hands forward and release the bird alive.

If he said the bird was alive, the young man, with his hands hidden behind his back, could quickly crush the bird and produce it dead.

The elder finally responded, "The bird is as you will it. It is either alive or dead. In your hands you hold its fate."

This story was told to a group of students entering high school. The parable being, high school will be what you make it.

To me, it has become more.

There are those who will want to win at all costs. If you succeed they will credit themselves. If you fail they will lay the blame squarely on your shoulders.

As the saying goes if you think you can do something, or think you can not do something, you will be right.

Thoughts are powerful things. Thoughts create reality. Every time we think poorly of someone we are attaching negative energy to them. If enough bad energy comes our way it can make us sick. I know. This happened to me many years ago and a wise friend told me I needed to take up a spiritual or meditative practice to protect myself, to shield myself, to heal myself. I went back to church. It helped.

The Dalai Lama has made two statements that I often reflect on:

1) What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other.

2) Without the human community, one single human being cannot survive.

Each one of us can make a difference in the lives of others. We can think positively about them and support them in their journey. We can make their life less difficult. We can.

We can begin with our thoughts.

I am reminded of a story about a school teacher who came to teach the gifted class. As expected her students performed very well on the end of year testing.

Only one problem.

The student records had been incorrectly filed and she had actually been given the class that was considered unteachable.

She had no doubts they would succeed. And they did.

Thoughts made manifest.

The fate of that bird is in your hand. What you believe will come to pass. And often, when something good, or bad, happens to an individual it is because another individual has influenced the outcome.

So the Dalai Lama is right. Our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others.

We can strive to be clever, like the young man in the story above, but we could also strive to be kind.

I remember teaching a lesson about the hebrew peoples to a grade three class many years ago. In the lesson I brought the idea that there are four kinds of people in the world.

Those who are clever, and unkind.
Those who are ignorant, and unkind.
Those who are clever, and kind.
Those who are ignorant, and kind.

Something to think about.

What if we all were just kinder to one another.

To ourselves.

What if?


  1. If only... Ironically, I'm writing a post about birds again today - nothing like yours though. Just before Mr 16 began his exams this year ( coz our school year finishes in about a week for the summer holidays) I reminded him of a saying attributed to Einstein. I had it above my desk when I was a classroom teacher. 'Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.'

    1. great quote....I shared it with a teacher friend today! thanks.

  2. Very thought-provoking, and so true. Maybe if we can start being kinder to ourselves, then being kind to others will become easier.


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