Book Christianity

[book] The Song of the Bird

Rating : ★★★★★
Category : Health, Mind, Body
Author : Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J.

The Song of Bird

The Song of Bird

The Song of the Bird is one of my personal favourite. Written by Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J. (1931—1987), a Jesuit and well known spiritual director and retreat director. Father de Mello was born in Santa Cruz, a suburb of Mumbai in India. He used many stories, fables and proverbs, collected from different religious traditions to teach spiritual truths.

Here are two stories from The Song of the Bird

The Song of the Bird
“Why does the bird sing?” said the Master.
A bird does not sing because he has a statement. He sings because he has a song.

The words of the scholar are to be understood. The words of the master are not to be understood.
They are to be listened to as one listens to the wind in the trees and the sound of the river and the song of the bird.
They will awaken something within the heart that is beyond knowledge.

I Chop Wood!
When the Zen master attained enlightenment he wrote the following lines to celebrate it:
“Oh wondrous marvel: I chop wood! I draw water from the well!”

After enlightenment nothing really changes. The tree is still a tree; people are just what they were before and so are you.
You may continue to be as moody or even-tempered, as wise or foolish.
The one difference is that you see things with a different eye.
You are more detached from it all now.
And your heart is full of wonder.

That is the essence of contemplationt: the sense of wonder.
Contemplation is different from ecstasy in that ecstasy leads to withdrawal. The enlightened contemplative continues to chop wood and draw water from the well. Contemplation is different from the perception of beauty in that the perception of beauty (a painting or a sunset) pruduces aesthetic delight, whereas contemplation produces wonder – no matter what it observes, a sunset or a stone.

This is the prerogative of children. They are so often in a state of wonder. So they easily slip into the Kingdom.


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