Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Bird Brain Teachings 2011

Many of us are experiencing a very cold winter, with freezing conditions, ice and snow beginning early in November 2010 - and that is difficult for the birds. So, I began feeding the birds early in November - just putting seeds out on the windowsill, to feed our bird brain cousins.

Now, I personally think that humans are closer to birds and dinosaurs than monkeys. We don't like to spend most of our lives jumping around trees, we love to fly. Humans don't have wings; but they want to fly. Is it possible we can build flying objects and know how to navigate them because we have a bird brain more suitable to flying?

My theory is that Quetzalcoatl - the winged serpent - also had a bird brain.

When you feed the birds, is it all food-for-free and they have nothing to teach you? In Japan, the Zen Masters valued teachings of nature above all material wealth. In Zen, the teachings are the wealth.

Stupid me .. when I put seeds out for the small birds - I thought I was doing just that: Putting out seeds for our feathered friends. It's simple? Right? Nothing in nature is that simple!

Bird Brain Teachings 2011
Teachings you gather for yourself have more nutritional value than anything I write...

For the first three cold weeks only the small European blackbirds, blue tits and other little tiny birds were eating the seeds on the windowsill. They taught me to put out seeds at night before I sleep, because they start searching for food long before sunrise.

I found out that the small birds and the blackbirds have a way of telling each other what they find and they have a different pitch to tell me there are no more seeds on the windowsill. My bird brain could understand the difference. I knew when they were talking to each other and when they were telling me all the seeds were gone.

Then came the pigeons (only three pigeons), who would clear up everything in one go. That bothered me - cos the little birds did not have a chance. The pigeons obviously saw the little birds coming to pick up seeds, where they could just about land on the ledge and ate everything as if there was no tomorrow.

I wanted to chase the pigeons away; but something said to me:
"Just wait! Don't interfere!"

That was when the bird brain teachings really began to show me about myself and about the world around me...

The blackbirds got really upset about the pigeon raids and they complained in their high pitched pulse language each time the pigeons descended to eat everything. I found it very hard not to interfere - but that is what Zen is all about... observing 'what is'.

When we interfere in certain situations, we impose our authority on the world. I discovered the difference between 'direct action' (that comes from the heart where you know you have to help), and interference. This is subtle; but there is a big difference between the two.

I stepped back from the window and observed 'what is' - between the pigeons, the seeds and the little birds. The pigeons reacted (at first) like there was not going to be any other food - they ate everything, just like humans. When they realised food was there for all the birds each day their behaviour changed and they began to step back and share.

During the first three weeks all the little birds shared and took what they needed over longer periods of time. The pigeons took everything in one sitting. It was the smaller birds who taught the pigeons to share and not be so greedy.

The smaller birds had a pitch and tone language for the pigeons when they were eating all the seeds, and the pigeons listened and began to share. I watched the pigeons take on the same rhythm as the smaller birds. They would come and take a little amount of seeds on many short span visits throughout the day. Once the pigeons agreed to sharing the high pitched complaining of the smaller birds stopped.

On its own, nature regulated the sharing. The only creature living outside of that natural regulation is the human species. We don't play by the rules - we are not listening to the warning complaints of our plant and animal brothers and sisters. Everything listens to everything else, but we humans are not listening to anything but our own wants and desires.

I think the Bird Brain Teachings for 2011 are telling us that we have to start listening and we have to start sharing in a balanced way...