Bird Fly Mind

Flying_Seagull_by_ksouthWhen I meditate on my cushion, I can see out my bedroom window. I’m on the 7th floor, which is about the level that birds like to fly. The seagulls fly just above the rooftops. I love it when they fly right past my window. This morning I watched two seagulls chase each other, playing “tag” as they landed on the roof of the Armoury. I watch the seagulls and the terns and the crows fly all over the neighbourhood—when I’m supposed to be meditating. It’s not very disciplined meditation practice, but it’s great entertainment for a half an hour of sitting still, doing nothing, looking out the window.

“When we are far away from any land and we let a land-dwelling bird fly from our ship, the bird does not get very far. Eventually it will always come back to the ship because it is the only place for it to land. In the same way, our thoughts and emotions always try to go somewhere outside of our mind, and eventually they will always try to go somewhere or fly into the sky of exciting things, but they cannot really go anywhere outside of our mind, and eventually they will always settle back into the very mind in which they arose. Therefore, we do not have to nail down our thoughts, it is okay if they move. Even if they move far away, we do not have to worry about them, run after them, or send off a search party. Inevitably, they will always settle into the mind, so we never lose any thoughts. That means we do not have to chase them or bring them back. Fundamentally, we can never get out of our mind, though sometimes we feel that we are out of our mind. But we never step out of our mind and see what the world is like from outside our mind.

The prajnaparamita sutras talk about this fundamental experience of coming back to our mind just as it is, without going anywhere, without doing anything, without manipulating anything, just letting our mind be as it is. We usually do not do that, but instead always try to make our mind do something. Therefore, emptiness is about the nowness of all phenomena being in the present moment without any sense of solid or lasting things, the sheer experience of the mind’s infinite display without any to pinpoint or hold on to.”

—from The Heart Attack Sutra, by Karl Brunnholzl, p. 13.


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