During the summer, I sometimes sleep in a bedroom that has a large window overlooking a wooded area. I am often awakened by the sound of a bird, a red cardinal, crashing into the window early in the morning as the sun rises. The bird deliberately flies into the window, hitting its head really hard. The bird then takes a minute sitting on a banister close to the window, apparently to clear its head, and then attacks the window again. It does this several times a day. From my vantage point behind the window, I have observed the same behaviour with several generations of birds over the years. Indeed, about 15 years ago, a predecessor of the same unfortunate bird (also a male red cardinal) crashed into the same window so hard that he was knocked unconscious long enough for me to get my camera and photograph him sitting on my young son's hand. When I first witnessed this strange phenomenon, I concluded that the bird must be crazy. However, my friend, an avid bird-watcher, explained to me that the bird was seeing his own reflection in the window glass and, believing that rival male red cardinal was encroaching upon 'his' territory, he was attacking his own reflection intending to scare the 'other' bird away.
This occurrence made me look inward and taught me something about my own situation: Compared to the bird, I, the quiet, invisible observer behind the window pane, am a being at a high level of enlightenment. I can clearly see and interpret the bird's foolish attempts to defend his imagined territory against an imagined enemy (actually himself). Blinded by the reflection of the woods in the window glass, the bird cannot look beyond the window into my world--to him, the world of the enlightened beings. I know that if the bird only had a better level of understanding and stopped to think and look inward, he would quickly recognise himself in the reflection. If the bird then continued to look inward, he would also realise that his territory doesn't really exist but that it is only an imagined boundary limiting his own existence, created by nothing but his own mind. I can see that the bird is a slave to his instincts. Actually, I feel some level of compassion for the bird. I feel pity that he is hurting and exhausting himself in his daily struggles against himself. Despite my compassion, it doesn't occur to me to intervene. Compared to the bird, I am a higher being, and without question, I know that I cannot and should not help the bird. I cannot reason with him, he wouldn't understand. We are so far apart, he cannot understand my language; in fact, he doesn't even know what 'language' is. All I can do is watch him and leave him to his struggle. He has to find out the truth of his existence for himself, although I do not hold out much hope that he ever will.
Viewed from the standpoint of higher enlightened beings, I, too, am a foolish bird, caught in delusion. Fortunately, we have now reached a special time in history where an immeasurably high being has devised a way of reaching us. He has found a form of 'language' to speak to us and calls it the Fa (the principles taught in Falun Gong). We seem to have great trouble understanding the message, but we are trying. Will we find a way out of delusion or will we continue to bash our heads into the window?
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