Pigeon Teaches Tao

Pigeon seeks warmth

Dear Friend,

Let me recount a story from the 2010 to illustrate to you a lesson that a Taoist can learn from nature.

Flagstaff had been snow bound through most of that December.  I was at my studio taking out about 3 weeks of garbage through the back door.  It was Saturday morning, and like most Saturdays, the complex was abandoned.

The outdoors was cold, but not really uncomfortable.  The snow had stopped a few days ago and was melting off.

When I went outside,  I noticed a pigeon sitting with its body against the window ledge.  It was blue pigeon.  It looked at me.  I said, “Hello,” and it gave me a head bob.  I took the garbage out to the dumpster.

When I returned, it had not moved.  It’s unusual for pigeons to sit on the ledge.  In fact, I hadn’t seen a pigeon on the ledge for the 6 years that I had been there.  They typically roost on the large rafters of the veranda around the building.

I looked deeply into him.  His qi was sluggish.  He did not respond with liveliness.  Other pigeons were out and about and foraging.  He had isolated himself from his pigeon pals.

“Have you come here to die?”  I asked.

It didn’t seem to be the case.

“Are you out of calories?”  That seemed to be the case.  The snows had reduced the amount of foraging that birds could do.  They’ve been living on their fat reserves.  Intellectually, I realized he was also warming himself against the glass.

I got a cookie, with chocolate, broke it up and tossed it down on to the ground by him.  Fat, carbs, and sugar.  He bobbed his head a little at me.

“Good luck,” I said.

I left and returned about an hour later.  He was gone and so were the crumbs.

Was his life assured?

No.  It wasn’t.  He needed to secure himself a calorie source to make it through the next few days.  It was now possible for him to seek other food.

There is a Tao lesson through this bird’s choices.

First, go through the open door.

The cookie was a short term source of food for him, but it was his door away from death and toward more possibility.  He took it.

Was there another door?  I don’t know.

The reality, however, is that there is never a guarantee of there being another door.

In our modern human world, we have developed the thought that there always will be another door.  Much of social mind is built around that thought.  The only thing we can really do is walk through the door that is present and be confident that we will walk through the next door as it is present.

Humans are often sloppy because we have grown use to sitting around waiting for a big door guaranteed to lead instantly to happiness.  Such a thing is rare.  It is the passage through one door that leads to passage through another door, and ultimately perhaps to the door most desired.  We live in the passage.

Often people want Taoism to simply confirm their prejudices and preferences, but it doesn’t do that.  A Taoist must work to develop a direct link with the Tao and then learn directly from it.  The lesson of the open door is taught all through nature, and yet domesticated humans defy it.  By choice.

The defiance is the conscious choice to avoid true spirituality.

Taoist master signature

Keeper of the Gate of Man and Heaven

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