Ancient Chinese Story – Birdsnest

goodnessA beautiful story that holds some advice from ancient China, attributed to a fictional character named Birdsnest.

Long ago in China, there lived a monk who perched in a certain tree everyday to meditate. No matter if the tree swayed in fierce winds and rain, the monk settled himself comfortably, high up in the branches. Because of this, he was nicknamed “Birdsnest” by the village folk nearby.

Many of these villages passed beneath the monk while hunting or while gathering wood in the forest, and after a time, they grew used to him. Some began to stop and talk of their concerns with Birdsnest. They liked the things he had to say, and soon Birdsnest become known for his kind and thoughtful words.

After some years, the monk’s wise reputation spread throughout the province. Visitors from distant cities hiked to the remote forest for advice. Even the governor of the Provence decided that he too would like to visit Birdsnest to discuss matters of importance. So one spring morning, the governor set off to find him. After travelling for several days, he at last located Birdsnest’s tree in the dense forest. The monk sat calmly, high in the topmost branches, enjoying the warmth and the birdsong of spring.

Looking up, the Governor shouted, “Birdsnest! I am the governor of this Provence, and I have come a great distance to speak with you! I have a most important question!” The governor waited for a reply but heard only the pleasant sounds of leaves stirring in the breeze. The governor continued, “This is my question, tell me, Birdsnest, what is it that all the wise ones have taught? Can you tell me the most important thing the Buddha ever said?” There was a long pause – just the soft rustle of leaves again.

Finally, the monk called down from the tree: “This is your answer, Governor: Don’t do bad things. Always do good things. That’s what the Buddha’s taught.”

But the governor thought this answer far too simple to have walked two days for! Irritated and annoyed, he stammered, “Don’t do bad things; always do good things! I knew that when I was three years old, monk!”

Looking down at the governor, Birdsnest replied with a wry smile, “Yes the 3-year old knows it, but the 8-year old still finds it difficult to do!”

When it feels difficult to do good things, remember to seek the 3-year old within that Birdsnest referred to. Give yourself the gift of hearing thoughts from a time before conditioning was deeply embedded.

Realise the existence of the unknowable and ecstatic aspect of your existence. Know that this Divine element is an intrinsic part of yourself. Begin trusting your underlying nature by becoming conscious.

Why am I telling you that story – one, because I like it. Two, because it is about doing the right thing by yourself and by others, don’t let excuses get in the way.

“Be an inspiration to yourself and
you will be an inspiration to others.”


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