Story of a Little Bird in Pursuit of Knowledge

Updated: Aug 30, 2020

How to check if we are improving in meditation and going in the right direction for attaining Gyana Yogyata?


Thanks Avinash. I had a similar question. My Guru once told me a story as a wonderful thought experiment. Learning its relevance over time-


Imagine yourself in a bird world. You are a little bird yet to make your first flight. Your elder brother just returned from his first flight and spoke to you at length on how great he felt. Even though he tried to express using all the vocabulary in bird world, one thing was certain. His experience could not be put in words. He just summed it up before he flew off again- ‘I am now convinced that birds are meant to fly’.

You had always thought so! There must be some reason why you have those extra feathery accessories hanging on your sides!

Your interaction with some new friends revolved around two things-

1. How difficult and incomplete is the bird world walking few steps on two tiny legs.

2. How marvellous feeling would it be to fly

Over time, you are convinced that your goal in life is to fly. But are you eligible and ready for it now? How to assess your preparedness to fly? Your parents and friends would suggest you eat well, sleep well, do exercises, be good to others so that you can concentrate on the goal of flying. You ask elder birds who have experienced how it feels to fly. They advise you to study original bird manuals on flying. You follow their advice with reverence and get awed by how every manual describes flying as the ultimate realisation in life and how magical it is to see the tiny insignificant world below when you observe from the sky.

You learn from books that three points are particularly important in your pursuit now-

1. Do what is expected out of you as any good little birdie should behave.

Keep yourself tidy and healthy. Express your gratitude to your parents, ancestors, and weather for what you already possess- your body, mind, and a healthy nourishing environment. Request their help and blessings for achieving your goal. Care for your surroundings and fellow beings. Contemplate on the thought of flying someday, every-day.

Why to do these? Once you are ‘done with’ all the relationships you have with this tree world, the clutter in your mind gets cleared. No more interruptions to your efforts to fly.

2. Glorify flying in your mind. That has become your only goal in life. Imagine how it feels like when you are flying. In your nest, put up a poster of your favorite super bird flying in the blue sky and, if you wish, sit for hours staring at it.

Be in a group of bird friends who are ruthless about their single pointed effort to take off their first flight. Avoid those whose only aim is to take a selfie at the cliff, posing with their feathers open.

3. Reach out for a master who would help in learning to fly. It appears there are so few of them!

The bird world now appears to be full of three categories-

1. Those who never felt a need to fly. These form the majority in our new age bird world, where every need gets delivered to your nest!

2. Those who fly with ease at their will but are incapable of tutoring you.

3. Those few masters who can glide through the skies and can also explain you the nuances of flying.

You hop around looking for your spiritual flying master and finally, find one. Exhausted, you surrender at his feet. Master bird sees the seeker in you and admits you as his student. Congratulations!

Master, how do I know if I am ready to fly?

You will know that only when you fly for the first time. Proof of the pudding is in the eating.

In your opinion, at what stage is my preparation?

You are far away if you still worry about preparation. I would appreciate if your only concern is flying.

This gets interesting and you are all ears and feathers. The guru is teaching you the secret! You intently listen as he continues to give you the bird mantra-

Think of the act of lighting a lamp. Three things are required.

Oil, Wick and Light source. OWL.

The most important is fire- another lamp or source of fire.

The oil- fuel to maintain light, at least for a while.

Wick. Sharpened wick. Single pointed wick. ‘Remember, any wick dripping with oil can’t accept a fire easily’ he cautions.

Spark of knowledge!

Sermon over. You walk out of his nest, touching his feet again.

Yes, the proof of his prodding is in the flying.

Cold breeze of chilly night shears into your unkempt feathers. Pondering on all the new learning, you drag yourself to the cliff and jump over. Lo and behold, the feathers open as if by magic. You feel the warm air hitting under surface of your feathers for the first time. You are flying!

All I had heard about it was true. This is the truth! You flap your wings. Higher and higher. The nest, the tree, the lake, and the forest appear so tiny and unreal.

This is the reality!

Om Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

Inserted correlating technical vedantic terms in the story reproduced below. These are only for analogy and further exploration by seekers.


Imagine yourself in a bird world (Jagat). You are a little bird (Jeeva) yet to make your first flight. Your elder brother just returned from his first flight and spoke to you at length on how great he felt. Even though he tried to express using all the vocabulary in bird world, one thing was certain. His experience could not be put in words (Anirvachaniya). He just summed it up before he flew off again- ‘I am now convinced that birds are meant to fly’.

You had always thought so! There must be some reason why you have those extra feathery accessories hanging on your sides!

Your interaction with some new friends revolved around two things-

1. How difficult and incomplete is the bird world walking few steps on two tiny legs. (Preyas)

2. How marvellous and liberating feeling would it be to fly (Shreyas)

Over time, you are convinced that your goal in life is to fly (Moksha). But are you eligible (Adhikari) and ready for it now? How to assess your preparedness to fly? Your parents and friends would suggest you eat well, sleep well, do exercises, be good to others so that you can concentrate on the goal of flying. You ask elder birds who have experienced how it feels to fly. They advise you to study original bird manuals (Shruti) on flying. You follow their advice with reverence (Shraddha) and get awed by how every manual describes flying as the ultimate realisation in life (Moksha) and how magical it is to see the tiny insignificant world below (Maya) when you observe from the sky.

You learn from books that three points are particularly important in your pursuit now-

1. Do what is expected out of you as any good little birdie should behave. (Karma Yoga)

Keep yourself tidy and healthy. Express your gratitude to your parents, ancestors, (Pitru Yagna) and weather (Deva Yagna) for what you already possess- your body, mind, and a healthy nourishing environment. Request their help and blessings for achieving your goal. Care for your surroundings (Bhuta Yagna) and fellow beings (Manusya Yagna). Contemplate on the thought of flying someday, every-day (Brahma Yagna). (Pancha Maha Yagnya)

Why to do these? Once you are ‘done with’ all the relationships you have with this tree world, the clutter in your mind gets cleared. No more interruptions to your efforts to fly.

2. Glorify flying in your mind. That has become your only goal in life. Imagine how it feels like when you are flying. In your nest, put up a poster of your favorite super bird flying in the blue sky and, if you wish, sit for hours staring at it. (Upasana Yoga)

Be in a group of bird friends who are ruthless about their single pointed effort to take off their first flight. (Satsanga) Avoid those whose only aim is to take a selfie at the cliff, posing with their feathers open.

3. Reach out for a master (Guru) who would help in learning to fly (Jnana Yoga). It appears there are so few of them!

The bird world now appears to be full of three categories-

1. Those who never felt a need to fly. These form the majority in our new age bird world, where every need gets delivered to your nest!

2. Those who fly with ease at their will but are incapable of tutoring you.

3. Those few masters who can glide through the skies and can also explain you the nuances of flying. (Shrotriya Brahmanishta)

You hop around looking for your spiritual flying master and finally, find one. Exhausted, you surrender at his feet. (Sharanagati) Master bird sees the seeker in you and admits you as his student. Congratulations!

Master, how do I know if I am ready to fly?

You will know that only when you fly for the first time. Proof of the pudding is in the eating.

In your opinion, at what stage is my preparation?

You are far away if you still worry about preparation. I would appreciate if your only concern is flying.

This gets interesting and you are all ears and feathers. The guru is teaching you the secret! You intently listen as he continues to give you the bird mantra-

‘Think of the act of lighting a lamp. Three things are required-

Oil, Wick and Light source. OWL.

The most important is fire- another lamp or source of fire. (Guru)

The oil- fuel to maintain light, at least for a while. (Karma, Prarabda)

Wick. Sharpened (Mumukshu) wick. Single pointed wick. ‘Remember, any wick dripping with oil can’t accept a fire easily’ he cautions.

Spark of knowledge!

Sermon over. You walk out of his nest, touching his feet again.

Yes, the proof of his prodding is in the flying.

Cold breeze of chilly night shears into your unkempt feathers. Pondering on all the new learning, you drag yourself to the cliff and jump over. Lo and behold, the feathers open as if by magic. You feel the warm air hitting under surface of your feathers for the first time. You are flying!

All I had heard about it was true. This is the truth! You flap your wings. Higher and higher. The nest, the tree, the lake, and the forest appear so tiny and unreal. (Mithya)

This is the reality! (Sathya)

Om Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

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