LOWER MIND TO HIGHER MIND: What Buzz the Boss-Bird Taught Me – Amanda F. Rooke.

Living in Covid lockdown can become bound up in physical need – warmth, food, household duties, etc… Government mandated lockdowns meant that everyone had to minimize face-to-face contact with others when shopping, walking, even gardening in your own backyard! With all this turmoil going on, my brain felt like it had gone to mush, but then there was my tax to be dealt with! Still, there was always the possibility of contact with other human beings via high-technology (Zoom, Skype, etc..), providing an electronic pathway to bringing out the God within through acts of support and loving-kindness for others similarly suffering.

During this time, Mother Nature took hold of my garden. Her Emissary seemed to me to be an obsessively parental Alpha-Male Butcher-Bird. He would sit on my backyard clothes-line and give voice with a hysterical, yodelling-warbling, using a whole-body expulsion of air through his wide throat and large beak stating his prowess to the whole garden that he was the real BOSS. Being the human “custodian” of the garden, I felt I had to let the bird (I called him ‘Buzz’), use the clothesline for an “aerodrome” for his developing offspring, cheeping and chirping and jumping from a nearby ‘lilly-pilly tree’ near my birdbath onto my clothes-line.

What a quandary! Both ‘Buzz’, the bird, and myself were living in survival-mode. He, because it was in his nature to do so as a member of the animal kingdom. I, because of the Covid pandemic in circumstances new to people born since the 1919 Spanish-Flu epidemic. Being human, I had the advantage of conscious access to my Higher-Mind (Buddhi Manas). But it seemed my Buddhic consciousness was temporarily slumbering!

Meanwhile a family of black ducks announced themselves on my back veranda. I was ironing in the laundry and when I looked around there was the drake, his wife, and five fluffy balls of feathers, their children. They made their way to the birdbath in my backyard, in the process scaring off any other birdlife smaller than themselves, though ducks are gentle, herbivorous creatures. I went to peg out the wet laundry on my clothes-line and wondered what the ducks would make of me in such close proximity. The drake hissed rather gently at me; the chicks hid under their mother’s wings; the mother then brooded them under her body as she had done when they were yet unhatched. The gorgeous little things peeped their heads from amongst her feathers. The mother duck suddenly went very still and held her head to one side. Turning bodily, she assumed the appearance of a tree-stump, her head held out to one side like a branch or root, with her head like the end of this branch. But from this bump on the branch a yellow eye stared back at me and behind the eye, a definite consciousness, an animate being, tentative, brave, “there” and aware. She and her mate clearly demonstrating loving-kindness to their offspring and to each other.

So, in both cases I understood our ‘dharmic responsibility’ (ie life purpose) as human beings and therefore custodians of Nature and the animals who are our Younger Brothers. In my own evolutionary journey over countless lifetimes, I understand that I must have once been an animal and I will become one day more than human if I run the evolutionary race aright! I recalled the quote from the 13th century Persian Sufi mystic poet, Rumi Jalal ad’Din:

“I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was human,
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die human,
To soar with angels blessed above.
And when I sacrifice my angel soul
I shall become what no mind ever conceived.
As a human, I will die once more,
Reborn, I will with the angels soar.
And when I let my angel body go,
I shall be more than mortal mind can know.”

In my duty to the animal kingdom, I could not let Buzz be evermore subject to the law of the jungle – “red in tooth and claw”. I had also to remind myself not to fear Buzz for raining down ‘aerial warfare’ on me! His instinctive concern for his mate and chicks made him an ‘aggressive aerobat extraordinaire’ with the aerodynamics of a jet-fighter able to zoom right across the backyard straight at the clothesline propelled by one initial wingbeat!

Rather, I felt compelled to treat him as an equal in the business of survival. But, for both Buzz and me the survival instinct was mixed with a compassionate respect for life. Thus, I understood him to be a spiritually developing being just like me! Both myself, with the animal part of my human nature, and Buzz, as a current member the animal kingdom, will pass one day through the lower-mind phase into full human-hood and beyond to God consciousness. Both human and animal, having experienced some inkling of loving-kindness towards other sentient beings, equal, lesser, and higher, we are united in following a pathway to a higher consciousness each in our own way. Perhaps we will meet up again in some distant future lifetime, once again acknowledging one another’s “equality”, ever-latent, yet ever-developing.

In order to gain a true understanding of this teaching, study must be supplemented by devoted practice, faith by works. The reading of the words will not avail. There must be a real effort to stand as the Soul, a real ceasing from self-indulgence. With this awakening of the spiritual will, and purification, will come at once the growth of the spiritual man and our awakening consciousness as the spiritual man; and this, attained in even a small degree, will help us notably in our contest. To him that hath, shall be given. – Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Book 1, 16.