The Bird Killer
*Adapted from a story by Paramahansa Yogananda
The evil hunter eased his way silently through the tall, thick grass that ran the last few yards from the forest down to the pristine little lake. And there, waist deep in the lake he could see the saint. He was covered with birds; on his arms, on his head and shoulders, all around him dozens of contented birds cooed with satisfaction. The hunter began to shake with excitement and the fire of envy. “Oh, if I could only get that close to all those birds I could kill them in great bunches, surely many more birds than I have ever killed before, and what a delight that would be!”
Not feeling confident enough to confront the saint, who obviously had special powers, it took all his will power to turn away and leave all those birds untouched. Heading home he could not get the birds out of his mind. “There must be a to catch them all together. I must figure out a way to do it.”
That night, the burning desire to catch and kill that great bounty of birds kept sleep far away for many hours. But by the next morning he knew exactly what he needed to do! He would trick the birds by pretending to be the saint.
Hiding his gun close by in the grass he waded quietly out into the lake. He stood there for over half an hour and became increasingly irritated that not one single bird had come near. An hour passed and his irritation was turning to anger. He gave himself a little pep talk. “If the saint can do it, then so can I. Besides, I’m going to get a great reward for my patience.”
In the second hour a few birds landed very close by. He was amazed and proud of the self-control he was expressing. This renewed his enthusiasm. So he tried even harder to stand still. As he tried he realized that when he breathed more slowly and relaxed his muscles he felt calmer and in this way it became easier to continue with his vigil. As his calmness deepened he noticed that more and more birds began to come closer.
Then it happened. A beautiful dove-like bird gently settled on his shoulder. A thrill of deepest joy pulsed through his body. It was like nothing he had ever felt before. “Oh I’m doing it! Soon they’ll be all over me!” But as soon as he started to get excited the dove-like bird flew off. “I see,” he thought, “I must remain completely calm if I am to gather all of these birds.”
The day wore on. And as his calmness deepened he found that his joy kept on increasing, too, as more and more birds came near. Now several birds were perched all over the evil hunter. But by late afternoon his mind had calmed so completely that he was no longer even thinking about killing the birds. He had become totally absorbed in enjoying this great love and joy that had begun to wash over and through him.
The sun was now melting into the still little lake. The birds were now, one by one, making their way back to their nests. After the last bird flew off the hunter, too, reluctantly waded out of the lake and made his way back toward his hut in the forest. But he now had his great reward, for he had unexpectedly discovered an inestimable treasure of joy that was beyond his wildest imaginings!
As the years rolled on, the rusty gun, long forgotten in the tall grass, gradually gave all its elements back to the earth. But the people who live near the lake still tell the story about the birds that happily perched for hours on end upon the two saints that quietly stood in the lake.
And so this story, of course, is really about you and me. For though it seems almost too wonderful to believe, there is a blissful, ever-contented saint waiting to be discovered in the calm lake that lies hidden behind the forest of our own restless and deluded minds.
I’m John Johnston. See you next time, here, On the Cosmic Porch!