Thursday, January 16, 2014

Diamonds are Daisies

I am still finchless. That will be resolved within a few days but it has been surprisingly difficult to find them. I was just at the point of breaking down and getting parakeets - my private student had cancelled for the evening and I knew I would have time then or a short window on Friday to go to the store. I had just made up my mind that the parakeets would have to do and was getting ready to leave when the doorbell rang. It was a man I know who randomly drops by every few months to give me whatever training equipment he has come across in his travels so I invited him in. He saw the empty flight cage and immediately told me of the only place to go in the area to get finches and it just happens to be about a mile away.

I lit a candle before Kwan Yin after he left and said, "You know so much more than me."

this is not a finch
One of the conversations I am having with a sutra student is about the nature of jewels. Big jewels, rare jewels, shining bright and risk your life to wear them down the street jewels. It came up, as we meander through the sutras and exchange our letters and poems, that I wondered if they had ever wondered why - if Buddhism is so about not becoming attached to things etc, that jewels feature so prominently in the descriptions of the Pure Land.
Not just prominently but they drip from the trees, form the cobble stones on the streets, fill the treasure houses and one Buddha, Maitreya, is attended by a finance minister that whenever he gives advice it has no words because he opens his mouth and floods of jewels fall out. The curious thing that is mentioned in several of the sutras but only in passing, is that when people come to visit the pure land - people like you and me who are lifetimes away from being present in one all the time - people like you and me fall to our knees at the sight of these store houses and weep with grief.
I asked my student why they thought this was, and why jewels were such an important metaphor and symbol in the sutras. They are still working on the possible reasons, so I won't make this post a spoiler, but I will share how far they have come.
The first few rounds were all about how the jewels represent the perfection of the dhamma, of self, of purity, of enlightenment and the answer was - simpler. Find the simpler answer. Jewels may be a metaphor for all those things but that is what is piled on later because they are already present in the story for a reason.
Then they got closer and said, "because they represent value because they are so rare."
And they got this question in response, "Are they really that rare?"
"No, its more how we set up and control their value. But some of them are limited in how many there are so that makes them rare."
"Really? Why are there so few?"
"Because the natural process that makes them takes so long."
"By whose calender are you measuring time?"
"Oh.......oh wow."

This is also not a finch

Fortunately, in my online browsing for finch info I have found videos of them that let me hear how they sound and see how they move. It is really interesting how different types of finches are of no interest to me and some very much are. I love to watch Zebra finches, but hearing a European Society Finch moves me. I loved the look of the Owl Finch but fortunately, the Mad Kitten was in my lap when I played a video of them and heard their song. She was immediately up and running around in a tizzy. Their song would have driven us both crazies.

Owl finches mew like kittens.

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