by Rob Kanyo Mican Sensei
We have four little birds in the house. I think I may have mentioned them before; a sun conure (a kind of colorful small parrot), two parakeets, and a cockatiel. The parakeets don’t really seem to pay much attention – or fundamentally care – about what is going on in the house. It’s almost as though they are off in their own little feathered world most of the time. The sun conure is very vocal, but not necessarily verbal. He can say “hello,” “bye-bye” and a few other words, but most of the rest of the time he sounds like he is muttering to himself under his breath, very much like Popeye in the old Max Fleischer cartoons. His occasional screeching tantrums need to be heard to be believed – it’s amazing how something so small and so colorful can create such loud ear-piercing sounds. The cockatiel, however, is extremely social. He’s always interested in what’s happening in the house, he has come up with a way of asking to come out of his house (we don’t like calling it a cage), and overall he has a rather pleasant demeanor. There are exceptions, of course, times when he is upset, scared or tired, but overall he is more pleasant and easygoing than any of the other three. Sachi is his name.
One interesting habit that Sachi has developed is something that he does when someone comes home. He doesn’t do it all of the time, but he does do it more often than not, and the longer people are gone from the house the more likely he is to do it. A few moments after someone has come home, Sachi will climb up onto his perch, turn to face that person, and then lean deeply forward with his wings spread. It almost looks as if he was getting ready to fly, ready to let go of the perch and soar downward, but he never does that. He will pause there for a moment, leaning deeply forward with his wings spread, then he will tuck his wings back in, come back to an upright position, turn around and climb down from that perch.
I’ve wondered for quite some time about what purpose this behavior might serve for him, or what thoughts might be going through his little birdie head as he does this, but it is definitely a form of deliberate behavior. It doesn’t appear to be any kind of instinctive response, like the times when he has panicked in the past at seeing me running a cable along the floor or at seeing a peregrine falcon perched in the yard outside. This appears to be deliberate and intentional.
It finally came to me this week.
He is greeting us as we come in the door. He is thanking us for coming home. He is expressing his gratitude that we are here.
It’s a little birdie gassho.
I’ve been looking for something to help me with my daily gassho practice, a harmony gassho every morning and a gratitude gassho every evening. Now, instead of something, I
have someone to help me. Sachi’s house is in a central room of our house. If I’m going to/from the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom or the bathroom, I pass right by him. I have no choice now but to remember to gassho. Harmony and gratitude. As Christopher-san has said about this symbol of and practice toward oneness, “represent[s] the coming together of object and subject, the transcending of dichotomies.” As CJ-san has said, “the joining together of theory and practice or put another way, acting in accord.”
If my little birdiesattva can do this on a daily basis, so can I.
Rob Kanyo Sensei is part of the Lay Minister program with the Bright Dawn Way of Oneness Sangha. To learn more about Bright Dawn Way of Oneness please visit us here.