Thursday, March 16, 2006

Another Reading from a Birdsong Sutra

In Zazen this morning I listened to a dunnock singing. From the back, a dunnock looks to me very much like a sparrow. From the front, it is distinguished by features that are even drabber than those of a sparrow -- a grey front and thin beak. It is a shy bird which likes to stay under cover: I have watched a dunnock remain under the roof of the birdtable in our garden for almost an hour. But when a dunnock perches on a branch and sings, it really lifts the spirits. My birdbook describes its voice as a "jingling, staccato warble," but that hardly does it justice.

Bill Oddie (famous British birdwatcher for American readers) went to the same school as I did in Birmingham. Probably he also found watching birds a healthy antidote to the education we received, which was very much focused on how to be great thinkers and doers.


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