Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Little Bird and the God

Once upon a time, there were a group of birds living in an old, shattered building. They did not know how to live freely and fly in the open skies.

One of those birds, a little bird to be sure, wanted to fly in the open skies. But the group of birds forbade it, citing that it was not allowed and that it would hurt their feelings immensely if they saw one of them flying in the open sky.

The little bird tried to reconcile itself to the restricted life, but it could not extinguish its pursuit of the open sky and went out, flew a little, and seeing a tree for the first time, ate some green leaves of that tree.

One of the birds suspected, by smelling the breath of the little bird, that something must have happened. Immediately the suspicious bird called a meeting of all the group members excluding the little bird, in which the punishment of death was decided for the little bird if it admitted to the lapse. The little bird however did not know of this and was sound asleep.

It was approached in the morning by its tiny son, who was in cahoots with the whole group, and who asked the little bird to tell the truth as to whether it had gone outside the building or not. The son told the little bird that by telling the truth it would win the hearts of the whole group and everybody would be happy.

The little bird was called to the meeting. Knowing the nature of the group, it was in two minds about telling the truth. On the one hand it held freedom and truth to be the highest values in its life, on the other hand it was sure it would be killed if he admitted to the excursion.

It went ahead and bravely admitted that it had gone out of the building the previous day.

Immediately the whole group pounced on it and tore every last feather from its body, and while the little bird was trembling, face to face with certain death, it was asked one more question in a stern voice: did it try to fly when it went outside the building?

The little bird looked at its tiny son with its only remaining eye, the other one hanging out of its socket and out of which blood was slowly seeping out. The son averted its gaze and looked instead proudly at the chief of the group, who had promised the tiny son the choicest morsels of food that day.

However, one of the other birds, knowing the nature of the little bird, asked the little bird to still speak the truth, saying that that was the only way it would be allowed to stay alive. The little bird, with whatever faint life that it had left, tried to open its lips to say that it had indeed flown. But in that instance, just as it was going to speak the truth, it, and only it, was stuck with a curse by the God of Truth and Freedom and was killed.

When the little bird went to the other world and asked the God why it had been cursed when it was so devoted to truth and freedom, the God of Truth indulgently smiled at the little bird, but with a little sternness, said, "I curse those who offer my most cherished devotee to be butchered."

15 comments:

Change said...

Truth can not be revealed by others, one has to find it for him/herself. Is it the implied meaning of this story?

http://change-within.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Dear author, There appears to be an urge to break away from restrictions of social group. Fine, but can it mean that the group have no freedom to enforce its will. As far as eating leaves from proscribed area is concerned, it is metaphorical. All groups engage into prescriptive/proscriptive conduct. Without it there cannot be stable groupings. Our society to reach levels of economic surplus and thus to have such free thoughts also requires sustenance of the group. Take the example of nation states. No nation state will permit antinational activity. What constitutes such activity depends on the nature of nation state. During war time contact with enemy state national itself is treason and most nations prescribe death penalty. In earlier times marriage outside religious denomination was also met with similar penalties. So to vulgarize conduct by metaphor is rather partisan approach.
Incidentally author has even tied GOD on the side of little bird and cursed others. Perhaps GOD does belong to truthful but for God to say "I curse those who offer my most cherished devotee to be butchered." leaves a bad taste and rather reflects poorly on GOD. Is GOD so helpless that it cannot protect its most cherished devotee? How does author come to conclusion that the little bird was the most cherished devotee requires some elaboration if not justification. How the conduct of rest of the group was not GOD’S will and conduct of deviant led GOD to most cherish the little bird does injustice to majority which also requires more clarity. Is the article justification of deviant behavior? If it be so, then all criminals will also stand justified as crime is nothing but proscribed behavior which has predetermined and articulated penalties.

Harmanjit Singh said...

The parable is about dedication to truth, and why that was cursed by the God of Truth himself.

What the parable tries to show is that a dedication to a principle in all circumstances can be a disrespect to that principle.

It is not an easy parable to comprehend at first go.

onlyne said...

Is anything absolute?

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi onlyne,

The existence of the universe is absolute.

onlyne said...

Universe: matter or mind ?

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi onlyne,

The universe is matter and energy in myriad forms. The mind (as in abstract thoughts etc.) is dependent upon the existence of the material brain in an alive material body.

onlyne said...

When body dies what happens to mind?

srid said...

onlyne,

What is your agenda in asking this?

Is it not clear to you that from "The mind (as in abstract thoughts etc.) is dependent upon the existence of the material brain in an alive material body." it goes without saying that without an alive material body (or, a dead body) there is no mind/conscious-activity?

What is your agenda, again?

onlyne said...

Srid:
In what sense do you use the word agenda?
What seems "to go without saying" according to you is neither provable nor unprovable--in other words, a belief, to which ofcourse you are entitled.
As for me, one wonders.

srid said...

[srid] What is your agenda in asking this?
[onlyne] In what sense do you use the word agenda?

'A campaign, programme, or plan of action arising from underlying principles, motivations, etc. Hence: the set of underlying motives or ideals of a particular individual or group'

The 'action arisen' being your asking "When body dies what happens to mind?".

[onlyne] What seems "to go without saying" according to you is neither provable nor unprovable (...)

It does not follow from saying,

"from X it goes without saying Y"
or, more formally,
"X implies Y"

that Y is true. That is, Y is true *if* X is true.

In my response above, you ignored X .. and focused exclusively on Y.

[onlyne] (...) --in other words, a belief, to which ofcourse you are entitled.
As for me, one wonders.

I'm /not/ arguing for or against your subject of the questions (whether mind survives after death of physical body or not). It is in fact none of my business .. as in I care less for soul/psyche surviving death much like I care less for the existence of a God. (rather I care more about the felicity of this moment)

It is simple: Harman stated X. You simply re-framed the question that would obviously give you an answer that is effectively Y (from Harman). You know that X implies Y. Then why re-frame at all? What is the underlying principles, motivations in re-framing the question?

onlyne said...

Srid:
Thank you for the analysis.

In your first comment the X which you are referring is: "The mind (as in abstract thoughts etc.) is dependent upon the existence of the material brain in an alive material body." This seems to be a conclusion without justification, not at all self evident, against which one could argue endlessly(one could quote the researches of Elizabeth Kuebler Ross). However, in a strictly scientific sense ,the statement X is neither provable nor unprovable, as many things are even in pure mathematics( Kurt Godel's work is well known). "Mind is not just abstract thought but consciousness, as you yourself subsequently note.

"....as in I care less for soul/psyche surviving death..." While I too care for the moment , felicity, as you call it, unless you mean hedonism, depends on the kind of world-view one entertains, not arbitrary views or " I don't care". The question of death is the question of life, since it's a part of life.

Pascal was dismayed by people's lack of concern on this issue.To quote "This negligence in a matter where they themselves, their eternity, their all are at stake, fills me more with irritation than pity; it astounds and appalls me."

To quote Toynbee:" conclude that the phenomenon of death, followed by the disorganization of the physical aspect of a personality that we encounter as a psychosomatic unity, is, in terms of reality-in-itself, an illusion arising from the limitations of the human mind's conceptual capacity.... I believe that reality itself is timeless and spaceless but that it does not exist in isolation from our time-and-space-bound world...."

My agenda( an unpleasant word, if you don't mind my saying so, since it makes us sound like we are out to sell and not to enquire) is to question X, which is a bland conclusion, and to make you care about the question(rather than to impose a conclusion).

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi srid, onlyne:

Since the discussion is peripheral to this particular blog post, may I suggest that this debate about life, death and consciousness be carried over to the forum:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/actualfreedom

That way other people can participate as well.

Anonymous said...

my interpretation of the current post is that it upholds pragmatic morality - morality is all good, but saving your skin is more important.

while this is what almost all of us behave in practice, this view absolves us of almost all responsibility as regards moral behavior. if a particular situation demands us to act in a certain way, for advantage in that situation, we should, even if it conflicts with our core principles.

this brings crumbling down the entire edifice of morality, which has an element of the irrational, and often flies in the face of self interest.

Harmanjit Singh said...

"my interpretation of the current post is that it upholds pragmatic morality - morality is all good, but saving your skin is more important."

# Martyring oneself in the name of a sensible principle is fine if the martyrdom promotes the principle. In this case, what was the little bird's (potential) heroic martyrdom going to achieve except its own butchering?

"while this is what almost all of us behave in practice, this view absolves us of almost all responsibility as regards moral behavior."

# I disagree that almost all of us behave in the best possible way in practice. Most of us have so many beliefs and principles which we are loath to give up for a very tangible increment towards the very purpose of holding those beliefs and goals. E.g. religious fanaticism for a single brotherhood of man leads to killing of own's fellows. An attachment to an object of love leads to jealousy, possessiveness and hate. And so on...

"if a particular situation demands us to act in a certain way, for advantage in that situation, we should, even if it conflicts with our core principles."

# And I question if there any "core" principles other than to be without malice and sorrow.

"this brings crumbling down the entire edifice of morality, which has an element of the irrational, and often flies in the face of self interest."

# The entire edifice of morality is nothing but a veneer of a set of rules on our uninhibited core animal passions.

What value is a Truth if it leads to the butchering of the Truthful.

Would you not lie without qualms if asked by a killer madman where was a child whom he was after?

Sensibility is situational, morality is absolutist, and hence silly.