The hen that went south

1001 Tales told by the Master

Osho speaks on dropping the intellect, using an apt parable about a hen’s excursion. From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.

A beautiful parable:

All along the farmyard gables the swallows sat a-row, twittering uneasily to one another, telling of many things. but thinking only of summer and the south, for autumn was afoot and the north wind waiting.

Birds on a rope

And suddenly, one day they were all quite gone. And everyone spoke of the swallows and the south.

“I think I shall go south myself next year,” said a hen.

And the year wore on and the swallows came; the year wore on and they sat again on the gables, and all the poultry discussed the departure of the hen.

And very early one morning, the wind being from the north, the swallows all soared suddenly and felt the wind in their wings; and a strength came upon them, and a strange old knowledge and a more than human faith; and flying high, they left the smoke of our cities.

“I think the wind is about right,” said the hen, and she spread her wings and ran out of the poultry yard. And she ran fluttering out onto the road and some way down it, until she came to a garden.


At evening she came back panting. And in the poultry yard she told the poultry how she had gone south as far as the highroad, and had seen the great world’s traffic going by. And she had come to lands where the potato grew and had seen the stubble upon which men live. And at the end of the road she had found a garden, and there were roses in it, beautiful roses, and the gardener himself was there.

“How extremely interesting,” the poultry said – “and what a really beautiful description!”

And the winter wore away, and the bitter months went by, and the spring of the year appeared, and the swallows came again.

But the poultry would not agree that there was a sea in the south, “You should hear our hen!” they said.

Now the hen has become the knower. She knows what is in the south, and she has not even gone outside the town – just down the road a little bit.

Intellect is a hen…. It cannot go very far. But once the hen knows something, it prevents; it becomes an obstacle.

Quote by Osho from Tao: The Pathless Path – Talks on extracts from ‘The Book of Lieh Tzu’, Vol 1, Ch 1

ShantiShanti is a regular contributor
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales
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