The rabbi and the bird

1001 Tales told by the Master Discourses

“Don’t force rules, just try to understand things. If you force rules upon yourself you will not become enlightened,” states Osho.

TAGS: Shanti, Osho, Rabbi

The story is this.

A so-called wise man, almost a rabbi…

I say almost because although he was a rabbi, to be a real rabbi is difficult. To be a real rabbi means you are enlightened. In fact he was just a priest, he had not known anything. But people knew about him, that he was a wise man

… was coming back from a nearby village to his home.

As he was passing, he saw a man carrying a beautiful bird. He purchased the bird and started thinking to himself: ‘Back home I am going to eat this bird, this bird is beautiful.’

Suddenly the bird said: ‘Don’t think such thoughts!’

The rabbi became scared, he said: ‘What, have I heard you speak?’

The bird said: ‘Yes, and I am no ordinary bird. I am also almost a rabbi in the world of birds. And I can give you three pieces of advice if you promise to release me and make me free.’

The rabbi said to himself: ‘This bird speaks. He must be someone who knows…’

The rabbi said: ‘Okay, you give me three pieces of advice and I will set you free.’

Said the bird: ‘First piece of advice – never believe in any absurdity, whosoever should be saying it. It may be a great man, renowned all over the world, with prestige, power, authority – but if he is saying something absurd, don’t believe it.’

The rabbi said: ‘Right!’

The bird said: ‘This is my second piece of advice – whatsoever you do, never try the impossible, because then you will be a failure. So always know your limit: one who knows his limitations is wise, one who goes beyond his limit becomes a fool.’

The rabbi nodded and said: ‘Right!’

’And,’ said the bird, ’this is my third piece of advice – if you do something good, never repent, only repent that which is bad.’

The advice was wonderful, beautiful, so the bird was set free.

Happy, the rabbi started walking towards his home and he thought in his mind: ‘Good material for a sermon. In the synagogue next week, when I am going to speak, I will give these three pieces of advice. And I am going to write them on the wall of my house and I will write them on my desk, so I can remember them. These three rules can change a man.’

Then, suddenly, he saw the bird sitting on a tree and the bird started laughing so loudly that the rabbi said: ‘What is the matter?’

The bird said: ‘You fool, I have got a very precious diamond in my belly. Had you killed me you would have become the richest man in the world.’

The rabbi repented in his heart: ‘Really, I am foolish. What have I done, I believed this bird.’

He threw down the books that he was carrying and started climbing the tree. He was an old man and he had never climbed a tree in his life. And the higher he climbed, the higher the bird would fly to another branch. Finally the bird reached the very top and the old rabbi also – and then the bird flew away. Just at the moment when he was going to catch the bird, it flew. He missed his step and fell down from the tree; blood began to flow, both legs were fractured, he was almost dead.

The bird came again to a lower branch and said: ‘Now, first you believed me, that a bird can have a precious diamond in his belly. You fool! Have you ever heard such an absurdity! And then you tried the impossible – you have never climbed a tree. And when a bird is free, how can you catch him with bare hands, you fool? And you repented in your heart, feeling that you had done wrong when you had done a good deed, you had made a bird free!

‘Now go home and write your rules and next week go to the synagogue and preach them.’

But this is what all preachers are doing. Understanding is lacking, they only carry rules – rules are dead things. Understanding has no weight, you need not carry it – it carries you, it becomes your wings. It is not a weight at all, you need not even remember it. If you understand a thing you need not remember it, it becomes your blood, your bones, it is you. Whatsoever you do will be done through that understanding; it is an unconscious phenomenon.

Rules are conscious, understanding is unconscious, and Chuang Tzu is always in favour of the unconscious. The whole tradition of Tao is for the unconscious. Don’t force rules, just try to understand things. If you force rules upon yourself you will not become enlightened, you will remain ignorant inside, just decorated from without.

Osho, When the Shoe Fits – Talks on the Stories of Chuang Tzu, Ch 6 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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