Parable of a Parrot

from the Urantial Network Message Board

     Once, long ages ago, the Buddha was born as a friendly little parrot.  He lived happily in the forest and delighted in flying among the tangled branches of the huge forest trees.  Wherever he went, he greeted other creatures with joy. He was a happy bird, glad to be alive and glad to have been given the gift of flight.

     One day the skies over his forest home darkened and, without warning, a terrible storm thundered down, flashing and roaring among the ancient trees.  The wind howled, lightning crackled, and one old tree burst into flames.  Soon the whole forest began to blaze as sparks flew everywhere.  Terrified animals ran wildly in every direction, seeking safety from the burning flames and choking, acrid smoke.

   When the little parrot smelled the smoke, he flung himself out bravely into the fury of the storm, crying out loudly as he flew, "Fire! Fire! Run to the river!"  But though the animals heard his voice and many did make it to the safety of the river, what could the others do, trapped as they were by the flames and smoke?  So, rather than flying off to safety himself, he continued circling over the raging fire, seeking some means of helping those who were trapped below.

   A desperate idea came to him.  Darting down to the river that flowed at the forest's edge, he dipped his body and wings into the dark water and then flew back to the fire, which was now raging like an inferno.  Unmindful of the leaping flames, he dropped down low and rapidly shook his wings, releasing the few precious drops of water which still clung to his feathers.  They tumbled down like little jewels into the heart of the blaze. Again he flew to the river and dipped in body and wings and again he flew back over the flames.  Again and again he flew between the river and the forest, many, many times.  His feathers grew greasy and ragged and black and his eyes burned red as coals.  His lungs ached and his mind danced dizzily with the spinning sparks, but still the brave little parrot flew on.  "What, after all, can a bird do in times like these," he said himself, "but fly?  So fly I shall.  And I won't stop if there's even a chance I can save a single life."

   Now some of the godly beings of the higher realms, relaxing in their palaces of ivory and gold, saw the little parrot below them as he flew among the leaping flames. Between mouthfuls of sweet foods, they pointed him out.  And some of them began to laugh. "What a foolish little bird!" they said. "Trying to put out a raging fire with just a few sprinkles of water from his wings.  Whoever heard of such a thing.  Why, it's absurd!"

    But one of the gods found himself strangely moved by what he saw. Taking the form of a golden eagle, he let himself be drawn down into the parrot's fiery path.   The little parrot was just nearing the flames again when suddenly a huge eagle with eyes like molten gold appeared at his side. "Go back, little bird!  Your task is hopeless!" pronounced the eagle in a solemn and majestic voice. "What can a few drops of water do against a blaze like this? Turn around and save yourself before it is too late!" But the little parrot would not listen. He only continued to fly doggedly on through the flames. He could hear the great eagle flying above him now as the heat grew fiercer, still calling out, "Stop! Stop! Foolish little parrot! Save yourself! Save yourself!" But the little parrot only continued on. "Why, I don't need a great, shining eagle to give me advice like that!" he thought to himself. "My own mother, the dear bird, could have told me such things long ago. Advice," he coughed, "I don't need advice. I just need someone to pitch in and help!"

     And the great eagle, seeing the little parrot flying  steadily on through the searing flames, thought with shame of his own privileged kind. He could see the carefree gods looking down above as if life was just a game for others to live. He could hear their laughter still echoing, while many creatures cried out in fear and pain from the flames just below. All at once, he no longer wanted to be a god or an eagle or anything else. He simply wanted to be like that brave little parrot, and to help. "I will help!" he said. And, flushed with these new feelings, he began to weep.  Streams and streams of sparkling tears poured from his eyes and washed down in waves like cooling rain upon the fire, upon the forest, upon the animals, and upon the little parrot himself.

     Deluged with the god's shimmering tears, the flames died down and the smoke began to clear. The little parrot himself, washed and bright, rocketed above the sky like a little feathered sun. He laughed aloud, "Now that's more like it!" Tears dripped quietly from all the burned branches and scorched buds, which began to send forth green shoots and stems and leaves.

    Teardrops sparkled on the parrot's wings, too, and dropped down like petals upon the burned and blackened ground.  Green grass began to push up from among the still glowing cinders. Then all the animals looked at one another in amazement. All were whole and well.  Up in the clear blue sky they could see their friend, the little parrot, looping and soaring and flying happily on and on. "Hurray!" they suddenly cried, "Hurray for the brave little parrot and for this sudden, miraculous rain!"       

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