This month is about what needs to die.
The merchant built a magnificent golden cage for his parrot. He brought her delicious food from all over the world, filled her cage with exotic flowers and trees to please her eyes.
Years passed and our parrot grew weary… she seemed to be getting weaker and weaker every day. World famous physicians and talented healers could not find a cure. The parrot was gradually withering away… there was nothing that could be done! The helpless merchant was grieving.
Every year, the merchant travelled for his trade… And, this year, he planned a journey to India. He asked his beloved parrot, what can I get you from there? The parrot answered, “I want you to tell my story the parrots of India, tell them about my sad affair and ask them to remember me.”
The merchant took off and as promised, he ventured to meet the parrots of India in the dense woods and delivered his parrot’s message.
One parrot heard the sad story – and shook so hard that she immediately dropped on the ground like a breathless corpse. The merchant was set aback: “I killed the poor bird,” he lamented.
When the merchant completed his trade, returned home with presents for everyone, except his beloved parrot. The parrot immediately noticed his master’s distress. “What’s troubling you, my lord?” she asked. The merchant related what happened in the woods, “one of the birds felt so sad for your state, she grieved so hard, it broke her heart; she shuddered and fell as soon as she heard your story.”
Our parrot listened attentively and immediately dropped in her cage. The merchant leapt and cried... “What have I done! My sweet sweet bird!” He lamented.
The merchant carefully took his parrot out of the cage and placed her on the ground to prepare for the burial. But, as soon as he let go, the dead bird opened her eyes and flew up on the highest branch out of reach.
The parrot stood on the branch for a moment, “The bird of India acted dead to show me the way,” the parrot explained. “My gorgeous look and sweet-singing voice kept me entrapped. I needed to let go. It was only by letting go that I gained my freedom.”
The merchant finally realized that he had to lose his bird, to truly gain it… He was happy for his parrot and exclaimed:
“God be with you each and every day
Bless you for showing me a worthier way!”
So, in our story today, the main character, our parrot, is the part of our soul that longs for freedom – for eternal peaceful beautiful life. The part that longs to be alive, to flee the cage and fly up high, no attachments, no fear, no restraints, no anxiety.
The cage is the material world with all its attractions and distractions… with all our desires, attachments and cravings…
The merchant is the part of us that chooses to play it safe, to keep the status quo. It is the selfish ego that is trying to “protect us” every time our soul yearns for freedom.
The parrots of India are the wise higher self, the Divine Breath in everyone of us, the part that knows the way because it has been there before - in time eternal. The part that had once tasted true freedom, and had been bewildered by the beauty of the Beloved. It is our inner guidance, the little voice inside us that whispers pointing to the right direction, to the right choices – yet most often this voice is muffled and lost in the wilderness of our noisy daily life.
To find the freedom, our parrot needed to let go of her fear… She needed to allow the old self to die only to be resurrected in a more magnificent way.
It is scary… Letting some part of us die is terrifying – yet at some point in our journey, we have no choice… It is only when you fully trust and fully let go of your hold and your grasp that you will be truly free.
Carl Jung teaches that “only boldness can deliver us from fear and if the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated.”
The parrot is resurrected anew… but life out there is not a smooth ride. In the cage, at least she had food and water, she was protected from predators and hunters… But now, she is on her own. She crossed the threshold and embarked on her journey, on the Road of Trials. No one knows what will happen to her next, yet, for her, it is totally worth it.
This journey is life – without the challenges, it is worth naught – what purpose or meaning would we have entrapped in a golden cage?
Off she goes… once out of the cage, the parrot cannot look back. If she does, the merchant will never give her another chance. The cage will be tighter, he might throw her in a dungeon, a dark, scary dungeon to make sure she would never dare to break free again.
Once you cross the threshold, don’t look back!
Finish your cage before moving on to the next step of the exercise.
Now, pick another color - Where would you place your soul on the page?
Is she inside or outside of the cage?
Does the cage have a door?
Is the door open or closed?
Who holds the key?
Is there even a key?
Remember, there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Your art could be realistic or abstract… don’t worry about the drawing skills… don’t worry about coloring inside the lines, perspective or proportions… just freely capture the feelings you are experiencing.
Take your time and then jot down any words that come to mind.
Look at your art:
- What color did you use? What texture? What shapes?
- How strong, sharp, heavy or light are those colors, lines and shapes?
- How big is the cage? Did it fill the whole page? The whole spread?
- How vast is your soul? What color? Shape? Texture?
- Does your drawing scare you? How and why?
- Is it comforting? How and why?
Traditional Wisdom of the month
“Look round our world; behold the chain of love
Combining all below and all above.
See dying vegetables life sustain,
See life dissolving vegetate again:
All forms that perish other forms supply
-by turns we catch the vital breath, and die,
Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne,
They rise, they break, and to that sea return.
Nothing is foreign: parts relate to whole;
One all-extending, all preserving soul.
All served, all serving: nothing stands alone;
The chain holds on, and where it ends, unknown.”
- Alexander Pope (An Essay on Man, 1732)
Is your soul holding on to some part of your life that needs to die? What fear? What cravings? What worldly attachments are holding you soul back?
Cravings are not necessarily material things. Some times we crave attention, we crave to be noticed, valued, loved… sometimes we crave acknowledgement, we yearn for someone to notice our pain or recognize our value.
Likewise, our fears can masquerade into various forms. They can show up as frantic over-working, over-doing, a futile attempt to keep everything under control, organized, stable… we are afraid to slow down, to breathe… our world might fall apart if we but flinch. Sometimes, we are fighting against the natural flow of our life… we keep holding on to dreams that are not even ours… blindfolded, we follow the crowd wherever they might lead us…
Pause for a while and ponder…
What is holding your soul back?
What do you need to let go of?
What part of you needs to die to keep your soul alive?
Reflect on your life… on your journey and intentions…
What needs to die in your life so it can be resurrected anew, in a healthier form and shape?
What must die to allow room for new growth and regeneration, for a new healthy life?
When a cell becomes damaged or show signs of malfunction, the mitochondria of that cell initiate the cell self-destruction – a process known as apoptosis.
It is estimated that every day, our body loses about 10 billion cells through apoptosis. It is a natural smooth process. Yet, it is extremely complex– our mitochondria do not take lightly a process that triggers a death alarm and initiates cellular disintegration. But once the cell is damaged beyond repair, it is time to die. And, the dying cells never go to waste, our body is a very efficient recycler. The cells are broken down in an orderly manner and the neighbouring cells safely assimilate the fragments and components for re-use.
So, what happens if the mitochondria fail to initiate apoptosis?
If a damaged cell is allowed to live, it will replicate and spread resulting in a malignant growth.
Our mitochondria are ever watchful, vigilantly scanning their environment: What needs to die?
If they fail to do so, cancer sets in.
And, as you know by now, our inner environment is but a reflection of our outer reality. The problem is not the cells malfunctioning or even getting out of control. Mistakes, pitfalls, bad choices and wrong moves happen all the time. The problem occurs when we fail to notice. When we do not allow to die what needs to die. Both in life and on the cellular level, there comes the time that begs the question: What needs to die?