Friday, January 28, 2022

Fish and eagle

A few days ago, I posted “Why do birds suddenly appear?” — about seeing a pair of golden eagles (highly unusual here in Taiwan) just after thinking about an eagle, and then discovering that the bird I had been contemplating was not an eagle but a Dapengniao, a gigantic bird that transforms from a giant fish called a Kun.

Today, in yet another instance of “whiteboard telepathy,” one of my very young students randomly wrote on the whiteboard, “老鷹,兩隻” (“eagles, two”). When I asked what it meant, it was a pun: the English word eagle sounds a bit like the Taiwanese word for “one,” and then two is the next number after one.

This evening, I started reading the Upanishads. I’d bought a copy ages ago but never felt moved to pick it up until just now. I began with the introduction by the translator, Eknath Easwaran, explaining how he had one day suddenly been moved to read the Upanishads (just after studying William James, of all authors!). This is the passage he quoted in telling the story:

As a great fish swims between the banks of a river as it likes, so does the shining Self move between the states of dreaming and waking.

As an eagle, weary after soaring in the sky, folds its wings and flies down to rest in its nest, so does the shining Self enter the state of dreamless sleep, where one is free from all desires. The Self is free from desire, free from evil, free from fear.

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