Monday, January 24, 2022

Why do birds suddenly appear?

Note: This is not the first time I've asked this question.

I've just come back from a trip to Longfeng Temple, a Buddhist establishment in Pingtung which I visit from time to time due to its congenial spirit. This time, an iconographic detail jumped out at me which I had never really noticed before. There are three statues of Guanyin Bodhisattva there, and in each case she has a book on her left and some sort of bird on her right. I've never seen her portrayed this way anywhere else, only at Longfeng.




I became very curioua about the identity of this bird, but no one seemed to know what it was. I checked the Internet, but the only bird I could find that was associated with Guanyin was the white cockatoo in some Southeast Asian countries, and this was clearly not a cockatoo. Nor was it a Chinese phoenix, a Garuda bird, or any of the other usual suspects. I decided that, despite the strangeness of associating that bird with Guanyin, it must be an eagle.

No sooner had I thought this than I heard a shrill cry from overhead, unmistakably that of an eagle in mating season. I looked up to see two huge golden eagles, obviously a mated pair, circling in the sky. Eagles of any kind are a rarity in Taiwan -- these were the first eagles I had seen after 17 years in this country -- and golden eagles are particularly uncommon, listed in bird books as occurring in Taiwan only "accidentally." Yet there they were, and just after I had been thinking about eagles.

Later I asked one of the temple staff, and she told me that Guanyin's avian attendant was not an eagle but a Dapengniao -- that is, a mythical bird of enormous size (wingspan measured in thousands of miles), which in its larval form is an equally enormous fish called a Kun. Fortunately I had been ignorant enough to think it was an eagle, or who knows what I might have summoned!

3 comments:

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Incidentally, this sort of thing is very close to Jung’s original example of “synchronicity”: a scarabaeid beetle showing up just as he was talking about the Egyptian scarab.

ben said...

this post was useful to me

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I'm having a hard time imagining how this post could be useful, but anyway I'm glad to hear it!

White sands, red sun

Bruce Charlton recently posted on C. S. Lewis's Law of Undulation . For me, the undulation tends to be between thinking and synching. I ...