When a local gangster steps out on the first day of his job, he has a little fear. Once the people start obeying him, even if he is unsure of himself, just seeing people obey him gives him confidence, ‘Yes, now I am a great guy!’ His whole body language changes. In the same way, when the mind comes to attack you, initially it will not have enough confidence. But when it sees that you are afraid of it, it gains confidence and traps you! You give confidence to the mind to attack you. Once you show your fear, once you show that you are very fragile, that is enough for your mind and you are caught. The person who wants to exploit you first makes you believe that you can’t run your life without him. He gives you the impression that you cannot survive without him. Once you fall for it, he starts exploiting you and playing games with you. The moment you start believing that you cannot survive without him, you start putting up with him even though it is an abuse.
In the same way, the first thing your mind does is convince you that you cannot be alive without it. The moment it convinces you of this, nothing more needs to be done. Then you never try to drop the mind!
I saw this in my days of spiritual wandering. In the forests of Northern India the hunters use a trap to catch birds. They tie a rope between two trees. In the middle of the rope, they secure a wooden stick. The rope is tied at the midpoint of the stick. This is actually a hunter’s trap for birds.
You may think, ‘How can a bird be trapped with a small stick? How is it possible?’ Actually, all they do is just hang the stick between two trees using a rope, that’s all.
When a bird comes and sits on the stick, the bird’s own weight turns the whole stick upside down, it turns topsy-turvy. The bird is now hanging upside down, clinging to the stick. The moment it turns upside down and loses its sense of balance it feels totally shaken and tightens its grip on the stick. It simply holds onto the stick as if its life depends on it. Because it is hanging upside down, it thinks, ‘If I unclutch from this stick, what will happen? I will fall and die.’ There is no record that any bird has ever fallen and broken its head! But the bird does not have the intelligence to realize this. It keeps hanging on. By not letting go, not only does it lose its freedom, it loses its life too, because ultimately the hunter traps it. Just like the bird, you don’t realize that if you just drop your mind, at that moment you can become a Paramahamsa*. That very moment you can be liberated. You can simply start flying.
The same fear that the bird clinging to the stick had, you have now. Your fear and the bird’s fear are one and the same. The bird believes that it can’t let go and if it does it will die. Similarly, you hold on to your mind and feel, ‘I can’t let go. If I start trusting that I am unconnected, unclutched, independent and illogical thoughts, I might be lost.’
The hunter comes leisurely, after four or five hours, takes the bird, puts it in the cage, and leaves. Now the bird neither has the freedom to fly nor the stick to balance. The foolish bird doesn’t know that if it had just let go of the stick, it could have simply flown away!
In the same way, you hold on to whatever you think is your identity and security – your education, your mind, your life, your relationships, or your bank balance. Yama ultimately comes to remove the stick that is your identity. Then you are neither a Paramahamsa, a liberated soul, nor are you able to hold on to your identity. You will neither have the freedom, nor will you have the stick of your identity that you are clutching, because the stick itself is an illusion.
Let me tell you, if the bird lets go and relaxes, it may flutter to balance for a moment or two. It may take one or two moments to balance itself, but it will never fall and die. When it leaves the stick, maybe for a few seconds it will fall, but then it will adjust itself and start flying.
Be very clear, let go and you will never fall and die. You will only become a Paramahamsa!
This moment, trust yourself. Don’t bother about losing your identity. Just trust yourself and let go of your identity. You will immediately become a Paramahamsa and be liberated. All you need to do is to trust that you are unclutched. Even if you don’t trust that it is still the truth!
When you unclutch, there will be some revolutionary changes in your life, your day-to-day thinking, your decision-making, and your daily routine and your lifestyle. Courageously going through that revolution, going through the transformation that happens in you, is what I call tapas or penance.
On rare occasions during my wanderings, I have seen a bird hanging on the stick. Another bird that was once stuck in the trap, but had the courage to let go and open up, comes back. It pokes the hanging bird and says, ‘Hey, let go! Relax! I was like you. I had the same problem. When I relaxed I just started flying. All it takes is just two or three seconds to balance. When I opened up, I never fell and broke my head or died. I only became liberated. I only became a free bird. Come on…’ But the hanging bird will not believe it.
Understand that the responsibility of the free bird is to go about freeing other birds. It is the responsibility of the free bird to go and poke the bird trapped on the stick and say, ‘Free yourself.’ I am that free bird and I have created a safety net. Even if you fall, you won’t hurt yourself. Relax! Let go, you will only fly! See, the sangha, the community of the master, is the net. Even if you fall, you will not hurt yourself.
First of all, you will not fall. But just to give you the deeper assurance, the sangha, the spiritual community, is created. So, I invite all of you to come and experience the sangha.
Understand that it is a free bird’s responsibility to liberate all the trapped birds, to help them, to inspire them to free themselves.
Similar to the bird trap, hunters also have a trap to catch monkeys. They catch monkeys using a small box for a trap. They place some sweets inside a box that has a small opening. The monkey puts its hand inside the box and grabs the sweet. As long as the monkey holds onto the sweet, it will not be able to take its hand out because its fist is larger than the hole!
If the monkey lets go of the sweet, it can remove or slide its hand out immediately. But the monkey is not intelligent enough to realize that. It holds on to the sweet and just because it is holding on, it is not able to take its hand out. If it just lets go of the sweet, it can take its hand out and be free. If you allow the understanding of this story to happen in you, you will instantly unclutch from your shafts and be free this very moment.
source: Living Enlightenment