Bird Totem Flight
Don’t you know yet? Fling the emptiness out of your arms
into the spaces we breath; perhaps the birds
will fill the expanded air with more passionate flying.
( Rilke Duino Elegy No 1 traslated Stephen Mitchell)
To tread the bird path’ is a Ch’an expression which means
realizing the self-nature. A flying bird leaves no tracks in the air,
like the self-nature which leaves no traces anywhere, for it is
omnipresent and it is beyond location and direction.
(Note on a remark by Master Liang Chiai of Tung Shanmountin in Lu K’uan Yu’s Ch’an and Zen Teaching. Quoted by Kenneth White in ‘The Bird Path’)
I am supposing that all peoples standing on the horizontal landscape have looked up and wished they could escape the ground and soar with the birds. The sensation of flying would have filled their dreams as it does ours. For some the bird would have been their totem and through the frenzy of ritual their consciousness would have become one with the bird in an ecstasy of flight, catching the wind and the thermals to move across the horizontal plain and out across the ocean.