Responsibility – The Death of a Bird



Volume 6 , Number 2


Responsibility and the Kingfisher

a conversation with Heart-Master Da Love-Ananda

February 2, 1978

HEART-MASTER DA: All creatures, including human beings,
are habituated to living in an environment where they are
part of the food chain. Human beings, however, have lifted
themselves out of the food chain to protect themselves. The
only way you can keep an animal as a pet, therefore, is to
lift it out of the food chain. You must protect and nurture
it and give it a different way of life, protect it from all
the dangers associated with the food-chain game. You must
likewise protect other creatures from pets. In zoos, for
example, if animals were not isolated, they would all kill
one another. Likewise, you must keep pets isolated. For
instance; if you have dogs, you have to make sure they do
not hurt cats. If you have pet cats, you have to make sure
that they do not harm other creatures.

You must also consider what you create when you bring
predators into an environment. We have brought cats to this
island, for instance, where there is no natural control over
cats in the food chain. We as humans must therefore control
them. When humans bring a species arbitrarily into an
environment, the new animals create problems, as the cats do
here. When you bring wild creatures into an isolated
environment, then you must protect that environment through
control and isolation of the species. Otherwise, you have no
right to bring such a species into the environment. Consider
what would have happened if we had brought dogs here and
allowed them to run wild. We would be responsible for
controlling the dogs. Now our dogs are under control, but we
must still control the cats.

The death of this bird represents the present level of
consciousness about everything in our Community, including
the right approach to me. People play with things just like
children. They played with this bird just like children,
they play with me like children, and they play at Spiritual

Such tends to be the level of responsibility of the whole
Community. People do not take things into account, and
everyone acts like a child. The Community is like a big
nursery school of children, and this is in fact the way it
has always been. So, people here made a bird into a pet, and
they allowed it to be killed. Then they enacted an empty
psychological ritual about the birds being killed. In fact,
they were only enacting their own psychological ceremony of
attachment. They did not take the birds needs into account,
and they did not take reality into account.

People in this Community feel that the Community is some
Sunday-school, mommy-daddy place, and that a mommy-daddy
deity will take care of it all. They expect me to protect
them while they live here like children. Then, through their
neglect and unconsciousness, they abandon me and let the
Community and the culture fall apart. In cooperation with
others you must care for the culture and the Community, or
else they are endangered. There is no one else to do it.
There is no mommy-daddy deity. It is all your

Everybody thinks that God is taking care of everything.
There is no such God. God Transcends everything. God is to
be Realized. God is not your parent. What is arising arises
only as a dynamic of opposites, a dynamic of creation and
destruction. The Realm of Nature is a dynamic of opposites
that creates and destroys everything. If you want to protect
and preserve, then you must create a way to do it. What you
do not preserve is destroyed. You must therefore take care
of what you want to preserve. Eventually, it will be
destroyed anyway, whatever care you take care to preserve
it. Everything that is created gets destroyed almost
immediately. Everything that arises gets destroyed. God is
That in Which everything is arising, Transcending

The more profoundly you Realize That Which Transcends
everything, the more you have the ability to achieve a
balance in this dynamic, so that you develop equanimity, or
a certain capacity to preserve what arises conditionally.
You therefore develop the ability to generate sattvic or
balanced forms, forms that will persist in a balanced state
for significant periods of time. Such an ability is uncommon
in Nature. It is the direct reflection of resonance with the

When you go snorkling, the beautiful fish you see are so
beautiful, so perfect, they seem to be gods in and of

If you look further, however, if you really observe what
is occurring down there in the deep, you see that those
apparent gods live only for a very short time, until
somebody eats them. The beautiful designs of their forms are
part of a plan of self-preservation, the signs that allow
the species to live long enough to reproduce itself. The
beauty you see in them is not the sign of a God in Heaven.
It is the sign that those species must protect themselves
because of the destructiveness in Nature.

Signs of beauty, therefore, have preservation value, yet
they are still only temporary and brief. If you want things
to remain for more than the moment they will exist in
Nature, then you must extend your own equanimity, or the
mind of balance, and create their preservation. If you do
not take everything into account, if you do not extend that
mind of balance, what you want to preserve will last only
for a short while.

The human impulse is to transcend what gets destroyed.
This impulse is part of the Spiritual Process. The more
profoundly you understand this principle, the more you can
preserve what gets destroyed. The more you increase the
sattvic quality or mind of balance, the more you increase
your ability to preserve things. Even so, preservation is
not the purpose of existence. It is just a secondary quality
of the Spiritual Process. However, we do value this sattvic
effect. It is a superhuman quality that can appear in life.
Most people are only struggling with the rajasic and tamasic
pair of opposites. The truly human process also bears the
superhuman sign of the sattvic quality, but it is a
secondary effect, an extension, of the Spiritual Process,
not its purpose. If we imagine that sattva, or balance, is
the purpose of the Spiritual Process, we become attached to
what inevitably fails. Every form eventually changes and is
eventually destroyed. The purpose of the Spiritual Process
is not to preserve everything, but to transcend all that

That ultimate or perfect transcendence is realized only
progressively, and only while sadhana is being done. The
enhancement of the sattvic quality is part of sadhana
itself, a way of testing the Spiritual Process in ourselves.
Therefore, the practitioner must observe a discipline
relative to the enhancement of the sattvic quality and find
ways to cultivate it to a superior degree.

Even so, we must also constantly surrender ourselves in
the Divine Condition, as well as surrender our attachment to
things we are preserving, and therefore our contraction on
ourselves through that attachment. The self-contraction of
attachment is the egoic association with the sattvic
quality. This is why the sattvic quality is not

Human sadhana is to cultivate the sattvic quality of
balance and preservation, but to do so through constant
self-surrender or self-transcendence in the Divine
Condition, rather than through egoic attachment to things
themselves. There must be constant responsibility and
constant self-surrender. To the degree you are not
responsible for balance and the preservation of things, then
to that degree you are reduced to the rajasic and tamasic
states. In other words, you are disturbed and you become
inert and die. To the degree that you do not surrender and
transcend yourself, you become disturbed and deluded by the
events of life, and eventually you are crushed by the
apparent negativity of the force of Nature. Through your own
self-contraction, you forget the Divine Condition and fail
to realize It.

This incident with the bird is a way to symbolize the
subhuman functioning of people who fail to be devotees. You
are not a devotee until you transcend yourself. The
Community is not really a gathering of devotees, but a
gathering of adolescent people just beginning to make a
gesture to the fourth stage of life, still tending to
function irresponsibly with various blind spots, as though
someone else is in charge. They are failing to take all
aspects of responsibility into account. Frustrated by this
failure, people tend to become reactive, which is the sign
of rajas, or they get resistive, which is the sign of

The Community is supposed to be responsible and to
represent the sattvic quality and the signs of balance,
right preservation and right championing of what we value,
and true strength and creative service to what needs to be
preserved. These are the signs that should be in evidence.
Every individual, as part of the Community, is called to
assume such responsibility. But you cannot fulfill such an
obligation unless you are continually fulfilling your
sadhana of the Spiritual Process, which is founded on
realistic understanding of self and realistic understanding
of life. The Way of the Heart is not an idealistic Way of
trying to affirm the Spiritual Reality. It is about real
self-understanding and real self-transcendence. There must
be no weak mind, no weak navel, and no weak heart.

The incident with the bird symbolizes the level of
responsibility that has always been characteristic of this
Community. The fact is that the Treasures and the Way itself
are in the hands of people who do not manifest true
responsibility. The critical problem of this Community is
that the Community and the Treasures are in the hands of
people who do not take full responsibility. You are all in
charge of a Great Gift, but you do not truly take charge of
it with responsibility. Therefore, you tend to destroy the
Gift itself.

This Community must grow with much more strength and
competence. It must succeed in preserving the Treasures. The
capacity to preserve is based on self-transcendence and
Divine Communion, which is itself based on a realistic
understanding of self and world. Likewise, the capacity to
preserve must be exhibited not only in the larger scale of
things, but in every detail of life. The various disciplines
in our Way are an expression of a balanced disposition, the
disposition that creatively preserves what is of value. If
you do not assume right discipline in life, you are
inevitably destroying, quickly or slowly, your own
body-mind, your relations, and everything you think you
would like to preserve or enhance. Whatever is not preserved
through harmonious sattvic force is either progressively or
immediately destroyed by the playing out of tamasic and
rajasic forces.