Two Birds in a Tree – The lower and the Higher Self

Here is a story of a householder called Saunaka, who reaches a forest to find the famous Hindu sage, Sage Angiras.

He approaches the Sage reverentially and beseeches

“O Holy Sage, teach me that through which the whole universe can be known.”

Sage Angirasa goes on to explain the two different kinds of knowledge on this Earth. The lower knowledge he states are the sciences, hymns, rituals, grammar, poetry, knowledge of the vedas etc. The higher knowledge is which leads a man to something which never dies. The Indestructible.

Sage Angiras says

birdsThis body is like a tree in which two birds live. They look alike. The lower bird is tasting the
fruits of the tree and some are sweet and others are sour.

The higher bird is just watching the lower bird.

One day the lower bird is tired of everything and starts to weep. The lower bird sees the higher bird which is calm, unattached and at peace. The lower bird hops towards the higher one. It suddenly realizes that the upper bird is also just himself, his true Self . Knowing this his grief disappears. He realizes that the Ego was not real, the Self was real, the observer of all.

Two self’s living in the mind

This story is a metaphor of the two self’s a mind is made up of.

There is a lower self which is always into action. The lower self tries to attain knowledge, money, relationships and plucks different fruits from the tree, to see which one is sweet and which one is sour. The lower self is always curios and in competition with itself. It is the lower self which clinges and suffers through worldly feelings of ego, lust, desires, hatred, jealousy, greed and so forth

Then there is a higher self which is simply watching the lower self.

The higher self is calm, unperplexed and doesn’t bat an eyelid.

Liberation of the mind is just the introduction of the lower self to the higher self.

It is like a handshake between two school friends who suddenly meet after years. One friend (higher self) is not surprised to meet the other (lower self), because he has known him ever since and his love hasn’t changed its form.

However, the other friend (lower self) is astonished to meet his counterpart and keeps shaking his hands in surprise, as if he has found all the wealth of this world.

He then hugs his friend and cries, only to discover that he is just meeting himself.

 
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