This morning I woke up to this quote on my calendar that took me a moment to think about. It said, “One day Dong-shan was washing his bowl, and happened to see two birds fighting over a frog. A monk also saw this and said, “Why does it come to that?” “Only for your benefit,” Dong-shan said.
I know very little about Dong-shan and perhaps one day I will learn more about him, but this story seemed to resonate with me. In part because the way he answered the question reminded me of how I tend to respond to my students, always with another question or a statement, which will make them, think at a deeper level.
My initial response was how could two birds fighting over a frog benefit anyone? Then I felt this light bulb go off within me. Everything in life is for my benefit. It is all to help me in my spiritual evolution and transformation somehow. It is not to wonder why the birds were fighting over the frog, but to be mindful that they were. When I see things, then I am using both my eyes and seeing what is. To wonder why facilitates me making something more or less than what I see.
It was not until I began to look for an image to go with my journal entry that I was led to another understanding of this story. It is also about perseverance. Both of the birds were intent on winning and persevering to fulfill their goals of acquiring the frog. Regardless of what I am fighting for or working on in my life, I have to be like the birds and persevere.
Then I began thinking about the frog and realized that if the frog was alive, it most likely hopped away while the birds were fighting over it. It reminded me of a Tibetan proverb I read once about Yeti’s catching Marmots. The Yeti would catch a marmot and sit on it, saving it for later. Then it would see another one and it would go to catch it and in the meantime the one it had captured first, escaped. This reminded me I need to enjoy that which I have and not sacrifice it for what looks bigger and brighter. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
I guess this teaching of Dong-shan was for my benefit. May I remember this day and all days that everything that comes before my eyes is for my benefit.