Reflections on buddhism and psychotherapy. Italy, 2007

James Low

A talk given to therapists at the Buddhism and Psychotherapy Conference at the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute organised by the Mindfulness Project,  Pomaia, Italy.  15-17 August, 2007
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Extract
All the experiences of our lives are like birds flying in the sky.  Maybe you go walking through the lovely trees here and suddenly a memory comes into your mind.  This is a beautiful bird; it has flown into your mind and then it flies out.
However, birds can shit on your head.  If you get caught up in a thought it can start to grind…and then something else is happening.  This little beautiful humming bird was followed by a vulture…and then that too flies away.  Everything flies away.
Therefore, you can be a hunter, or a bird, or you can be like the sky.  When you are like the sky everything will come to you and everything will go—you can enjoy the birds as they fly.  Or you can be a hunter, always trying to catch or kill the birds.  This creates a constant arousal in the mind as we are always on the lookout, always ready to pounce, and this grasping attitude blinds us to the beauty and freedom of the situation.  However, if you become a bird you will find that the hunter will come and get you and then you will sing away in the little box of your life.
This doesn’t mean that we should run away to some other country.  Even inside the cage, no matter if the cage of your life is very small, there is still some space.  It is by integrating with the space that you have the full freedom of your life even though you are very constrained.  That is why in practice we aim to integrate with space as quickly and easily as we can.  It is through resting as space that we see that the bird and the hunter have the same nature; they are both thoughts, identifications devoid of inherent self-nature.