An Eagle’s Wisdom

“I don’t know why they named me that,” Solomon the Golden Eagle responded to my greeting. “I’m just an eagle. A pretty magnificent one, at that.”

He is a handsome bird. His feathers in shades of dark to light brown glinted golden in the sunlight as he shifted his weight from one feathered leg to another. He stood on a sturdy tree branch in the enclosure built for him. A wing damaged beyond repair sent this formidable hunter to live at Sulphur Creek Nature Center, where he takes part in education programs about wildlife.

I asked Solomon what stories he’d like to tell.

“Ah yes, stories … falling from the sky, being found, coming here. Before that, soaring on the thermals. It’s part science, part art and skill, and all intuition. Sensing the currents in air, watching for prey far below while enjoying flight. I am incomplete without flight. It is part of who I am.”

“Would you rather have been left to become prey yourself?”

“That is the cycle of life. This is different. People and children come to see me, and marvel at my size and stature. Here I am an individual being, distinct in the minds of those who visit me. In flight I am one with the air, an inseparable part of the All. It is good for young ones to learn more about my kind. They have forgotten they too are part of the All. They still are, they just are not aware of it. They breathe, but are not one with the breath. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” I answered. “We humans have lost our sense of connection with that which is around us. It is good for the children and their parents to be reminded they are part of something greater.”

“That is so.” The eagle stretched his neck and flexed his wings. Light and shadow moved across his enclosure as a breeze ruffled leaves overhead.

Solomon settled into storytelling mode. “There was a time when all beings felt a part of each other, of the earth our mother and sky our father. Many eons ago. Now people see their mother earth as dirt and father sky as unreachable without the aid of great machines. Nothing has changed but awareness. The veils and barriers of humankind are self-imposed. It is the nature of things to stay in motion. Change is part of that. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Now is a time of great change.”

“How can people best move through this time of change?”

“Flight is good. Let the air surround you. Be aware of it, focus on your quarry.”

“Most people will say, ‘I can’t fly.’”

Solomon explained his metaphor. “Release attachment. Release expectation. See change as an opportunity. Thank what you have held onto, and release it. The lighter the load, the easier it is to fly. Have you not noticed that we raptors release excrement before we take flight?” Solomon demonstrated, then hopped down from his branch to the leaf-strewn ground.

“Yes I have noticed. I thought of it as ‘lightning the load.’”

“Hold onto only that which you need for survival and be willing to release that, too. Anything we hold onto tightly diverts our attention, weights us down, and slows the flow of energy. Be light of foot. If you say you cannot fly, you can still step lightly.”

“So you’re saying that to move easily through this time of change, release our attachments?”

“Yes. Attachments of all kinds – things, beliefs, attitudes, habits, practices, all become attachments. Think of yourself floating on the air, or on the water if you prefer. What do you really need?”

“But if we give up everything, how do we survive, eat, and shelter ourselves?”

Solomon’s head swayed in rhythm with his body’s motion. “Ah, you misunderstand. It is to release attachment to things – be willing to give them up. We build nests to raise our chicks. We return there each year. If something happens to that nest, we repair it or build another. If a tree falls, we find another. It is the willingness to release that lets the step lighten. Attachment – fear of releasing – adds weight and slows.”

He paused, and continued. “There is much fear in the world today, in the currents of your culture, politics, economics, religion. This is of passing interest to us. When people act out of fear, it slows the energies of the whole and adds weight.”

“How can I summarize this to share your message with the people?”

“Remind people that when they act out of fear, or hold onto a fixed position based on fear and loss, that is the direction the energy will follow. If they are willing to release their attachments and flow with the change, that too is where the energies will flow. Lighten the load. You can’t fly if you’re weighted down. That is as simple as I can make it. And you will fly toward what you are focused on. If it is fear, that is where you go. If it is freedom, that is where you go. Consider what is for the highest and best good of all.”

“Thank you Solomon, you’ve given me much to think about. I hope I can relay your message to the people clearly.” I thought about releasing that which no longer serves us as creating space for new movement, new ways of being in the world.

“You’ll figure it out.” I sensed a chuckle. Solomon seemed satisfied with his lecture, and turned to hop back up on the branch. His message echoed what many animals and teachers have been telling us lately. Solomon is indeed a very wise bird.
______

Sources:
Golden Eagle photo from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com

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"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - George Eliot
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi
"There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings – we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together." - attributed to Gandhi
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