THE MIRROR – A SUFI METAPHOR – TUKARAM’S DOG
There is an ancient Sufi metaphor
about a bird who while wandering around seeking for something to eat
ended up in a storeroom full of mirrors in which it saw
countless replicas of itself.
Thinking that they were all other birds competing for the food he wanted he attacked them by smashing against the mirrors, breaking them, and was wounded by glass shards.
He then thought that the birds he saw in the mirrors were its “enemies”, that it was them who had wounded it, and attempted to fight back by smashing against the mirrors again!
To survive he must realize that they are all but reflections
of himself, for only then he will be able
to find peace.
Note: Once Vijay had a dog who sometimes when someone forgot the door open came into his bedroom where there was a large wall mirror, saw itself in it and kept furiously barking at that cheeky dog who had invaded its realm until it was dragged away!
From Vijay’s old journals, 1990, Chennapatna, India
Yesterday I was in that roadside shack near the mine having a cup of tea when a dog walked in and was barking to none in particular; someone told a brief story and everyone started laughing. When I asked the mine owner, the only one who spoke English, to translate it for me he said that it was an anecdote about Tukaram, a poet and a mystic, who had a troublesome, undisciplined dog:
Tukaram began calling his dog “God” and at first the dog appeared confused but eventually started smiling, pranced happily around, and never again caused any problems at all.
Since then I wondered if this might work
on people as well:
I began calling people “The Divine” inwardly only not to be deemed crazy,
and it worked, although not so well as Tukaram’s dog.