13. My Lap Is Your Perch
Long ago, an old, old hermit lived deep in the woods. He was so kind that the never killed any living creature.
One day, he was sitting under an ancient tree. Just as he began to meditate, he felt a gust of wind coming towards him. “That’s strange,” he thought, and opened his eyes. He saw a little bird sitting in his lap. The bird was not at all flustered to be sitting there. It was quite at home, as if it were perching on a twig. The hermit recited the Buddha Amitabha’s name, and said to himself, “So you think my lap is a perch? Well, then, I can hardly refuse you. Amitabha, this is good. This is good.”
Then the little bird curled up and went to sleep, right there in his lap. The hermit was afraid to disturb its dreams, so he began looking into his own heart, and immediately entered a very deep state of meditation.
Much later, he left his mediation state, but the bird was still sleeping soundly. He didn’t move, because he didn’t want to bother it. He said very quietly, “Amitabha. Just keep sleeping. You can fly away when you’ve slept your full.”
Finally, the little bird woke up. It flapped its wings and stretched its legs. It chirped quietly a few times. Then it straightened its feathers with its beak, and flapped its wings a few more times. Only then did it fly away.
When it had flown away, the old hermit got to his feet. He watched his little friend until it was out of sight. Then he left the tree and went back to his little hut.