I wonder if the Buddha was thinking of birds when he gave his enigmatic advice.
Rain pours down on the open,
rain does not pour down on the closed.
Therefore, open the closed
so that it won’t get rained on.
I recently revisited an older post about this exclamation from the book in the Pali canon called Udana. I was reminded of that post and the Buddha’s advice this morning as a rain storm blew in from the west. A pigeon landed on the railing of our 14th floor balcony. I caught her in this picture shortly after she landed. It seemed to me that she was fluffing out her feathers to help keep the rain away from her body. A little research showed that birds ruffle their feathers out as a way of creating an air pocket to help them stay warm. Their feathers are already water-proofed so that’s probably what she was doing—opening up her feathers to stay warm in the driving rain.
When the bird did not fly away after the storm abated, I began to worry. In about an hour she had come down from the railing and was walking around the deck, seemingly aimlessly. During my afternoon meditation, I focused on this forlorn, bedraggled pigeon and her vulnerability in the heavy rain. I recalled one of the lines from the Ahinna Sutta (AN 4.67).
May all creatures,
all breathing things,
— each & every one —
meet with good fortune.
May none of them come to any evil.
Chanting these lines in Pali gives comfort.
After the storm had been over for an hour or so, and the bird seemed to have dried out, I began to worry that she was injured. As I opened the sliding door to step out on the balcony, she made a couple of false starts and bumps into the glass wall of the railing. Then, what a beautiful sight she was as she went soaring between the high rise buildings of our apartment complex.