Read an Excerpt
Born an Eagle among Sparrows
A Psycho-Spiritual Approach to Being Your True Self
By Paula Sasaki
Balboa PressCopyright © 2014 Paula Sasaki, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
"Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing yourself is enlightenment." —Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
We each have a birthright.
It is to be the person we are born to be, to express our true essence. We are each divinely perfect just as we are and infinitely wondrous in our own special way.
The best we can do for the highest good of all concerned is to honor this birthright by choosing each day to be the highest expression of ourselves, which means we follow the timeless wisdom to know thyself.
Knowing ourselves goes beyond identifying attributes that describe us, such as kindhearted and outgoing or trying to be a better person. It is about our consistent willingness to apply knowledge in ways that evolve us into being the best we can be and contribute to a greater interconnected whole.
In a devotion to know ourselves, our attention is drawn to practices that shape an inner desire to follow a path that aligns our choices to be one with Source. Source is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent; all knowing, eternal, and infinitely powerful. It has many names, including Universe, God, Spirit, and unconditional love. The name does not matter; its true essence does not vary.
The path of the yogic tradition offers one path to Source. The word yoga, or yuj in Sanskrit, means union. Yoga teaches the union of the physical self with the Universal- or God-Self. Union can be sought through the yogic practice called svadhyaya, or self-study of the body, mind, and spiritual self. In every asana, or yoga posture, for example, we focus on the inner and outer body, have awareness of our breathing, turn the mind inward, self-correct, and unite the body, mind, and spirit. Svadhyaya can be applied in all areas of our lives.
Through a dedicated practice of svadhyaya, we invite opportunities to self-improve, purify, and be at peace as we remember our wholeness. Self-study is neither critical nor judgmental. It allows for loving and spacious acceptance of every memory and experience that arises, as well as our reactions to and judgments of them.
Even as we devote efforts to know ourselves, we continue to experience the same human conditions. There are moments of turbulent emotions, as described by Tibetan Buddhists, such as anger and fear and thoughts that cause suffering, such as those centered on material desire. Ecstatic joy and pleasurable pride also arise. What changes is our relationship with these responses. The more well-versed we are in svadhyaya and other practices to know ourselves, the easier it is to return to being a neutral witness of our thoughts, words, and deeds, bringing us back to a space of tranquility and wholeness.
Each time we come from love instead of fear, neutrality instead of judgment, and spaciousness instead of limitation, we express our true essence and share our divinity. Our consciousness is in alignment with Source. In divine will, rather than self-will, the God spark within us increases in brightness as the darkness of fear and illusion dissolves.
Being born an eagle is a metaphor for those moments when we reunite our will with Source—when we are a conduit for the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence that is Source. We glow in the light of our true spiritual essence. We remember we are whole, perfect, and complete, and we effortlessly express the radiance of who we are.
Living our true essence is a sacred flight, a hero's journey that takes us through unfamiliar terrain and transformative experiences, each unfolding in its own time. The goal is to find the mystical elixir that will heal us back to our true and highest selves. We each have the potential to attain this goal, to be born an eagle, and to return home with the magic to be shared with all.
It is on our journey home that, as T. S. Eliot described in Little Gidding, at
... the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.
Therein lies the secret of the potent elixir. The magic has always been within.CHAPTER 2
Secrets of Living
"May my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living." —e e cummings
Nature is one of the nicest places in the world to remind us of our infinite potential. Nature knows about love and harmony and offers a sacred space to return to authenticity and reenergize. Nature teaches this with total acceptance. Nature never judges.
The moon and stars do not discriminate when sharing their light. Nature's warm sunshine and gentle breezes caress us, irrespective of any inner turmoil. Plants and animals accept their impermanence. They do not struggle with broken parts or wilting petals. Dogs love us unconditionally with their wet kisses, and cats snuggle affectionately as they entwine their tails around our legs. It seems even flowers smile brightly, and rainbows bless us no matter how we look or feel.
Nature's infectious self-acceptance makes it easy to remember that we are completely loved. In nature's sanctuary, we are back in touch with our birthright, able to do what we are born to do, able to share our special gifts and be all that we are.
Birds have a special way of reminding us of our expansive nature when we pay attention to their teachings. Some birds love the freedom of soaring like eagles. By being true to themselves, eagles give us a gift. As we watch them glide effortlessly in the vast and open sky, we are reminded of our own infinite potential.
The versatility of other birds reminds us of different aspects of ourselves. Sparrows may be small, but they do not play small. They are endearingly bold and fearless as they calmly land on tabletops in open cafés for bread crumbs. They perch and wait with a friendliness that says we share a common ground, despite any overt differences. In their special ways, they remind us of our capacity for loving self-acceptance.
Whether eagle, sparrow, or a combination, we have unique blessings to share. This specialness never diminishes. When we express our true selves, we bestow grace to ourselves and those around us.
Birds teach us the simplicity of sharing our divinity as we live our truth. Some of us are like beautiful, snowy-white swans in a glassy pond. Their outward elegance conveys grace and serenity, even in a moment of scratching.
They remind us of our calm and balanced inner center that never changes.
Others thrive in the unpredictable quality of waves and winds like this seabird.
Amid peaceful or unpredictable surroundings, birds teach us that life can be embraced because of, rather than in spite of, its mysterious and changeful nature.
Some birds make us smile with their exotic and entertaining ways. These pink flamingos remind us that our experiences can be simple, easy, and fun!
Life is grand! Appreciate it.
For a few birds, fun and simplicity seem more burdened. Some species once threatened with extinction have had tougher pasts, such as the nene, or Hawaiian goose.
They benefit from extra love and space to help them return to wholeness.
We each have a story about our past that no longer serves us. We can let these stories go. Accept and forgive.
All birds have the gift of inspiration. Their message is simple: there is always something to be in awe of. Learn to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Hear the melody of the Universe and sing!
Like birds, we can naturally share our gifts with others and brighten their lives in small but meaningful ways. We begin in love and harmony as nature teaches.CHAPTER 3
"How can the drops of water know themselves to be a river?" —Zen Garden, Book of Meditations
Each aspect of nature—whether plant, animal, or mineral—effortlessly fulfills its purpose to be what it is meant to be. Each life form knows and accepts its role in sustaining life on the planet and in the greater universe, as if guided by a sacred script that has its highest interest at heart.
Nature's apparent ease in thriving obscures its profound teachings about harmonious coexistence and acceptance of impermanence. Humankind, in contrast, seems conflicted about resting in the neutrality of simply being.
This is because humanity has the gift of consciousness.
Consciousness offers awareness of our existence as individuals with physical forms separate and distinct from all other life forms. As individuals, we strive to attain goals to grow, evolve, compete, and master.
Awareness of self extends to our relationships with the material world, such as attachment to possessions and status, as well as relationships with the spiritual realms, including being open to guidance from a sacred inner compass.
With awareness of the separateness of self comes an ego, whose function is to enhance and promote individuality. Ego delights in pleasure and also helps us survive tough times with psychological mechanisms, such as denial or repression, until we are better able to cope directly.
Above all, ego keeps us in the delusion of separateness, for without it, ego has no purpose. In this illusory state, people believe all answers come from the self. This is faulty logic because a problem cannot be fixed with the source of the problem.
When we are suffering, for example, it is because our identity is based on stories about our unworthiness. Rather than correct the basis of unworthiness, which is the problem, ego perpetuates suffering by compounding the illusion that we are unworthy with additional false beliefs, such as we deserve to be punished for our sins or without our suffering, we will not receive the attention we desire.
Consciousness of a separate self thus creates resistance to humankind's capacity to flow in the harmony of nonattachment and impermanence.
Yet consciousness is one of humanity's greatest blessings. In our awareness of separateness and individuality, we can recognize the obstacles for what they are—diversions from being our true essence—and choose another approach.
Once we recognize blocks as the diversions they are, they lose their power. The unknown becomes known. Naming our unworthiness as an illusion, for example, dissipates feelings of deficiency and lack. By knowing ourselves, we lovingly move beyond false perceptions that are the consequences of separation and return to our inner wholeness.
It is both our birthright and our responsibility to be all that we can be. As we get to know ourselves, we ease back into the ancient wisdom that we are more than what is measurable in the physical world. We far exceed what we do, how we are perceived, and what we have been willing to express. We begin to spread our wings in the infinite possibilities of being born an eagle.CHAPTER 4
Connection to Source
"We should seek not so much to pray but to become prayer." —St. Francis of Assisi
Connection to Source may be experienced as recognition of life's perfection just as it is. It may be in moments when God's love fills us and flows through us. We may feel enveloped in unconditional love or have an awareness of an energetic oneness and interconnectedness with all forms. These moments may correspond with stillness, prayer, meditation, gratitude, love, and even deep suffering.
Source is all knowing, ever present, and infinitely powerful. To understand these elusive qualities, nature offers examples.
The first quality of Source, omniscience, refers to total wisdom. Nature's all-knowingness is evident in the amazing development of life. A mammal's life, for example, begins with the merging of two cells. Through innumerable, perfectly timed sequences of events that lead to the birth of a fully formed animal, nature knows exactly what to do.
As humans, we have come to trust our minds as a fount of knowledge and wisdom. Yet the brain is limited because there are many filters and biases in thought processes. In our human tendencies, we often conduct ourselves as if we know everything or at least more than the next person. We may think, speak, and act in ways that presume greater knowledge. The results of such presumption are words and behaviors that judge, condemn, and betray others and ourselves.
To counteract the toxicity of the false belief that we are all knowing, an attitude of neutrality helps. As we practice neutrality and nonjudgment, we invite total wisdom and discernment of a higher truth.
The second quality of Source, omnipresence, refers to being eternal and infinite. Nature, too, is present everywhere and always. Carbon dioxide, water, and the sun's energy—three necessary ingredients that sustain plant life through the process of photosynthesis, for example—are ever present.
Our separate individual self, in contrast, is constrained by a time-space continuum marked by a set life span from birth to death in a given geography. Humankind is further bounded by time as the human mind spends considerable hours each day in time-defined activities that include dwelling on past events or on a future that may never take place.
To counteract the limitations of time and space, practices in present moment awareness are available. In present moment awareness, there is flow and stillness. In addition, flashes of insight and intuition that seem to transcend time and space may be inspired.
The third quality of Source, omnipotence, refers to infinite power. Nature unassumingly expresses its power in many ways. Water is a perfect example as illustrated in the wisdom of Lao Tzu, who taught "Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong."
From a human perspective, power is often misconstrued. Power is seen as an authority to control matter, including people. Thus, when faced with adversity, it is common to respond with toughness and tenacity, but being soft and yielding like water is subtly powerful.
True power is not about control. Control is antithetical to our true essence because it assumes a disparity between people. Given everyone has the same birthright, disparity only exists in a world dominated by the delusion of separation.
To counteract the illusion of false power, we can adopt an attitude of spaciousness and generosity. Gentle acceptance of our life experiences and ourselves allows us to be open conduits for the subtlest experiences of true power.
Our highest self-expression is a reflection of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence that is Source. With an attitude of neutrality, presence, and spaciousness, we enhance our capacity to express the fullness of our true selves in every moment.CHAPTER 5
In the Beginning
"If my heart can become pure and simple like that of a child, I think there can be no greater happiness than this." —Zen Garden, Book of Meditations
In the beginning, there is nothing—nothing but infinite potentiality. This is true of the beginning of human life as well. In some ways, children are born a tabula rasa, or blank slate, with boundless possibilities and an inherent truth about their essence that exudes a blissful aliveness.
At birth, children seem to know they are perfect. They have an expectation of nonjudgment as they play, explore, love, create, and blossom in their own special way. Neutrality, present moment awareness, and spaciousness come naturally.
The very first experiences in life are often centered on tremendous acceptance. Beaming parents count fingers and toes, look deeply into their newborn's eyes, and announce their child's perfection.
In the beginning, we are loved!CHAPTER 6
After the Beginning
"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love." —St. Francis of Assisi
As with all of nature's creations, human lives are dynamic. There is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth at cellular and holistic levels. Children, too, evolve from their earliest experiences of being seen as perfect bundles of love. Initially they passively receive all forms of nurturing and soon actively interact with unique expressions of gurgles, smiles, and gestures. They begin to play, explore, love, create, and blossom in their own special way.
As weeks and months pass, the early beaming smiles of proud loved ones are replaced with an occasional frown or look of impatience. Youngsters who initially only knew love gradually receive messages of conditional acceptance.
These new messages signal to the little ones that they are less than perfect and are conveyed for many reasons external to the child's divinity within. Perhaps the child cries late at night, develops allergies, or fusses whenever Grandma visits although no one notices how tightly Grandma squeezes and hugs. Perhaps caregivers are just having a tough day, and their impatience shows.
Excerpted from Born an Eagle among Sparrows by Paula Sasaki. Copyright © 2014 Paula Sasaki, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.