Author Topic: The Sparrow's Nest (Nido del Gorrión)  (Read 1733 times)

Offline Dharmakara

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4230
    • View Profile
The Sparrow's Nest (Nido del Gorrión)
« on: March 15, 2015, 02:53:02 am »
This is an English translation of "Nido del Gorrión" (The Sparrow's Nest) and consists of a series of related dharma talks by the Ven. Shanjian Dashi that were given in a single day at Tarragona, Spain --- also, for anyone who might be interested, there's a growing selection of his books in English:



Today I received a card from a generous and dedicated master and student in the United States. Part of his letter reads as follows:

      "X" has renounced his ordination on this day and removed his Kesa (Skt. kasaya; Ch. jiasha),
      casting it back into the fires of samsara where it belongs, having found the institution referred
      to as "Buddhism", in all its varied forms, to be a hindrance due to its inherent tendencies, both
      dogmatic and sociocentric in nature.

      While spiritual enlightenment is truly a worthy quest, one not to be taken lightly, it is likewise
      a journey beset by cul-de-sacs and perils, a journey where the greatest danger lies in our own
      hopes and the blindness they can produce.

This person cannot change his heart and continues teaching the Dharma, but rejects the labels of "-ism." He has thus advanced a step in Dharma understanding.

Here this dedicated man has met with the fact that Buddhism, in and of itself, is a nest of Sparrows.


Within what is called Buddhism, the Dharma has been cast from the nest in order to fill the vacant part with the dried leaves of comfort, which are actually mildew. The Sparrows  occasionally seek a crumb of Dharma here and there.  But these Sparrows are not interested in Dharma, they are interested in filling their bellies and sleeping soundly dreaming of their acquisitions and prestige on the morrow.

They inhabit the temples and viharas which are otherwise empty, assuming illusory forms as human creatures as adepts and many with greater shame cover themselves with multicolored robes and titles. They chirp and are very fluent but their sounds are really quite empty.

They chirp continually that "all is empty", but the emptiness is real and in their cognitive thoughts. As a Master one must be careful not to believe for a moment that the Sparrows will understand what they receive. He must know that they will take what they receive and add it to their own nest, which may have no resemblance to True Dharma.

Have you ever sat down for a while in the park where sparrows are present when someone casts a few crumbs among them?

The sparrows from a distance dart in and steal a crumb and then just as quickly dart away.

I feel here that I am throwing a bag of crumbs to sparrows. Web searchers dart in, pick up what they fancy and flit away just as quickly.

It is as if they never really were ever present. 

What crumbs of the Dharma have been chosen?

Sparrows are particular, but the human creature is dominated by insatiable folly. He uses the term Dharma without understanding.


In no way do I wish to demean the magnificent Sparrow, but the behavior of a Sparrow is not appropriate for a human creature.

There are three types of folly-riddled human Sparrows.

The Intelligent Sparrow

In pages of this level the most frequent is the Intelligent Sparrow and really there is nothing worse than a Sparrow with intelligence that has no contact with his true nature.

They guard a broken stick as if it were the whole nest and build their nest of frozen shards of last year's ice.

The problem is, you see, that they believe that they are intelligent.

They might well be in the high percentile of Cognitive intelligence, they may have a facility for collection and organization, but they have no idea of what real intelligence is.

They do not want Awakening, they want to know themselves to be Awakened (which is absolute folly) and, what is more, wish that others respect that Awakening.

They do not realize that that form of Awakening is only a part of the Samsara game of Monopoly... In which all that they receive is two cards with "Park Avenue" and "Mayfair" marked on them.

They would be better off going to Jail without passing the Go False Awakening and there reflect on the folly of all they are doing.

With that intelligence, what do they believe they are looking for?

They believe that there is something out there somewhere that their intelligence can reach and then let go. It is beyond the Two Truths. It is beyond their melding. It is beyond the Uncarved Wood. They believe that the Two Truths are a duality and you can't convince their closed minds that they are not.

I have had many students of that type who study well, but after a meditation when I ask for the experience they give me a description of what the experience is like or describe what they think is happening.

Far better if those students in that moment could see their folly and seeing that folly as terrible experience declare "shit on the devil." 

The Confused Sparrow

You know the type. Are you one of those who picks up a piece of Dharma straw then drops it to pick up another... Are you sure that Dharma is what you want or do you just want to find a plce where you can sit in silence and let the busy world go by?

When this type of Sparrow finds a piece that seems good, someone else thinks its bad so they let it go.

They dart here... they dart there and want some big mother (or father bird) to tell them what is best and true. So web pages, groups, blogs, Facebook and Twitter are places they look. There they find those that believe that they know (from the intelligent group) and they accept the "all is emptiness" phrases as signs of wisdom and when someone declares "Emptiness is Form and Form is Emptiness," then he becomes the Buddhist "Reverend Jones" and can lead them off to a suicide somewhere in the dark Africa of their own mind.

The Greedy Sparrow

Buddhism is full of Greedy Sparrows. Are you one?

They are intelligent, and without arrogance and pride, but they adore the beauty of words and phrases and the charisma of those that use them. They sit as close to the master as possible and twiddle their prayer beads as if somehow they exuded special knowledge.

If the beads or a bell falls then they place either on their heads to dispel the evil spirits. They cling to Buddhism, for they know in their MIND HEARTS that the Dharma is correct... How do they know that? Because the Master declares that the Buddha said so.

So they want the Dharma but they don't want to give up what they have.

They are the mainstream of Buddhism, and they are used by the system  for they feel that they are a part of something greater than the mundane world that they will return to when, for example, a weekend retreat is finished.

Buddhism is Psychotherapy. It is a sugar-coated pill that really works as long as you are only playing the Buddhist game. With these delightfully chupy Sparrows you must play the game... Tell them it is difficult and they want to leave. Tell them that Buddha said that and they nod, for he was a long time ago and Buddhism is now with Meditation instructors on every corner and a Sparrow with the arrow that killed Cock Robin is waiting there for you to look up and smile.

I have been unkind, some may say, but look at yourself and really see what is happining and what is going to happen in the rest of the short life that you have.

The interesting thing is the a true Sparrow knows how to build a perfect nest, but as a human creature you have not the slightest idea how to build your nest. And that nest is the base of all your relations your work and your life.

How many years has it been that you have been looking for crumbs thrown by foolish patrons, when there is a magnificent cornfield with ripe heads just a short beat of the wings away?


As an example, let me give you the first instance of folly here. You have ingested the idea of Confucius that there are four corners and now you either expect to learn what they are or at least be given a clue how to at least expose them to view.

That is a mental error. There are no four corners.

Does a Sparrow's nest have four corners? Do you see how your conditioned cognitive mind jumped in and set a pattern for your thoughts?

If you deny that then you have already lost the first corner.

Let us look at that Sparrow's nest. It is round. Where have the corners gone? They are there, but since "round" and "rectangular" are just word concepts, both round and rectangular dissapear for the Sparrow.

How can one then lift a corner? Good question, is it not?

From such questions koans arise.

One thing we learn is that nest building is done almost year-round. Do you build your Dharma nest all year round? No! You are too busy?

The Sparrow does not work. The Sparrow does not try to build relations with an ego. The Sparrow does not worry about his aspect or future.

So now your mind can begin to work on that, leading you astray.

Have then you learned nothing? The Sparrow is no different than the Lilies of the Fields.

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." (Luke 12:27)

Glorious like the Lily, the male Sparrow has a gray crown, whitish check, and black throat. The bill and breast are black in summer and in winter the bill is yellow and the breast is gray.The female has a brown crown and a plain breast with a broad buff line over the eye.

The Sparrow too, does not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

And this we can declare for every living creature except one.

I repeat, the Sparrow does not work. The Sparrow does not try to build relations with an ego. The Sparrow does not worry about his aspect or future.

It does what nature itself dictates, not what the individual Identity or the collective society Identity demands. Natural Dharma loans us all that we need from birth to death. It does not, like Mara, demand its pound of flesh.

From what has been said lift now one of the other corners.

The Sparrow's Nest

The Sparrow's nest is made of coarse material on the outside, such as straw, twigs, paper, leaves, grasses, and any other available material. The inside is lined with feathers or fine grasses.

Of what is your nest made up? Probably a bank loan. That was the first stone and the first burden. So it is not really your nest at all, is it?

So what in Hell's name does the Dharma expect you to do? Build your own? The Dharma has no expectations.

The Sparrow lines its nest. I suppose that you line your nest.

With what?

With feathers and fine grass? There goes your mind again.

Do you fill your nest with Dharma?

Lift up a corner.

But a Sparrow's nest is round.

Have you learned anything at all? Will you apply it?

Not easy, certainly, for you are not a Sparrow in a Sparrow world.

But, then again, even in Samsara there is no such thing as a Sparrow, for science says that it is really a Weaver finch.

But both are just names. The Dharma of both is the same.

The Human Creature is just a name.

Your Dharma is the same as that of a Sparrow.

Lift up a corner.


I have been advising you here to lift up a corner after hearing part of this lesson which has been presented.

What are these corners? Well, the first is that provided by the lesson in words... Just words. There is a certain logic to what is presented, but it is far, in and of itself, from what you are required to understand.

Let us go to the opposite corner from that presented.

What can be found there?

The answer is experiences. Experiences that are directly related to what has been presented. But until you can manage to make a great step forward these experiences will be simply cognitive and without great value as far as true understanding is concerned. You will have to lift one of the other two corners first, and perhaps both.

That leaves the two other corners which are available.

Lifting one of these two corners means that you must look beyond the words to what is true but has been left unsaid. When you lift the other then you must grasp what cannot be said.

No one can baby-feed you. If you don't lift any corner then you are stuck with the teachings colored with your own logical thought.

The corners are not lifted easily, Buddha said as much. However all human creatures can do so if they work with diligence, determination, calmness, patience and perseverance.


« Last Edit: March 15, 2015, 02:56:05 am by Dharmakara »

Offline Marcus Epicurus

  • Member
  • Posts: 260
  • What would Buddha do?
    • View Profile
    • Oregon Animal Shelter
Re: The Sparrow's Nest (Nido del Gorrión)
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2015, 03:22:01 pm »
Interesting and thought provoking.
Ven. Shanjian Dashi  sounds like a wise man.
The non-doing of any evil,
the performance of what's skillful,
the cleansing of one's own mind:
this is the teaching of the Awakened.

Offline Dharmakara

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4230
    • View Profile
Re: The Sparrow's Nest (Nido del Gorrión)
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2015, 05:07:46 pm »
Yes, wise and dearly missed by myself and others. Although its been almost three years since his passing, there isn't a day that passes where I don't give thanks for having him in my life --- he was my teacher and preceptor, my father and brother, and the best dharma companion one could hope for.

Offline ZenFred

  • Member
  • Posts: 304
    • View Profile
Re: The Sparrow's Nest (Nido del Gorrión)
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2015, 05:58:52 am »

 Thank you for posting this. Very convicting and pulls no punches. Lots to reflect upon.


SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal