A crow takes flight from her branch. The wind carries her, tumbles her, moves her in the ten directions. Other crows and sparrows and branches come and go, sometimes in the way, sometimes helping along. Always responding to these variations in the field, continuously harmonizing with the wind, the crow finds another branch and settles down alongside other crows resting from wayward flights.
As the crow’s path goes, it is neither here nor there. From the moment she takes flight, the path comes alive. And each moment she flies, the path behind her dies. She is drawing a circle in the sand as a wave washes over. There is no invisible road she wanders. She is the road, origin and destination.
And yet her path is not chaotic, without order, without grace. Her movements are controlled by her sense of the way. Her movement is a spontaneous outpouring of devotion to the wind. And once she lands, you can draw out her path. She moved from one branch to the other. The origin and destination seem outside her, guiding her, calling her as she continues to oscillate between motion and rest.
I sometimes wonder how close the Buddha’s path is to the crow in flight. As he grew older, the teachings and practice came alive. He was the crow in flight, harmonizing with his circumstances. Then when he died, his path was traced out and recorded in the teachings handed down across the years. He was the crow who flew from one branch to another, part of a lineage of crows that stretches back many kalpas, always flying from one branch to another.
And for us, on our branch, about to take flight, do we rest in the wild faith of the invisible path that is no path at all? Or do we rest in the faith that at the end of our flight, whether in this lifetime or in a thousand lifetimes, another branch will be there, a branch beyond all branches, waiting for our arrival?
There is no answering these questions. And no dogma to make the choice and doubt go away.
As the crow’s path goes, just fly.