One day a young boy found a bird lying on the ground, squawking for help. The boy felt compassion for the bird, petted the bird gently and wanted to help it, but didn’t know how. So he took the bird in his hands, carried it carefully home and showed it to his parents. They washed the bird and found it a little wounded. It would need time and care to recover. As the bird had become dear to his heart, the boy immediately offered to care for the bird.
He began to feed the bird and ran out to collect grass to build a soft nest for it. He put the nest beside his bed. Now the boy and the bird were sleeping together and living together. Soon the boy and the bird became dear friends. The bird was happy and thankful and the boy was happy too having a new friend. The bird got a name and became a dear family member to all. In course of time it really recovered and started to hop and to jump a little bit and to exercise his wings. That made everyone even more happy. Soon it would be able to fly, how wonderful!
But what then? The boy became thoughtful, and started to think. - If the bird would now really start to fly, they would have to keep the windows closed or it may simply fly away one day. But that should not happen. The boy loved his friend so much that he couldn’t imagine anymore to part from him. He should surely stay with him, forever. But how? To keep the windows closed all the time, that was not practical. No, better to buy a cage for the bird. But what would that mean for his friend? The bird would feel imprisoned. It would feel trapped. Its love and thankfulness would turn around into disappointment, grief or even hate. Everything would be destroyed. The boy was puzzled; what to do?
His parents were spiritual people. They told their son: “If you really love the bird, then you should not think of your own interest, but only how to make your friend happy. The nature of a bird is to fly in the open sky, it cannot be happy in a cage.” That was hard for the boy. But finally he opened his heart and opened the windows. And one day the bird really flew away. But see what happened: Whenever the boy saw a bird flying in the sky, he thought: “How happy he is! That must be my friend!” And his bird was really happy and ever thankful to the boy and told it to the other birds. So all birds became his friends and he was now surrounded all the time by birds. Instead of losing a friend he got so many new friends.
When I told this story some weeks ago in a satsang, one lady said: Swamiji, I know you made that story. But that is not a fictitious story, that really happened to some friends of mine. They saved a bird and kept it in an open cage in their garden, so that the bird could come and go as it liked. When it was healed it flew away sometimes, but always came back. Later it even built its nest in there. Now already the third generation of birds lives there.
Attachment is impure love, love mixed with ego and selfishness. Ego divides, love unites. Love wants nothing, love expects nothing. Love is unconditional and selfless. Love binds no one and hurts no one. Love lets free. But indeed, such love attracts everyone, such love is like a magnet. That is the secret of love. And that is the secret of all the saints.