Spiritual Tools: Ramak: The Parable of the Birds
On a certain island in the sea there lived a great sage, highly skilled in creating all manner of wonderful things. At first, the Sage lived alone on his island, content to enjoy his own thoughts. But this sage reflected that true wisdom demands that creatures be brought into existence to benefit from and enjoy that wisdom.
Consequently, he built a towering edifice, story upon story, with a closed, secret room at its summit, so cunningly concealed then no one but he could enter therein. Here in this room this stage could enjoy his own thoughts, in lofty contemplation as he used to do before the great palace was erected. Beneath this room there were many walls and mansions endowed in miraculous fashion with intelligence so that they could appreciate the wisdom of the Sage though they could not actually know him.
From his secret chamber the sage would emerge from time to time to walk among the halls and mansions to endow them with the power and intelligence to endure. Passing through these rooms this sage would come upon a spacious courtyard in which he had created birds of varied plumage, each with its own type of music and its own song. Through the crystal walls of his palace this sage could observe these birds and their song would ascend to him, conducted by specially fashioned pipes.
Beneath this courtyard there was a garden containing water wheels which brought water to the flowers of the garden and there, there were many more birds of different feather. This garden contained many kinds of food and drink for the birds and after drinking and eating their fill they, too, sing and their song ascends to the Sage. But when this sage is secluded in his room he is indifferent to all that goes on beneath him for the song of the birds is heard only in the halls and mansions, not in the secret chamber.
No sooner does this sage leaves his secret room to enter the lower rooms than his power flows through them and the song of the birds is heard, drawing him down through all the rooms to hear the sweet music and by his passing through them they are given the strength to endure. These rooms, in turn, cast their light on the large courtyard to revive the birds and to cause the water wheels to function properly and so bring food and drink to the birds in the garden who can then sing their song.
After singing their song for a time the birds in the garden ascend by means of the water wheels to the large courtyard, where they are welcomed with great joy by the other birds because of the sweetness of their song. From here they ascend to the halls and mansions, where the accents of their song swells into a great sound of joy which the sage delights to hear.
But great skill is required for the birds to sing the song as it should be sung. Part of the sage’s wisdom, this scale cannot be gained unless this sage teaches it to the birds. This sage descended, therefore, into the garden, as soon as the birds were created, to teach them how to sing. For only when the melody is produced in its proper harmonies does it possess the power of penetrating to the upper rooms.
But it is not alone lack of skill and ignorance of the melody which prevents the song in ascending. In the garden there is a large quantity of a special dust, placed there to enable things to grow. This dust is valuable, and indeed essential, but if it stirred up and the balanced way it lies on the ground is disturbed it rises to clog the channels through which the song of the birds ascends.
The birds have to be taught not alone how to sing but also how to avoid stirring up the dust by frantic waving of their wings or by hopping about in forbidden territory, for when an inordinate amount of dust rises it obscures the power giving light from above and it blocks the channels of song. This sage must then perforce remain in his secret chamber oblivious to the birds and virtually the whole purpose for which he engaged in building is frustrated.
In order to prevent the birds from stirring up the dust this sage prepares pits at the bottom of the garden. Any bird failing to observe the rules, instead of ascending to the courtyard to sing its song there, is placed in one of these pits and covered with the dust it has stirred up. There it is obliged to struggle until it can escape from the dust and fly aloft to be welcomed with song. Some of the birds, having stirred up so much dust, are suffocated beneath it for ever and can never ascend to the upper rooms. Others, after having suffered in the dust, restore the proper balance and are then able to ascend. (Shiur Komah, Chapter Ten)