D.T.Suzuki's, Shin Buddhism, p. 50,51
In India there is a mythical bird...
In India there is a mythical bird, the golden-winged bird. It is told in the sutra that it is a very big bird. It eats dragons for its food. The dragons live deep in the ocean, but when the golden-winged bird from above detects the dragons way down at the bottom of the ocean, it sweeps down from the sky, the waves open up, and it picks the dragons out of the deep and eats them. Of course the dragons are afraid of the approach of that bird and dread becoming its meal.
There is another story, of which I shall only tell part, in connection with the golden-winged bird. Somebody asked a Buddhist teacher, "A bird who has broken through the net - what does he eat? The mythical bird, having broken through the net, is perfectly free. He is absolute master of himself. We usually find ourselves bound up with all kinds of nets, most of them made by ourselves. The nets may not really exist, but we imagine we are trapped in them. Now this bird - that is, one of us who has been spiritually enlightened- is the one who has broken through the nets. The bird is, by way of analogy,the spiritually free man. When the Buddhist teacher was asked, "What would be the food that this bird eats?" he meant: What kind of life would a really free, spiritually enlightened man need? One who has full belief in Myogo, one who is possessed by Amida, what sort of life would he lead? What kind of man would he be?
That is the kind of question we often ask. In fact most of us or all of us ask that question, though it does not concern us at all. What's the use of trying to know such things instead of being those things ourselves? Because we are so curiously made, we always try to ask questions which do not reallyconcern us. That is the frailty of human nature, but at the same time it points up how significantly our human life is distinct from animal life. Animals don't ask such questions.
The master said to his questioner, "You come
through the net yourself. Then I will tell you."When one has "come
through the net" he needs no telling. He knows himself. So instead of
asking the idle question,"What would be the life of one who is really
spiritually free?" why don't you be free yourself spiritually, and see
what kind of life it is?