Here is a story told to me when I was a child . . .
A young girl in Kyoto, Japan on her way home from school, found a baby bird that had been killed by a fall from its nest in a lofty tree nearby. She carried the dead bird to the garden of her family temple and finding a pleasant spot by a miniature waterfall, she prepared a shallow grave and marked the site with a monument of white pebbles. As she knelt in prayer by the side of the grave, the kindly old priest of the temple, who was also the custodian of the garden, came over, and kneeling beside her, softly intoned a mass for the dead.
After the service was finished, the girl, who was called Chiyo, spoke to the priest: "Reverend, my father has told me that when mother died, the Lord Amida came with a company of radiant beings and took her soul to the blessed Paradise of the West. Will he come also for the spirit of this little bird?"
The priest nodded his head with a gentle smile, explaining that it was promised in the faith of Buddha that the ear if the Compassionate One will hear the death cry of the least of all creatures, even the mite that floats in a sunbeam. "Certainly he will not forget this baby bird."
It was then that Chyo, being a perfectly normal little girl, resolved to perform a vigil by the grave of the bird in the hope that she might see the coming of the Radiant Lord of Love. She seated herself nearby and tried to think only of holy things. Several hours past. Night came and the rays of the moon shone down in the garden.
Perhaps Chiyo fell asleep and it was all a dream, but she soes not believe so, nor does the kindly priest. Suddenly a soft light glowed in the garden and the gracious form of the Compassionate Lord floated down to Earth, his feet resting on open lotus blossoms. He spoke quietly in a voice that was filled with music. "I have heard the cry of a birdling that has departed from its body and I have come to take it home."
At that instant, a joyous little chirping sound came from the
grave of the tiny bird, and its pure spirit, glowing with light, came forth from the Earth. The Blessed Lord knelt down and took the spirit in his hand. He placed it in the folds of his robe against his golden heart. Then, with a reassuring smile to Chiyo, the Buddha returned to the heavenly regions beyond the mountains of the West, bearing with him the soul of the little bird.
We may say that this is sentiment; that only children can believe these things. But who is to say that our disillusionments are more real than the so call illusions inspired by a devout believing? Doubts and fears are common simply because love has not made them beautiful?