Transcribed from The Biography of Ajahn Chah.
We’re like chickens, that’s all. The chicken’s born, has chicks, spends its day scratching around in the dirt, then in the evening it goes to sleep. In the morning, it jumps down to the ground, and starts scratching around again. And then in the evening, it goes to sleep again. Is there any point to it? No.
We’re like chickens. Like creatures with no wisdom. The owner comes every day with food, takes hold of the chicken, lifts it up in his arms to look at it. The chicken thinks the owner is being affectionate. As for the owner, he’s thinking “Mm, it’s getting heavy. How much does it weigh?” The chicken doesn’t know what’s going on.
The owner brings rice for it to eat. It’s happy, thinks the owner loves it. Eats up all the rice, gets fat, thinks it’s got it made. But as soon as the chicken weighs 2 or 3 kilos, that’s it. It’s off to the market. That’s how most people lead their lives. They don’t see the danger. They’re deluded, just like the chicken.
The owner takes the chicken off to the market. It’s in the back of the truck, still clucking, having a great time. Then the car reaches the market, and the owner sells the chicken to a store owner. The chicken still doesn’t suspect anything. The guy tears the feathers off its neck and the chicken thinks the guy’s grooming it. The chicken’s that stupid. It’s only when the knife has cut its throat that the chicken realizes, “Oh, I’m dead.” We don’t see our own life. We don’t see how to remedy our defilements.
Look at how spry the forest chickens are, how wary of danger. And they’re no gluttons. The moment they become conscious of a threat, even while they’re eating, they’re away. These forest chickens are vigilant. They protect themselves, and they can fly high.
When they sleep, they rest on tree branches and treetops, each one to himself. Not like domestic chickens. They eat a lot, they’re heavy, they’re ponderous. They can’t fly high. They don’t have their wits about them. Even if one manages to run off, it soon gets mauled by dogs.
Domestic chickens receive attention from human beings. They’re looked after, and it makes them heedless. The forest chickens are different. They’re alert, and self-reliant. They go about their business without any fuss. They’re punctual. Come rain or shine even if it’s bitterly cold. When it’s time to crow, they crow. In fact they’re so reliable we use them as an alarm clock.
They’re consistent about their work, and they never demand any reward from anyone for doing it. They live at ease in nature. They don’t seem to get attached to anything. It’s almost as if they have their own kind of Dhamma practice. They don’t think a lot. They’re not inquisitive or doubtful. They don’t look for things to stir up their minds.
Look at the forest chickens. Take them as your teachers.