Song Shu sat on the deck of his tree temple which he built not long after he began his seclusion. He was sitting, meditating on the sunrise. Yellow-stained orange light illuminated Song Shu’s sitting place, as not one movement was there from his body; breathing steady as a mechanical pump. Chirping from the birds suddenly arose as the sun drew higher in the sky.
“What are you doing?” came a voice from in back and above Song Shu. A young bird sat atop the temple roof, peering down at the unmoving squirrel.
“I am sitting,” replied Song Shu as he let the air from his lungs escape as smoothly as water through a cell membrane. He did not turn around to see who it was. He continued in his unflinching pose.
“What for?” asked the bird, fluttering down to get a glimpse of this peculiar squirrel. “Are you injured or something? Can you not forage today?”
“No, I am quite well.”
“So why are you sitting here like this?” the bird was increasing his curious tone, as he sought to inquire as to the strange non-activity of the squirrel.
“Just to sit.”
“Oh…” The bird was rather unsatisfied with this answer. This squirrel’s strange manner rather perplexed him, since he had never seen anyone, let alone a squirrel, sitting so still unless it was feeding on an acorn, or scared stiff. The bird began to pace around in front of Song Shu, studying him, thinking, reasoning. He looked at Song Shu’s face and noticed his eyes were closed.
“Sleepy, perhaps?” asked the bird.
“No, I am quite firmly awake,” replied Song Shu, still in his usual serene, unperturbed tone.
“Oh…” He hopped toward Song Shu. He wanted to examine him closer. Song Shu, feeling the bird’s curiosity beating down on him like the mid-day sun, shown a gentle smile.
“Curious bird, would you really like to know why I am sitting?” uttered Song Shu.
“Why, yes, of course!” the bird replied with a delighted flutter of his wings.
“I am sitting for the same reason the sun shines, the grass is green, and the trees are tall,” answered Song Shu, his breathing never breaking rhythm. The bird tipped his head to one side in utter baffled confusion. That didn’t answer his question at all, and what’s worse, it created even more questions that the young bird simply could not put his head around. His body slacked, as he let out a bellow of disappointed breath.
“I don’t quite understand such an answer, sir,” squeaked the bird. He plunked his body down on the deck in front of Song Shu, with a quick ruffle of his feathers, settling in.
“Good, you can join me while I sit,” said Song Shu, eyes still closed.
“Do you do this every morning?” Asked the bird, half expecting to receive another nonsensical response.
“From night until day, I sit,” replied Song Shu. The bird fluttered his feathers in amazement.
“What do you mean? Don’t you sleep?” the bird asked.
“When I am tired, I will sleep.”
“But how do you go an entire night without sleeping?”
“As peacefully as a rock sits on the ground in Spring.” Alas, the bird was to get no definitive answers from this squirrel, which quite ironically sparked his curiosity to want to know more.
“How do you do this sitting?” the bird asked after a long pause of deliberation.
“Just sit,” replied Song Shu. “But sit without yourself,” he added. Sigh, more incomprehensibility, but the young bird was intrigued, nonetheless.
“I shall try this ‘sitting with no meaning’. I am but a young bird. I haven’t much else to do.”
“Very well. Do as you wish.” Song Shu finally opened his eyes, and looked down at the little bird. “If you want to learn, we shall begin your training tomorrow, at dawn. I will go tend to the garden now. You should fly home to your nest.” The little bird fluttered his wings with excitement.
“Ok! I will be back early tomorrow,” he exclaimed with glee.