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A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in the nest of a barnyard hen. The eagle hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked. “That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens.”

So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was. (from the book “Awareness” by Anthony de Mello)

We come to this dense reality from dimensions where there are no limitations. Born in a given country and family, we learn specific behaviors, belief systems, customs and once again get used to being a human. Our life goes according to set patterns, mostly in a small space encompassing a few kilometers. After some years our identity blurs into mass consciousness and we completely forget our angelic origin. Now we are trapped like the eagle in the above-mentioned story, designed to soar free but living the life of a chicken.

Chickens mostly spend their lives in cages or in massive buildings with thousands of other chickens. Some of them are luckier and can be in the open air, enjoying the sun and the grass, scratching at the soil in search of seeds and insects. These birds are not capable of long distance flight, generally only using their wings to flee perceived danger and quickly forgetting about their ability to fly. Their sight is not good, which is why they disappear in the coop before nightfall. They live together in a flock, with some of them dominating others by pecking, scratching and other harassment to gain priority food access and nesting locations. (Whence the term “pecking order.”) Their life within this specific structure, in accordance with the commonly accepted rules, is repetitive and boring. However, they feel relatively safe within their limitations. Under these circumstances, there is no place to search for the real self. So, the question is, can chickens be more than they believe they are?

In my town, there is a beautiful park with amazing old trees and a pond with resident swans and ducks. A year ago, this place became even more attractive because of two young eagles who founded their new home in the park aviary. They could no longer survive in the wild due to injuries. (The female has dysfunctional claws and the male is blind in his right eye.) I often watch them sitting there in peace and quiet, and wonder if they are happy at this place. They have food and shelter, nothing can harm or hurt them here. The people who manage the aviary have done their best to make life here comfortable for the eagles. They can sit on branches and move around, they even have enough space to fly short distances. When I observe these beautiful, magnificent birds, I can see their possibilities, even if they are not aware of them. I know they are so much more than they suppose they are. If they could recover from their injuries, would then they be ready to leave this prison? Just like humans with their healed wounds and scars, who are able to go forward to find the fullness of life within the true self, I’m not quite sure if they would take this step. It can be scary to live in wide open space, for freedom means taking full responsibility for yourself, no longer depending on others, and leaving the old rules and limitations behind. Freedom mean just you, as sovereign being, creating your reality. It is a bold step. Are the imprisoned eagles ready for that? Are humans ready for that?

I like to watch flying birds, especially those with a big wingspan. It is so amazing to see their subtle bodies in perfect communion with streams of air, as they move gracefully without any effort. At such moments, my whole body and mind feel so much lighter.

I often sit among crystalline mountains, admiring huge eagles soaring in the sky. Sometimes they come to rest nearby, and then I can enjoy their presence even more. I breath in the pure air, feeling how it permeates my whole being. It’s so quiet, without any thoughts or emotions. Only pure presence covered with subtle feelings. I Exist. I do really like being at this place.

Sometimes I find myself flying on an eagle’s back among beautiful clouds. From here I’m able to see the world from a different perspective, without the whole complexity of human life. I become one with the bird and now everything seems to be even clearer, for eagle’s eyes are indeed extremely powerful.

American Indians regarded this bird as the expression of Great Spirit. In most native cultures eagles are considered medicine birds with impressive magical power and they play a major role in the ceremonies and rituals of many tribes. In native mythology, eagle plays a leadership role (as king of the birds) and serves as a messenger between humans and the Creator. In fairy tales and legends these birds often support protagonists who are in trouble, coming to rescue in the most hopeless situations, as for example in “The Lord of the Rings.” These amazing creatures are featured on the national emblems of many countries, and in my heart there is so much respect and admiration for this bird. For me it symbolizes freedom, my unlimited possibilities, everything I truly Am.

Deep within us there has always been a desire to be free, along with the knowingness that there must be something more than just this world. These feelings find their reflection in many stories, including the Greek myth about Daedalus and his son Icarus. They were slaves of king Minos on Crete and decided to escape, so the father made wings of feathers and candle wax. Before they rose into the air, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high, but his son ignored this advice. Soaring above the clouds, the hot sun melted the wax and Icarus fell into the sea. Even without a happy ending, this story shouldn’t put a stop to our dreams of flying. In fact, there is no need to build our wings, because they have always been here. Even if forgotten and unused for so long, they still remember how to serve us. They are such a wonderful tool and can take us anywhere we choose. We won’t share the fate of Icarus, for with our true wings we are always safe.

Humans can live on this planet as chickens for many incarnations. When I walk in the street, I see people immersed deep in their thoughts, emotions and dramas. It is the reality they have chosen and created for themselves. However, one day they will become tired of all these games and complications of human life. Then they will raise their heads, feel deeply into the heart and ask themselves “Why should I be afraid of what I really Am?” Then they will spread their eagle’s wings and fly, perhaps inspired by other “former chickens.” Soaring high, they will see the everyday struggles and battles of humans, having such compassion and love for them, for they know so well what it’s like to be a chicken.


Anna lives in Poland and is just having the time of her life (or lifetimes). After her Realization she is going to enjoy every moment of her presence on the Earth in ease and grace. So be it! She can be contacted here.

She shares this video showing the beauty of eagles in slow motion.

1 comments on "Chicken or Eagle?"

  • Claire on February 14, 2018 4:23 AM said:
    Isn't the story of Icarus just typical of humans: don't get above your station and soar too high. I'd like to think he flew high and free and left the chickens behind! I recommend Jonathan Livingstone Seagull if you haven't already read it x

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