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Small Bird – Eighteenth Guru of Dattatreya

Dattatreya watched a small sparrow flying with a piece of food in its beak and saw it encounter a big bird. Pursued by the big bird, the little sparrow dropped its food and escaped while the former pounced on the food. He realized the wisdom behind the instinctive action of the bird, that when the enemy is stronger, one should not hang onto possessions. Not only is this true concerning material possessions but also of emotions.

When a strong emotion so overpowers one, it is not wise to fight with the mind at that stage. It is best to let it pass while witnessing it in a detached fashion, so that the energy associated with it settles down.

The sadhak needs to build up his foundation systematically and stabilize it before he or she is ready to face the giant waves of the ocean of the mind. It is said, "Discretion is the better part of valour", and, 'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread". One must be aware of one's limitations in the early stages of sadhana lest one get burned out for lack of patience.

Another interpretation
My eighteenth guru is a little bird who was flying with a worm in its beak. Larger birds flew after him and began pecking him. They stopped only when the little bird dropped the worm. Thus, I learned that the secret of survival lies in renunciation, not in possession.