They are flitting about the courtyard, making numerous trips into the sky and back. Cradled within mud nests clinging to the sides of the house, open beaks eagerly await their return. Parent barn swallows slip effortlessly in, drop a load of insects into the chirping mouths of their clutch, and speed away to catch another meal.

Each nest is near an entry door and in the shelter of the patio. The birds are aware of our presence as we go in and out, and they let us know with fake dives to check for danger. But they do not mind much. We are mostly tickled by their presence. I wonder if they find us equally entertaining.

It is curious how two completely different species can coexist in this way when humans have trouble within their own tribe. We want to resolve this issue so we develop ways of coping through religion and philosophy, but we have way too many ideological and religious wars. Buddha was wary of belief systems as they seemed to foster divisiveness if used improperly.

When the packaging of a religion or philosophy becomes more important than the message, something strange happens. An exclusive club develops, creating the ins and the outs, believers and non-believers, us and them. Buddhism is not immune to this, so we must be diligent in developing Bodhicitta, the heart/mind of compassion.

I observe my own mind’s tendency to elevate the Dharma over other paths. But it only takes a self-reflective moment to see this is insane. Buddha suggested we settle down and recognize our sameness. We all want to be happy and to love—and be loved. Perhaps we should take a lesson from these barn swallows and be mindfully aware while peacefully coexisting.

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