The day you teach the child the name of the bird…

The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again.

– Jiddu Krishnamurti

To me, this quote is misguided.

Our stories obviously color our perception and life, and so also our stories about a bird.

The name of a bird is one story along with a range of other stories.

It’s possible that after knowing the name of a bird, we’ll be satisfied with the label and not bother so much with the bird anymore. But that can happen even if we don’t know the name of the bird. If someone responds that way, they probably would anyway.

And it’s also very possible to know the name of a bird, know that it’s just a human-made label to facilitate communication, and be fascinated by the bird. We can be in awe of it, notice a range of small details, get to know its behavior, and so on.

To me, this is an example of what Ken Wilber calls the pre/trans fallacy.

Yes, a baby without language may be fascinated by the bird. It may take it in without the particular filter of stories about the bird. (Although we still operate from a huge amount of other filters from our senses, physiology, evolution, and so on.)

And we can also learn the name and all sorts of other stories about the bird, recognize these as stories and know that reality is always more than and different from our stories, and operate from genuine curiosity, receptivity, and take in our sensory experiences of the bird.

This Krishnamurti quote may not only reflect the pre/trans fallacy, but also a generally cynical view on humanity.

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