Can You Hear The Birds Singing?

November 7, 2011

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”

-The Amazing Maya Angelou

I recently had the pleasure of journeying up into Laochuan Mountain, an hour outside of Taipei which is far enough removed from the city but still close enough to overlook it. This easy distance from Taiwan’s bustling capital hosts thick forests of old and new growth, steep cliffs, hiking trials, narrowing and harrowing roads, gorgeous palms, giant spiders and tea gardens. The altitude and moist temperatures make it the ideal climate to grow tea leaves and is also an ideal place to be devoured by mosquitoes.

While in the hills I met two Zen Masters, Master Liu and Master Huang of the infamous U-Theatre who invited me to enjoy tea and meditation and converse about life and art. Their philosophy, “Art is Life and Life is Art” introduced me to a whole new view of life and art by suggesting they are one in the same. I often say onstage, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” This is the same philosophy.

The masters asked, “How do you drink your tea?” Do you guzzle it down quickly, or are you conscious to your movements; pouring the tea, adding sugar, bringing the cup to your lips, enjoying the flavor and temperature on your tongue… Or are you busy with thought? This is the basic idea of Zen. Zen is about sustaining a meditative state; truly living in the moment, being artful in every breath. Meditation doesn’t always mean sitting in repose, with your eyes closed for hours on end. Meditation can be while you walk, surf, cycle, sing, dance, cook, draw, drive, whatever, so long as you aren’t consumed with thoughts about the past or lost in a made-up future. Master Huang asked, “Can you hear the birds singing?” If so, then you’re meditating. The birdsongs are almost always playing but we lose the sound of them to our own misguided thoughts. By slowing down to the natural speed of our breath, we can again be present to the beautiful songs of the birds, the sound of the wind, in tune with nature, at peace, where true love resides, where hearts and minds are aligned, where bodies heal, and life is consciously enjoyed. At this pace one begins to see life in all it’s glory. At this pace it is much easier to accept it. From this place comes compassion and understanding, which then only leads to greatness as you feel a deeper connection with the earth, its inhabitants, and whatever your connection to source may be. This is why meditation is important. It’s no different than prayer. It’s about taking a few minutes to get centered, listen, ask, learn, love, and let go.

When in Morocco I was most impressed with my Muslim friends who stopped and prayed 5 times a day. It made so much sense to do so as after each session they would return so blissed-out and happy.

Can you hear the birds singing?

  • Love “Art is Life and Life is Art” our natural purpose and relationship with Source – to express through our physical perspective and share with all others this most sacred of all relationships that all others share in their own unique manner. It is a choral of birds singing as you align with their joy and truly listen and in so become one with this chorus experiencing and expressing Joy with Source. Thank you for your expression of the same. XXOO

  • Avatar of SarahAllspaw
    SarahAllspaw said ...

    Hi Jason,

    There is nothing better in this life than being completely caught up in the present moment. I often worry I enjoy that too much ;) Live deliberately, always with purpose, enjoy every moment.

    Peace & Love,

  • Avatar of valkovuokko
    valkovuokko said ...

    In the winter you suddenly notice that you can’t hear the birds singing and you start listening to the silence. There isn’t a lowder sound than that what a white forest makes.

    Thank you so much for this journal!
    I’m so glad I found it,

  • Avatar of Yudith
    Yudith said ...

    It’s always easy, mind comforting and heartfelt to read you…
    I hear the birds singing in you :D

  • Avatar of landofoasae
    landofoasae said ...

    incredible learning story yet so nicely written

  • Avatar of shorekimmy
    shorekimmy said ...

    Love this post! Early morning tea and song birds make up my best days, I never knew I was meditating. Thank you.

  • Avatar of MillieD
    MillieD said ...

    Thank You.

  • Avatar of danilunia
    danilunia said ...

    ..well now I can hear a WHOLE ARMY of angelic birds soflty singing and leading me to a quiet nite..!


    Thank you :D

  • Avatar of brighteyes
    brighteyes said ...

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirl and rush of life and forget to take a look around at the simple pleasures surrounding you.
    Since my life hasn’t exactly been a joyride; people often look at me in awe wondering how I emerge from all those seemingly impossible situations. And most of the times, I have no idea. But I always tell them “One step at a time”. That’s really the only tactic i have.
    So I do hear the birds singing. The wind blowing or the waves crashing on the coastline. At least most of the time. Maybe even too often. But that’s the right I claim in order to stay sane.
    Thanks for reminding everyone how important that is.
    Thank you for being you.

  • Avatar of littlecatfromsd

    It’s a nice concept, but honestly while I was listening to the audio for this blog, I can’t help but await the sound of the chimes telling me when it’s time to turn the page. LOL!

    Yes, I can hear the birds singing. :)

  • Avatar of nancyonthemtn
    nancyonthemtn said ...

    a cooler day on the mountain, yet, still a few birds chirping… they must be preparing for winter
    acorns dropping on the roof… woodpeckers pounding out little holes in the tree trunks for storage
    a gentle breeze lets me know that fall is in the air
    inside, the fire warms me as I find gratitude in this day, and more to come
    life is delicious as I reflect on the many gifts that it has given me
    you, are one of those gifts… and I thank you

  • Avatar of nancyonthemtn
    nancyonthemtn said ...

    a cooler day on the mountain, yet, still a few brids chirping… they must be preparing for winter
    acorns dropping on the roof… woodpeckers pounding out little holes in the tree trunks for storing acorns
    a gentle breeze lets me know that fall is in the air
    inside,the fire warms me as I find gratitude in this day, and more to come
    life is delicious as I reflect on the many gifts it has given me
    you, are one of those gifts… and I thank you

  • Avatar of hevertonnr
    hevertonnr said ...

    Jason! Thanks for your words. You can make me feel good! I just need to read something you wrote as you always sounds true, honest and funny. I’ve learned so much with you since I’ve started reading your words. If there’s no problem I’ll say I’ve Ctrl+C lots of things you said in earlier blogs, like MySpace, to keep for me because there’s so much truth I find it amazing to read.

    Thanks for teaching me one more thing: now I’ll hear the birds singing! In fact I already did but I didn’t really realize how important it was.

    Greetings from Ananindeua, Brazil!


  • Avatar of skateonsnow21
    skateonsnow21 said ...

    I will try to live in the present and enjoy and feel everything that is happening. I’ll try not to look so much to the future so that it’s blinding my vision. Or so much to the past that it’ll make me ashamed of the present. I will meditate day and night, at every moment. I am right now. I can hear the birds singing….more like the computer running.

  • Avatar of Dia
    Dia said ...

    You make Happy.

    Jason, the birds just told me that you were coming to Toronto ?!
    And these birds have never fibbed…

    Rockets of Love

  • Avatar of ashley
    ashley said ...

    I can hear them. :)

    Some really beautiful imagery in this post. I want to congratulate you on the launch of your foundation. I’m sure this took a lot of work and planning, and I’m so happy for you (and your supported organizations). I love your focal areas. In the past few years, it’s become all too clear how human rights and environmental justice are critically aligned.

    Fantastic scuba photo. Look at you, with all of your text. You’re like a living manuscript.

  • Avatar of Shawna
    Shawna said ...

    I believe that you just may be my soul son. So incredibly elated to get to experience you all again at the BellyUp in Sedona.

  • Perfect Post! Often times this day and age, we all just live our lives without noticing how good the little things are. At work, we always look forward for the day to end. At home, we always look forward to maximize our leisure. Every day just repeats itself unless you become grateful and take your time on whatever you do. Every second is a moment and we should not let one pass without recognition or acknowledgement. This is how we should live our lives. take time, breathe and appreciate.

  • Avatar of YenHsiangHuang

    Dammmmmmmmn, I really don’t know how to use the html.

  • Avatar of YenHsiangHuang
  • Avatar of Yen
    Yen said ...

    It’s amazing,U-theatre is amazing too.
    I’m so happy you can got something from Taiwan.
    Thank you for your amazing concert in Taiwan.

  • Avatar of Yuzu
    Yuzu said ...

    When i stayed in Mainland China I`d always love the way people would make tea. It felt like a small ceremony every time with ordinary people as well from every walk of life.

    Thanks for sharing with us Jason and enjoy your trip ^o^ I hope I`ll visit Taiwan too.

    Greetz from Germany,


    Ps. Watch Cape no.7 it`s such a great taiwanese movie ( with music too :3 )

  • Avatar of sophia2323
    sophia2323 said ...

    thank you for always sharing your insight

  • Avatar of ShiksaGoddess
    ShiksaGoddess said ...

    Ive been reading fellow fan comments for years now. The Manila Unfolder comments are some of the best Ive seen thus far. Kudos~!*~*!~*!

  • Avatar of FrolleinN
    FrolleinN said ...

    so good to read from you again :-)
    these days i can literally hear my ears ringing rather than birds singing, as a result of being afflicted with “cerebral obstipation”: too many thoughtstasksdifficultiesthreadswhatsoever at a time *sigh*
    as so often, you are so right – living in the now. it’s the only moment we really exist, now. do only one thing. there’s a japanese saying that it doesn’t matter whether you are drinking tea or swordfighting – it is all the same when you do it with all your heart. with love.

    rose, you made my day: performing the nose whistle with virtuosity. splendid.

  • Avatar of Kate
    Kate said ...

    Actually, I can hear the birds singing. But I did not realize it until I started reading this article. Thank you for reminding how beautiful it is.

  • Avatar of Serena
    Serena said ...

    Yes! I practice listening while I’m on my morning walk/run/bike ride with the dogs. Lots of breathing, footfalls, dog sounds, birds, branches creaking, birds squeeking and squawking, etc. Also, I like to listen while I’m lying in bed, hearing the dog snores. So peaceful. On a cold night, happiness is a warm dog.

    I’m so glad we have our Mraz family together again!

  • Avatar of jessica
    jessica said ...

    It’s amazing how you stay conscious and inspired, your eyes open to so much of the world. You and your music show that and when I listen to it, you make me want to do the same – just stop, take it all in, and appreciate it. Nicely written. :)

  • Avatar of draagonfly21
    draagonfly21 said ...

    Mmm. Tea is a good practice. I like a ceylon cinnamon stick in hot water as tea. Tons of health benefits and tastes like Christmas. Tonight as we were walking out to the pier, I literally stopped to smell the roses in front of the Wyndham. They were beautifully huge and delicious. With a sunset for dessert, it was a perfect date with the Universe. I like days like that when I can easily stay centered all day. Other days are much harder, but that’s why they call it a practice. :)

  • Snow falling. The smell of a rain storm.

    (Hey Rose … it’s Laurie … thanks for reminding me to laugh. You are the best.)

  • Avatar of mrazfan1031
    mrazfan1031 said ...

    Beautifully written! I am very grateful for you and your words, whether they are words in song or words on paper. Thank you.



  • Avatar of Rose
    Rose said ...

    I seriously thought you had somehow piped singing birds into this post until I realized it was my nose whistling. So good to have you back writing to us. I love it! Thank you for the gentle reminder to be present. Enjoy your travels!


  • Avatar of GloriousMe
    GloriousMe said ...

    Prayer, in all its forms, is a beautiful thing. As is Zen. I’m glad you’re enjoying your travels. Slightly jealous, but glad for you.

  • Avatar of zfadness
    zfadness said ...

    Amazing. Truly the only value in life is the experiences we have and the people we have relationships with. When we take time to experience those experiences and really listen to others, we will be the most prosperous.

    Thanks for the insight,