The Swan and the Crow

About Jaiya Seibert

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Jaiya retells The Swan and the Crow, a classic story from the Mahabharata.

Jaiya was introduced to the Siddha Yoga path by his parents. He began practicing the Siddha Yoga teachings in 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He currently serves on staff in the SYDA Foundation Content Department as a content coordinator. Previously, he was on staff for a year at the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Oakland, offering seva as an administrative assistant in the Teaching and Learning Events Area. For three years, Jaiya facilitated satsangs for the Siddha Yoga Prison Project in Utah and California. He plays the drum for Siddha Yoga chants, and his favorite practice is meditation.

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I have loved returning to this story again and again, finding new teachings in it each time. Initially, I noticed a tendency to identify with either the swan or the crow. Then, I chose to hold both of them in my awareness, realizing that, indeed, I manifest aspects of each. I began to practice compassion for my inner crow, for things that sometimes arise, like pettiness. And to experience gratitude for aspects of my inner swan, for my own strengths that help me when I need them.

As I’ve contemplated the Guru as the great swan of my existence—the power, both within me and before me that rises up when I falter, carries me forward, and shows me a better way when I get lost in things like useless ideas and judgements, I’ve come to a place of almost unspeakable gratitude. In this way, I’ve experienced the Guru’s great love and patience. I know that my life has been utterly made over by the Guru’s presence in it, by the Guru’s teachings on how to best to utilize this gift of a lifetime.

I offer my thanks, my blessings, and my renewed commitment to honoring these gifts—learning from these teachings and working to put them into practice. What a wonderful way to live!

a Siddha Yogi from Washington, USA

“He started to be friendlier toward others, and began to recognize the good qualities in each bird and creature.” This is exactly the piece of advice I needed to receive today! Thank you.

a Siddha Yogi from Madrid, Spain

For me, this story has a very practical application—it is a lesson on how I should live my life. Like the swan, I can follow one path, have devotion to a steady practice, be consistent in my efforts, and have unshakeable faith that these will take me across the ocean of this world. At the same time, I can hold and nurture unconditional love, respect, and humility towards all of God's creations. 

The story of the crow also gives me hope. Despite living in ignorance for most of his years, he changed at the touch of unconditional love.

a Siddha Yogi from New Delhi, India

During the race, the crow continuously taunted the swan, but the swan was not a bit affected. This gave me the message that we should not focus on the bad qualities of anyone, and we should move on our own path.

a Siddha Yogi from Mumbai, India

For a moment, as I read this story, my mind became still and I was filled with good feelings. Gurumayi’s Message for 2016 then came to mind. I pictured myself as the swan, relating to the way he moved. Each flap of his brilliant wings was full of grace and power, propelling him steadily forward through the sky.

a Siddha Yogi from Nairobi, Kenya

What I really like about this story is the crow's change of attitude at the end. It tells me that when I recognize a shortcoming, I can choose to change it. I also see that acknowledging someone else's greatness makes me even greater.

What immense courage and strength there is in humility.

a Siddha Yogi from Naples, Italy

I find many wonderful lessons in this beautiful story. One that stands out for me is the reminder of how important it is to stay the course. If I allow myself to become distracted by anything—ego, one-upmanship, self-doubt, the need to prove myself—this would take my attention and focus from the only goal that really matters to me: the attainment of my beloved Guru’s state. For this, I keep my eyes, ears, mind, and heart focused on Gurumayi and the Siddha Yoga teachings and on how I can imbibe the teachings more and more deeply.

a Siddha Yogi from West Vancouver, Canada

I was interested in the swan, too. He could have just continued his travel when he heard the crow making disparaging remarks. Nothing would have changed. However, like a good leader, he took the time to stop what he was doing, and in the most compassionate way, he helped the crow learn a valuable lesson. I was inspired to see that he moved on without fanfare and rejoined the other swans in order to continue his journey. No judgments. Such wisdom.

May I also take the time, when necessary, to voice the values I have learned on this path, in a kind, gentle, and wise way, without judging, so I too can make this world a better place for everyone. 

a Siddha Yogi from Melbourne, Australia

One point that struck me about this story is when the swan told the crow that he learned one pattern of flight that had served his kind for generations and expressed his confidence that he would defeat the crow proceeding in this way.
To me, this exemplifies achieving mastery in our lives, according to our natural predispositions and ways of being. I understand that we don't need to be like the crow and try and become great in "one hundred and one different ways.” Rather, we just need to be great, simply as ourselves, and live humbly in this way. Then, we can live with great confidence in ourselves and be masters of our own lives.

a Siddha Yogi from New York, USA

As I read the story, I asked myself, "Why did the swan challenge the crow?" It did not seem to be from an ego perspective to show he was better. Rather it seemed to be to help the crow with his understanding of himself and the world around him. Both birds had different motivations. I felt the swan was acting from a pure motivation. The story challenges me to consider my own motives, and to strive to act from a place of purity and not from ego.

a Siddha Yogi from North Carolina, USA

The character of the swan especially interested me. I found that the swan, grounded in his own years of experience and drawing on generations of his ancestors’ experience, exuded deep confidence in his flying abilities. He seemed to own his strengths and speak about them in a way that was straightforward rather than boastful.

After reading this story, I faced a challenging situation at work. Inspired by my sense of the swan’s ability to articulate his truth unabashedly, I was able to respond to the situation with clarity and strength.

a Siddha Yogi from Minnesota, USA

I enjoyed this story. It seemed to be full of power. When I read about how the swan saved the crow’s life, something shifted for me. I can’t exactly explain it, but I just felt different.

I thought about the story, and I learned that from bragging you can have consequences. Usually when you do something unkind to someone else, there is a consequence for you.

a nine-year-old Siddha Yogi from California, USA