I watched a documentary film titled “Birders: Central Park Effect.” People in the film were describing their feelings of being one with nature and the joy of being alive. Many of them described how bird watching makes them feel alive.
As I was watching the film I remembered what I wrote in Simurg. In all mythologies, the spirit* is symbolized by birds. In every culture there is a mythical bird representing the spiritual dimension of the universe.
According to J.C.Cooper birds represent “Transcendence; the soul; a spirit; divine manifestation.”
There are numerous examples from all cultures. I wrote about the Simurg because it is the most important mythical bird in the Near-Eastern cultures. The name “Simurg” is a word of Persian origin. Turkish people refer to Simurg as Anka. In Kurdish culture Simurg is known as Simir. Simurg represents the spiritual quest, the inner discovery and spiritual enlightenment.
I also wrote elsewhere about the Bennu bird. Bennu was pictured as a grey, purple, blue, or white heron with a long beak and a two-feathered crest. Bennu was the symbol of rebirth and resurrection in the Ancient Egyptian culture.
The large species of heron are rarely seen these days. I was very fortunate to see one in Sausalito in 2005. I still remember the incredible feeling of peaceful contemplation emanating from that bird. It was an indescribable experience.
Some of the titles of the Bennu bird were “He Who Came Into Being by Himself,” “Ascending One”. The Bennu bird was the mythological phoenix of Egypt.
In ancient Egypt the soul/spirit* was called Ba and it was represented as a bird.
I would like to remind you also that the aspects of divinity (Neteru – gods) were symbolized by forms having human bodies and animal or bird heads in the ancient Egyptian culture.
* In philosophical discussion I don’t use the term “spirit” to refer to the soul. The soul is beyond the mind. The soul is the innermost core of our being. In some cultures the soul is known as the Heart. In other cultures the soul is known as the atman. The reason I don’t use the term “spirit” is because it is confused with the lower layers of the mind. In the 19’th century when spiritualism (not spirituality) was popular there was a lot of emphasis on the “Kamamaya” layer of the human mind and people erroneously used the word “spirit” to refer to the phenomena related to Kamamaya layer. The ancient Egyptians referred to Kamamaya layer as Ka. This is an interesting linguistic connection. It may be a hint about the origins of the ancient Egyptian culture.