For some reason I keep running into peacocks. It seems that every time I turn around some image of a peacock is crossing my path. It started a few days ago when I won a peacock necklace. Then when I went shopping at The World Market I ran into a peacock ring that I just had to have. Later that same night I went shopping for a journal for my daughter and guess what? You guessed it, I found her a journal that had peacock feathers imprinted on it. These are just a few of the instances, everywhere I go I keep seeing peacocks, peacock feathers and representations of peacocks. I think Buddha is trying to tell me something, and I think it is something very positive in relation to my sobriety. I’m still trying to understand the significance and since it seems to be a recurring theme in my life I’m quite certain there is an underlying positive message. Not so very long ago I kept running into crows, not just a couple, not even just a few, but whole murders of crows, and at that time I was in a very dark place. I never take messages from nature for granted and I firmly believe that the peacock message is meant for me to gain some better understanding of the nature of my new found state in my path to nirvana.
From “The wheel of Sharp Weapons”, written by Dharmaraksita
In jungles of poisonous plants strut the peacocks,
Through medicine gardens of beauty lie near.
The masses of peacocks do not find gardens pleasant,
But thrive on the essence of poisonous plants,
In similar fashion the brave bodhisattvas
Remain in the jungle of worlds concern.
No matter how joyful this world pleasure garden,
These brave ones are never attracted to pleasures,
But thrive in the jungle of suffering and pain.
The Symbolism of peacocks in Buddhism
In buddhism they symbolize wisdom.
Peacocks are said to have the ability of eating poisonous plants without being affected by them. Because of that, they are synonimous with the great bodhisattvas. A bodhisattva is able to take delusions as the path toward liberation and transform the poisonous mind of ignorance, desire and hatred [moha, raga, dvesa] into the thought of enlightenment or bodhicitta, which opens colourfully like the peacocks’ tail.
The mind of the sentient beings in this world is like a thick forest of desire and hatred. The pleasures and material possessions are like a beautiful medicinal garden. The brave-minded bodhisattvas, because of having realised the shortcomings of samsara, are not atracted to samsaric pleasures, just as the peacocks are not attracted to medicinal plants. The bodhisattvas, having the attitude of wishing only to work for sentient beings and not desiring any happiness for themselves, can utilise the poisonous thoughts of ignorance, desire, hatred and so forth in order to accomplish the works for sentient beings.
By eating poison, the peacocks’ body becomes healthy and beautiful. He is adorned with five feathers on the head, which symbolize the five paths of the boddhisattva and the attainment of the five Buddha families. They have beautiful colours, like blue, red, green and please other beings just by being seen. Similarly, any body who sees a bodhisattva receives great happiness in his mind. The peacock’s eating habits of eating poisonous plants do not cause harm to other beings. Similarly the bodhisattvas don’t give the slightest harm to any other sentient beings. By eating poison the colours of his feathers become bright and his body healthy. Similarly, by taking all problems and suffering upon themselves, the bodhisattvas quickly purify the mental blocks and develop their mind quickly, attaining higher and higher realization. Particularly peacocks symbolize the transmutting of desire into the path of liberation. Therefore, they are the vehicle of Buddha amitabha, who represents desire and attachment transmuted into the Wisdom of Discriminating Awareness.