Monday, October 28, 2013

Nightmare Fuel, Day 26 - Enlightenment

This one I'm not sure about. There are elements that I like, but it veers a little close to the trope of romanticizing and exoticizing East Asian philosophies without really living or understanding them. It's too easy to make a game or a plaything out of someone else's culture in a way we'd not do with our own. That's not what I intended to do here, but I can see a manner in which it could be written that way.

I'll present it in the respectful spirit in which I meant it, but with misgivings. 

by L Czhorat Suskin

The pilgrim came to the temple, seeking enlightenment. 
He listened to the monk, meditated for hours on each cryptic saying, on each raised finger, on each stroke of the broom. He gained confidence in his understanding, confidence that he was reaching his goal. One he came to the master, fat with pride, and proclaimed that he knew that motion lay neither in the flag nor the wind, but in his mind.

The master turned the pilgrim into a crane for a lifetime.

The pilgrim who had lived as a crane climbed the hill, far above the bamboo forest, and came to the temple. He watched the master rake the rock-garden each morning, shaping it in some arcane pattern. The pilgrim who'd been a crane meditated on the patterns of the stones and on each cryptic saying, each raised finger. Staring at the patterns in the sand awoke memories of his life as a crane, visions of the temple from high above, a scrap of rock nestled in the woods beside the glittering jewel of a lake. He  repositioned the rocks a bit each day, cleared his mind and gave his body to the task of raking. Each day the master would walk through the garden, spoiling with footprints and each day the pilgrim would fix it. After twenty years the valley and the temple became a part of him. He'd trace the patterns with his eyes closed, each stroke perfect.

The master turned him into a silkworm for a lifetime.

The pilgrim who had been a silkworm who had been a pilgrim who had been a crane walked slowly, contemplatively through the forest towards the temple. On reaching the temple, the pilgrim hid in a basement cell for fourteen days. He emerged to find Master Shuoj waiting outside his door with a stick. The master beat him soundly.
 Richard Elzey on Flickr.  Creative Commons Attribution license.

Master Shuoj turned the pilgrim into a turtle for a lifetime. 

The pilgrim who had been a turtle who had been a silkworm who had been a pilgrim who had been a crane approached the ruins of the temple, long since abandoned.

In the emptiness, he found enlightenment.

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