Parable: The Master and the Disciple

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Disciple Funnyguts went to visit Master No Worth.

Bowing before his teacher, the disciple beheld him with great reverence and humility, and said:

“Master – I am very ignorant. I know very little about anything, and my mind is very simple and slow. Won’t you please accept me as your pupil, so that I can learn to be a great sage like you?”

Master No Worth regarded the Disciple with a ferocious gentleness.

“Why come to me?” He asked. “I know even less than you do!”

Disciple Funnyguts thought about this for a few moments and then said:

“Because, one day, I hope to know even less than both of us combined.”

The Master was greatly pleased by this. He bowed to his student, descended from his throne, and gave him a present.

“Please accept this gift. It is an acknowledgement of my respect. In it are contained many treasures. These treasures encompass everything you will need to succeed on your spiritual path.”

The student was so excited that he rushed back to his chambers, lit some incense, bowed to a statue of the Buddha, and, with great joy and felicity, he set about opening the box.

Once he had removed its lid, the Disciple expected his eyes to be near-blinded by the glistening, mysterious treasures he anticipated finding inside. But, once he opened it, he found there was nothing inside the box – it was just an empty box.

The Master sneaked up behind his pupil, and with great compassion said:
“My gift to you is emptiness. Keep it, treasure it, and never lose it. If you can keep it close to you at all times, then you will never want for anything.”

 

 

 

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Short Story: The Samurai

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The Samurai was upset with himself.

He had spent years training in the Way of the Warrior, refining and strengthening himself ceaselessly, acquiring understanding and skill in the myriad transformations and the non-acquired form of formlessness.

He had mastered inner tranquility and renounced all his attachments; engaged in bloody battles as if they were no more trivial than child’s play. He had severed the eyelashes off mosquitoes, and gorged himself on the blood of his gurus. He had meditated in charnel grounds, piling up pillows of corpses as his meditation seat, inhaling the fetor as though it were nothing at all; nuzzling himself into the flesh of death, as though it were the bosom of his very own mother.

In short, the Samurai thought he knew death. It no longer chased him like a pirate’s black flag – he threw himself into it, like a child into a carefully designed pit of multi-coloured balls. If there was a pit of snakes, he would entangle himself in it; if there was a wild boar, he would wrestle with it; if there was a demon, he would convert it; if there was a delusion, he would obliterate it.

But the Samurai knew nothing of death, nothing at all, nothing whatsoever. He had steeled his senses and brutalized his ego mind until he truly believed there was no foe he would be afraid to face, no battle he would balk at the notion of engaging in. The blood of the world was the medium in which he moved; the skulls of the fallen were his best friends, and the chalices from which he scooped their victorious brains.

But, for now, the samurai felt a terror – a terror he had truly never felt before. Of course he had known fear, he had always known fear – he had known it in more battles than he could count, and more quivering heartbeats than could be enumerated. But that was always a manageable fear – a fear with a purpose – a fear with a very practical intention of fulfillment in mind.

This terror was different. It had no logic – only a throbbing tachycardiac pulse. This was a fear beyond destruction – a fear that even his unity with destruction might have been destroyed.

But that was what he had come to realize. He had merely flirted with destruction up to now. All his tireless training, his indefatigable cultivation of mind, body and spirit – all of that had merely been foreplay preparing for the main course – a rape of his will that threatened to shatter the very last bastions of selfhood he had not even realized still existed.

For the Samurai had met a girl. And the girl was nice. She had beautiful eyes, and a smile, and all those other things nice girls are in the habit of having.

What’s worse is that this girl mattered to the samurai. Her being, her presence, her life-hood – all these energies of her essence intermingled with his own to create a horror of insecurity – the literal chastisement of security. The Samurai had fought in battles without weapons, nude and devoid of armour, clubbing opponents to death, not with a club, but with the sheer ferocity of his willpower.

But this girl had penetrated the cracks in his armour – wormed her way into his body like an intestinal parasite, and forced him to have feelings.

Of course, such feelings had arisen in the past. But they were brief, and light, and frivolous, and no heavier than a monk’s pay-check. This was strong, onerous, burdensome, impossible to lift. It was stronger than him. It was an enemy he could not defeat.

And so he accepted the defeat that had always eluded him. Accepted it into heart, into his mind, into his muscles, and into his bones. He let the defeat wash over him like the smothering mother of the ocean. He let it perfuse his veins, enter his cells, causing mass cell die-off and DNA scrambling. He let the defeat endure in his body, and his face – gone was the ferocity, the colourlessly stern face of death – now he was just a quivering tumour, a jellied milksop, a tear momentarily animated by a human form. He was pure pain, pain that cannot be ameliorated, pain that cannot be denied, pain that cannot be ignored. Pure unacceptable pain that you have no choice but to accept. Pain, pain, pain.

And it felt wonderful! All the accrued tension, all the habitual firmness and indomitability had finally been dominated, and it felt great!

And so the samurai buried his corpses, treasured away his skull cups, took off his armour, assembled his scars, kept defeat as his only possession, and entered into the corpse-strewn battlefield of his lover’s mysterious arms.

Short Story: The Space Hermit and the Chicken

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The Space Hermit decided to move to The Moon.

“It’s too noisy here on Planet Earth. I want to go somewhere where I can experience true silence and peace. Then I’ll reach transcendence!”

He built a shuttle for himself, and, after undergoing a cheap, ascetic-affordable crash-course in space flight, he finally made it to The Moon.

He liked it on The Moon. The barren craters, the lunar mountains, the never-ending branches of inter-planetary caverns – The Space Hermit found them remarkable, and would spend many hours every day meandering through them; the rest of his time dedicated to deep meditation, hypnotized by the song of the stars.

One day, whilst in deep meditation in one of the underground moon caverns, The Space Hermit was interrupted by an eerie sound that sounded like a horror movie theremin. When he opened his eyes, he saw a haunting Moon Chicken in front of him. Its feathers were the same color as the pallid, lunar landscape, and its eyes radiated a strange darkness that actually seemed to glow.

This was quite a shock to The Space Hermit. He had thought he was the only life form on The Moon. But when he looked down at his body, he noticed that his skin was teeming with all sorts of bizarre space insects and microbes.

He tolerated the chicken at first. It would follow him around, clucking in a cell-phone bleeps, and cock-a-doodle-dooing every time it saw the Earth rising or setting. Generally, it was quiet enough. But as soon as The Space Hermit sat down to start meditating, the Moon Chicken would cuddle up to him, and would resume singing its eerie, theremin song.

To make matters worse, The Space Hermit noticed in his out-of-body travels, that, far from being bereft of life, The Moon was swarming with Gods, Goddesses, Spirits, Demons, Ghosts, and Inter-Dimensional beings – how could The Space Hermit ever hope to achieve transcendence with such nonsense and silliness going on?!

Thus, brushing the Moon Chicken aside, the Space Hermit returned to his shuttle, and departed from The Moon. He could hear the Chicken calling out for him sadly, as he disappeared into deep space. But he flew on, anyway. Flying on and on and on and on, until he reached the limits of the solar system, and alighted on the Planet Pluto.

“Surely there can’t be any busy-body life-forms hanging about on this out-of-the-way backwater. I’m sure to attain transcendence here!”

But the same thing happened again! No sooner had the hermit sat down to meditate, than he was surrounded by creatures great and small, both organic and non-organic, both material and spiritual. Pluto pounded with noise like a non-stop rave, and it wasn’t long before he was back in his space ship, and careening through the darkness of space once again.

The hermit felt like he was going mad. How he could he ever hope to attain transcendence with so much noise and dust everywhere he went?!

In his despair, The Space Hermit sought refuge in a black hole he saw expanding before him.

“If I don’t find true peace and silence here, I won’t find it anywhere!”

After experiencing some pretty extreme, multi-dimensional jet-lag, The Space Hermit found himself in the center of the black hole, which was empty and void, barring a room that was suspended in the midst of it. It was mostly bland and empty,like an unfurnished, and abandoned office suite, except for a motivational cat poster reading ‘HANG IN THERE!’ which had mostly been shredded to pieces. This would do the hermit very nicely. And so, sighing, he sat down to meditate for what he hoped would be the last time.

For a short while, he felt at peace. But then, in the silence, he noticed a thundering, repetitious, throbbing, that was very distracting, and starting to get on his nerves.

“It’s my sodding heart” he realized.

So, he took a knife, plunged it past his sternum, and ripped it out of his chest.

“There! Now peace will be mine for sure!”

He closed his eyes, expecting to find himself back in the void, but instead found himself at a Tribunal of Buddhas, presided over by Yama, King of the Dead.

“Why did you kill yourself?” Yama boomed. “Don’t you know it’s a sinful act to commit suicide?”

“I didn’t mean to commit suicide,” said the hermit. “I just wanted to find peace. My heart was distracting me, so I cut it out.”

“Foolish man!” shouted Amitabha, The Buddha of Boundless Light. “Don’t you know the point of silence is to leave room for music; and the point of emptiness is to nurture life? Meditation is meant to unify you with life – not cut you off from it! Now go back to the others – and don’t come back until you’ve learned to play nicely!”

With that declaration, Yama cast the hermit back into the realm of mortals, and into the cycle of life.

Reborn, The Space Hermit found himself in a cramped, white universe, with an oval sky. He realized he was in an egg. So, he utilized his newly-grown beak, and started to peck himself out.

The first thing he saw, after hatching, and breaking himself out of the shell, was the Moon Chicken he had left behind.

He ran to her and cried.

It was most the beautiful thing he’d ever seen.