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Posts Tagged ‘fable’

A Shadow Play

 

In the time of Emperor Wen a minor official in the Palace, Lai Chutang having retired from his office returned to his native village. By special permission he had retained his title meaning ‘Reflected Glory” which reminded all of his closeness to the Imperial person of the Emperor. As days passed his pride also increased. Once he slapped a villager who stepped on his shadow and let it be known then and there that he shall not tolerate any impertinence to his person or his dignity.

One night a burglar broke into his house. He jumped on to the terrace from a tall tree only to land squarely at the feet of Chutang who, as bad luck would have it, was awake. It was with great difficulty that he managed to escape. Next day the burglar was asked by his wife what happened to his face, which was black and blue. The man said that he stepped into darkness, which however had a life of its own. ”What’s more it carried the voice of Reflected Glory,” he added. How did you know that?”

I knew where I was going.”

How come that you are in pain and bruised all over?”

Going into was easy. It was getting out in that darkness, that nearly did me in. O dear not a word of this to any one.”

benny

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An Identity Crisis?

Confucius was waiting in the Hall of Thousand Moons at the Palace Grounds on Yu Island. The Emperor of China had come on an expedition and expressed his desire to see him. So Confucius was at the appointed hour at the palace and settled himself to be called in. A man in splendid robes peered at the sage and frowned. When he was told that it was Confucius he became so glad and said that he had always wanted to meet so illustrious person as he. Introducing himself as the Keeper of His Majesty’s Seals he asked: “How is every one in Hoon Chow?”
“Hoon Chow?” Confucius was perplexed.
“Come, come,” said the fellow in the courtly dress. “I am so honored to see the man who discovered Hoon Chow.”
Confucius was all the more confused. “Didn’t you describe the land where men walk on all fours and women sported tails? They even eat grass. Do they not?” The nobleman chuckled.
Confucius wondered if he were dreaming or talking to one who had lost all his senses. Confucius strained to speak but the man said that from his travel books he imagined him to be different. “No matter, at last I have met the man who made Hoon Chow popular in the Court. The emperor also is taken by your book.”
“But I…” Before the sage could explain the mistake the Keeper of the Seals smoothly said: ”I expected you to belittle your great achievement, so modest just as I had expected.”
As the King’s First Minister approached them, the Keeper murmured, ”The Emperor is weighed down by various affairs of the state and as a friendly advice, royalty takes ill of modesty from one of such merit. Do not correct the messenger of the Sun and the Moon. He is apt to lose temper.”
“But I am the other Confucius” Confucius explained but the Keeper with a wave of his hand seemed to say, ‘Tell it to the birds!” With a quick courtly bow he went out.
Before he could recover his astonishment a gong sounded and he looked up to see the inscrutable face of the First Minister who with his entourage bowed before the sage. “The emperor will receive the Incomparable Master of Hoon Chow!”

Illustration: Pen and ink

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Work and Play©
Once the gods who roosted in the Yggdrasil conferred with one another to find out how the nine worlds were doing.
Wotan said,’Oh well we are always at hand to give the worlds their buoyancy. Freya said,Hear hear,!’ I can always turn the despair in women’s heart with a motherly touch’. Each god had something to speak about their role in keeping the order. Hope, Joy, Pleasure-well every emotion that made the worlds run on and on was discussed.

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After a painful silence they looked at the dragon who was hopping from the three roots which never stayed still,’I see someone who has nothing to do but make a play on our tree.’ they said.
Prompt came the retort.’Play you call? If I did not put my foot down the root will swat some worlds to oblivion. You calll my role as a trifle, Do you?’
The gods knew the tree itself stayed the course since the keeper made a play of his work. It needed all the foresight and concentration. The dragon, after all was the balance wheel that made the tree work.
benny

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The Tree of Terror ©

 

 

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology, in connection to which the nine worlds exist.
yggdrasil-2

When one morning the gods had left the tree to pursue their tasks for the day a gnome with his hair riding the wind like some hundred wild stallions came across the tree and said, ‘I am the East Wind!’ The dragon who guarded the sacred tree said , ‘ None that has cold breath is welcome here’.

East Wind said: ‘ See my sword and it is still sharp and red hot. I gave all my warmth to it. I have no heat left.’

While the gnome of East Wind finished speaking there came a whirlwind and wasps in the rear. The stranger within it was a spectre, and he said, ‘Let me in. ’ The dragon looked him up and down and said, ‘None but the strong shall enter the sacred halls here.’ South Wind said, ‘The vast open spaces where the swirls of dust blow about shaped me as I am. My strength is in each speck of grit. They shall vouch for me.’ In answer the wasps buzzed and the whirlwind said ‘It is indeed so!’ The dragon smiled and said nothing. Who comes in but the West Wind in a titter. Stopping in front of the Cosmic Tree he said: ‘I am neither strong nor weak; neither a hero or a feckless woman,- I am what I choose to be.’ The dragon looked at the newcomer and sniffed. He said, ‘You smell nothing. I know bitter when I taste wind. Nor I get sweetness here.’ Perplexed the dragon asked ‘What are you really?’ ‘Oh my sweat!’ the West Wind giggled. “My smell is all in dem crystals and the oceans hold them for me.” The dragon raised his hand and said, ‘Hold it! I have my own counsel here’. He snapped his finger. The North Wind came. The dragon asked, ‘These three here. Are they to be admitted?

The West Wind brought salt out of thin air and sprinkled: The North Wind said, ‘My heart melts simply. He has charm.’

Then he went to the East Wind who drew his short sword and flashed, ‘Oh he dazzles my eyes with fire!’ the North Wind cried out. When the North Wind went to the South Wind the specks of dust swirled about as dervishes and became snowflakes. The North Wind was speechless. At last he found voice, ‘Of the Tree of terror, look at these fragile beauties against which no terror can overcome. ’  The tree said, ‘Yes let them all in. The gods could learn something useful from these three.

ack: wikipedia note: Yggdrasill would also mean “tree of terror, gallows.

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Brahma the Creative genius in the Trinity one day saw a caterpillar struggling to tackle a fat green leaf without much success. In a fit of mad thought he said,’I could make you a mighty prince, paragon of all virtues that any woman would give her life for.’
‘Virtue what is that? is it juicy or dry? Please let it be not acidic.’ Brahma roared with laughter.
He said, ‘I am going to set you in the bed room of the most handsome princess of Hastinapuram. You shall know what it is like. Direct experience, that shall be your best teacher.’
Instantly the caterpillar turned into a handsome young man whose muscles rippled with power. He felt it run through his body. He looked around in that dim light. A figure sat up. It was the princess. She writhed with pleasure. ” A vision! I could die for the pleasure’.
The young man hastened to her saying,’I am the answer to your prayers, O princess!’
She shrieked and said,’You have stepped in between my dream and me. How cruel!
The man just stood there astounded.
She was pointing to a moth that had come fluttering in. She rudely waved away the man and said lovingly to the new comer,’Oh my dream lover! I prayed all these years and observed vows to please the Incomparable Shiva. I am ready if you are, o lover.
Immediately she turned into a burst of flame and the moth threw himself into the funeral pyre.
It snapped something in that young man. He just crumbled to ashes.
Aeons later Lord Shiva was chatting with Brahma and he narrated the curious prayer of the princess of Hastinapuram. Brahma became curious and said he had transformed a caterpillar and sent the young man to her bed chamber. Shiva filled in gaps and Brahma fell silent. He shrugged his shoulder to dismiss the incident saying,’ Not even gods can understand what young girls look for in a man, these days!’
Moral: Vision of prophets speaks only a part. Little do they realize there is more to it.

benny

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“What is the meaning of life?” one asked Confucius. They were passing through a hill country. It was spring. As they climbed down the philosopher said,” It is in the spirit of that old man down there, in his gaiety…see him on a spree, with the butterflies overhead and worms stirring about his feet..”
“I don’t believe your eyesight is sharp enough to see all that from here.” The man was skeptical.
“Perhaps you are right. But my spirit could move into that of the old man and know.” Confucius replied. “Still it doesn’t explain the meaning.” The man murmured.
Next they moved through the plains. They came across a large crowd weeping about a dead body. The widow was almost a child and curiously enough the philosopher thought her smiling inwards as if death came as deliverance; later in the evening the man who was with the philosopher asked, “What is the meaning of life? We were among the dead today.”
Confucius said,” Life holds mysteries and death is merely letting the youth free from the yoke of the old.” The man again asked the master, “What is the meaning of life?”
Confucius pretended as if he didn’t hear him. He said,” I have to go to the City on an urgent business. You may come if you want to.” He nodded.
Before they entered the City they had to pass through a village, which was almost deserted except for the womenfolk and children. Upon enquiries they were told that a great prophet had come to the nearby village holding sermons about the life after death. Meanwhile a man came into view. When the philosopher was told that he was the only one who stayed back, he wanted to speak to him.
Confucius asked if he weren’t interested in the life after death? The man said, “First things first. Being poor I must look after the needful things first, my family needs me. Who will look after them in this life if I were to run after a life which neither the prophet nor anyone else has seen, let alone lived it?”
Turning towards the man who was constantly pestering him as to the meaning of life, the philosopher said, “If you really want to know the meaning, here is the man for you.” With these words he pressed on towards the City.
* Riddle of your life no one can solve but yourself. If you have succeeded you may be pointed out by many as a pioneer. There are so many ways of doing it. To be a pioneer it must be self-evident and can throw light on many knots people needlessly make. Don’t take my word it. Try it yourself.

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“Ramanna was the closest friend that I had as a child,” Gampa Guru was once telling his disciples who had come from many places to have a darshan of the mystic. “His father was a weaver as my father was. Our houses were divided only by a mud wall and I could sometimes call out to him in the middle of our studies to clarify some point of doubt.”
JP continued,” He was very backward in Sanskrit and for that matter anything of our folklore. Naturally he just scraped through the padhasala with just enough marks.”
“Great was my surprise when one day he turned up to say he was traveling to the east.” “East?” one of his listeners asked. “Yes to China?” the mystic said and his astonishment was still somewhat sharp after some 28 years. “What took him to that far?”
The mystic shrugged as if it was a mystery.” If I recall rightly there is a Chinese connection. Ramanna had in a jar, some coins with Chinese inscriptions and a pagoda on the other side.” After a pause he added, “In all probability those curious writing and image would have triggered something in him. It led him to the life of the Buddha. To my surprise the last time I saw him he was tonsured and dressed in saffron colors. He had become a monk!”
“Has any Chinese monk ever before passed through the kingdom of Kothipalli?” “Yes,” The mystic said,” some 180 years ago.” “How do you know that Master?” “I saw in the king’s library the other day,” he explained, ”a scroll written in Chinese script, giving the date. It was strange to look at but beautifully brushed unlike anything that I have ever seen in our parts.”
“So you are also into their culture?” “Yes, what attracted my friend naturally led me to know more.”
What is the point of the story, master?” one wanted to know.
“If a culture so removed from our way of life could make such claim on one so supposedly insulated from every strange custom, we are not safe. None of us are.”
After a pause he said, ”We need to see ourselves instead of a closed society, as part of the whole. We are open ended indeed!”
“What will you advice us then master?” “More understanding, – still more, I say!”
benny

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St. Augustine And The Heretic.

Aurelius Augustinus of Tagaste, North Africa was won over from his dissolute ways when he and a friend of his were holidaying and they heard a neighbor child singing a refrain,’ Tolle Lige, Tolle Lige,”(Take up and read, Take up and read). He took it up as divine guidance and read from the book of Romans wherein St. Paul’s admonition,” make not provision for the flesh,” made a deep impact to win him over from his hedonistic way of life. At that moment his friend who also heard the child did not think it anything special.
That moment nevertheless was a turning point: one going on to become the father of medieval Roman Catholicism and the other, a heretic. When the latter was at the death- bed the saint went to see him. The heretic resisted a last minute conversion saying that while Aurelius found God whose grace was irresistible he found quite something else. When the venerable Bishop asked him to spell out what he meant he merely quoted his friend’s dictum:” In essentials, unity; in non- essentials, liberty and in all things charity.” When pressed further he said, ” Allow me to die as a heretic; we both were searching for the same- we both, so I believe, found what we searched for. Heresy or liberty? Neither you nor I have time to convince the other as to the opposite. So I shall not, either in this life or in any other.”
Time presses us to shape our belief-systems in the indistinct runoff of certainties and what seem coincidences. These also switch roles. Thus what seeemed a sure thing proves to be flash in the pan. History is replete with such paradoxes.
benny

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At the Altamira Caves©

A group of prehistoric men camped in the Upper Paleolithic caves Spain thought they were guided by some unseen hand. From where they stood they could see in the valley below such abundant wild-life, which they could hunt. There was plenty of meat to go round. Because it was a coastal area they also fished and it gave some variety to their diet. When they painted the caves they were in a manner of speaking thanking whatever made them seek that part of rocky outcrop.
‘Imagination no doubt.’ One wizened man exclaimed.
‘But from where it came to us?’ The young braves queried.
The old man replied, ‘ By the same source that made us leave our history along the walls.’
They didn’t get it so they pressed him to explain. ‘Would we have left these paintings behind if we did not think we would be found?’
Later when roof of a cave collapsed they decided it was time to move on.
As they filed their way to safer regions the old man asked the group of hunter-gatherers who were responsible for painting the walls,’ Don’t you want to leave your signature?’
‘Whatever for?’ perplexed they were at the question, ‘ we were merely the hand that obeyed Imagination whatever it is.’ In our exercising the imagination we prove we are part of a dream at the centre of which holds an Absolute quality.
Let me quote Carlyle”For indeed it is well said,’in every object there is inexhaustible meaning: the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of seeing.’ To Newton and Newton’s dog Diamond, what a different pair of universe; while the painting on the optical retina of both was, most likely the same!’( French Revolution./Book I.1.2)
When you look at the immensities do you trace the lineaments of God or Allah and think It gave you the right to demolish those who didn’t see it the way you did?
Wherever one is, that the Centre of Immensities,-for believer, theist, agnostic atheist alike. Centre of Immensities is an expression of Carlyle and I find in him some similarities.
benny

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