Parables Imagined - Short Stories Based On Morals and Ethics of Buddha's Teachings
01. Nothing Left To Lose
In the 1950s, Communist China was a looming shadow over its neighbors. While - like most political policies - communism looks good on paper, it suffers the same caveat they all do; It's controlled by Man. We all know those who have power only desire more of it until they control everything. However, in most cases pride is a high horse with a loose saddle. Nevertheless, China wanted to expand its empire and so it set its sights on their long time enemy: Tibet.
China invaded the tiny country and began killing, slaughtering, Buddhist monks. Any monk that attempted to flee or fight was forced to watch as their families were murdered before they were beheaded. Albeit, there was one monk who thought the risk outweighed personal death. He believed that not only would he be saving his family by running, since the Chinese would either kill or enslave them anyway for being Buddhist, but he was saving himself as well. He didn't want to lose his family home, all the art and writings, everything that was legacy to his family either. He was attached and the thought of losing everything he loved was panic inducing.
So, undercover of darkness, the monk slips out of his village and towards the safety of the mountains. It will be a hard journey, especially for a monk wearing robes and sandals with only a thin fur wrap to stay warm. He had little food and water mainly relying on Nature to provide. Whenever the journey felt like it was getting too hard, the monk reminded himself that he was doing this to save who and what he loved, those that he was attached to. He thought that the Chinese would leave eventually and then he could return and see his family home again, watch his mother paint and his sister write poetry. Then the whole family would have a grand feast and feel joy at the monk's return and thank him for being so selfless.
Three days later, the monk is beginning the ascent into the mountain pass when suddenly he stops. A force pulls him to turn around and look the way he had come. There, on the horizon, the monk sees the silhouette of a man on horseback coming the monk's direction. Knowing that the Chinese would come in greater numbers, the monk was not afraid, merely curious and decided to wait for the rider. As the rider came closer the monk recognized him from his village. Looking exhausted, the rider dismounts and runs to the monk.
“I have ridden for two days to catch you!” the young rider said in between breaths.
“Why?” calmly asked the monk.
"The village elders, they informed the Chinese you were missing! They looked and looked for you and when they did not find you an old woman admitted she had watched you flee! Then the Chinese rounded up not only your family, also your friends and their families and slaughtered them! After they burned all their homes to the ground and claimed the properties! Soldiers went through and destroyed every piece of art, writing, antique and heirloom they could find. Your family and friends have been wiped from existence! Nothing remains for you and yet they come! I will take you over the mountain, but, we must move!" The rider spills out to the monk with obvious shame.
The monk has his head down staring at the ground. The rider assumes he is on the verge of an emotional outpouring. A few moments pass and the rider is getting ready to ask if the monk is alright when he looks up. The monk is smiling.
This perplexed the rider; “Why do you smile?! Did you not hear me? Everyone you know and love are dead! Any trace of their existence gone!”
“I heard what you said.” replied the monk, still smiling, “ I have nothing left to lose and am attached to nothing. I smile because I am free.”
On that, the monk turned and began walking back towards the village, towards the Chinese, towards whatever destiny had planned for him.
02. The Road To Letting Go
Two traveling monks set out from Jokhang Temple and were on the long road following the Yarlung Zangbo river. They were headed to the city of Lhasa to attend Pabongka Monastery. The older monk led the way with the other in tow following in silence. The journey would be long and difficult however, being monks and all, they didn't let that bother them.
A few days later, the monks came to a township named Xumai. As the monks walked through town they notice some commotion. A stately woman was standing on the rail of her carriage yelling at a group of servants standing around her while holding packages. She was angry because it had rained hard while she had napped and now she couldn't get down from the rail or else she would get her fine silken robes dirty from the giant puddles.
“You fools! Worthless, all of you! I cannot climb down! Do you think me a pig?! That my home is in the mud?! One of you must carry me! Now!” the woman howled.
The servants were dumbfounded. They didn't know what to do that they hadn't tried all ready. Every time one of them tried to set a package down to carry their mistress she only became more enraged at them. Therefore, all they could do is stand there with confused looks on their faces.
The younger monk took notice and moved on. In his mind he felt the woman was obviously rude and arrogant and she likely deserved her predicament. He believed Karma was enacting on the woman for being so selfish, for being so troubled by such an inconsequential matter. These thoughts had led him down the road alone. His fellow monk was not with him. He turned to look and just in time sees the older monk approaching the irate woman.
The elder monk grabs the woman and places her on his back, carries her over the puddles, and sat her down on the dry road. The woman, with a scowl still on her face, looks the monk up and down, shoves him out of the way, and enters the restaurant behind her. The monk shrugged, grabbed his pack and began walking down the road again. The youngest running to catch up. The younger couldn't believe what he had seen. How rude! How arrogant! he thought again. How could she just shove him? Not even a thank you! He tried to calm himself, knowing that such emotions were not to be fed. However, he was only calm on the exterior, inside he was still angry. It continued to build as they traveled on.
Several hours later, the monks made their way along the road a few miles from Lhasa. The younger monk, who had been silent only in tongue, could no longer hold it in. He must say something! He had to know why the elder would help such a woman!
“Master?!” he called out
“In the township, why did you help that woman? She was rude! She was arrogant! She cared for only herself! Then, when you did help her, she did not give an offering, not even thank you! No, she actually shoved you! Why? Why would a person like that be deserving of charity or generosity?” the younger argued.
His master looked at him with a face of disappointment. After a few moments, he said;
“I set that woman down hours ago. Why do you still carry her?”
He turned and walked towards the city.
© 2016 Adam Stier
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