Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Now, thanks to the artist Tomikichiro, we see what became of the boy who was once lost in the forest. Yes, that's him, the old man, a cane in his hand instead of a whip. He's too old to chase Ideas anymore, but he is drawn to those that beckon others. And so, as Pu-ming tells us, he leaves his hut each morning and walks to the city--barefoot, bare-chested, covered with mud and ashes, smiling broadly. He goes his own way, neither following the ancient sages, nor known by the wise men of his day. At night he returns home, leaning heavily on his staff.
If you asked the old man, he would say that he is empty. But if you asked others, they would say that he is full. Just look at that belly! And look at that bag, with all the riches it contains! The poet says the old man has the "bliss-bestowing" hands of the Buddha. "He touches, and lo! the dead trees are in full bloom."
There to receive his riches is a little girl. She could be anyone, young or old, male or female, you or I. She's already good at catching fish, but now she dreams of something bigger. She listens, wide-eyed, to the old man's story of an ox that wanders in the forest, an ox with the name "The Idea Waiting To Be Born."
And in the story's words
the girl hears an Idea
calling from afar.
She sees its hoofprints in the mud,
the place where grass grows thick and sweet,
the massive, stately body of the ox.
She slips a tether in the ox's nose,
feels a storm erupt,
and tells herself, "I must hang on."
Soon she's on the ox's back
looking for a reed to play,
looking for a single thought,
knowing that she's going home.
Then she's in her doorway,
and hearing in a dream the "I am here."
And then she sees and hears and feels no more.
But in her heart a fire burns.
Her mind is set ablaze.
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