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Ed Rock

A Buddhist Fairytale

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Chapter 1 - One More Journey

Part 1

The sound of pacing reverberated throughout the high spire, echoing along the halls of the upper chambers. I stopped pacing only long enough to gaze longingly at the valley below, slowly, from one end to the other. This precious kingdom that would be mine someday.
Everyone looked small and insignificant from up here, and this made me feel good, but only for a moment as I continued pacing. This was my favorite place, this extraordinary bedroom above it all where nothing was out of place; even my sword in its scabbard hung exactly perpendicular on the wall. Everything was neatly arranged. I liked things that way.
I found myself thinking about my favorite subject again; me. Me and my unrelenting unhappiness. Why was it that no matter what I pursued, I was never happy? I could barely raise my head up for a moment to breathe a whiff of happiness before being pushed back into my hole of discontent for what seemed to be an eternity, until I could finally claw my way out again. Doesn't the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Ayatana deserve to be happy? Always?
My beautiful kingdom, or soon to be mine, was nestled in a long, lush valley of endless forests, crisscrossed by rushing, clear streams with free-roaming tigers, elephants, monkeys and, according to some; strange beings that could not be seen by everybody.
At the end of the valley, on the very top of the highest hill, was my (my father's and mine) magnificent, white castle bordered by a wide moat and a broad, wooden drawbridge. Four towering spires, that seemed to touch the clouds, stood on each corner of the castle, and on the top of the highest was my splendid bedroom.
I continued pacing back and forth, a troubling habit of mine, because I was worrying again. How could it be that a Prince, with everything his heart could desire, was never satisfied? Like a hasty, broiling ocean wave that finally touches shore only to recede again, nothing held my interest for long. Everything slipped away, no matter how I tried to hold on, and my life had become nothing but a treadmill. The new soon became old, as delights turned into disappointments. Why must everything change? Why couldn't everything remain perfect? Why was I so miserable?
I became desperate to the point of offering a cartful of gold to anyone who could make me happy all the time. They all of course failed, miserably, and when they did, I promptly rewarded their incompetence with nice cozy cells in the dungeons for the rest of their lives. I loved to watch their faces drop when I sentenced them, which made me happy for a moment, but only a moment. How dare they promise lasting happiness to the prince and then fail so wretchedly? Their lame attempts to make me happy were useless, and my unhappiness only worsened.
Often I would unhappily sit around talking with my best and only friend, the jailor. He and I grew up together and were inseparable, both big and strong, and though he was older by quite a few years and would win the fights we got into, there were those odd moments. Moments when something would come over me, quite mysterious, doubling my strength and changing the way in which I fought, and this would all happen without my thinking about it. Something would slip into my skin for just a moment, enough time for this strange phenomenon to take over my soul, and many times, I found myself dangerously close to dealing a fatal blow.
"A visitor in the hall," the guards called out from the far entrance of the chamber. I was perched on my throne musing with the jailor, bored as usual, so I waived my consent, thinking that it was probably another hapless commoner trying to strike it rich by making me happy. At least I could amuse myself for a few minutes by sentencing him to the dungeons.
I watched him make the long walk through the great arches and columns, and as he approached my throne, I realized that all these commoners were the same. I could tell no difference. They had that look about them, haggard, confused, and greedily jumping on the slimmest opening to release them from their hells, whatever they imagined them to be.
The jailor nodded to me, signifying that the man was reputable. I had to count on his judgment about these things because I had little or nothing to do with my father's subjects. I didn't know who this commoner was and didn't really care. I was feeling my normal bitter self.
"Speak! And for your sake, you had better have something worthwhile to say and not waste the Prince's precious time." I barked.
I must admit, I was a bit surprised at this commoner's demeanor; how he looked at me. His eyes were not the eyes of the countless numbers of groveling little people I was forced to put up with in my pathetic position. This man's eyes were fearless, steady, and he looked directly at me.
A magic key exists, Sire, that can make you forever happy," he said softly.
My eyes opened wide for just a second before I began laughing, my howls filling the hall. Wiping my eyes, I grinned and winked at the jailor, hinting that the jailor was assuredly wrong this time - this man before me was obviously a complete fool.
I glared at the blacksmith, my smile now gone.
"How would an ignorant commoner, such as you, know of a key that could possibly make me, a mighty prince happy? And what would this key unlock? Beware my friend, many have failed to make the prince happy, and many are rotting in the dungeons for the rest of their lives. Be careful with your freedom."
The jailor leaned over and whispered, "Sire, this is no ordinary man. The blacksmith was very unhappy for a long, long time, just as you are now, but unlike you, he had much misfortune in his life as well. Then, one day he came across a strange being deep in the forest, and the being told him of a mysterious key; a key that supposedly could cure him of his constant disgruntlement. For many years, the blacksmith was gone, Sire, but when he returned, he was a changed man. He was cheerful and at ease in his relationships with his wife and neighbors, and exhibited a most remarkable patience and understanding. His life was inalterably changed and reflected a complete happiness; a happiness and courage, I must confess, Sire, I have never witnessed in any other man."
I listened patiently to the jailor. Over the years, I had come to respect his judgment, for he had an uncanny perceptiveness, and his opinions were usually right on the mark. But this vague tale of a key was beginning to annoy me, and I was beginning to feel as if I was being played for a fool.
"Show Me This Key , " I bellowed.
The blacksmith's eyes never blinked, as if he expected my outburst.
"I cannot show you this key, Sire, because the key is deep inside of you, and only you can find it."
That did it! Furious; I abruptly stood up, my cloak falling off my shoulders.
" Do Not Mock Your Prince, Show Me This Key . . . Now!" I yelled.
An extremely uncomfortable silence blanketed the hall after my voice echoed into nothingness, and the blacksmith, now aware that his fate was sealed, resignedly bowed his head.
Almost in a whisper, he said, "You will never find happiness outside of yourself, my prince; the key can only be found within. "
" What do you mean," I screamed.
He looked into my eyes, "Everything that you have chased after in the world appeared to be your answer, Sire. But only at first, for every one of them, without exception, eventually disappointed you. This you know is true. Things change and shift about, my prince, and the temporary happiness you might have occasionally felt has turned into dissatisfaction time after time."
" Who in the hell do you think you are lecturing? Do you take me as a school child," I shouted.
The blacksmith paid no attention to my scathing remarks, and continued speaking quietly as if talking to an ill person.
"Without the key, Sire, you will be destined to fall within the grasp of the world, where everything eventually becomes unstable and uncertain; and where everything becomes stressful; leaving you in a constant state of restlessness and confusion, and where what you believe to be yourself is untrue. "
"You're a mad man! You're a dead man" I yelled.
He looked at me for a moment, silently, sadly, and said, "Only the key will assure you of never-ending happiness, Sire, for it is the only answer to the suffering, conflicts, and discontent that has beleaguered mankind since the beginning of time."
I was beside myself, screaming and shaking my fist. The jailor grabbed my arm, but I flung him aside.
" Who Do You Think You Are, you stupid commoner, coming in here and talking to me like a child? Don't tell me what I will or will not experience, or if I should or should not believe in myself. You may now lecture the rats in the dungeons for the rest of your life! Jailor, take him away,"
My eyes were tight, my hands trembling as I watched the jailor hurriedly escort the blacksmith from the hall.
Then, suddenly, I sensed someone behind me.
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Comments

  1. Ed Rock's Avatar
    Chapter 1 had 8 Parts.
  2. Mara Pacers's Avatar
    Thank you for this Ed. I look forward to reading each instalment.
  3. Ed Rock's Avatar
    Thanks Mara, Hopefully it will continue to keep your interest. A few surprises ahead