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Ed Rock

A Buddhist Fairy Tale – Chapter 4 – Nothing Left to Lose – Part 1

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When I came upon Maradin and her cottage, everything fell apart. I did fine by myself for five long years in the forest but Maradin was my first real challenge, and I wasn't up to it. I could still be easily duped and victimized by the grand illusions of the world. I had no discernment to recognize that still voice in my heart, no judgment to value it, and no wisdom to realize the consequences of ignoring it.

I was utterly disheartened. I sat in the field for days after the sorcerer left, eating nothing, completely humiliated and disgraced. Conqueror nuzzled me from time to time, but I ignored him. I couldn't move. I was nothing, worthless in fact. People that I had previously looked upon with disgust; the poorest of the poor of my kingdom, were far better than I. These good folks went to work, day after day to backbreaking jobs, possibly being forced to associate with difficult people just to provide for their families. This took far more resolve than did all the battles I had fought during my idiotic war, a conflict that only resulted in tragedy for so many, including myself.

To make things worse, my callous dictates threw an innocent man into the dungeons to die just as his first child was about to be born; a child he would never know. This would have been bad enough if he was just an ordinary man, but the blacksmith was a key "keeper." Not only had he sought the key; but he found it - an incredible feat that I, a powerful king, might never achieve.

I was completely fed up with myself, so much so that I just sat there with my heart near the breaking point. I had no one to comfort me, and I could find no consolation. Yet this thirst for the key beleaguered me. I had to discover its secret. The world I was familiar with was slowly falling apart, yet the spiritual life was nowhere to be found. It was the jumping off place for all true key seekers.

"Trust your heart," Ariya once said, and I desperately needed her now. Obviously, my heart was not the one involved with Maradin; it was my lust. How could real love be directed toward only one, individual person? Authentic love flows out to everything, unconditionally, and encompasses every creature. My ‘love’ was a clinging, confining love; a deceitful coin with the love of Maradin on one side and the hatred of her fiancι on the other.

A heart of genuine love is what warned me about the cottage. Now, I could see how easy it is to confuse my intuitive heart with my cunning mind and I vowed to never confuse them again. The sorcerer's lessons were effective. Actually, they were life changing.

I was completely lost in my deep contemplations, feeling alone and abandoned and very sorry for myself, when I was jolted out of my self-pity by a little man strolling down the path. He was wearing just a simple orange robe and had a big grin on his face as if he were the happiest man in the world!

As soon as he noticed me he unabashedly walked right up to where I was sitting, and with a big smile and child-like innocence, said, "Oh, hello there! My name is ‘a John’! How are you on this beautiful day? Oops, I can see you are not feeling too good. Oh well, perchance I can cheer you up!"

"That is a strange name, ‘a John,'" I replied, "Why not just . . . John'?" I had to admit that his trusting, bright demeanor was having a curious and positive effect on me.

The small robed man's face twisted into a pained expression. Scratching his head, he confessed, "I know exactly what you mean, my name seems so . . . clumsy, but that is the way it is and I must live with it."

I actually found myself smiling at this completely engaging, unpretentious man. "You do not have to live with it at all. Just call yourself ‘John!'" I replied.

He shook his head, "Oh-oh, it looks as if somebody likes to take short cuts! Well, you see, this is the name I was given, and it would be dishonest to pretend it was otherwise, so I'm afraid that I'm stuck with it." He then hesitated for a moment as if suddenly struck by great insight, and said, "But if you insist on calling me ‘John,' I give you permission to do so!"

His expressions were so quizzically comical that I laughed harder than I had for years. "I am extremely honored to meet you 'a' John," I replied.

The little man seemed pleased with this and then, shaking his finger in the air, admonished me with a smile, saying, "You will never find your key if you are not honest!"

My laughing abruptly stopped. How did he know that I was searching for the key? I studied this strange, diminutive man a little closer, noticing that his eyes were curiously empty, yet very alive, as if they were looking through my solitary eye and focusing on the meadow behind me.

I tested him with a question. Or perhaps I was testing myself, "Do you think that I am foolish for giving up everything to find this mysterious key?"

"No, no, my friend," he replied, "I have the highest respect for you, for what else in this world of woe is there to do? May you eventually find your happiness. Isn't that what everybody searches for?"

He then asked a leading question, "How do you plan to go about finding this key?"

I mulled this over for a moment because I had no idea what I was doing out here. "Nothing on earth matters to me except this elusive key, and I am determined to find it regardless of hardships ahead, but I'm not sure how to proceed. What I do know, however, is that the key is inside of me and I am compelled, for some unknown reason, to live in the forest until I find it."

"Good. Good!" exclaimed a John. "Living in the forest is extremely helpful. The forest, the animals, the natural world; these are a direct emanation of the great infinity, and you and I are made up of the things of the natural world. We are produced from the natural world, we eat from the natural world, and when we die, we melt back into the natural world – we are the world. Our hearts feel more comfortable in the forest unlike in the kingdoms that are man-made. A true key seeker will always feel more content in nature because here he is closer to what he truly seeks."

I was curious. "You are apparently very poor; wearing discarded rags sewn together; so why are you so happy?"

A John chuckled and said, "Nothing left to lose!"
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