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Ed Rock

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

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I whispered to a John, “Don’t worry my little friend; these two will be dead before they hit the ground. And Conqueror will take care of the other one.”

A John replied, “No, no! Do not harm them. We will surrender and avoid bloodshed.”

“And let them kill me? You don’t understand; there is a price on my head and they will be richly rewarded when they drag my dead body back to Ayatana!”

“It’s going to be alright,” a John insisted, and then suddenly his vacant eyes filled with fire as he pointed at my chest and whispered loudly, “Don’t move!” as he turned and walked out to confront the warriors. I suddenly had a better understanding of exactly where I stood in my relationship with this diminutive man!

“Where is he?” the warrior in charge curtly demanded.

“He is right there, in the bamboo grove,” a John said with his invariable grin. If he was afraid, he certainly didn’t show it.

As the warriors started toward the grove, a villager suddenly emerged from behind a tree. In his hand he loosely held the long, heavy blade of a razor sharp coconut cutter. One of the soldiers laughed and drew his sword, but behind him two other villagers, a boy and a woman, walked out with their blades. The second warrior then drew his sword and as the two well-trained soldiers positioned themselves back to back, the first villager whistled. Within moments there was a flurry of activity in the bush as ten other villagers ran out, crouching low with their blades ready.

It wasn’t the sharp, long knives that were so intimidating, or the villagers’ strong, taut bodies; it was their eyes. They reflected no fear as if this was just another task to perform like cutting down coconuts with no particular interest but with deadly efficiency. There is always a feeling of finality when eyes of these kinds meet; you know the talking is over and the next move will be a fatal one . . . for somebody.

The soldiers stood motionless, the confidence visibly draining from their faces. They knew that the slightest move would now unleash a blood bath. I smiled, because I knew exactly what these cowards would do. They were interested only in the reward; this was not something they truly believed in, and as such, were not willing to risk their lives for.

The tension increased when Conqueror slowly walked out of the forest toward the two warriors with blood covering his front hoofs. The two looked at Conqueror, then back at the villagers, and ever so slowly and carefully sheathed their swords. Without a word, they mounted their horses and rode off.

After the villagers silently bowed to us and melted back into the forest, I said to a John, “Why didn’t you let me kill the warriors? They will just be back to try again.”

“You are now seeking the key,” he said, “and as a key seeker, it will be far better that you are killed – rather than kill others. Please believe me in this and trust my guidance.”

“Let me explain what is going on here,” I insisted.

But held his hand up and beamed his infectious smile, “Not necessary. That was that and this is this, and now we move on!”

He seemed to be completely unconcerned with danger as if it wasn’t important, and continued walking along as if nothing had happened. “Now, since you are officially a key seeker,” he said, “don’t think you can relax and sit around. You will be working harder than you have ever worked in your entire life because it is now your duty to refine your mind and make yourself worthy of the respect and support of these generous villagers that just saved your life. This Inner Work will involve silent observations of the mind like a sheep herder carefully watching his sheep so they don’t stray. This is quite different from the work and activities you have done in the past where your mind was totally unrestricted to solve problems and conflicts.

“An outsider who sees you sitting in the forest practicing the inner work will think you are merely sitting there being lazy and doing nothing, but internally you are sharpening your weapons and preparing yourself to face the Dragon of Atta. Don’t be fooled, this work will be the most difficult thing you have ever attempted, but if done properly and for some time, it will assure you of your key.”

It sounded easy, sitting around in the forest. But then again, when he said that something would be difficult, I was inclined to believe him. I was beginning to trust a John.

“Villagers are busy with family life and have little time to practice the inner work, so they rely on us to reveal the inner world that we discover, and then connect it to their lives. They know that those inclined toward the inner work and actively practice it are trustworthy, and the villagers look up to them as examples of sincere commitment toward higher ideals. Surprisingly enough, some exceptionally gifted villagers have actually found the key while fulfilling the responsibilities of family life! You can never know by looking at poor farmers toiling in the rice fields whether they are doing the inner work or outer work, or both! Never trust outward appearances; it’s what’s inside that counts.”

As we walked past a village the little man pointed and said, “We will go there tomorrow morning at exactly sunrise. That’s when the people who just rescued us will be waiting to offer us food.”
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