Monday, April 14, 2014

Adventures in the Middle Kingdom: Thus spake Hán Yì Srotāpanna to the È Guǐ

In which a sorcerous false priest converts to Buddhism and becomes a Monk.

Sole dominion over the earth,
going to heaven,
lordship over all worlds:
the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

My name is Hán Yì.
If you had appeared before me two weeks ago, I would not have believed.
I was told by my mother that I was descended of the immortal Hán Zhongli,
who turned stones to gold with his fan.
But I took all the teachings of Buddha and the Tao as chicanery,
Lies meant to pacify a superstitious population,
I refused to learn and indeed called myself holy.
I deceived the people through lies and sorcery.

I failed in my charge to defend an examiner of the eternal emperor,
When the examiner died, I bade my friends throw her from a cliff,
Then I bade my lord Gang Way steal her seal and take her place.
Then I saw her. Her spirit cursed to roam the world,
and she sought her vengeance on my lord Gang Way and me,
Yet we escaped unharmed.

I built a statue to the Buddha,
an abomination born of my imagination,
in keeping with none of the sutras,
and then bade my friend Hu Dat Bum destroy it,
and yet I beheld it hold back the powers of a flood,
Buddha saved our town despite my perfidy.

I lied my way into a camp of bandits,
made friend with the enemies of my people,
made them believe that I was enlightened,
then led thirty men of them to their deaths.
And yet, I saw my friend, Timur Selçuk Khan,
slay the bandit king with one failed shot of his bow,
an arrow guided by Buddha to its rightful target,
and our enemies became our friends in truth.

A day ago, I led a procession to bury this king of our enemies,
Up to the peak of Green Wall Mountain,
There I lied to many holy men of the Way,
Through illusions and subterfuge, I made a mockery of both the burial of the sky,
and of burial by fire, and bade his body be stolen by birds of my own creation,
And yet Feng Huang appeared to us,
and bore up the body of the king in her own talons.

In each dust-mote of these worlds
Are countless worlds and Buddhas...
From the tip of each hair of Buddha's body
Are revealed the indescribable Pure Lands...
The indescribable infinite Lands
All ensemble in a hair's tip of Buddha.

I know now that my soul is worthless,
I have dishonored my blessed ancestor,
Despite my best efforts to denounce him,
the Buddha continues to right all our wrongs.
We do not have three-hundred thousand bushels of rice,
So I must trust the Buddha once again,
If you hunger, devour my worthless soul for now,
and trust in the Buddha to sustain you for the future.

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