Saturday, June 7, 2008

The stone-cutter

Once upon a time in ancient China, a stone-cutter was chipping away at a rock with his hammer and chisel, ‘tack, tack’. He looked up from his work and saw a magnificent carriage passing by in the street and thought ‘That must be the carriage of a minister of the Emperor. How nice it must be to be a minister, how important one must feel, travelling around in that fine carriage’. And in his mind’s eye he became the minister, and sat in the carriage, smiling at the people as he passed by.
It was a hot day, and looking up the minister thought ‘Ah, to be the sun! Now that is true power’. And so he decided to become the sun, shining down with his life-giving light on the fields of rice. ‘Yes, this is the life!’ thought the sun. And then something came along and blocked his light: a great rain cloud! ‘Oh, there is something more powerful than the sun: what use is the sun without water? I shall become a rain cloud.’
So he became the rain cloud and rained down on the smiling peasants in their rice fields and he was very pleased with himself. But then he noticed that he was being pushed around here and there by some other, greater force: the wind! ‘Why did I not think of it before? To be the wind, free and powerful, and travel the world over, that is the life for me!’
So he became the wind and scattered the clouds before him with a great laugh and he was very happy. Until he came upon something he could not move no matter how hard he blew: a mountain! ‘Oh, if I cannot move this mountain then surely it is the greatest, most powerful thing in the universe. I shall become a mountain’.
So he became a mountain: immovable, serene, unchanging, and he was finally content. And then something very strange happened. He felt himself being changed, transformed by some other, even more powerful force. What was that sound?
‘Tack, tack’.

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond