(The hunter in the wilderness of sansara)
(Part 15): Ancient stories
Thanks to the drummer’s daughter, the Hunter, for the first time in
his considerably long life, made his ascent in self-deception. He felt
belittled. For this reason he looked around as though searching for
something, his nostrils flared as those of a wild boar. There was, he
knew, a cave that had never been home to any creature other than bats.
He unburdened himself of the drum. When he set it down on the floor of
the cave, the drummer’s daughter immediately sat down beside it, clearly
in utter exhaustion.
The Hunter once again made his way to the top of the rock. He still
felt he was not alone. The drummer’s daughter was following him. He
turned. There was on one behind him. The drum he had left behind was
still hanging from his shoulder.
He stopped when he came to the pond. The dark entrance of the cave
nearby took his thoughts to the recent past. He gazed in amazement. The
Naga Lady had thrust her hood out of the cave, tongue out in the manner
of searching for something.
As his eyes fell on the dark, black water of the pond the Hunter got
goose bumps. It was difficult for him to ignore the call of water. He
remembered that the Hamuduruwo would be waiting for him. He also felt
that his body was covered in sweat as well and that in addition it was
caked with some undefined but clearly dirty substance. For this reason,
he undressed himself and waded into the pond until he was immersed up to
his neck. He looked at the beautiful head of the Naga Lady and her
darting tongue without blinking once.
Although he was unusually late, the Hamuduruwo remained under the
Esatu tree, still, serene and in deep meditation as always. The Hunter
came up to him. The Hunter looked upon the Hamuduruwo with a sense of
amazement. Finally, the Hamuduruwo opened his eyes and turned his head.
His gaze did not fall on the Hunter’s face. It was cast upon someone
else who stood behind the Hunter.
The Hunter, confused, turned his head around but did not see anyone.
He looked at the Hamuduruwo again. The Hamuduruwo, at this point, had
cast a gaze of equanimity on the far away skies. The Hamuduruwo spoke.
‘Both Hunter and the Yogi are akin to a leopard prowling the jungle
in search of prey. The leopard would hide in the grass, in the shrub,
behind a tree or in a cave and pounce on the intended victim. In the
same manner a Yogi engaging in meditation in a hermitage, monastery,
cave or jungle in accordance with the doctrine of mindfulness, journeys
in solitude and silence and reflecting on koans so as to obtain full
comprehension of the four noble truths.
‘The sense of the Hunter who walks through the jungle in search of
prey are similarly alert to all things, relevant and irrelevant, every
shadow, the upwind and downwind and the scents they carry, every
identifiable and unidentified sound that grazes ear, the snap of a twig
under the weight of a foot, and the coarse music of dry leaf
encountering dry leaf upon wind-play. He then carries into subsequent
lifetimes as a sansaric habit the ability to read and comprehend
everything caressing the senses that a hunter acquires in the long years
of inhabiting a jungle. Through each image that enter the circle of his
eyes, each sound that touches eardrum, each morsel of food that rests
awhile on tongue, each moment when the slightest breeze titillates skin,
with each step that is taken, each syllable spoken or held back on
tongue, helps construct avenues of comprehension at whose end he
experiences a certain bliss about the particular objective of the
journey.’ Thereafter the Hamuduruwa lapsed into a long and mysterious
silence. The Hunter scratched the surface of the rock with the nail of
his thumb for a while, trying to comprehend something. Finally, clarity
was obtained only about one thing: ‘I am now scratching the surface of
the rock…I scratch…I scratch…the rock does not get scratched…does not
get scratched…does not get scratched.’
He stopped this exercise and went about preparing the midday meal. He
offered the alms to the Hamudurwo and sat a few feet away in veneration
and silence. Instead of expressing gratitude as was customary, the
Hamuduruwo ended the sermon he had begun earlier in the following
‘I, the Yogi meditating on the movements of the body followed the
Hunter, keeping pace, walking close to him, and observing him in all his
movements and with intense consciousness about certain things. In the
depths of my thoughts the following kind of meditation materialized.
‘The Hunter goes. He stays. Who was it that went? Who stays? I saw
the Hunter as a caravan of many wagons and yet I did not see a caravan
passing. Neither did I see one that remained. When we see a bull and
behind it a cart, driven by a man, we call it “wagon”. The Hunter
resembled a wagon. The thought seed is akin to the bulls drawing the
The moment the though “I go” arises, the body is persuaded to move.
When the thought signals the muscles, the feet invariably move as per
the directive of the thought. ‘I go’ is a name, a particular
configuration of symbols. The thought is not image. No part of image
proceeds to the one following it. All images and all names perish at the
moment of generation.’
The Hunter turned, for he had heard someone murmur appreciation of
the sermon, ‘Sadhu…Sadhu’. The Tree Spirit had arrived in silence and
having sat on the other side of the Hamuduruwo murmured ‘Sadhu’ one more
time, clearly overjoyed by the explication of the dhamma offered by the
‘Are you not joking?’ the Hamuduruwo asked the Tree Spirit.
‘No, Hamuduruwane, I was for a moment intoxicated, not by your sermon
but the beautiful music that is the voice delivering it,’ the Tree
Spirit explained, sought forgiveness for intruding and disappeared into
the bowels of the earth.
The sermon for that day ended on account of the Tree Spirit’s
Before consuming the alms offered, the Hamuduruwo went towards the
image house to offer alms to the Buddha. The Hunter was lost somewhere
in the middle of an unfinished sermon.