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Sansaaraaranyaye Dadayakkaraya

(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 manner.

‘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 wagon.

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 Hamuduruwo.

‘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 unexpected arrival.

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.

 

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