Chapter the Fourth
As you will recall, the Llama slept for seventy-three days and seventy-three nights after having been wounded by his enemy, the Snake, and during which time Mongoose kept watch over the world and its inhabitants. But all ye take note that this was no accident. For the number seventy-three, which is prime, is a number unlike other numbers, for it has special significance and the full extent of its magical properties are known to none, not even the great Llama himself. And when the Llama arose from his long sleep he gathered those around him that would listen and spake unto them regarding such things as numbers and their meanings.
»My friends,» he said. »You have seen that though I was wounded, I am now healed through the power of Chicken Soup, but also through rest and the passage of time. Know ye all that time and the numbers by which we measure its length is noteworthy. For the language of mathematics is universal and can be used to understand much of our world. It has long been known by the wise that the number three is one of special import, for it forms a triangle which is symbolic in a multitude of ways. Likewise, the number seven has long been considered lucky and has been used to as a charm to bring good fortune for generations. Both of these numbers are indeed powerful and strong on their own, for they are prime and there is elegance in their simplicity.
»However, when combined these numbers behave differently and can be used for special purposes. Just as the many facets of a crystal reflect and distort a single light ray, so do certain numbers allow the universe to be reflected and distorted in a variety of surprising ways. My number shall henceforth be seventy-three, as has been told by my recent sleep. And it shall serve me and my followers in times of need just as we must honor it in our daily lives. For such is the dual nature of all relationships.
»From the sign which has been given me, I now know that this number seventy-three shall be bound to me and shall go with me through lightness and dark. And great things shall come to pass on the seventy-third year of each century, so that we must all be ready to catch notice of them when they occur. In this we must be like the Mongoose, with eyes always open and alert, and we shall surely see that great fulfillments of the Way shall abound at that time. Keep in mind the many forms of the Way and look for each in its turn, and you shall not be disappointed. Likewise, keep watch at the seventy-third day of each year, though these signs may be smaller and more difficult to detect.
»I can see that there are those among you who would ask about other numbers, and whether in them can be found similar powers. To this I must answer that there are indeed others, but without a clear sign of their import it is difficult to determine what they are and how to use them. The number thirty-seven, for example, which is a combination of lucky three and lucky seven, and which is prime, must surely be a number of power. However, this number was not given to me as my number, as was the number seventy-three, and therefore I am not the one to make claims about its powers. For this reason I urge you all to pay grave attention to the numbers which will pervade your own lives and do not fight them, but rather put your faith in them and honor them as you would a trusted friend and they shall be kind to you. But ignore them and they may grow angry and bring to you and yours great harms.
»Therefore, let my symbol be a star of seven points, with one point aimed skyward to symbolize achievement and the striving towards better things. And let from the base of this star hang an inverted triangle of three equal sides, pointing downward to signify the importance of the here and now, lest we let our thought wander too much and dwell always in the future or in events that have long since passed. Let this symbol be worn and honored by those who find sense in what I say and let it be treated with the respect and reverence that the Way demands, and not as an idle token to be cast aside For those who gaze upon the symbol shall be reminded of me, and through me be reminded of the Way of things to be, that they will not stray from its teachings and that they will keep it in their minds always.»
And here the crowd of people who had gathered to listen to the Llama and his words fell about to fashioning charms and pendants of whatever materials they could find and they decorated their houses with them. And the Llama looked upon the symbols and saw that they were made of iron and some of wheat stalks. Some were dyed onto planks of wood with dyes of every color imaginable. And the Llama was moved in his heart to see such devotion to the Way and he felt the power of the number that had been chosen for him rippling through the air and causing vibrations that were good and pure. And he wanted to sing out in a loud voice, for the heart of Rock was within him, and so he did. And the people pricked up their ears and heard the Rock and joy was upon them and they smiled. And when the whole countryside was singing and Rocking out, the Llama was overjoyed and knew that he must travel still further and tell others what had been told here on this day. And so he set off again, traveling farther from his home than he had ever before ventured. And it was in these strange parts that he came upon many adventures.
Chapter the Fifth
And so it was that the Dalai Llama went out from his home country and sought to see the wide world and its many wonders and mysterious. For though he was wise and knew much of worldly affairs, there were still places to which he had not been before. And so he resolved to take a series of expeditions that no part of his mind rest idly by in ignorance of foreign lands and their inhabitants, for even his friend the Mongoose was not all knowing in such matters and there were certain things that he had to see for himself, being not content to simply hear of them from others. For the first of these expeditions he selected in a fashion most random to head towards the East, in which the sun could be seen to rise each morning, after which he would tackle each of the other three cardinal directions in turn until he had spanned the globe. And so with a knapsack on his back he began the First Journey.
The Llama had not been long on his journey when he came upon a small cottage set off from the side of road. Outside, toiling in the heat was a man, and the Llama saw that he sweated and struggled with the simple task of cutting logs into cords of wood. And the Llama walked over to him and offered him a drink from the water supply he had carried with him. The man stopped his work to thank the Llama and accept his gift, wiping his dampened face with his hand, and as he did so the Llama noticed with a shock that the lip above his mouth was as bare as a child’s, though the man be full grown and hearty. Now the Llama had seen many strange things in his days, but he could not conceal his shock, and he pitied the man for he knew that he must suffer from some dire affliction. And the Llama spoke unto him thusly.
»My friend, forgive my inquisition, but what manner of foul disease has come upon you that there be no hair upon your face? For you are not a boy, but clearly a man, unless my eyes deceive me.»
The man responded in kind. »Your eyes do not deceive you. I am indeed a full grown man and yes, my face be bare.»
»But why? What has happened to you to cause such misfortune? For you seem to me an honest man, and I cannot imagine that anyone would bear you such ill will as to cast such a blight upon you.»
Here the man began to laugh. »The words you speak are true. I am an honest man, and have no enemies. But it is no blight that causes my face to be without hair. Each morning I take a blade and sharpen it against a rock until it gleams like fire. Then I draw its edge across my face until the hair is shorn clean away. That is why I appear as I do.»
The Llama heard these words and was stunned by them, for he had never heard of such an act and the thought of it filled him with disgust. »Why do you do this thing?» he asked.
»This country is hot and it allows a breeze to blow upon my face unhampered, keeping my cool from the suns harsh rays. My wife, who liveth inside yonder cottage which you have seen finds my smoothness of face becoming.»
Here the Llama could not stifle his frown, for though he had expected to see strange things, he had not expected to find men of such ignorance and crudity and he knew that it was his place to speak out and he did so.
»You have not followed the Way,» he said grimly. »The Way is the Way of respect and respect must include one’s own body, for who must you live with and tolerate more than thyself? By cutting off the hairs which your body has wished to bestow upon you, you have insulted it, and such insults are never without consequence. I have seen how you struggle with your axe to cut these cords of wood. This is your body saying to you ‘if he wishes to look like a boy then let him have also the strength of a boy, and not that of a man. ’»
Here the man, interrupted and his face was hot and red, for he felt he had been mocked unjustly. »This wood is not like your wood,» protested he. »For it is tough and hard and requires great fortitude to cut. I am no weaker than any other man» And the Llama spoke not, but merely lifted up the axe which the man had let fall to the ground, and he hefted it high in the air and brought it down with a mighty effort. And the man looked on and was awed to see that the log which he had struggled with was cloven in two.
»Heed my words,» said the Llama. »But do not misunderstand them. For though you ought not shave your hairs off, neither must you go about ungroomed like the savage beast. For you may grow and shape the hairs which grow upon your lip in ways which are pleasing to the eye and to your personal preferences. As for your wife, she is unenlightened and depraved. For if she prefereth the company of a boy to that of her husband, who is a man, let her find one and live with him in his mother’s house.»
And the man looked upon the face of the Llama and he saw that the words he spoke were right words, and he at once felt that his face was uncovered and naked, and he was ashamed. And when the Llama had left the cottage and completed the First Journey, and was returning home, he saw once again this man. And he gazed upon his face and saw that thick hairs had sprung up upon his lip and they curled upwards like a smile that was glad. And he saw that the man worked in the fields with a scythe and that his strokes were strong and powerful. And the Llama smiled unto himself, for he knew that he had done good this day. So concluded the First Journey.
Chapter the Sixth
And so, having concluded the First Journey, and being pleased with its results, the Llama refilled his knapsack and resolved to set out again. And the direction he took this time was not East, but West, in which the sun could be seen to set each evening. And the Llama braced himself, for he knew that, as the West brought darkness of night, so would he there find much that was sinful and wrong. But he steeled his resolve nevertheless, and set forth upon the Second Journey.
Into the West the Llama traveled for many days without event, and he was surprised that the landscape was so barren and desolate, for he had thought that there dwelt people, though they be foreigners, on every corner of the globe. And, when on the thirteenth day he had seen nary a soul, his heart grew troubled and his mind clouded, and he began to consider abandoning the Second Journey as fruitless. This thought filled him with great sadness, for he abhorred the thought of leaving things undone or half done, even when they proved to be without fruit. Then, just as he had settled his mind and had resolved to return home again, he saw in the night sky a faint plume of smoke rising in the distance, and he knew that a fire somewhere near did burn. And he was glad that his resolve had been great and that he had not turned back earlier, for it seemed that someone did indeed dwell in these parts. And so he continued his Journey, steering by the trail of smoke in the sky and in short measure of time he came upon a small stone shelter with a large oaken door, and through the windows shone the light of fire. And so it was that the Llama raised his hand and knocked three times upon the door, and when it was opened he gazed upon a man of wan countenance, with oily hair and bloodshot eyes. And the Llama spake unto him of his journey and asked admittance for the night, so that they might converse and be known to each other. The man seemed glad of heart to have a visitor and he welcomed the Llama into his home, where at once he began to prepare a meal. But the Llama produced from his pack food of his own making, for the Way is not the Way of imposition and he had no desire to take of the man’s food unless it be freely given and without feelings of guilt or obligation.
And so the two sat together by the fire, and drank and ate and had idle conversation. And it was at this time that the Llama noticed a wide assortment of strange vials and bottles adorning the walls of the house. And again he could not contain his curiosity, and he asked of the stranger: »You have been kind to take me into thy home and let me share thy fire, but permit a question. What purpose serve that multitude of potions which adorn thy dwelling?»
Here the stranger smiled and replied openly. »Ah, those be but medicines, for I am of poor fortune and suffer from a variety of maladies.»
And the Llama felt pity touch his heart, and again he could not help but ask a question. »And which, may I ask, ailments afflict you so that you are dependent upon these draughts?»
»They are many, and take many forms.. Often I feel a great sadness come upon me, and for that I drink of yonder blue vial, and lo I am cheered. At times I feel weary, and then I take this powder of red, and I be refreshed. When my concentration wanders, this yellow draught puts my mind at ease, and when I am worried this green liquid washes my cares away. As a boy I was not as clever at schooling as my mates, and so I dreamed up this purple solution that expands my thoughts and when I find myself faltering at games of physical strength, I rely on my orange tablets, which cause me to fight like a bear and run like an antelope. Indeed, there is little which my potions cannot do for me.»
Here the Llama grew very grave of countenance and when he spoke it was in low controlled tones, but his eyes did flash. »My friend, you have shown me generosity, and for that I am grateful, but the way in which you live is no way at all. It is not the Way. Behold, your color is pale and sickly, your eyes red and tortured, for you have not slept as you should. I know you to be young, yet you look like an old man, for your face has become riddled with lines and wrinkles. Can you not see that this is a wrong thing? Man is not without flaw, and each man different from the next, but if our accomplishments are to mean anything we must strive to better ourselves through force of will, discipline and diligence, with tenacity such as only men are capable of, and not with this vile sorcery. If a man be tired, let him rest, if a man be sad, let him be cheered by the power of Rock, and let him examine himself and discover why he is thus afflicted, for such things do not happen without cause. In the fog of your mind that you have created, such examination is not possible and you shall never be healed, for in eliminating the symptom one does not cure the disease. If we feel our attention wander, let us develop our powers of focus. If we fall behind in school, let us study all the harder for it, for it is these challenges that lead to greatness among men. Look around ye and ye shall see that those whom we call great became so only out of strife and adversity. Likewise, if our bodies be weak, let us work to build muscles upon them, for to neglect the body is to disrespect it and that is not the Way. You have made a mockery of the truly sick and I cannot stay in thy house any longer.»
And the Llama’s words were so powerful that lo, all of the glass vials and bottles were shattered to bits. And the man fell to his knees and wept, for he said that without his medicines he would surely die. But the Llama put his hand on his shoulder and spake to him gently.
»You shall not die, though at first it will be hard on you. But mark these words that I say to you, you shall be better for it in the end.» And the Llama lifted the man up and placed him in his bed, where he soon fell to sleeping deeply and profoundly. And the Llama prepared a bowl of Chicken Soup so that when he would awaken he would be comforted by its healing properties. And the Llama knew that he had done a right thing, and so he left the house and returned to his home, but to that place he did not return, for the miasma left behind by those draughts of evil were odious to him. So concluded the Second Journey.
To be continued . . .