Chapter the Tenth
And so it was that after a long time, the Llama awoke from his torpor and he was refreshed, and he gazed upon the morning dew and saw that it was good, for the day was warm and the sky without clouds. And the Llama looked about him and he saw the Mongoose frolicking happily in the grass and he look up into the heavens and saw the archangels Freddie Mercury and David Bowie smiling and singing a duet, and look though he might, he could see no sign of Snake anywhere. And the Llama knew that his teachings were good and he was blessed because he had helped spread his wisdom among the people. But he knew also that his work was far from done, for there were still many living in ignorance of the Way and therefore lacking much of the joy that life has to offer. The Llama walked among the flowers and the trees and at length came to a small stream where he deigned to sit and drink and reflect upon the Way. He reflected and gazed into the waters for many minutes, when a splash aroused him from his reverie. And he gazed upon the source of the splash and he wondered to see a small girl of no more than eight years playing in the water. He spoke to her in a voice both kind and gentle.
»Little girl, come here a moment and talk with me.»
At his bidding, she approached, but said nothing.
»Pray, tell me your name, so that I may know you better.»
»I have no name,» she said.
»Surely your parents gave you a name.»
»Of course, but I have rejected it, and I will not answer to it.»
»And why is that? Can it really be so odious a name?»
»The name is no worse than any other, but I reject it all the same. A name is but a label, and I abhor labels.»
At this the Llama was very perplexed. »How can you abhor such a necessary thing as labels?» he inquired.
»They are narrow minded. A label claims that everything is something. I say, what about things that are nothing, or things whose qualities are complex in form? Why should other people be permitted to describe me with a single word? I define my own nature.»
»Child, who has been feeding you this swill, which is fit only for hogs and not for little girls? Surely one so young could not have come to these conclusions on her own. Labels are a vital part of existence. Without them, we could not even buy a can of beans at the store, for we might end up with a can of worms instead by mistake. We must have labels for the purpose of establishing identity. Identification is the first step towards knowledge, towards understanding and indeed towards wisdom. You are correct in saying that you define your own nature, but you are wrong to think that such a definition is merely the result of your whims. It is rather culled together from the way you conduct yourself, the way you behave, the way you speak, the way you treat others. Merely claiming to be a saint does not make me one, you see. I suspect that you simply object to the labels that others give you. You do not want to be thought of in a particular way, yet rather than change your behavior, you seek to obliterate the words for what you are. Therefore, it is not labels you object to, but your own nature.»
Here the girl became angry and stamped her foot on the riverbed, making another splash.
»You don’t know me!» She cried. »You can’t judge me if you don’t know me. You have no right!»
The Llama laughed bitterly and spake unto her.
»I can judge you, I have judged you, I will judge you and I must judge you. To do otherwise would be as foolhardy a thing as anyone has ever done. Tell me truthfully, have you not judged me? I know that you have, and as well you should. We must all make judgments, not only on things which we know well, but on all things. Without judgments, without labels, how can we know what is good and what is evil, what is wrong and what is right? The antelope who does not pass judgment on the lion will live a short life indeed. Those who refuse to judge the difference between black and white live their lives in a perpetual grey haze of moral ambiguity, where anything is acceptable or can at least be justified. You say I have no right to judge you, but it is more than a right. It is an obligation You are unhappy with yourself and wish to ignore your flaws and never try to correct them. If everyone behaved as you, and turned a blind eye towards their shortcomings, denouncing others as judgmental, our race would be a sorry one, with little to boast of. And so yes, I judge you and I will label you based on my judgment. It is of no concern to me whether you reject labels or not. You have no say in the matter.»
The girl was now purple with rage and tears formed in her eyes, but she found that she could make no answer to the Dalai Llama’s claims, for in her heart she knew that he was right, and so, unwilling and unable to admit defeat, she turned and ran away from him as fast as she was able.
As for the Dalai Llama, he returned to his meditations upon the Way, and as he stared into the river he hoped that his words would have some affect on the child and he was grateful for the opportunity to crystallize his thoughts into words and to teach at the same time, for what good is knowledge if it is kept to oneself?
Chapter The Eleventh
As the Llama pondered, he slipped into deep reverie, and lo, he began to dream. Here follows his dream, which was of such power that it was burnt onto the stones that lay by the riverside where the Llama dreamt, and which depicts the epic battle between Snake and Ray Davies.
It has been written that Snake is evil and that he is the enemy of the Way and all that which pertains to it, but Snake is also cunning and brave, for he fears no creature, except for sometimes the Mongoose. And it has been said that even the archangels Freddie Mercury and David Bowie do not bother Snake unless they have no other choice, for they are wise, and they see that even the great Dalai Llama was wounded by Snake and that as a result, he is forced to go about on cloven hooves. Indeed the danger of Snake is not to be underestimated, but nor does this mean that we can ever let him get away with his nefarious schemes. There have been, in the course of history, a few remarkable individuals who have stood up for justice and brought Snake nearly to his Snakey knees. This story takes place long ago in time immemorial, and stands alone and bright in the fog of memory. This is the stuff that legends are made of.
The sun was shining brightly and Ray Davies was basking in its glow. He had crafted a piano from the bare stone using only his hands and he played on it, and it was good. He wrote thirty thousand songs in a day and the world shook with their beauty, and after the thirty thousandth song he rested. Alas, while most of the world was moved to tears by the power of Ray Davies’ songs, Snake was not among them. For even in the dark depths of his cave, the power of Rock had penetrated, and awoken him from his hate filled sleep. Snake hissed with anger, for the songs burnt his earholes, and he slithered from his cave and cried out »Who disturbs my slumber?» and the dulcet tones floated across the sea and seemed to say »We were written by Ray Davies.» And Snake vowed revenge.
And so it was that Snake climbed into his Snake Barge and sailed across the seven seas to the land where Ray Davies lived, all the while hatching his evil plans and snarling, and gnashing his teeth.
It need scarcely be said that Ray Davies roused himself in an instant, for his ears are sharp as well and the hiss did not escape him, even in slumber. Before Snake could strike he was on his feet and, lifting a boulder from the earth, deflected Snake’s attack just in time. He then hefted the stone high above his head and threw it with incredible speed towards his assailant. Snake tried to dodge, but the rock caught him on his tail and shattered the bones therein, and he cried out in enormous pain. Ray Davies laughed at the sound, and called down to his wounded foe.
»So you thought you could catch me a’napping, did you, o serpent vile? You will find that I am not so easily ambushed.»
Now Snake in his fury was not vanquished by a long shot, and while Ray Davies laughed and boasted he had been gathering his strength. And so, as the warrior spoke Snake launched himself through the air and wrapped himself around the throat of his opponent like a hand clasps a spear and squeezed for all he was worth Now Ray Davies was caught and his breath was strangled from him as his face began to turn all shades of red and blue in succession and he thought that perhaps he had been too hasty in his boasts and he regretted his words, spoken in haste. His mighty hands clawed at Snake, but the body of the assassin was slippery with the slime of primordial evil and his fingers could find no purchase. Then Ray Davies cast his eyes towards the heavens, and though he had no breath for words, offered a silent prayer unto the archangels Bowie and Freddie Mercury to see his plight and help him.
His prayer was not unheard, for the archangels had long been aware of him and his talents, and the thirty thousand songs he wrote had given them much pleasure in their heavenly abode. So when they became aware of his plight and his prayers for help they at once found each other to discuss it. Freddie Mercury began thus:
»Bowie, my friend, the mortal Davies is beset by attacks from that devil Snake, whose vulgar tastes are offended by his music. Methinks we must intervene, or else it will go ill for him and we will be without such glorious songs here in our heavenly abode.»
To which Bowie replied:
»Your words are wise and true, and although we do not like to intervene in the affairs of mortals, nor make a habit of it. I see little option but to make haste there and fight at his side, for he is of a kind to we two.»
So it was decided, but the rocky shore where the battle raged was far indeed from the dwelling of the archangels, and though they made haste with all the speed granted to them by powers higher yet, their arrival would take many hours and they feared it would be too late.
Meanwhile on that shore of mystery, the battle raged on, and things looked very bad for our hero indeed. Now he had no breath at all and he fell to his knees. Snake cackled in his evil throat, for he knew that victory was imminent and he would no more be beset with the beautiful songs that issued from the stone piano. But about the piano he had forgotten and Ray Davies saw it and reached forth his hand to it, playing a mighty chord that shook the cliffs overhead and made Snake gasp in surprise and pain, loosening his grip for just an instant. But only an instant was necessary for the champion of Rock to regain his breath and cast off the unholy wyrm from his body.
Now the two were on equal footing and they clashed terribly as only two so mighty can. For hours the pounded at each other, unrelenting, neither seeming to tire nor give way. Then as the sun began to rise for the second time since the battle began, Ray Davies aimed a kick a Snakes head and sent him tumbling, but Snake rebounded and leapt towards the mortal’s face with fangs outstretched before him, and woe be to Davies if they should land.
Now only one being has ever survived the bite of Snake, and that is the Dalai Llama as has been already told, and so Ray Davies knew the sputtering death that flew towards him like a rocket and he knew his time was finished, for he was tiring and could not intercept a missile of such force, and indeed that would have been the end of him had not the two celebrated archangels descended from the sky at just that moment, their long journey completed. Reaching out their hands they seized Snake by his throat and pulled him away from the mortal at the last instant. And they cried out to him.
»Hold, foul serpent! You have done enough harm already. We will not permit you to silence this voice which our heavenly ears enjoy so much. Go back to your barge and trouble this man no more!»
And so they hurled Snake flailing and screaming into the turbulent sea from whence he came and the three watched him thrash in the water like a worm on a line, until he at last made it to his Barge and sailed off in retreat. For though he was strong, even his pride did not permit him to believe he could tackle three such opponents at once.
So ended the epic battle between Snake and Ray Davies, and the latter was grateful to the Archangels and wrote many more songs for them. And though he had many more adventures in his long life, they shall not be related at this time.
Chapter the Twelfth
Mist covered the vision and washed it into obscurity as the Dalai Llama awoke from his dream and found himself again on the edge of the river, which had increased its flow and now raged in a white froth. And he looked into the sky and saw that it was dark and gloomy. And the Llama felt dark misgivings in his heart and wondered at them, for he was not wont to experience such doubt. Perhaps his dreams had been not altogether pleasant, for now that he was awake he had difficulty in remembering them. He looked again at the river and its fury disturbed him. And he resolved to travel to a place more cheerful than this, for its miasmatic atmosphere did his soul no good, of that he was sure.
So the Dalai Llama roused himself and bean to walk away from that place, which had been transformed from a blissful Eden to a dark and foreboding place through powers unknown, and he began to walk through fields and valleys in search of a friendlier place to tend his thoughts, and still the disconcerting feeling lingered in his insides, for what cause he knew not why. Glancing again at the sky he saw now that the clouds had darkened still further and that they were now streaked with jagged shards of lighting, and the thunder rumbled overhead.
»It is the clouds,» he reasoned. »That oppress my soul so. I must escape them in order to think clearly. And yet they extend, endless in all directions it seems.» And the words he said were true, for there was no perceivable end to the dark blanket overhead, from which rain now began to fall, but lightly. And yet in his wisdom the Dalai Llama saw a way to escape the unwelcome gloom. For if he could not outrun it, then he must rise above it.
And in the distance stood a mountain. Higher than all others by far, it stretched upwards as if it would never stop, and all marveled at its lofty peak. But to climb it, few had attempted, for such a feat was deemed impossible by all but the most foolhardy. Furthermore, the people in the villages below were a devout lot and they did not easily forget the story of Babel’s Tower and what happened therewith. To be certain a few lonely souls had attempted the climb, but those that returned did so in defeat. Others did not return at all. It was for this mountain now tat the Dalai Llama set his sights, for it alone among all the monuments of the landscape rose above the dark and foggy covering that blocked out the sun and filled his heart with dread. He felt no fear, for a mountain is but a pile of dirt to the Dalai Llama and he knew that he could climb it without undue difficulty and therefore ease his undefined woes. And so he set off towards those foothills where the people lived in the shadow of the mighty crag, and this is how it happened.
The foothills of that land were glorious green and were it not for the ominous clouds it would surely have been a place of unparalleled beauty and splendor, but as things were the Dalai Llama felt little comfort, for his insides were still troubled by some intangible thing and though he knew not why he felt his confidence wane. Things which once seemed clear to him now began to blur around the edges and he felt lost though he used to know the Way.
It was in this state of mind that he passed through the towns and villages that surrounded the great mountain. Often times, people would rush out of their huts (huts they were, for these were a primitive and superstitious people) and, recognizing him for his reputation would ask him great philosophical and theological questions. But the Dalai Llama in his dismal humor brushed them aside and said to them »Away from me! I am not fit to answer your questions, for I am only one man.»
And the people were astonished, for in all the tales they had heard of the Dalai Llama and his wisdom, they had never heard of him behaving in such a strange fashion. And it troubled them, as he himself was troubled, and soon the same doubts which plagued the Dalai Llama spread among the hill people as well. All the while the Llama had continued his trek towards the mountain, and at last he came out of the foothills and reached the perilous slope which had intimidated so many others. The clouds had not lifted, nor the rain relented and so it was with a heavy heart that he began his ascent, pausing only once to look over his shoulder at the troubled people whom he was leaving behind.
Thunder crashed and the storm grew worse as he began the rocky climb. The mountain was made mostly of a hard and volcanic rock formed many eons ago, and the sharp crags tore at his flesh as he pulled himself up hand over hand. But the arms are strong and the hands tough of a man such as he, and he did not succumb neither to pain nor to fatigue, and he lifted himself yard by yard until soon he had risen many thousands of feet above the earth. Once he paused for breath and looked down below him, but could not discern a single hut of the hill people. And yet the clouds still loomed high above his head.
Now as he rose the rain began to soften and soon it became nothing more than a damp fog, surrounding him on all sides and soaking him quite as thoroughly as any rainstorm will. And the fog became so thick that he could no longer see his hands before him, and had to continue his ascent by feel alone. It was then that he realized that he had reached the clouds and was in fact, inside them. Now he could no more see the ground, far below, than he could see above. And he knew not the thickness of the clouds, nor whether it might be days or even weeks before he passed through to the other side. And still he climbed.
And so it was that, fourteen days after the start of his ascent, fourteen days of unrelenting rain, sleet and hail, fourteen days of thunder and lightning and intolerable gloom, he at last broke through the clouds and viewed the summit. And the sun shone bright upon its face and his heart was glad to see it. There remained but a few short yards to the top and, his courage and strength renewed at the happy sight, he climbed them easily.
And the Dalai Llama stood atop the great mountain that had conquered many a brave climber, and breathed deep of the cool, dry air. And then, having caught his breath, he turned his gaze to the heavens and put forth a question:
»O great powers, if any such powers indeed be, what is this dark and foreboding nag that dwells inside of me of late, born beside the river bed and carried with me onto your lofty peak? I have followed the Way and it has seemed always to me to be good and true, as I have often told others, but now I find myself in doubt. What if the Way is not as I have described it? What if I have lived in error? I seek thy guidance, for I know not where else to turn.» Then the Dalai Llama sat upon the mountain top and waited for an answer from source he knew not where.
For a long time no answer came there, and the Llama began to despair. He watched the sun pass over the sky and bring darkness to the land, he watched the clouds underneath swirl and churn in their Cumulan eddies, like a vast sea of white and grey, but still no answer was apparent. Then the morning dawned and the Dalai Llama perceived a break in the heavy clouds for the first time since he had awakened by the river. Looking down he saw the rolling foothills and the green fields and he thought of the hill people and he remembered their questions and their crestfallen faces when he had passed them by. And while he thought these things he was amazed, for deep within him he found and answer forthcoming to his earlier query, inspired not from above, but from below, coming not from without but from within. And he leapt to his feet and exclaimed from on high:
»Praise be to the heavens and the Earth! For I see now at last! The Way is The Way, and The Way is The Way of enlightenment, for I was blind but now I see. And though we all may have moments of doubt, for it is natural and good, we must persevere and we will find the answers we seek within ourselves. Let no man forget what he has accomplished, even in times of self-doubt, for even I who scaled easily a mountain which all others failed who attempted it, have fallen prey to these inner demons. Yet just as I have risen above them here on this high peak, so must we all, or else become fallen and bitter like Snake and his ilk.» And with these words the Llama found joy in his heart once more.
And so it was that The Dalai Llama came down the mountain, and when he reached the foothills and the town and villages of the hill people, he greeted them with smiles and warmth, and they were amazed at the change. And he sat down with them and listened to their questions one and all, and addressed them as best he could, and he showed them The Way.
This is the story of the Dalai Llama and of the Way which he taught to all the people of the Earth as he knew it. May his teachings continue to spread and be accepted, for they will bring prosperity to all who hold them true and honor them as the Dalai Llama intended. The Way is the Way of enlightenment.