October 24, 2014

Tathāgata—Book One: Birth


The Buddha walked the earth some 2,500 years ago. The seeds he planted during his nearly fifty year long ministry, the seeds he had hoped would awaken the world and transform it—while still alive in parts of the world today—have for the most part since been unearthed by wind and drought, and by finding little sustenance in shallow, greedy, and unfertile minds, now bent mainly on possessing more and more and more.

He decides to return to earth. As a girl named Ruth.

This is book one of a four-book tale.

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::1:: (Tusita Heaven)

The Bodhisatta Setaketu saw that the time had come.

After a nearly uncountable span in the Tusita Heaven preparing for his destiny, preparing for his return to the little blue planet so far below, how could he tell the time was now right?

Because man far below had begun, again, to ask meaningful questions. Because nearly incessant war and slaughter had finally begun again to recede, and the northern part of the large Indian subcontinent now lay spent but peaceful after centuries of upheaval. For how long this peace would last he could not tell, but it would last long enough for his purpose, that he saw.

The war and barbarism that had flourished for the last many centuries, had now run out of breath or passion or both; things settling. He could see a small, still lake of opportunity in that far-below spiritual darkness. And so, seeing by the light that he was, he saw that the time had come to show and share it once more.

Although he did not make a point to mention this, word nonetheless soon spread throughout the Tusita realm that Setaketu was leaving for Earth, and many a well-wisher gathered to see him off, each proffering their advice as parting gift—some sensible, most not; it is so very easy to be wise from such a safe distance.

Embracing his friends one by one, thanking each for his or her well-meant guidance, Setaketu finally stepped back, bowed in slow and graceful namaste to honor them all, then turned and strode toward gates that now swung open to admit soon to be Siddhattha Gotama into the cold and starry beyond.

And that is how, with a final step, he left Tusita and with it the brilliant body he had worn so long. Then, as if falling through a long and dizzying shaft, he plummeted to Earth, through eons of lightless space, through the dust of a billion billion stars, through harder and harder gravity, through miasmal planetary grasping, and finally into startled flesh and blood that legend holds fell out of his mother’s side feet first to then take seven steps in each of the four directions: North, South, East, West.

::2:: (Pasadena)

“We’ve already decided on a name,” Melissa said as she returned to the living room with a fresh pot of tea.

“What did you choose?” said Becky.

“Ruth,” she answered as she poured the steaming tea for her friend.

She then straightened and rubbed the base of her now softly swelling belly in the way of mothers-soon-to-be, contented and proud. “She will be Ruth.”

“Ruth is a fine name,” said Becky, even though she didn’t much care for it—an aunt of hers was also a Ruth, and she could not stand the woman.

“We think so,” said Melissa.

“When is she due?” asked Becky.

“January.” Melissa eased herself back into her chair and poured some more tea for herself as well.