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Week 7 Story: Tamatori's Sacrifice

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Tamatori's Sacrifice     I died too young, but I did it for love. Perhaps that sounds dramatic, but let me explain. I had long been in love with Prime Minister Takeuchi, having seen him roaming the city often, pacing by the cliffs thoughtfully and delivering calm, reasoned speeches in the town square on behalf of our Empress. I never did anything, because I knew that someone like him could only marry royalty, and I was just an ama, a fisher-maiden. I earned my living by diving under the surface of the ocean for fish, crab, octopus, even pearls, anything that I could get my hands on. We occupied different worlds; how could I expect someone like the minister to even notice me?     One day, I came upon him standing on the cliffs overlooking the rolling waves. He had his swords out, ready to engage in the ritual suicide of seppuku. I broke my tradition of silent longing and ran to him, throwing my arms around Takeuchi to stop him from throwing himself onto his swords.     "Don&#…

Reading Notes: Japanese Mythology, Part B - The Jewel of Heart's Desire: The Quest

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Notes:

Empress Jingu and her men return from their journey to the Land of Morning Calm (which I guess is Korea?) dejected because they have lost the Jewel of Heart's Desire. The Empress had entrusted the jewel to her Prime Minister, Takeuchi, and is angry with him for having lost it. I don't agree with this part because it was Benten who stole the gem from the ship, and what was Takeuchi supposed to have done against a literal dragon's daughter? But I digress. The Empress says she will not grant Takeuchi an audience until he recovers the gem. Disgraced, Takeuchi climbs to the top of a cliff and decides to take his own life.

Before he can do that, Tamatori, a fisher-maid who seems to have a crush on Takeuchi but refuses to act on it because of their difference in station, intervenes. She had been following him, and when she sees him take out his swords, she runs to him and begs him to stop. Takeuchi tells her what's happened, and it seems like Tamatori decides to get th…

Reading Notes: Japanese Mythology, Part A - The Miraculous Mirror

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The Miraculous Mirror:

This story took me a couple of reads to understand what the plot was. The prose of these stories are beautiful and poetic, but they are a little hard to follow sometimes. So, what I have gathered of the plot is this:

Amaterasu is in heaven, hanging out with her handmaidens, weaving "the dark web of Doom" which I assume is a kind of Fate tapestry. Her brother (and apparently her rival) Susanoo arrives in the Hall of the Gods, and Amaterasu flees, scared. She hides herself in a cave under the ocean, leaving the land above in darkness. People are grieving and begging her to come back, to bring the light back to their land, but Amaterasu doesn't come out. To try and coax the Sun-goddess out of her seclusion, an "auspicious" god (no name is given) crafts a mirror and hangs it outside the entrance of Amaterasu's cave. A goddess, Uzume, is brought to dance on the waves, and the welkin (which I looked up, and apparently means the sky or the h…

Microfiction: The Life of the Buddha, The Fair Maiden and Gopa's Dream

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Story: Life of the Buddha - The Fair Maiden and Gopa's Dream Microfiction 1: Twitterature

Length: 140 characters

They went to the woods where the maidens waited. They offered him gifts, but all he could think was, "They laugh because they know nothing."

Author's Note: I took the first part of this story, where Udayin and Siddhartha go to the woods where the "fair maidens" are. I assume from the way the girls are described with the phrase "skillful in the game of love" that these girls are meant to entice Siddhartha. They all offer him different things, gifts and affection, but Siddhartha can only think about how they don't know about sickness or old age or death, and that that is the reason why they laugh so easily. They didn't know suffering the way he did, and to him that meant they were ignorant. I tried to capture the kind of headiness of that whole scene, which reminds me of the scene in the Odyssey with the lotus-eaters that try to s…

Reading Notes: The Life of the Buddha, Part B - Siddhartha Becomes the Buddha

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Notes:

I'm going to be honest, Siddhartha lost me pretty quickly during his "profound meditation." He is searching for the root cause of old age and death, and somehow, it all comes down to ignorance. I can understand the Buddhist belief that the cause of suffering is desire; I think that's a pretty intuitive connection. I can even see the connection between desire and sensation. But towards the end of the meditation, when Siddhartha begins to arrive at the conclusion that the root cause of old age and death is ignorance, I'm lost. But, then again, I'm not the Buddha. I'm not even Buddhist - I practice mindfulness techniques sometimes, and I meditate once and awhile, but not regularly, and never for more than ten minutes. I think it takes a lot of dedication to reach the level of introspection that allows one to follow that kind of convoluted path of logic.



The story of Siddhartha's transition to becoming the Buddha is somehow simple and so complex, a…

Reading Notes: The Life of the Buddha, Part A - The Great Truths

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Notes:
My junior year of high school, I ran across the book Siddharthaby Hermann Hesse (a great read, by the way, highly recommend) in my local public library and decided to read it. The book, much like the stories I'm reading this week, described the life of Siddhartha Gautama and how he came to be the Buddha. The book and these stories are actually extremely similar. That is just some background as to why I chose to read this particular unit this week.
That being said, this story in particular, The Great Truths, was the most compelling one of today's readings. It is the turning point in Siddhartha's life, his "call to adventure" according to Campbell's template of the hero's journey. Siddhartha had lived his whole life surrounded by luxury and shielded from any kind of suffering. Once he was exposed to three of humanity's greatest ills: old age, sickness, and death, he lost his sense of contentedness. These things are unavoidable, and according to t…

Week 5 Story: Sarnevesht

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Sarnevesht
When my son was born, it was love at first sight for me. I knew from the moment I first held him for the first time that I would do anything for him. He was my first child, after many failed attempts by my wife and I to have a child. Soon after he was born, I took my son to the mullah to have his horoscope read. I gave the mullah all the information of his birth, and waited anxiously while the man did his calculations and consulted his books. I wanted my son to have a good life, more than I had wanted anything before.
After a while, I watched a frown form on the mullah's face, deep furrows appearing on his brow as he checked, then double-checked his calculations.
"What is it?" I asked him anxiously.
The mullah shook his head, then said gravely, "I'm sorry, agha, but I can only see a violent end for your son."
"'A violent end'?" I repeated incredulously, "What does that mean? What does his horoscope say?"
He shook his …