MTM – An Alternative Introduction- “An Ancient Chinese Poet “
Posted on February 16, 2014
MTM – An Alternative Introduction
An Ancient Chinese Poet
no idle thoughts remained in my head
nothing to do I write poems on rocks
and trust the current like an unmoored boat
Han Shan, 8th century Chinese Poet
An ancient Chinese Poet, who I met in a previous incarnation in the late 8th century, (I was his cook, gardener, and bottle washer) was a very wise man. He was a Taoist Monk. He was a very gentle and wise human, and he never once whooped me or scolded me for burning his rice.
Or putting too much salt in the quiche. Or accidentally dropping molasses all over his favorite scrolls. He would just kind of sigh, raise a disapproving eyebrow, and then quietly chuckle. I liked him a lot, and I tried hard to understand the deeper meaning of the Tao, but – to be honest – I wasn’t very good at it. I did figure out however that he spoke in a lot of cymballs. He was really into cymballs. No, that’s not right, They were… hang on, I’m thinking here… he called them s-y-m-b-o-l-s. Yep, that’s the fellers. Symbols. And you had to look past the symbols for the deeper meaning of the Tao. I thought that was pretty brilliant. In other words, you could take a very difficult concept, and break it down into its e-s-s-e-n-c-e, by simply strumming the cymbals. I thought that was awesome.
Thus, when he was talking about the base motivations of men, he wouldn’t go into ugly detail. It wasn’t necessary for Understanding and Enlightenment. All he would do is gaze towards the distant, snow covered Tientai Mountains, and with that far-away look in his eyes, he would murmur to me: “Clod-hoof… ” (that was my name. Because I was kind of clumsy)
“Clod-hoof, all that is needed for you to understand the reality of Human Nature…”
( I would listen with my tongue hanging out, I wished so much to be wise). “…is to consider the state of Tungting…” I would bow my head, and consider the State of Tungting. “Where…” He would go on. “Men are men, and the sheep are nervous…” And I would spend days and days thinking about these nervous sheep, and why they were so nervous.
Now Master Han Shan, (that was his name, it meant “Cold Mountain”) would often talk about a certain pooch. I never actually saw this pooch. I believe it had only one eye. One ear had been bitten off, and its tail had been chewed by a randy Dalmatian. And it walked with a pronounced limp. A souvenir of tripping over a sleeping skunk, and falling down a -dry- well. Oh, and it answered -sometimes- to the name of “Lucky”. It didn’t sound like much of a mutt to me, but it seemed the men of the state of Tungting had a big problem with that pooch. From what My Master said, I got the impression that these men were rather proud and silly, and kept making all sorts of mistakes. Messing up their lives. Losing their reputations, carefully built up over many years, in five minutes or thirty seconds’ worth of “Oops…!” It had something to do with meeting this pooch. Occasionally they would come by, riding in their fine chariots, and they would stare haughtily down on mere minions like me. I could tell they thought they were far better than me, exalted in a kind of special way, and much more knowledgeable and skilled. They kind of radiated pride in themselves. Kind of loud. They weren’t all like that, to be sure. Some were soft-spoken and very nice. They would wave at me, and smile. Sometimes, they would give me a ride. I enjoyed that. But most of them seemed a bit remote. I didn’t really matter much to them, it seemed, although sometimes My Master was paying them to take me shopping. Oh well, I would think to myself, they are not all as perfect as they perhaps think. Master Shan says so. That’s the meaning of the pooch. And I would look around carefully, to see if I could see this cymbal pooch called Lucky.
But I never did.
Well, one day, this fine chariot came absolutely flying down the road. Flags flying, horses foaming, going like the clappers. I was crossing the street, and I had to jump to get out of the way. Not easy, with a clod hoof. They thundered past, and I caught a glimpse of the dude at the controls. He handled the reins with a degree of contempt, it seemed to me. He seemed awfully proud. They were just fu-fu-flying. I thought it was a bit crazy, myself. But then what do I know.
They disappeared around the corner, and all of a sudden, I heard this almighty, reverberating crash. And the sound of splintering, breaking, and tearing. And horses whinnying, and people shouting. Somebody screaming. Everybody was running. I ran as well, as fast as I could limp.
When I arrived at the scene of the crash, it was a real mess. It was almost unrecognizable from the fine spectacle that had just gone thundering by. Bodies were lying everywhere, and people were moaning. The proud driver was lying in an undignified pose, with his backside sticking up and his face in the mud. Even through the mud, I could see his red face. He didn’t look anything like the Superior Being who had just gone flying by.
I remember I sighed. It didn’t seem right. I looked and looked for that pooch, but I didn’t see him. I guess Lucky must have departed before I got there.
Well, I had several more incarnations (including being a beggar, a Minister, a tax collector, and a clumsy trapeze artist) (I kept falling off) but eventually, I ended up as chopper jockey. Kind of fun. So here I am, riding around the place, looking down on all the other clod hoofs, and trying not to let it go to my air head. I never did forget my humble roots though, Master Shan, and that damn pooch.
After forty-four years, I’ve still not really met that pooch. I’m not quite sure what happens when you meet him, or what he does to you, or you do to him, but I know Master Shan warned me very solemnly. So I try to be very careful. I have messed up a few times, like the molasses on his favorite scrolls, but they were honest mistakes. I wasn’t being too foolish, I think, just kind of innocent? So I thought it might be helpful, if, in the following installments, I explained to you how I nearly met that damn pooch. I know, I know, I’m not very good. But I try hard. I kind of mean well.
I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me for the molasses, that mess with the quiche, and the burned rice. Oh, and the neat trick with the belly hook. And, and… (sigh) oh, never mind. There woz kind of a lot of neat tricks, I must confess.
Thank you and Peace,
Moggy (a.k.a. Clod Hoof)
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on February 16, 2014, 10:04 am