Friday, February 03, 2006

The Jade Lady

Below is something I wrote a couple of years ago, sort of out of the blue, spontaneously. You can see it as an attempt at fantasy, but also inspired by my interests in Daoism, especially the concept, really phenomenon, known as Ganying感應 or resonance, described in Han Dynasty texts:

The Jade Lady suddenly appeared on the scene, and was seen by a mere handful--shephards tending their flocks. Her hair was radiant and wild. Her eyes peered lucidly into the abyss. In her hands, the famed multi-hued flute, which swept so many to rejoice.

Suddenly, her consciousness exited its form, soaring beyond whatever confined it. In a flash she was a butterfly, floating ever higher towards the summit of the majestic peak that obscured so many faces from the world beyond. Ratchets of lights blazed through swirling cloud dragons.

Again her form shifted, wings stretched across the skies; the phoenix rose into the empyrean. Higher and higher. The folk below like ants went about their daily chores. Around and about. Struggling, sweating, confused, mindless, curious, warriors prowling about.

The Jade Lady landed on a crag, her flute still in her grip. She looked about, watching the battle below. Plateau upon plateau. The steppes were infused with archers and swordsmen, battle chariots racing, the spokes of their wheels spinning; iron clad horsemen whizzed like lightning bolts. Clashing swords echoed from valley to valley. Boom! Clang! Roar! What is happening? Prowlers in the grottoes, looting and raiding the nearby towns.

All of this comprised the woven tapestry of her mentalscape, more real than the turgid stream, that mindless pattern that was deemed to be the mundane and uninspired web of uncertainty--the purple, paisley indigo pattern that marked the separation between worlds, heaven and earth.

* * * * *

Let me tell you about her flute: she found it one day on a glowing stone with strange designs. What was it? A revealed treasure, a sign, a mark, a decree?

She hovered in its direction, not knowing if it was the right thing to do. It beckoned. The flute of the universe, which trained the one who played it to recognize its sound, and to those who listened, gradual appreciation--understanding.

That is how it was the first time I heard its boundless melodies. I could not know. How could I? Like a fortified expanse, locked and sealed. Who knows what treasures lie within? But listen, I did; not at first, but over time, I came to hear the tune.

* * * * *

There she was, resting on the crag. Lucid vision gazed upon the expanse. All of eternity emerged within her trance.

The flute came of its own accord, spontaneously to her lips. Her voice flowed on the wave of her breath through the metallic tube. This is how it was the first time I heard. Silent, silent and unknown. Vanishing. Returning. That is all it was, or so I dreamed.

And then, in a flash, it blazed, it flourished, it rose, it crashed, it enveloped: a burst of excitement. Wow! That is more than I had dreamed.

* * * * *

Down below, the battle raged on. They were oblivious to the sound, and to her presence up on high. So many struggled. Caught they were in circumstance. Unaware. There they were, arrows soared above their heads. Battalions charged. The ramparts were fortified. Swords clanged. The viper slithered madly about, hoping to escape, the battlecry. Help! A falcon stirred to flight. The wind beneath its wings, sending it aloft.

And there she was, the Jade Lady, with wisdom in her eyes, in her bones, in her soul. She witnessed the mess in the netherworld...And in the blink of an eye, she focused her inner vision, and in lucidity produced marvelous figures in the sky, anomalies, strange and wondrous creatures: wings, antlers, stripes and auspicious spots, the marks of perfection, the heavenly insignia.

Once again she played her song, concentrating attention, harmonized with breath. It poured forth into the pipe; such a wondrous sound did emit.

The heavenly beings heard it; they felt it seep through their every pore, like light beaming through the myriad prisms, singing praise to the spectrum of infinity.

They began to descend from the mountain heights. Flapping, galloping, wriggling, giggling.

Her song played on, silently sweeping across the horizon, beckoning the divine creatures to descend on the battle scene. "Open up their eyes, their hearts and minds!" It urged.

Thunderclap! Rain poured forth from the song. The tune of creation.

Up on high, as she played, her body arose in mid air, and began to dance, in spontaneous convulsion, controlled by patterned tunes. Here it was, alas, the cosmic whistle: finally touching their eardrums, it continued to pour.

They dropped their weapons on the ground, down below; the warriors turned their gaze toward the majestic peak, sunshine governed half the sky, rays of light glowing through the darkened clouds, like diamonds discovered in caves of coal.

Heavenly patterns filled their minds, and suddenly all began to question their own intent. What was it that made them hate? What was the deed that brought them to this state?


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