礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ) – the Gift of Heart

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I find myself in Siberian Far East.

I am exploring ‘happiness’.

Reading, listening, watching & learning.

Thinking.

I am surprised at what I learn & whom I learn it from.

And how it is all part of 礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ) – the Way of the Gift, so different from the way of religion & the religious.

This week I’ve been working with stories.

Ancient stories.

Perhaps we always work with stories – perhaps, this week, I am just a little more aware of them.

The story of Monotaro, the Peach Boy, found me this week, reminding me of The Gift of Heart.

There was an old couple who lived in a forest.

They were lonely, because they did not have any children, but their hearts always remained hopeful.

One day the old woman went down to the river.

It was an ordinary day.  She went to wash some clothes.

Doing ordinary things.

Suddenly a giant peach came floating down the river.

She was very happy.  It could be a succulent supper, on an otherwise empty table.

That night they laid the peach on the table and as her husband lifted the knife to cut it, suddenly it split open & inside was a beautiful baby boy.

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They were overwhelmed with happiness.

Their loneliness banished.

Their hearts’ desire answered.

They named the boy Monotaro & raised the boy with all the love and care of people who hoped for a child for a very long time.

When he was fifteen, Monotaro came to his parents & said: Father & Mother.  I am so grateful that you are my parents, that you raised me, loved me & cared for me.  I am now a young man.  I must do something.  On Ogre Island there are terrible Ogres.  They come to eat the people & destroy their lives.  I must go & find Ogre Island.  I must fight the Ogres, slay them & bring peace to the land.

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The elderly couple was very sad.

They loved Monotaro very much, but knew he was not theirs & that he had his own life to live.

So the old man gave Monotaro a sword & armour & the old woman made him dumplings for his journey & Monotaro set out on his own journey.

Following his heart, with whatever he had.

Along the way he met a spotted dog who growled & wanted to bite him.

He offered the dog a dumpling & told him about where he is going.

Hearing about Monotaro’s quest, while eating the dumpling, the dog decided to follow him & help him along his way.

A little while later, Monotaro & the spotted dog came across a monkey.

The monkey screamed & shouted at them.

Monotaro offered him a dumpling & while he was eating, told him about where he is going.

Hearing about Monotaro’s quest, while eating the dumpling, the monkey decided to follow him & help him along his way.

A little while later, Monotaro, the spotted dog & the monkey came across a pheasant.

The pheasant squealed & tried to peck at them.

Monotaro offered him a dumpling & while he was eating, told him about where he is going.

Hearing about Monotaro’s quest, while eating the dumpling, the pheasant decided to follow him & help him along his way.

And so Monotaro,  after a long-long journey, with his dumplings & his sword & his armour, accompanied by the spotted dog, the monkey & the pheasant, came to the ocean, where together they built a boat, to carry them to Ogre Island.

At Ogre Island they found a great big fort, filled with many angry Ogres.

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The Ogres saw Monotaro & his ragtag army & immediately attacked them.

The spotted dog barked & bit at them, while the pheasant pecked at their eyes & the monkey climbed over the wall of the fort to open the gate & let Monotaro in.

Monotaro used the sword his father gave him & together they fought bravely, bringing the Ogres to their knees.

The Ogres pleaded with Monotaro & promised never to bother the people of his land again.

They gave him many treasures & their loyalty, which Monotaro carried with him, back to the forest where his parents lived.

The old man & woman were overwhelmed to see Monotaro & his companions.

They ate together & listened with interest to the stories of Monotaro’s journey.

They lived happily ever after, in the care of Monotaro,  who came to them from a peach, in order to slay the Ogres & bring peace to their land.

Maybe, he did not come to slay the Ogres?

Maybe he came to bring peace to a land?

And to befriend the spotted dog, the monkey & the pheasant?

And to be son to the lonely old couple?

And to show grace to the Ogres?

Whatever the reason, as I listen to this story, I am reminded of our heart.

Filled with desire.

The old couple, desiring a child.

Monotaro desiring to go and slay the Ogres.

I am reminded that our heart & what we desire is important.

Religion has often told me & many others that our heart is deceitful,  not to be trusted, to be denied, submitted, silenced in exchange for obedience, for it is the obedient heart which wins the favor of the gods.

Whichever gods that may be?

And, yet, I wonder, is listening to my heart & all the good it desires not a better kind of obedience?

Is this not the ‘obedience’ our Origin hopes would come to life in us?

Having ignited in each of us a desire to be & become & do something which would be more?

Something which is ‘us’.

I wonder, is our heart really as deceitful,  as we are led to believe?

Or is our heart exactly what we should hear, as we listen to our Being, along the Way?

I hear so much in this story.

Perhaps you desire to be a parent, like the old couple in the forest?

There are many ways to become a parent.

Sometimes even miraculously,  from a giant peach floating down the river of our mundane existence?

Answering our own loneliness, as we raise a Monotaro,  who will desire to be a slayer, but end up being a shower of grace & kindness.

And perhaps, as we desire to be slayers, we are transformed or atoned into givers of grace & kindness?

And as I see Monotaro,  his youthful desire, setting out with everything he had, which was nothing at all, being helped along the way by so many, I think of all the excuses we make of why we cannot be & do what burns inside of us.

The religious is afraid of ‘what burns inside of us’, warning that we cannot give in to desire.

But I do not burn to be a serial killer, or executor of genocide, or destroyer of peoples lives.

Few do.

Most of us desire to realize ourselves.

To do something meaningful.

Something fulfilling.

Make a difference.

And then we make bills & buy insurance & work to pay for all of it & cover annuities for fear of a lonely old age.

And instead of pursuing our heart, we do what is ‘expected’, to reach old age, if we are unlucky, to be dissapointed by reaching a destination we never hoped to reach.

Perhaps Monotaro & his elderly parents understand better?

And have it better?

Monotaro setting out, with nothing but desire, a few dumplings and an old sword.

Gaining along the way, those who aids him, by sharing what he has & showing grace, when it is asked for.

Perhaps we too need not worry about how we’ll do it, merely setting out on our journey, sharing what we have & we’ll find we have what we need, when we need it.

Including tempered grace & kindness for Ogres who once ravished what was not theirs to ravish?

What is in your heart?

What has been hidden away in deep mouldy closets?

For far too long?

Along 礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù or The Way of the Gift) we discover our heart redeemed.

Restored.

Freed.

So that we may listen to our Being.

Become.

Everything we were created to be.

And do, what our heart was intended to desire.

And so I pray, for me & for you, that we will always be brave enough to be silent & listen, to set out on our journey, or become aware that we have been on it all along, and embrace what we were created to be & do.

Even if we set out as slayers.

Or did not set out at all.

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One thought on “礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ) – the Gift of Heart

  1. What’s in our hearts?? A question religion has made us afraid to answer….thank you. Once again, a thought provoking piece.
    I can see you’re picking up treasures along your journey. Thank you for sharing with us.
    Beulah
    Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!

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