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Report: Notes on Dance of Emptiness talk 6 — 3 Comments

  1. I note that in telling the story, I described the two brothers as ugly, when in fact they were also handsome.
    Story is supposed to be dynamic, and children will often tell the adult story teller how things should be….

  2. Sorry to have missed this talk Phra Pandit — thanks for putting up notes.

    Great story and I do follow and enjoy the psychological template you suggest — these faerie stories are extremely interesting, and as you say, this one represents desire transformation in an engaging way.

    I don’t find this tale very “dharmic” however (and you didn’t particularly claim that it was). For me it is firmly in the western medieval thought pattern. The beauty of the dharma is that it re-envisions beyond the dualistic. To my mind a dharmic rendition would have Ferko recognising that his brothers were actually the spur (forcing him to see through bodily suffering) for his good karmic acts with the animals (resulting in receiving healing) — ultimately leading him to his marriage with the Princess (gaining purity of awareness) and ruling over the Kingdom (enlightenment) — so the brothers would be forgiven (in fact no need to forgive, as they are seen as part of his enlightened nondual self). They would be made guests of honour at the wedding feast. And the old parents would be invited too!

    Just thinking — would it be fun to re-write some of the old faerie tales from a Buddhist perspective? Or sacrilege???

    Just a thought!

    Cathy

  3. I’d agree that this tale stops short of Enlightenment (many faerie tales do present the Summon Bonum in various motifs).
    But the brothers are not external – they are part of the psyche just as much as Ferko, the wolves, the bee, the grassy hill or the crows are. Buddha talked a lot about ‘uprooting’ defilements, and ‘cutting off at the root’ and ‘making like a stump’ the defilements, and greed/hate/delusion. The brothers are this side of the mind, so I’m afraid they had to go. So here the goal reached is the unification of mind (ekhabhava) and the spiritual self being in total charge (riding the wolf).
    Admittedly in many tales (like the Queen Bee which we did 2 years ago) the brothers/sisters are forgiven and tamed rather than uprooted, but with the theme of desire transformation here, I don’t think it could have worked.
    The only possible external here would be the people of the kingdom, who in most stories are well looked after once the hero takes charge, loving him dearly. The people of the kingdom are not mentioned in this story, but their presence is implicit.

    So glad someone else is willing to look into these stories – I think I had a hard time convincing the audience.