Avenging Angels Ch. 08byVjax©
Sun watched as the sun set behind the rocky promontories of the Himalayas eastern slopes. When possible he always made the time to capture these moments, those moments of transition, where neither light nor dark held sway, the gap's that were the fulcrum of the balance between both.
Closing his eyes he concentrated on the gap, on the power and emptiness of the space...between.
Few could understand what Sun found in the gap. He had tried to describe it to others off and on for the past 30 years but it always turned out...lacking.
At the age of nine Sun Cho Ling had walked up to the giant doors of the Buddhist temple.
The scope of them had him standing motionless before the ancient doors for at least an hour before a kindly old monk used the small access door and came out to stand next to the young man the initiates had told him about.
"What do you see?" Hong asked the young man at his side, not looking at him but regarding the large doors with him.
"A beginning...and an ending" was the reply.
The next 9 years passed quickly, Sun was adopted by the monastery and lived a life of solitude and learning. It was during this time that he found the gap.
During his studies, he found one of the overriding principles and truths of life; that to live life to the fullest one must search and strive for balance in all things.
The teachers and scrolls went through thousands of examples in the natural world, day and night, predator and prey, air and earth, fire and water....everything created lives in a precarious balance with something else. And together, all of those positives and negatives create a universal balance that helps to maintain the universe in its ongoing quest to become....more.
Sun was captured by this ideal of balance, and it played out in a small sense in the large courtyard everyday at high noon.
As important as training the mind and spirit were to the monks, it was also only natural that their physical form be balanced in the same way.
So everyday when the sun reached its highest point everyone would gather in the great courtyard and exercise. The preferred vehicle for this aspect of their journey for balance was Tai Chi and for others more martial arts.
As he did with his studies of mathematics, reading and philosophy, Sun took to the physical side of the monasteries training with deep commitment and purpose.
Sun was always the first to enter the courtyard, always the last to leave it. Even though he was very young the other monks understood that in this as in everything the young man set his mind too he was...unique.
And so nine years passed for Sun, he learned English, French, German and Japanese, he conversed fluently with the many tourists who made the trek to the top of the world to see the great mountain, visit the monasteries in hopes of learning great mysteries.
Through these visitors he learned of the world outside the gates, learned that so many people were...searching, that few ever came close to glimpsing or even understanding what it was they were searching for.
Sun often sat and meditated on top of the large wall that surrounded the monastery. It had become his custom soon after his life here started. From the earliest days he had been drawn to dawn and dusk, times of transition and balance, long before he learned of their divine concepts.
Sitting there, watching the sun slowly make it's fall, giving up the sky to its brother the night, he was shocked to be aware of a growing....presence.
It seemed, intelligent and it seemed to be....searching. Sun was not overly frightened by this new manifestation, he surmised that it was simply something he had not encountered before and reserved judgment until something other than a simple feeling manifest.
This presence ebbed and flowed around him, feeling to him like the water of the large communal bath in the monastery as monks entered and left, a soft undulation, a simple feeling that something was there, something had entered, something had moved away.
The presence was at it's strongest for an instant that seemed to pause....to stretch out, to hold within it some unseen acknowledgement of great power....and then the moment ended. The ebb and flow returned, quietly and softly providing the simple acknowledgement that it was there for a few more moments and that too....ended.
Opening his eyes Sun was surprised to see stars where when he last looked the sun had been.
"Why have we not studied dusk and dawn" Sun asked the next day to one of his teachers.
"Surely you have covered the heavens and the earth with Master Fong?" his teacher responded, sure that master Fong would have covered the stars and the earth and its rotation, etc...during his teachings.
"Yes master we have, my question is why have we not studied what lives in the gap?" Sun responded, to the utter amazement of his teacher.
Hong looked at the young man, he had grown over the last 3 years since he stood with him looking at the gate on the day of his arrival. He was both surprised and not that Sun had discovered the gap and the energies at play there so soon.
As Sun poured tea for both of them he began.
"As you know the universe continues and grows because of the balance between all things, the push and pull, the black and white the yin and yang....all these things provide the energy of life. The gap is simply a very powerful expression of that principal made manifest in the moment between day and night. The power and energy of the transition between the sun, the earth, the moon, the celestial ceiling, all of these things in that perfect instant are in balance, harmony. What you feel is the energy that this harmony creates" Hong finished, sipping his tea looking at the young man, wishing for an instant he could perceive what was going through Sun's mind.
"But that moment is constant Master, that moment is always occurring someplace on earth, all the time, so it is not a simple fleeting thing but an energy that continues, infinitely" Sun said thinking that this was an interesting conversation, and very good tea.
"You are correct Sun, you should meditate on this" Master Hong said as he had no answer to the boys statement, as it was one of the great fundamental questions that all of the masters down through the ages had pondered, what was possible....in the eternal gap. ............
Sun lived a happy childhood at the monastery, helping anyone who needed it, learning all that he could, honing his intellect, his body and his spirit in concert.
9 years to the day he arrived in front of the gates of the monastery he found himself there again, this time looking at them from the other side, gazing on them with a reverent look that caused several of the initiates to get Master Hong.
Walking up next him Master Hong once again stood at his side before the gates.
"What do you see" he asked now as he had then
And again, the answer was the same "A beginning...and an ending" Sun responded, understanding that it was time for his evolution to continue somewhere else.
Master Hong made arrangements for Sun to travel to Japan, there was a monastery there outside of Tokyo, which would provide a safe place for him to continue his studies and begin to integrate into the modern world.
The trip from the monastery to Japan was a unique experience, Sun had lived a fairly sheltered life, limited to a few miles around the monastery.
Riding in the old truck heading for the city of Lhasa Sun was amazed by the variations in the countryside. From the mountainous cliffs where the monastery was perched to the lower plains that seemed to go on forever, Sun was awestruck by a scale and diversity that he had never encountered.
Sun found the city of Lhasa to be....chaotic, use to the slow pace and easy to find solitude of the monastery he was unprepared for the crush of humanity that surrounded him as he carried his small bag into the plane terminal.
"Can I help you" the young woman behind the counter asked an obviously flustered Sun.
"I am" Sun began, pausing as a passerby jostled him, making him drop his bag. "I am looking for flight 919 to Tokyo" he said, exasperated by the un-natural speed of this place. 'How does anyone find quiet in such a place' he wondered as he moved through the terminal to his gate.
In contrast to the heavy crush of people and activity in the terminal, Sun was awestruck by the calm serenity flying seemed to provide.
The din of the engines and quiet talking of the other passengers was easy for him to tune out, and then it was just him....in the clouds. It was a rich, fulfilling experience, flying in the cool air high above the world, looking at the backside of the clouds as they made their slow endless march across the world. It would be a place of quiet joy and wonder that he would revisit with much energy on every flight he took in the future.
Landing in Tokyo he stepped off the plane into a different world.
Where the terminal in Lhasa had been dirty, rundown and chaotic, this place was clean, bright and above all ordered.
There were people of course, thousands of them, but as if by some unwritten understanding the whole of the mass was ordered, the energy was there, almost palpable but everyone in this space understood where they were going and was getting there in the most direct manner, he was amazed at the shared focus of these people.
Sun was surprised to see a monk holding a card with his name on it as he walked into the main terminal after retrieving his one bag.
Walking over to the man he bowed deeply and said "I am Sun Co Ling"
Returning the bow the middle aged monk replied " Ah, I am happy to meet you, I am Aki, please follow me, I have been sent to take you to the monastery."
The drive to the monastery only continued Sun's culture shock. Arriving in the small hours of morning before dawn he was treated to a view of downtown Tokyo filled with light and motion, buildings of a scale not experienced and a new perspective on the daily life of others in this "modern" world.
As dawn began to break and they moved out of the city proper, the lush greens struck Sun, 'so much variation' he thought to himself, for the first time understanding how.....compact his world view had been.
The monastery itself was of a much smaller scale than the one Sun had grown up in.
Nestled at the end of a small valley it was a simple compound made up of 9 buildings reflecting the style of the Kamakura period, large open patios, low pagoda style roofs with the structures connected by covered walkways. A traditional 9ft high fence surrounded the monastery with a large freeform pond at its center, fed by a natural creek that came down from the mountains.
Sun stood by the lake, looking at the low buildings, feeling as if they were part of the landscape more than something placed there by man's hand. He smiled as an ancient monk walked over performing a slight bow, more of a head nod.
"I am Masao, it is an honor to meet you Sun, I have had many correspondence with Master Hong about you over the years, I hope that your time with us is fulfilling" the older man said while standing next to Sun; both contemplating the mirror image of the mountain in the pond before them.
"I am honored to be here master and hope to fulfill whatever duties and studies you provide well." Sun said. They stood for a few moments, simply being in this place at this time.
"Koto will show you to your room and allow you to get settled, at the mid day meal we shall talk some more" Masao said as he slowly walked away as a young boy walked over to the pair.
"Please follow me Sun-san" the boy said leading him off towards one of the buildings. ............
Where his previous life had been one of scholarly and physical interaction with the world around him his new life provided much more...energy.
Life at the monastery was filled with activity. The day began at 5am with some form of physical activity that ranged from simple calisthenics and tai chi to kendo and other martial arts.
After breakfast it was studies in art, literature and music. The mid-day meal was the last of the day, provided at approximately 2pm, after this the twenty or so individuals who lived at the monastery were free to pursue whatever they were moved to.
For Sun this meant endless walks in the mountains, many times not returning to the monastery until just before the next mornings meal. The place entranced him and he moved farther and farther away from human contact and became more in tune with the solitude within his own mind.
For almost 8 years this was the daily life for Sun and he was...content.
Sitting at the base of a tree, watching the moment of transition between day and night, pulling his consciousness into the gap and becoming one with the universe as was his habit he was surprised to find that he was not alone.
"Who are you" the strangely familiar voice asked. Sun was not startled by this, many times he had felt other presences in the gap, this was however the first time he was addressed directly. "I am Sun Cho Ling" Sun answered then paused before continuing "Master Hong".
"Why are you hear" another voice asked. "This is the place of great creation, where every possibility is born and is attainable, it is the source of all things, as with any being I am most comfortable at the source of what I am, this is home Master Masao" Sun responded.
Together the two voices asked kindly "What have you created with your easy access to the gap, where creation is fully formed"
Sun stayed in the mountains for three weeks before returning to the monastery. The simple question asked by his mentors had shaken him to his very core. Those weeks in the mountains found Sun searching his soul for the answer that stayed just beyond his reach.
"I must leave here Master Masao" Sun said kneeling before the ancient monk.
There was a long silence as Masao looked at the young man before him, none had showed the promise or ease that this orphan had of slipping within the gap, but he had never once even thought of using the quintessential creation space for anything other than observing.
Masao and Hong had meditated long on this fact and what they could do to help Sun fill his unique space in the universe.
"Where does the gap exist" Masao asked
"Everywhere" Sun responded
"Where do you find it" Masao said closing his eyes.
Sun paused, letting the question sink in, understanding washing over him like a gentle unexpected current in calm river.
"At sunrise and sunset" he answered, finally starting to get a glimpse of his own limitations that he placed on the universe.
"I have made arrangements for you to spend the next year in Kyoto, you will work and learn in an environment that may help you to broaden your understanding of the importance of this world as opposed to the gap, it is our hope that through this you will find some....balance" Masao said as he rose.
Sun stood and deeply bowed to Masao.
Sun stood looking out at the runway, watching the planes taking off, shuttling people to unknown parts of the world, bringing them to experience what they needed to experience.
All this motion and energy concentrated in such a small space, created by individuals who are a part of a greater whole but yet cocooned within their own solitude never ceased to amaze Sun.
The last year had been enlightening. Sun had spent so much time looking inward that when faced with looking outward he was amazed at how ill prepared he had been.
Masao had made arrangements for Sun to live and work in a small okiya in a hanamachi area of Kyoto.
Sun, having never gone into great study of Japanese culture was surprised to find an elegant woman dressed in a formal kimono awaiting him in the small private parlor of the nondescript house he was taken too.
"Sun-san, my name is Maki, I run this okiya as my mother and her mother before me did." She said looking over the young man with a careful and studied eye.
Sun had not had much contact with women, the tourists at the monastery, a few that provided food and other things, but long conversations, a friend who was a woman, this was something he had no experience with and for the first time in many many years Sun felt....nervous.
As with most places there was a routine at the okiya that was fairly easy for Sun to fall into. Many times over the year spent with women of the okiya Sun wondered at Masao's intentions for having Sun stay here, by the end he understood.
An okiya is a Geisha house, they live, work and train for their craft here. Much of the study comes from watching the older women along with the formal study of music, art and literature to become companions for the Japanese elite. Sun being in the environment day in and day out, learned them as well.
While the girls and women who lived and worked in the house were polite, answering his questions when asked and inquiring about his day, all of them seemed a bit...put off by the fact that he was living there. He heard Maki tell them several times that he was a monk and not to be worried about.
It was Maki who took some time everyday to sit with him, to chat, to show him around the city. It was an interesting time for him, learning to integrate into society, making friends and acquaintances, learning about the world outside the cloistered confines of the monastery.
One evening after all of the other girls had went to bed Sun was sitting on the small porch of the house, looking up at the diffuse stars, going over the differences both positive and negative between his life now and a year ago when Maki came out and joined him.
"How was your day Sun" she asked. Her hair fell down over her right shoulder, looking like a waterfall in the moonlight, sliding over and down her chest. Her face was pale in the moonlight, almost glowing.
"It was good, I helped with the food preparation, practiced a bit with the shamisen and went out to get next weeks groceries ordered" he said looking into her almond eyes.
Maki regarded the man sitting before her, it was unheard of to have a man living in a okiya, she had lost 5 girls because of it and the remainder were still none to happy about the arrangement.
Her father owed Masao, clearing up that debt had been worth the losses, she had spoken to Masao just last night for over three hours, he had finally filled in most of the blanks as to why he had asked for Sun to stay with her.
"Your time here is coming to an end soon" she started, pausing to look at the moonrise, wondering what the next few hours and days would hold.
"Have you ever been with a woman Sun?" she asked, finally resolving herself to the decision and upon doing so finding the decision not as difficult as she imagined.
Sun looked at her again, trying to understand the question. "If you mean...physically, no I have not." He answered.
She rose smiling and gently took his hand.
For the next several weeks Maki and Sun were inseparble, they ate and slept and talked and made love, they experienced things that Sun had no conception of before and viewed with a sacred revernce afterwards. They were and still are the happiest few weeks of his life.
And as with all things, his time with Maki came to an end.
"I have something for you" she said to him that last morning, he watched as her hair cascaded over her back as she twisted and reached for a package beside the bed.
Sun sat up on the bed, opening the parcel she provided, it was wrapped in thick brown paper tied with a string.
Inside he found a letter from his first Master Hong.
Over the years you have been in training for....something, niether myself or Masao are quite sure what for, we simply know that you are on a unique path and that it was part of our agreements in this life to help you.