Going to the Mountain

For today’s countdown, 5 days to release of HAIKU DANCE, Shino deals with his demons that have haunted him from his youth and what Master Kana instructs him to do about it.

“I will teach you ways to move forward in time. You will learn to see what lies ahead of you, allowing you to prepare an accurate strategy. Once you no longer react blindly, without thought, that which is now weakness within you will become the key to your greatest strength.”

He placed a hand on Shino’s shoulder. “You will leave the monastery early tomorrow morning and go up into the mountain by yourself until you find a place that feels right. You’ll know it when you get there. Sit and meditate. Stay present in the moment. Remember—no past, no future. When your senses are stilled, ask yourself questions about your past—about those things that have been distracting you. Wait until you’re satisfied you’ve received the all important answers before returning—no matter how long it

takes.”

Shino followed his master’s instructions and left the next day amid the early morning mist that covered the land. Heavy white fog draped the mountainside. The higher he climbed, the denser it became. Finally, when he could see only a few steps ahead, he had to follow his instincts as to where to place his feet and in what direction to move.

After hours of walking, the mist thinned enough to notice a large flat rock. He crawled on top and settled himself to face the blanket of white. Wrapping his cloak tightly around him, he breathed in the moist air and closed his eyes. He slowly slipped into a state of deep meditation and lost track of time until he was gently nudged out of it by Master Kana’s voice. He turned and saw him standing behind him.

“What have you been thinking?” Master Kana asked.

“Nothing, gozen-sama, honorable one. I’ve followed your instructions and emptied my mind. I am awaiting answers.”

“What answers?”

“The answers to my past.”

“And what is it, specifically, in your past that troubles you?”

“I still feel pain that my father beat and humiliated me. I feel shame that I, in turn, spread my pain to a dear young friend whose only thought was to spend time with me, comfort me, and share friendship. I feel pain my grandfather was disappointed in me. I have no questions—only a wish to remove these troubling memories.”

“So, your question is how to remove these impediments?”

“Yes, master, that would be my question.”

“Go back into meditation. Be there in those past moments of your regret. Ask your father to show you why he hurt you as he did. What did he bear in his life that so hardened him? See those reasons through his eyes. Then speak to your young friend and ask forgiveness for your actions that left you with this regret. Explore the pain that caused you to act as you did. Go deep. Understand your motivations so you can forgive yourself. Your grandfather has already forgiven you. He would not have sent you here if he hadn’t. He knows your heart. Afterward, see it all washed clean. Let it float away into the mist and never revisit it again. Then return to Enryaku-ji.”

The mist closed around Master Kana and he was gone.

Shino followed the instructions. When he finally felt a sense of peace flooding through him, he opened his eyes. The fog had dissipated enough to see that the rock upon which he sat was on the edge of a cliff before a steep drop into an abyss. The significance did not elude him.

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#meditation #bushi #samurai #Heian #novel

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