A modern parable

I was walking Sarah in the park on Wednesday after supper, as usual. As usual, the Buddist monk was sitting cross-legged under the oak tree kitty-corner to our resting bench. Sarah is a dog, but she is named after my ex-girlfriend and I guess she is now my girlfriend. She drinks from my waterbottle and I don’t mind.

Usually I just glance over to see if monk is there. He wears an orange outfit and his eyes are open but only halfway. I assume he is meditating. Today the front page of the newspaper showed a picture of a man who looked just like him. Except his orange outfit and his face were bloodied. The military government in Burma was firing on monks who were sitting peacefully in support of a new government.

I don’t know why I decided to go and speak to him. I guess I knew he wouldn’t yell at me like some freaks in the park do if you approach them. I took Sarah of course, and when I sat on the grass I sat on the end of her lease to tether her. She started sniffing the grass behind me and going around the tree.

I sat with my legs tucked under me. Although it felt a little girly I didn’t want the monk to think I was trying to imitate him by sitting cross-legged. He raised his eyes to met mine.

“I guess you know about what’s happening in Burma,” I said.

He just looked at me. Not stared, just looked. I felt he liked me.

“Are you praying for the monks there? I think it is a horrible thing when people such as yourself, with such peaceful outlooks, are trappled over by others. It reminds me of Tianamin Square. I guess they think it’s okay if you just sit quietly and meditate in your own private garden, but not so great in public when it incites people to revolt. Maybe with all the news coverage the rest of the world will finally wake up and come to their senses. Then they can defend the helpless and throw out the animals who force their ways on people.”

My little speech was done. I thought it had sounded good – just the right tone of respect and assertiveness. I was happy, and proud of myself for having the courage to take a stand.

Sarah whimpered and I turned. Her snout was shoved into a glass pickle jar. At the bottom of the jar was a caterpiller, a leaf and a stick. Obviously some nursery school class had been here earlier learning about nature. What a bored kid had dropped, Sarah had found. She whimpered again and shook her head against me.

“Here baby,” I said. I put both hands on the jar and tucked. No luck.

“Sit, baby,” I said. I laid Sarah’s head in my lap and started to pet her gently. Would soothing her shrink her mouth slightly so I could slide off the jar. It went in didn’t it.

The monk reached over and took Sarah’s nose, right up by her black eyes, in his hand.

He smiled at her and flicked his wrist. Shattered glass lay on the rock I hadn’t seen in the lawn by his feet. Sarah licked his hand.

To alleviate suffering, act, he said.

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