Terrible Hailstorm (Oct. 1)
I watched the local people come together and meet in what looked like a market of sorts in this small village community. It was early in the morning and the sun was creeping just above the mountains. I was still half asleep, my back still aching not accustomed to sleeping in the rough conditions of the country side. As I sat on my horse about to puff away on my pipe, my local guide called out to me: “Tenzin! The village elders will see you now”. I dismounted my horse and made my way to him. He was young boy not more than 14 years old but was quite knowledgeable and had a cunning about him very rarely seen in young boys. I thanked him and made my way into to the middle of the market where a group of rather disheveled looking older men waited to greet me. My guide had warned me to lower my gaze when I would greet the elders and to humble myself in their presence. Being a 35 year old man who had travelled to many kingdoms and villages I found this to be a common theme. The meeting went better than I thought. The elders asked me questions regarding my family, what it is that I do for a living, and why I have chosen to come to their village. I told them that I didn’t have a wife or children but that my parents were still alive in a far away land further west of the village. I had two sisters both of which were married and also lived further west. “I am a producer, a craftsperson whose primary skill is trade”, I said. The elders seemed a bit surprised when I told them that I primarily trade weapons, swords more specifically. “What makes you think we have any need for your dangerous wares in our village?” one of the elders asked. I explained that in order for the people of the village to protect their families and community against bandits and wild animals, they would need reliable weapons that were forged with the finest steel and highest level of skill. This was something that I could offer them at prices that would be appropriate for the village community. I also added that although my primary skill was a tradesman, I had two secondary skills: scholarship and art. I explained that these secondary skills only heightened and improved my primary skill of being a well rounded tradesman. These three skills together helped me to travel and sell my weapons in kingdoms and villages from the far east to the far west. With the elder’s interview over, I was given permission to set up shop and sell my weapons in the local market place. I thanked them and made my way back to my horse.
The next morning my caravan of weapons and supplies had arrived from the west. As I was shown where I can set up shop and where I can set up my workshop for the making weapons by the local village representative, my young guide ran up to me in a panic. He exclaimed: “Tenzin! The local oracle is predicting a terrible hailstorm coming this week. You must quickly go to the deer park in Sarnath and get an amulet to protect your shop and workshop”. I thanked the village representative and turned my attention to the young boy. “Chodak”, I said “If your diviner is right and there is a storm coming, no amount of woodblock charms or amulets can protect my business”. As if I had said nothing at all the boy turned away and ran saying “I still have others to warn”. I knew that the spread of charms and amulets came with the introduction of Buddhism to this region but such practices existed long before Buddhism came on to the scene. I had heard scholars and wise men in other villages talking about the origins of such practices from Egypt to India. But never had I seen magic, spells, and charms studied like what people in the west would call a science. For my part, I was not convinced that an amulet from Sarnath would protect me or my business. I tended to side on the teachings of the ancient prince Siddhartha Gautama regarding this event. If a hailstorm does come and destroy my business I will suffer. If I have an amulet and somehow my business is not destroyed I will still suffer in another capacity. Suffering is unavoidable. So, for me the idea of possibly not suffering didn’t exist. However, I will be taking some precautions in light of this news from the diviner. Perhaps I will purchase some materials to reinforce and protect my shop and workshop. As I pondered over the details with my apprentice, I looked over the snow capped mountains at the grey ominous looking clouds forming. I remembered how wonderful the weather was the morning I went to meet the elders and instantly began to understand Gautama’s teaching of the suffering of change.