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Some Chinese Ghosts by Lafcadio Hearn

The Tradition of the Tea-Plant

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Some Chinese Ghosts by Lafcadio Hearn

"_All forms are only temporary._" When this great truth is fully comprehended by any one, then is he delivered from all pain. This is the Way of Purification.

"_All forms are subject unto pain._" When this great truth is fully comprehended by any one, then is he delivered from all pain. This is the Way of Purification.

"_All forms are without substantial reality._" When this great truth is fully comprehended by any one, then is he delivered from all pain. This is the way of ...

_Her_ form, too, unsubstantial, unreal, an illusion only, though comeliest of illusions? She had given him alms! Was the merit of the giver illusive also,--illusive like the grace of the supple fingers that gave? Assuredly there were mysteries in the Abhidharma impenetrable, incomprehensible!... It was a golden coin, stamped with the symbol of an elephant,--not more of an illusion, indeed, than the gifts of Kings to the Buddha! Gold upon her bosom also, less fine than the gold of her skin. Naked between the silken sash and the narrow breast-corslet, her young waist curved glossy and pliant as a bow. Richer the silver in her voice than in the hollow _pagals_ that made a moonlight about her ankles! But her smile!--the little teeth like flower-stamens in the perfumed blossom of her mouth!

O weakness! O shame! How had the strong Charioteer of Resolve thus lost his control over the wild team of fancy! Was this languor of the Will a signal of coming peril, the peril of slumber? So strangely vivid those fancies were, so brightly definite, as about to take visible form, to move with factitious life, to play some unholy drama upon the stage of dreams! "O Thou Fully Awakened!" he cried aloud, "help now thy humble disciple to obtain the blessed wakefulness of perfect contemplation! let him find force to fulfil his vow! suffer not Mara to prevail against him!" And he recited the eternal verses of the Chapter of Wakefulness:--

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_ Unceasingly, by day and night, their thoughts are fixed upon the Law.

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_ Unceasingly, by day and night, their thoughts are fixed upon the Community.

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_ Unceasingly, by day and night, their thoughts are fixed upon the Body.

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_ Unceasingly, by day and night, their minds know the sweetness of perfect peace.

"_Completely and eternally awake are the disciples of Gotama!_ Unceasingly, by day and night, their minds enjoy the deep peace of meditation."

There came a murmur to his ears; a murmuring of many voices, smothering the utterances of his own, like a tumult of waters. The stars went out before his sight; the heavens darkened their infinities: all things became viewless, became blackness; and the great murmur deepened, like the murmur of a rising tide; and the earth seemed to sink from beneath him. His feet no longer touched the ground; a sense of supernatural buoyancy pervaded every fibre of his body: he felt himself floating in obscurity; then sinking softly, slowly, like a feather dropped from the pinnacle of a temple. Was this death? Nay, for all suddenly, as transported by the Sixth Supernatural Power, he stood again in light,--a perfumed, sleepy light, vapory, beautiful,--that bathed the marvellous streets of some Indian city. Now the nature of the murmur became manifest to him; for he moved with a mighty throng, a people of pilgrims, a nation of worshippers. But these were not of his faith; they bore upon their foreheads the smeared symbols of obscene gods! Still, he could not escape from their midst; the mile-broad human torrent bore him irresistibly with it, as a leaf is swept by the waters of the Ganges. Rajahs were there with their trains, and princes riding upon elephants, and Brahmins robed in their vestments, and swarms of voluptuous dancing-girls, moving to chant of _kabit_ and _damÔri_. But whither, whither? Out of the city into the sun they passed, between avenues of banyan, down colonnades of palm. But whither, whither?

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