The Borderlands Sutra is a series of stories and legends related to an asynchronous rebirth of the Buddha. It was originally recited to a traveling spiritual salesman, Norman Pigmallion, by the Roshi Raven. Roshi Raven took no active role in the proceeding events (as was and is her way) but stayed aloft on the winds or perched upon upper echelon branches of Ponderossa Pines; listening and watching. Ravens are known to be holders of great wisdom but are prone to hyperbole and exageration – Do read with care. (Part 1)
The Bodhisattva Brave followed a line of fence far beyond the boundaries of his reservation. The irony was not lost on the Bodhisattva as he remembered a time when there were no boundaries on land or air or sea. To think that his feet could be limited by barbed wire and dead wood caused a chuckle.
Following a turn in the fence, the Bodhisattva found himself near Dark Canyon. Despite the name, a quiet, lovely and shaded place. Stopping for a moment to rest and shake out his boots, he took seat at the ridge of the canyon. A Swift Fox peeked from behind a piece of brush to stare at the Brave.
“Little Fox, you are far out of your range.”
“As are you, Luminous One. Foxes don’t so quickly forget the past like Cats and Crows” the fox grinned “We remember the times before and even peek at the times after.”
Even a Buddha can be surprised at times and he smiled silently at the Swift Fox.
The Swift Fox then circumambulated the Bodhisattva Brave 1000 times, bowed three times (in standard Fox form) and called a meeting of the tribes. As it has been many years since a Wise One walked the Plains; all were eager to hear well-spoken words once again.
So arrived the tribes of the sly Foxes and loyal Wolves; persnickety Crows and gossiping Magpies; Prairie Rat and Forest Elk all made there way to the Canyon to hear the Bodhisattva Brave speak. Even two Cretaceous Cephalopods reincarnated as Rattlesnakes showed up. (While their accent was thick, most of the other Snake tribes were willing to let them join the pile).
The teachings went long into the night. Many wonderful words were spoken and silences shared. Even old Raven found herself shedding a small tear at the affair. Though it was quickly lapped up by superstitious Voles who thought it would bring them some of Raven’s intelligence….it didn’t and the Voles were reborn as a pair of Evangelical Baptist ministers that started a small road-side church next to a Chuck E. Cheese Restaurant. Such is karma. Poor Voles. Human rebirth is sometimes not so precious.
The core of the teachings went something like this:
Your individual qualities and the discipline of animals is a lesson still needed to be learned. Turn inward for the moment, for the day, for the remainder of your existence upon this animal realm to the supreme, subtle awakening of Great Enlightenment. Opportunities wash upon those of the human realm like waves upon the shore but bipedal apes just watch and wait, fumbling with words or else drown in tidal pools.
I have explained the methods of authentic cultivation of mind but you still don’t recognize the wisdom inherit in the flap of wings and compassion displayed in the gait of four legs. Hallucinations and obstructions appear before you and you can’t recognize the strength of this life. You bear your own young and then swallow them whole.
This life and the next exist on a spectrum: a bright array that includes enlightened animals with bodhi-mind and sluggish brutes of men. Don’t mistake posture for advancement!
The wisdom spread that day was all in the language of the tribes (and translated by Roshi Raven with the standard and expected embellishments) and no others were willing to authenticate what was transcribed but I suppose if you attempt with all your mustered effort you may hear the wisdom in the caw of a Crow or yip of a Coyote. More likely, though, you will just hear the superstitious ramblings of a pair of dime-store ministers and skip the wisdom of the tribes all together.
After respectful bows, the Bodhisattva Brave made his way from Dark Canyon and continued to follow the fence line toward the West. One tribe was missing from the gathering and their absence did not go unnoticed…
He was out of smokes.