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Selection - The Spirit of Lao Tsu

from Chapter 1: Princess Sondari and Masla
Page: 1/3

Princess Sondari had a vague sense of being carried through the air, as if in a dream. Though her awareness was hazy, she felt sure that the person carrying her was Anan. The rhythmic, back-and-forth movement of swift running was quite soothing to the princess, and as she tried to imagine Anan’s face behind her closed eyes, she thought that she would like this pleasant feeling to go on forever.
Masla had wasted no time in picking up the unconscious princess and carrying her to safety. Bounding through the castle at great speed, he cut down two or three enemy soldiers who tried to prevent him from passing. By the time he allowed himself to succumb to fatigue and stop for a rest, he had already crossed the border into the neighboring country. The resting spot he chose was a grassy clearing in a bamboo forest. The moon was already high in the sky. After gently lowering the princess onto the grass, Masla sat down and drew a deep breath, wiping the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. He sat gazing intently at the princess’s face, illuminated by the moonlight that shone intermittently through the bamboo trees swaying in the night breeze.
Beautiful. What a beautiful face.
Masla continued to gaze adoringly at the princess’s face under the pale light of the moon. Her soft, delicately shaped lips were curved in a slight smile, and it looked as if she were about to speak.
How happy I am to see her safe. Ah, I am so relieved.
At this moment, Masla was beside himself with joy over having brought Princess Sondari to safety—even if rescuing her had meant abandoning all else, including his king and the castle.
How long has it been since I first pledged myself to her? It had been for the sake of the princess that he had honed his skills with the sword. His military exploits had also been for her sake. Masla remembered how he had even put up with listening to the tedious preaching of monks like the disagreeable Sakyamuni and the one called Anan, just to please the princess. Day in and day out, Masla had never stopped thinking of Princess Sondari, and he was determined to do whatever it took—to undergo any hardship—to win the princess’s hand. For Masla, there was no God or Buddha. To achieve his aspirations required brute force and determination, using the abilities he had within him. The only way for him to advance his standing and fulfill his desires was to become stronger and more skillful. He had advanced step by step, until finally he became the highest ranking warrior in the country. It was his goal to become a person indispensable to his country. Once he had achieved that, he would submit his request to the king. If he climbed one step higher, he would become a minister with the power to influence affairs of state, and in that position he would have the rightful status to ask for the princess’s hand in marriage. In fact, he might even one day succeed the king, who was without a male heir. Unfortunately for Masla, his hopes had started to fade rapidly in the past two or three years—all because of the Buddhist ideas that Sakyamuni and his disciples were spreading.


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