Written by Valentino Giacomin
This book was illustrated for WEBE foundation under the guidance of Alice Project and Daphne Charles
Illustrations by Sochalaya, assisted by Gavin George
Once upon a time, there was a broody hen. She was rather special be- cause she was wise, and she could even speak. She had incubated her eggs during several weeks and, in the end, six eggs hatched and six little chicks pecked their way through the shell. But one egg wouldn’t hatch. Mother Hen refused to abandon the nest until Lastey’s (that was the nickname given to the last of the little brothers and sisters) egg had hatched. When this finally happened, Lastey remained curled up for some days under his mother’s wings, motionless. Mother Hen tried to push him out of the nest and make him walk a little, but Lastey would not have it. Mother Hen insisted.
When this finally happened, Lastey remained curled up for some days under his mother’s wings, motionless. Mother Hen tried to push him out of the nest and make him walk a little, but Lastey would not have it. Mother Hen insisted.
At last, Lastey took some steps but crashed against the water bowl, hit himself against his brother and ended up in a small hole near the nest. Only then, did Mother Hen realize that Lastey could not see. “We will help him!” the young little siblings promised. They struck up an agreement: “One for all and all for Lastey!”
The days passed. Lastey was always alone and sad, in spite of the love his little brothers and sisters showed for him, and in spite of their effort to see him in a good mood. But Mother Hen was also worried about Lastey for a different reason. “Why is the world so dirty?” Lastey asked one day. “Dirty? What do you mean sonny?” asked Mother Hen. “I see so many dirty things all around me!” he said. It was then that Mother Hen understood the reason for her son’s sadness. In her son’s mind, there appeared a different world from that which appeared in the mind of her blind son’s little brothers and sisters. “My son, today is a wonderful April day! The sun is warm. All around you there are fragrant roses and the fields are full of deep green vegetation. How can you possibly see dirty things?” asked Mother Hen.
“Fragrant roses? A splendid day? What I see doesn’t have any colours and it smells rotten!” said Lastey sadly. Mother Hen took her son under her wing and led him to a beautiful red rose. “Can’t you feel the softness of these petals, my son? Can’t you smell the strong fragrance?” she asked. “Please, take that horrible-smelling object away from me! It’s irritating my skin!” Lastey pleaded.
Mother Hen was shocked. “Horrible smell? An object which is irritating your skin?” she wondered.She couldn’t quite understand.
In other words, Lastey saw the world differently from the rest not only because he was blind, but also because his mind worked differently as already mentioned. It was as if there existed two worlds, two realities: one was Lastey’s and the other his brothers.
“Lastey, that is a red rose with delicate and soft petals. It has an intense and very pleasant smell!” his brothers and sisters tried to tell him. But Lastey couldn’t understand.
“No! It’s something which is stinging my skin and its smell makes me feel bad,” protested Lastey. As time passed, it became clear that Lastey’s mind worked differently from that of his brothers and sisters.
It seemed there were two worlds, two realities: Lastley’s rose and his brothers’ rose. When- ever it was cloudy or it rained, the other little chicks took refuge in the farmer’s stable, pensive and glum. Lastey, however, felt happy and excited. “I feel really good today! It’s a wonderful day today!’ he exclaimed. Mother Hen, who was wise, told the other little chicks that Lastey saw the world in his own particular way.
He wasn’t trying to be annoying or to provoke them. “The fact is that in his mind there appear completely different images, sounds, smells, and thoughts from yours!” “But it doesn’t sound quite right!” said one of the brothers.“Yes…it’s not usual. What it means is that he doesn’t think, see or feel the same way that most of the other chicks do, but it doesn’t mean that he is wrong and you are right!” commented Mother Hen.
“We don’t understand! If six of us see a red scented rose, doesn’t that mean that the rose does in fact exist in this world?” asked the chicks. Mother Hen smiled. ”Well…it’s difficult to explain” she said. “But the majority isn’t always in possession of the truth!” Then she told them a story.
The Loyal Dog
Once there was a farm. In it, there were many animals and a small puppy was among them. It was a mutt which Hugo, the owner’s son, had found on the street. He had become friendly with everyone and got along with all the other animals including the old grumpy cat who was so old that he couldn’t tell a mouse from a rabbit.
One night, the little mutt began to bark and shuffle as if he had been bitten by a snake. He ran up and down panic-stricken.
Everyone in the farm was woken up by the barking. The farmer’s son tried to calm his friend down but to no avail. The puppy kept on complaining as if he was trying to tell them something… “Maybe there are burglars!” people said. So, they started to search for them in the hay stacks, in the stalls, in the fields…but they couldn’t find anyone.
“Dogs can sense danger” said Hugo. “My teacher explained to me that they can sense things that we can’t! Perhaps he is sensing something and is trying to warn us!”
“Come on, let’s not let those stories get the best of us! What can he possibly sense? Let’s keep silence ourselves and let’s see if we can hear any sounds or suspicious noises…” said the farmer. Everyone kept quiet and listened.
”Did you hear anything?” asked the farm- er. Everyone replied negatively. Everyone, except the little puppy who continued barking and complaining in increasing desperation.
“We are the majority,” said the farmer,” and if the majority says there are no sounds or noises, that means that they don’t exist.” Everyone agreed with the head of the family’s decision and went back to bed, threatening the puppy he would have to go without food for a whole day unless he stopped disturbing them. But the puppy wouldn’t listen to any of the warnings.
He continued to bark all night long until just before dawn. Hugo decided to get out of bed and go to his friend to try to console him.
“I know there’s something wrong and that you want to say something to us”, he whispered, “ But nobody here understands what you are saying. Now I am here with you and nothing will happen to you !”
He had hardly had time to say those words when a sordid uproar erupted from the en- trails of the earth. It was like a demon waking up. Everything began to shake back- wards and forwards. Hugo saw the lights in the house go out and then nothing else. He held on tight to the puppy close to his heart as if to protect him and waited for the horrible shaking from the earth to fin- ish. Once the earth had quieted down, there was nothing but dust and silence all around. There was a deadly silence. His house had been completely destroyed. Hugo remained close to his friend who had uselessly tried to warn the people on the farm all night long of the danger they were going to face.
Due to the ability to sense smells and sounds which escape human sensitivity, the mutt knew that the wave which was going to destroy the village was about to reach them. The humans, however, had not understood because they perceived a different reality.
I have told you this story to show that the majority is not always right.The chicks had been listening to the story very carefully. “What do you mean by “the men perceived a different reality”? asked one of the chicks.
“It means that we don’t all see the world the same way. The world seen by a man is different from the world seen by a dog, a cat or a bird and, therefore, Lastey’s world is also different from yours. While you see a wonderful rose, in his mind there appears something which disturbs him and makes him sad.”
“I think that only animals see the world differently. Men all see the world the same way!” said one of the chicks.
At that precise moment, the farmer arrived with a friend. She was a big rough woman, and she had an unpleasant voice. All the chicks ran for refuge under their mother’s wing except for Lastey who hadn’t been aware of the danger and who hadn’t heard his brothers’ warning although they had tried to put him on guard.
“What’s this freak of nature? Do I have to remind you that he’s blind? Why don’t you get rid of him?” said the fat woman while she picked him up with her chubby hand and threw him in a corner in the most humiliating manner.
“A freak of nature? Have you gone mad? He’s one of the most interesting chicks I have ever had! I don’t know why but both my son and I have an odd attraction and affection for this little chick who seems to understand what we say!” “Nonsense! He’s going to end up in the pot sooner or later anyway, so why not end his suffering now!” said the fat woman with a smile on her face.
Lastey was motionless and terrorised. The chicks had hidden their little heads under their mother’s wings who tried uselessly to cover their ears so that they wouldn’t hear those terrible words. Unfortunately, she didn’t succeed.“Did you hear that?” said the Mother Hen. “Men also have different perceptions of things!”
The chicks, however, were thinking of something else. “What did the mean old woman have in mind when she said that sooner or later Lastey would end up in the pot?” they asked. Mother Hen was afraid she would be asked that question. She did know that soon- er or later, they would do him in. A tear fell from her eyes.
”Why are you crying?” asked the chicks. “Because I don’t have an answer to your question. You’ll have to ask the old Wise Rabbit in the forest.
The day after, all seven chicks went to look for the old Forest Rabbit in single file.
The Old Forest Rabbit
“Wise Rabbit, we’ve come to see you because our mother doesn’t know the answer to our question,” and they told him the story of the fat, old and mean woman who wanted to have Lastey killed. Old Forest Rabbit had a great reputation for being wise and for having miraculous powers. He was always ready to help anyone with a problem or anyone who would ask him for help. He was therefore, much loved and respected by everyone, including the inhabitants of the farm. “You know very well,” replied the Old Rabbit, “that I don’t tell lies. The truth is that the cruel woman was right. When you are fully grown, your fate will be to be killed by the farmer, or else sold at the market to end up perhaps, as food for men!”
All the chicks gripped each other tight with fear and anxiety. Fortunately, Mother Hen arrived and she took them under her wings to reassure them. Only Lastey remained motion- less and unaffected and he did not go for shelter under his mother’s wings.
“Is this fate only reserved for us chicks or is it common to all creatures?” asked, only Lastey. “It is common to all creatures. We are all destined to die in one way or another. There are those who are killed by a virus or a tumour. Those who are killed by another animal or by human beings. What’s the difference? The only true fact is that we are all destined to die!”
“Is there any way we can escape from our fate?” asked Lastey. “Certainly!” replied old Forest Rabbit. All the chicks then stuck their head out from under the wings encouraged by the reply and very anxious to hear more. “What is it? What is it?” they all asked at the same time. “Find the mythical kingdom where death doesn’t exist and take refuge there!” replied old Forest Rabbit.
Looking for the Mythical Kingdom
“Does this mythical kingdom exist?” asked Lastey. “Certainly! It’s up to you to find it!” answered the Forest Rabbit, mysteriously. After that day, the chicks started their journey in order to find the mythical Kingdom of Immortality.
Mother Hen let them go. She was sad, of course, like all mothers when their children wan- der off. But she knew that the little ones had no choice. Either they found the place or they were finished just as the mean woman had said.
“ I will follow you with my thoughts” she said. “Whenever you go, I will be nearby with all my heart. My children, I wish you can all find the freedom you are looking for.
I only ask one thing of you. Once you have found what you are looking for, don’t give up/ Don’t keep the secret to yourself. Instead, return to your friends and help them to find their freedom from the terrible fate, which awaits them too.”
The chicks promised their mother that they would return at all cost. They departed with that idea in their minds. Old Forest Rabbit had given Lastey, who had become the head of the expedition, a special talisman, a golden mirror .
“Whenever you find yourself in danger or when you don’t know what direction to take, look at this mirror and recite the words, “Oh wishing mirror, where can I find the mythical kingdom?”
They walked for days and months and overcame many obstacles and dangers of all types. Some of the chicks fell ill during the voyage and Lastey had to send them home. Others became homesick for their mother and also decided to return home. Still others, lost their confidence in finding the Mythical Kingdom of Everlasting Life and abandoned their objective. In the end, Lastey was the only remaining chick with his golden mirror and his firm decision to carry out his mission to liberate himself as well as all his brothers. When the last of his brothers parted, Lastey was forced to stop for a pause. “A blind chick can’t get very far on his own!” he thought.
That was when he decided to use the golden mirror and he said the magic formula. “Oh wishing mirror, where can I find the Mythical Kingdom ?” “ From out of the gold mirror, came out an old man with a white beard which reached all the way down to his feet.
He bowed his head and said, “I am the Genie of Goodness. Why do you wish to find the Mythical Kingdom of Everlasting Life?” “So that no one may have to suffer!” replied Lastey. “What are you willing to pay in exchange for the information?” asked the Genie of Good- ness. “Any price whatsoever!” “But you have nothing. What on earth can you give me?” “Take as many of them as you like but help me to find the way to free my brothers from their cruel destiny of death! Where can we find the mythical realm of immortality?
“I can see that you have a good heart and that you are very courageous. I accept your proposal, but I cannot answer now to your question” replied the Genie of Goodness.
Suddenly, the chick transformed into a beautiful girl.
“What an amazing dream!” said Suneeta, wiping her eyes and sitting up on her bed.
“What is it?” her mother asked while she lit the petrol lamp. “I had a really strange dream!” she said. And she told the other brothers and sisters.
“I also had a strange dream!” all the other brothers said in unison. “I also dreamed I was a chick!” said the youngest of the brothers. “Me too!” “Me too!” all the others repeated.
The mother smiled and yet she had a secret to tell them. ”I dreamed I was a broody hen!” she said while she held her arms around her children. They all broke out laughing thinking she was pulling their leg. Suddenly, someone knocked on the door. Suneeta went to open it. “Who can it be at this time of the night?” wondered the mother. In fact, it was still dark and there was still one hour to go before dawn. ”It’s an old man who wants us to let him in and offer him something to eat!” “Guests are dear to us. Ask him in and start the water for the tea” said the mother.
The old man sat down while Suneeta’s brothers made themselves useful by wiping the table and offering cool clean water for drinking with some sugar according to the tradition of Indian families. Suneeta kept on watching the old man carefully. And she kept asking herself, “Where have I seen him?” The old man said nothing. He drank the beverage that Suneeta’s mother had prepared for him and then he got up to leave.
Once at the door, he turned around and said to Suneeta, “You’ve forgotten your request!” Suneeta was really confused. She finally recognized the visitor as the Wise Old Man of her dream, who came out from the magic mirror. She also remembered the question: Where can I find the mystical kingdom of everlasting life? “It was actually a silly question!
The Kingdom of Everlasting Life doesn’t exist!” she said in a low voice almost to herself. “Really?” asked the old Man winking one eye.
“Only those things and people who are born must die sooner or later. But if something has never been born, it cannot die!”
“Therefore I have to search for the Kingdom which has never been born!” said Suneeta.
The Non-existent Land…
“Looking for the Kingdom which has never been born… this is really a good point!” said the Old Man while he went back to sit by the fire. “Search for the Empty Land. However, I think you’ll find it quite difficult to find something which has never existed like the Non-existent Land ! Perhaps you can find the Land which you think exists but has never existed!” ex- plained the Old Man. The other brothers and sisters were listening very carefully. ”What do you mean by the ́country which you think exists but has never existed ́?” they asked. “It means to search for something which exists only as a result of the motion of our own mind!” explained the Old Man. “The motion of our own mind?” asked the brethren. “Oh, didn’t you know? Our mind is a like a never-tiring dancer. It never ceases to dance, every minute, crating thousands of forms. Each shape is a thought or an image…” explained the Old Man while taking a coal from the fire and moving it in the air as if it were doing the pirouettes of the dancing Mind.
“Now I understand! It’s as if I thought (or danced) of hundreds of gold coins and I started to look for them desperately all over the house. In the end, I will be very disappointed,” said Suneeta. “Why would you be disappointed?” asked the Old Man. “Because I will never be able to find those coins in my house!” “Exactly. Your search will not be fruitful if you continue to look in the wrong place!” “Where should I have looked for the coins?” asked Suneeta. “In the same place where they were created!” answered the Old Man. The brethren all started laughing. They had understood. “Suneeta had created actually he had made them dance hundreds of gold coins in his own mind and it was there that she should have looked for them!” he said.
“The whole Universe is created (and also dies) in the same manner as Suneeta’s coins. Everything we perceive is the result of the dancing energy. Phenomena are appearances like the reflections on the mirror. We see the reflections as external object, and we believe that they exist outside, independently from ourselves. But this is not true.”
Everything is related to our mind. The mind is the creator of the world of ten thousand things (Tao) , then she projects it outside and she is unable to recognise it as her own creature.
This is what happens when we dream: the dreaming consciousness creates the dreamer and what is dreamt (Subject and object).
But, in the dream, subject and object are experienced as separated and independent entities. Only when we wake up, we realize that everything we dreamt
(persons and things) was nothing but the play of our dreaming mind, that was dancing during the night. You should remember: now that we are not sleeping, your consciousness is not ultimately different from the dreaming-consciousness.
As the waves are created by the dancing water, in the same way the thoughts, the images, the remembering are caused by the agitation of the mind. After creating, the sounds, the images, the colours…and all the qualities, your awaken-mind does not recognise her own creatures. For this reason, she projects them outside, then she wrongly perceives them as external phenomena, independent from herself.
I repeat: the dancing mind produces forms. These forms are projected outside, and then they are wrongly perceived as real objects. Actually, they are merely illusions.
Every sentient being has his particular way of dancing. In this way, we create our own world. We, also, could say that each of us paints the world according the mood of our mind. Happiness and unhappiness depend on this mental… mood. Many people are looking in the external world for their happiness. It’s easy to understand that they will never find it. For this reason, we talk about the external world as an illusion.
Everything that appears in our mind is nothing but the result of this illusion. This illusion has the same consistency of the reflections caused by this mirror” explained the Old Man, showing a golden mirror.
“The mirror!” cried Suneeta. “I remember very well: you are the old Forest Rabbit!” “And you are the blind chick who sacrificed his life in order to save the life of his brothers and sisters! It was that positive thought which transformed you and your whole family into human beings. Now you can liberate yourselves, if you wish, permanently from birth and death” said the Old Man. ”Now you know the answer. You know where to look for the mythical kingdom: within your own deep mind, where neither death nor birth exist. The movement of the mind doesn’t produce anything.
Nothing arises from the movement of a ballerina except for the illusion of the forms. Likewise, nothing arises from the mirror except for the reflections which give life to the images and shapes of different colours.”If we exchange the shapes reflected in the mirror or by our own mind for real objects or people – independently of the mirror or the mind – and look for them outside of ourselves (like the hundreds of coins Suneeta thought of), then we are in for trouble because those people and those things exist but only as an illusion. Furthermore, it’s precisely that illusion which is born and dies!”
The Mother and the brothers and sisters were listening to the words the Old Man said. They hadn’t understood quite everything but they intuited that the Old Man had given them a most precious treasure. He had pointed out the way towards immortality’. Suddenly, the lamp went out and darkness appeared in the room. “What’s going on?” asked the little ones. “It’s nothing. There’s no more fuel!” said the Mother while looking for a candle. When she lit it, she realised that the Old Man had disappeared.. “May be we are still dreaming!” said Suneeta. “No, it was not a dream, – said the smallest brother. – The Old Man left something on the table…”
“The golden mirror!” exclaimed Suneeta, moved.