“Kandata, my child, I want you to tell me why you cut off the spider thread the other day when I gave you a chance to escape from hell? Did you not feel sorry for your fellow sufferers? The thread was strong enough to empty the entire population of hell had you not cut it off to spite the others.”
Kandata, expressionless, suddenly produced a serrated knife out of his right sleeve and stabbed Buddha in the ribs, right under Buddha’s heart. Bewildered and breathless, Buddha slumped over and then fell onto his knees, his hands now submerged and slowly sinking in the black silt of the lotus pond.
“Why, Kandata?” Buddha asked sorrowfully.
“It is the will of the place, my friend. The nature of the medium, you might say. Silt is silt. And clouds are clouds. What did you expect would happen in Hell?”
Buddha, of course, didn’t die. Buddhas – if they exist – cannot die. A Buddha’s heart is emptiness in the highest degree. No, not the proverbial emptiness of the atom, but the emptiness of non-bias. To love all is to love no one. A heart like that is impervious to knives.
“Why did you try to kill me, Kandata?” Buddha asked again.
Kandata smiled, the lines around his mouth parting like stage curtains: “Gods belong in Hell, don’t you understand? Hell is where your work is needed, you princely asshole! Hell, not Paradise, is the vivisection chamber of the soul. If you are a true god, you belong with the sufferers, the sinners, the broken. Paradise needs no micromanagers, it’ll run on its own just fine.”
Buddha, washing his hands off the black silt of the lotus pond, was back on his feet, the lotus roots obsequiously wrapping themselves around his sculpted calves.
“Kandata, if you are so high-minded, so concerned about the wellbeing of your fellow sufferers, then why were you so eager to escape this Hell the other day? Why were you groping your way up the spider thread?”
“I wasn’t trying to escape this Hell, you moron. I was coming after you. I have been watching you from down here, waiting for a chance to pounce. And when I saw the silver spider thread, I knew it was my chance, my chance to get you. Had I reached the surface of the Paradise, I would have stabbed you until you were unconscious and would have dragged you down below, to Hell where you belong … “
“That’s what you would have done?” asked Buddha clearly surprised. “That was your plan all along, Kandata? To bring me down below?”
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