The Dragons Shattered
Conversations with the Master
I heard Lamur, master of glass, say, "The Master said, ’The plow exists for the sake of the furrow. Once the furrow is prepared you may set aside the plow. The fishing net exists for the sake of the fish. When you have the fish you may set aside the trap. Words exist for the sake of the meaning. Once you have the meaning you may set aside the words. When words be right yet meaning unclear it is as an excellent tool employed improperly.
I was a man, neither more nor less so than I had ever been, when I became lost in the deep desert, days beyond water and the sight of men. Some ancient god found me there and saved me from the carrion birds. He led me to a place of shade and rest, sheltering me as a man shelters a small flame from the wind. I received instruction in that place. The Pentateuch of Gaia, written on stone and sky and sparking flame, were laid open before me and I was taught bone deep so that I could not forget. To feel the polar chords ringing in every substance, to swallow the pure tones and sing them into new vessels, this is what I learned.
When I touch the glass I hear, hidden in silence, the anti-tones of eternity, the denial of time and change. It was another art than mine which taught them new songs, or perhaps my art is so debased that it has forgotten what it was. Even so, the rippling water of my blood sings the harmony of an ancient Sea. The hard earth of my bones remembers the Holy Mountain that laughs at the storms round its feet. Blend them on the tip of a finger, and even your glass will change its tune, if only for a moment.’"
Again, I heard Lamur, master of glass say, "I asked the master how he worked the glass without his sorcery. I heard the master say, ‘A Dynast Prince once hosted a magnificent feast to celebrate the visit of a revered abbot. Among the entertainments was the skillful display of a mortal cook’s art, a novelty in that region.
As Cook Ting worked he appeared to be dancing, or keeping time to the Seven-Dragon Opera.
The Dynast said, ‘Imagine mortal skill reaching such heights!’
Cook Ting replied, ’I seek after excellence, which is beyond skill. When I first began to learn all I could see was the ox. It took three years before I did not see the whole oxen. Now I move with the essence and do not look with my eyes. I follow the natural way, guiding my knife by the flow, never fighting its current, much less going against it!
A new cook sharpens his knife once a week, he hacks. A master cook sharpens his knife once a year, he cuts. I have not sharpened my knife in seven years, yet it is as keen as it was from the grindstone. The edge of a knife has not thickness, and between the meat and the joints are large spaces. When what has no thickness passes through great space there is plenty of room. Whenever I encounter resistance I quiet my thoughts and work with care until, with a plop, the meat falls apart.’
The Dynast, whose sword he had ordered resharpened that very day, grew angry yet the abbot smiled and said quietly, ‘Are you so keen to meet your new cousin?’
His anger replaced with understanding, the Dyanst said, ‘Ah, it is true that anyone may surmount the Noble Coils.’’"
I heard the master of the shop which fashioned glass from the pit of shame say, "My student and I were walking beside the field of gold one bright day when he pointed to it and said, ‘Such is the happiness of glass.’
I asked him how he knew, being that he was not glass. He answered, ‘How do you know I do not, as you are not me.’
I said that if I could not know because I was not him than he could not know for he was not glass.
‘Let us return to your original question,’ he said, ‘In asking how I knew you acknowledge that I did. I know it walking beside the field of gold.’
I suspect he had been drinking."