Flames by the Campfire

So, from all corners of Talmenor in which the tokagi resided, entourages of wise folk flocked to Makuta’Mata. Some came to finally settle old debates, others to learn, and yet others to earn fame to their name… While some, well, some just appeared to have a bit of fun.

As soon as Ciki-Briki ended his story, a moment of respite began. All the folk around the campfire went silent. Chum-Bum then, quite arrogantly, spoke up.

“What in the fires of the mountain are you two talking about? Dancing? Music? Have you gone daft and senile? Are you here only to make fun of the rest of us? If so, you are doing a good job of it!”

Smirking at the comments, Ciki-Briki replied, but it seemed to those gathered he had lost a timbre to his voice as his confidence wavered and discord set in: “Ohhhh, young hatchling. Upon coming here, I thought you would be the wisest of all the folk gathered, yet it seems you are the one who is furthest separated from the truth…”

“Me? Separated! I am the only one here who convenes with the heavens directly! What are you lot doing? The first one claimed nothing was true except the most obvious contradictions! He claimed the universe is one and unchanging, while every day we bear witness to change happening all around us.

“Our fickle lives are the best example of that. We are present in this world one day, and the next day, we depart it. One day, everything is calm, while another day, the seas split open and consume everything floating upon them! How does one so blatantly deny change when it is so obviously everywhere around us?

“And you!” Chum-Bum pointed at Maki-Kiki. “You might be the worst offender here today! We gathered here to discover the truth, while you only brought with you your jests and your quips. The universe was created by dance? Bah! As if the Light and the Shadow would require something so rudimentary, so, so… stupid! …to even bring about all of creation.

“And you!” Here pointing at Ciki-Briki. “You senile old reptile! You should serve as an example to all of us here: a beacon of understanding!  Yet, instead, you have joined forces with this jester and continued his joke. Music? Really? Something that we indulge in in our free time is the basis of the universe and all its creatures? Bahhh! Preposterous!”

“And you!” He finally pointed to Shamora-Sha. “You have done nothing all day except stare at everyone. Why are you even here?”

Shamora-Sha looked deeply into Chum-Bum, then, he slowly rose up and spoke.

“Oh, I’m just here to learn, y’know? The universe is so big, and we are so small. It really makes you think. After listening to everyone speak, here’s what I think.

“You’re all right… and you’re all wrong. It’s as simple as that. Y’all fumed and raged today, spewing what you believe, with no more basis than just your own beliefs. All in all, it’s just a language game at the end of the day. I may say it one way, and you may say it another, yet we believe the same thing. Tomato, tomato.

“What’s more, none of you even conceived of the notion that you could be wrong. You believed so adamantly that your views were the truth, that you did not even consider for a moment that maybe, just maybe, your ability to discern the truth might be limited. Because of this, you didn’t even bother to look into yourselves and question your own ideas. The reason you believe what you believe is that it gives you comfort. It is ‘your’ belief, and that is why it ‘must’ be true.

“Kiki-Riki believes that the universe is one and unchanging, because he likes the unity of the idea. Imagine how simple everything would be if that were the case! We wouldn’t have to worry about anything, as everything is simply one. No fears would occupy our minds, as nothing would ever change. Everything here is just an illusion, after all…

“But is that really the case? Were that the case, then Chum-Bum wouldn’t have protested it. Speaking of Chum-Bum, what is it with your proselytizing? You old reptile! Instead of coming here to discover the truth, you have done nothing today but attack everyone else for their beliefs. So, what of your beliefs? Your entire faith was attained while in a nearly incapacitated state. As Kiki-Riki said, how can you be so sure that your experiences are true? But no! To your mind, since it happened to you, it must mean that it is the absolute truth.

“And you two, Maki-Kiki and Ciki-Briki! I must admit, I have respect for the both of you. You’re the only ones here today who did not come with poison on your tongues. You just stated what you believed in. Still, I’m not sure about the depth of your beliefs, nor how you gleaned them. But, if they help you sleep at night, then keep them.”

Shamora-Sha then turned to the gathered crowd. “And each one of you! Was the feast not enough for you? That you’ve gathered here today to sate yourselves, as gluttonous as the pigs on the mainland? I’m sure that no one here truly cares about the origins of the universe or our species.

“In the words of Ciki-Briki, you’ve all lost the music within you. You only care for the most basic things that life has to offer. That is why you’ve gathered here today, only to sate yourselves, instead of to learn something new. I, on the other hand, have learned a great deal today. May whichever god you have faith in save your souls… I am leaving.”

And with that, Shamora-Sha departed, with hisses and swears to guide him on the way out. Many of the tokagi hated him, for he spoke the truth. So it was for all who dared speak it.

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