One of the Buddha’s Lions: Marpa

Marpa walked into the bar just before sunset. His choice of table was deliberate: he sat next to the window, in hopes of watching the sun go down over the mountains. He was tired.

For the past several months, Marpa had been hanging out in graveyards, searching for his teacher. He felt out of place here at the bar, amongst the living. He looked out of place too. He was incredibly dirty and a collection of skulls hung from his waist. They rattled as he sat down; the bar went silent.

A waitress reluctantly walked over. “Sir, I am afraid we can’t serve you here. Do you even have any money?” Marpa smiled. His gold was long gone.

“Please miss, I am so tired. I promise that I will only drink until the sun sets and then I will leave.”

The waitress looked out the window. The sun was well into her descent; dying golden beams spilled through the window and upon the wooden table.

“Ok. But only until the sun goes down.”

With that, Marpa pulled out a knife and firmly planted it in the table, at the center of the fading sunlight. The waitress came back with a small glass of rice wine.

Two hours later, Marpa was five glasses in; impossibly, the sun hadn’t set. In fact, she seemed brighter now, resting upon snow capped, Himalayan peaks. People congregated in the street, staring at the sun.

Around midnight, chaos was beginning to ensue: the sun was ominously fixed in the night sky. People chattered nervously about the wrath of the dead. Marpa was a calm at the center of this storm, however; he continued to drink, the waitress was true to her word.

The small town had gone mad by morning. Nobody went to work. Everyone was on edge. The King, obviously concerned, sent his emissaries into the town to investigate. He instructed them to look for a man with skulls ’round his waist. Three hours later, the King sat across the sun drenched table from a very drunken Marpa.

“And to what do I owe this pleasure?” Marpa slurred, letting out an echoing belch.

“You know exactly why I am here, Marpa. What do you want? Gold? Would you like a place to stay? My palace awaits.”

Marpa looked into the bottom of his empty cup and ordered another.

“Well, I have a problem. I have accumulated quite a bill here and I have no money to pay it.” The king rose, strode over to the bar and took care of Marpa’s tab: he tipped poorly.

“Is there anything else?”

“Maybe a footrub?” Marpa laughed heartily.

If that is all, Marpa, please leave town immediately. I have taken care of your bill.”

“Why thank you kind sir. It has been a hell of a night.”

Marpa stood up. It took a him a while to get his balance. He then pulled the blade from the table: the sun resumed its descent. Marpa left the bar and stumbled into the sunset.

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