Tales of Karmic Becoming

Ræl H. Bishop


In the cover of night, Nicene left the palace he’d called home his entire life and never returned. Nicene was the favorite child of his entire clan; born with many auspicious marks, his father raised him in exuberant isolation to ensure he would follow a regal path in life. But his curiosity, as his other facilities, never wavered; he soon discovered material desires were fleeting, and so Nicene abandoned the palace in search of something more.

After years of mourning, one member of the family still felt Nicene was out there, alive and well, wanting his voice to be known. This person was Calypso, the brother-in-law of Nicene, his former close friend, and a man with perfect memory. So Calypso boarded a ship to the east in search of Nicene. He traveled the seas for many moons, going from port to port in search of his brother, using his distinct marks and features as identifiers.

Tragedy struck when, after finally receiving directions to his possible whereabouts, Calypso’s ship got caught in a terrible storm. Calypso was only moments from drowning when, perchance, a log appeared within reach. He clung to it for dear life, and was drifted out of the deluge in one piece. Upon waking the next morning, Calypso found himself deep in a jungle. Looking for signs of life, he stumbled upon a forest community of civilians and monastics alike – and to his surprise, Nicene was front and center!

As Calypso approached Nicene, he noticed something about him changed. Nicene was no longer the noble shut-in he was raised as; he now sat as an orange robed philosopher and mendicant, giving off a sublime aura to those nearby. Nicene had become none other than the very thing he set out to become those countless lives ago; a Buddha. He spoke thus:

“Your journey has ended, Calypso.”

“How did you know?” It seemed obvious that Calypso came from afar, but somehow he felt, no, he knew, Nicene was referring to something more; something long since forgotten, but never abandoned.

Nicene then spoke a phrase so profound it left Calypso dumbfounded. Calypso left his log behind and leapt to Nicene the Buddha’s feet, declaring his newfound allegiance to him. He became a member of the monastic community that day and found himself becoming this Buddha’s right-hand man, using his remarkable memory as a means to store the truths of the world. He soon alerted the rest of his clan to Nicene’s new life, and the monastic community grew in numbers.

Later on, the monk Calypso asked about Nicene’s path to Buddhahood. Nicene the Buddha remarked that their later encounter was not merely a co-incidence.

“What do you mean by that?”, Calypso enquired sincerely.

Nicene the Buddha spoke thus: “It has been willed as such. Many years since passed, a group of bandits went walking down a road…”


0. Image at the top of the page is a modification of Cornelius Cort’s “The Shipwreck”, 1553, public domain.

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