Nin sat beneath a lone fig tree and despaired. How had it come to this? How had he been led astray? What was preventing him from finding the truth that lies buried at the heart of the world?
Was there some flaw in him?
And for the first time in his life, Nin considered letting go of the little truth that beat within his heart, the little truth that had always guided him and spurred him onward. He had lost everything else, why did he cling to this truth within his heart?
The arctic hare had said that all hearts beat. The bluebird had said that all seekers seek. Yet he clung to the little truth in his heart, like it was a precious pearl… What claim of ownership did he have over such a beautiful wondrous tiny thing?
And as he wrestled with these thoughts, clouds gathered. The sky flashed with lightning.
“Perhaps,” thought Nin, ignoring the light and the thunder, “It is time to shed this last desire, this desire I call ‘seeking’. It has outgrown its usefulness. Perhaps at one point it was good and useful, at one point it lead me to wisdom and knowledge and compassion. But now this same desire impedes me.”
The sky burst open and a prodigious rain descended, as if the sky itself was determined on stopping Nin, on halting his progress. The fig tree was whipped about, leaves were stripped from branches. The rain fell in sheets.
Still, Nin refused to move. “Damn it all!” he cried. “It has lead me around by the nose and gotten me nowhere!”
A cobra, moved by Nin’s plight, approached him and sheltered him with its hood. The rain streaked down the snake’s body, but the rabbit stayed dry.
“This desire to seek the little truth that beats within my heart has utterly consumed my life!” thought Nin. “I have made it the core of me, I have let it define me. I have let it become my ego! Well no more! I curse it, I renounce it!”
The storm raged for days, and all the while the cobra sheltered him. From the pouring rain and the bitter wind and the chilling cold. Nin fell into a deep dream-like trance. And in his dream he dreamed of many things.
Nin dreamed he was a human, eating rabbit stew over a roaring fire. Nin dreamed he was a reed of sweet grass, blowing gently in the breeze.
Nin dreamed he was a white rabbit.
Nin dreamed he was a black rabbit looking for her lost love.
He dreamed he was a raven, a sphinx, a tailless fox, a bluebird.
He dreamed of ten thousand things, and each dream felt like a lifetime.
And after he had lived these ten thousand lives, Nin opened his eyes and found he was someplace new. The fig tree and the cobra were gone, before him lay the endless pale white of a pot-marked landscape.