Nin woke from his trance to find himself someplace new.
It was an odd place, a place of stillness and quiet. The sky was dark and cloudless. The ground was a pale grey, speckled with pot-marks and small, strange craters. He took a few cautious steps forward. A thin coat of dust puffed and died with every step.
He felt a presence beside him. He turned his head slowly, terrified of what god or devil he might see.
It was a beautiful young human woman. From her robes and stately posture, it was clear that this person was royalty, a princess perhaps.
She looked down at him fondly, as if they were old friends. Then she raised a delicate finger and gestured off into the darkness of the sky. “What do you think of that?” she asked.
Nin looked up and saw a beautiful marble before him—the very earth itself, hanging in the night’s sky.
He was on the moon!
Nin gazed and gazed at the earth as it hung in the sky before of him. In some ways it reminded him of his lost bead, or perhaps the oyster’s pearl. Or perhaps neither of those things. He saw swirling clouds and deep blue seas and barren rock and green earth.
“A strange place isn’t it?” said the princess.
Nin squinted, he could just barely make out the land that he had roamed, only a small mass of a much larger world. He traced the path of his pilgrimage, from desert to tundra and the great mountain range, and valleys, and beyond them the sea, and meadows, and forests, and farmland, the rocky hills where he’d met a certain lizard, the winding path where he’d met a certain master. The pale white of the arctic gleaming like pure ivory. A river, a hamlet, a lone mountain, a stone plateau above the clouds, a rotten bog beneath the mists.
The young woman gazed lovingly out at the earth while Nin collected his thoughts.
“It is a land of contradictions,” said Nin at last. “I have seen great beauty and terrible ugliness. Innumerous beings struggling in innumerous ways.”
The moon princess smiled knowingly. It was a very kind smile, but behind it Nin saw the slightest hint of sadness. “And how does it feel, to be here, separated from it all?” she asked. “What are your thoughts on the matter?”
“The world is full of fear and doubt, like a thick fog that covers the earth,” replied Nin. “But also there are great beings—I have seen and met many of them—beacons of light that pierce that fog and illuminate the truth. These beings are not great because they possess wealth or power or strength or even wisdom, but because they have dedicated their lives to lifting the fog.”
“Or rather,” continued Nin, “they reveal that the fog exists only in our hearts and in our minds. From this vantage point the earth seems very beautiful and good. Removed from it, above it, beyond it all, I can see no fog from up here. From up here I cannot help but wonder how it is I ever struggled to find the truth I so desperately sought.”
The prince of rabbits turned to the strange human princess. He looked at her with soft sad eyes. “I have to go back, don’t I?” asked Nin.
“‘Have to?’ No. No one will bind your paws. It is a choice you must make yourself. To return and do good and be good.” The Princess smiled down at him. “But for today, rest. You have travelled far, I sense much weariness in you. Rest, my dear little rabbit, just for today, you may rest.”