Nin is a rabbit on a pilgrimage. There’s a truth that beats within his heart, a truth that Nin can’t even describe. If he could but just attach a name to this truth, it could mean the salvation of all rabbit-kind.
He travels the world, meeting strange creatures with curious customs, learning their ways—all in hopes of uncovering this truth behind all truths, the secret behind all secrets.
Short tales from the life of Nin.
Nin the Seeker is a meditation on compassion, violence, and the pursuit of wisdom. It ran from May 2018 to December 2019. It began with sporadic updates, but soon became a weekly series, totaling 71 short episodes.
Below is the table of contents. Please scroll to the bottom to chapter one (Nin in the Desert) and work your way up. Also available on Wattpad and Royal Road, both of which provide an easy, ‘bookish’ reading experience.
Once there was a group of rabbits who lived and frolicked on the plains beneath a certain mountain. Theirs was a fertile land, and although the rabbits thrived – fat on the prairie-flowers and wild-berries that grew there – they were also under constant siege. Wolves, hawks and foxes too, made the plains their home. […]
And so the adventures of Nin the Seeker come to an end. Thank you for reading this weird experimental story of mine! I began this project as a way of organizing and collecting my loose scraps and ideas. Fairly soon into it though, I realized I had a petty good narrative going, and I decided […]
Eitin was an energetic young rabbit, always hopping here, always hopping there. All his life he’d heard stories of Nin, the rabbit prince. The great prince from Eitin’s warren, the great prince who’d left long ago on a pilgrimage to find the ultimate boon for his people.
Nin ran blindly through the fog, away from the meadow and the foxes and their den. He ran so far and so fast that he became hopelessly lost, in the fog he could not tell up from down, left from right.
A soft breeze tickled Nin’s nose. He opened his eyes. Shadows cast from the branches of a giant fig tree danced on the grass by his feet. A cobra lay sleeping peacefully, encircling Nin like a protective seal. A pale day-moon hung in the sky. He had returned.
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 […]
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?
Nin laid in a recovery ward, tended by the white rabbit and the black rabbit. His battle with the warlord had left him scarred and broken.
The warlord loosed a bloodcurdling cry and summoned his terrible army. They crept from shadows, they crawled forth from the dark places of the earth, they marched in sync to the beating of the war drum.
Nin was dragged before the warlord. And as he looked around the war-room, he saw that the walls were adorned with the skulls of many creatures, keepsakes of the lord’s prior victories. And he wondered if his own head would soon be joining this collection.
The starlings gathered at dusk, like a congregation assembling for evening prayer. From all directions they came, starting in groups of five or six, slowly amassing into a great swarm that danced and flickered like a great creature all of its own.
During his childhood, Nin played the games of children. Running, hopping, playing in the fields. Improvised games without set rules or boundaries, where being the winner meant very little, where mere participation was enough to spark joy.
Nin entered the lecture hall and took a seat in the front row. Today two esteemed thinkers were debating the best method of educating the young. It was the classic dilemma; one suggested rewarding good behaviour, the other favoured punished bad action.
Here is a story from when Nin was young, and still a prince among rabbits: Nin was sitting under a great old tree, and the rain trickled down through the palms and wet his head and fell on his nose. The rainstorm had come out of nowhere. Nin was irritated. He was cold and miserable, […]
Nin had been dreaming of an old friend, and the falling out that had occurred between them—a friend he hadn’t seen in many a long year. This friend had always been a free thinker and debater, one who revelled in discussion and playing devil’s advocate.
Wan-ui, the black rabbit, Nin’s faithful retainer—still she searched for her old master. At every warren or burrow or watering hole she’d ask the animals there for help in locating the lost prince. Had they met him? Had they seen him? Had they heard rumours of a travelling rabbit, more noble than all the rest?
Nin joined the great march to the east. There he walked among the old, the sick and the hungry. Rabbits of all castes and creeds and colours. It was a great mass moving as one, and in their hearts they were one. Their shared suffering had overridden all former divisions, now they all belonged to […]
Lo! And Nin came to the valley of death and he looked upon that place and saw the corpses of ten thousand beings. And Nin went down into that charnal house and walked amongst the dead.
Nin came upon a farm. In his younger days he would have disparaged the animals here as tame and dull, but now he was a little older, and a little wiser and thought perhaps they warranted further evaluation.
There are many tales in the animal kingdom of great work—and great effort. As Nin considered his next move, two similar stories jumped out at him: the story of the crow and the story of the donkey, both of which I will now briefly relate:
“Wisdom Trap.” Nin had used this phrase before, had thought the words to be true, but he didn’t yet have a proper, tangible, working definition. It tingled just outside his perception, his mind grasped for it, but he could not see it clearly. Nin decided to ruminate on these words—his words—and decide for himself what […]
Once again he could feel its approach. The great dread, the great tiredness. The overwhelming urge to quit, to retire. It was the feeling that told him that all his efforts were vanity, that wisdom was a trap. The black dread came like the lapping of a tide, always it seemed inevitable, at most he […]
After the funeral Nin was approached by a large hawk. “You may not remember me, but I remember you,” said the hawk. “It was long ago, on a distant tundra.”
Nin woke to an odd sound. At first, as he was roused awake, he thought the deafening noise was some kind of oncoming storm or hurricane. But as his senses came flooding back to him, he recognized the sound to be the beating of wings—hundreds, perhaps thousand of them!
“The first step is learning to breathe,” said the wise monkey. “Learning to breathe?” asked Nin. “Learning to breathe,” repeated the monkey. “It is the core of all martial prowess. If you wish to run with the swiftness of a cheetah, first you must learn how to breathe. If you wish to catch a hunter’s […]
There stood in the middle of a low valley a tall and noble mountain. This was a rogue mountain not part of any range or mountainous region. Its base was surrounded by rolling hills of sweet grass, its slopes were adorned by tall fir trees, its great icy tip pierced the heavens themselves.
Spring came as a sudden burst. One day it was bitterly cold, darkness was everywhere—and the next the air was fresh and warm, and the wind carried with it the promise of new life.
The winter was long and cruel and Nin suffered greatly. Each day was a struggle for survival—food was scarce and hard to come by. The cold was pervasive, Nin was never warm. Predators were everywhere. There was little time for idleness, he could hardly stop to scratch his nose before the arctic hare was upon […]
The arctic hare applied a white, talcum-like powder to Nin’s fur. The powder stuck to the smaller rabbit, turning his coat a pale white. “You are very lucky,” said the arctic hare. “That temperate fur of yours stuck out like a sore paw. If some bear or fox had found you before I had—”
Nin asked the learned scholar why he was failing to progress. The scholar considered the problem, scratched his head and bounced up and down on one foot. He was silent for a long time. Finally he replied:
Nin sat on the beach and looked out over the bay and contemplated his life. He stared into the water, as if he expected to see some vision or portent in the depths. The light from the moon, reflected on the waves, danced before him and stung his swollen eyes. He barely perceived the tiny […]
The old grey rabbit lead Nin to a row of clay pots. In each was a single seedling. “This is a nursery, of sorts,” said the rabbit. “The human planted seeds in each and watered them, and now the seeds have sprouted. The earth is especially rich.”
When he lived at home in his warren Nin had a brief spell in which he considered himself to be a free speech absolutist. That is, he valued above all else the right of a rabbit to express themselves in any way they saw fit.
Here is a story from the time when Nin lived at home, and was a still a prince among rabbits: Nin was playing with the other young rabbits in the meadow, hopping without care or worry, without counting his misfortunes or his blessings. One of the smaller rabbits approached the prince and showed Nin his […]
Not knowing Nin’s destination, (for he had none in mind) Wan-ui had no choice but to wander the world in hopes of finding him again. She travelled far and wide, across mountains and through valleys, stopping in every town and village along her way, all in search of her prince.
The retainers despaired as they watched their prince disappear into the desert, as his figure shrunk into a distant speck. “We must follow him immediately, of course,” said the youngest of the group, a black rabbit called Wan-ui.
Nin, resolving to do more good in the world, set off in search of ways of reducing suffering. He came to a community based on the banks of a wide, wide river. It was a beautiful place and the inhabitants were kind folk who lived peaceful lives along the water’s edge.
Nin and the caretaker sat on a hill and watched the young rabbits as they played amid the wildflowers. One of them, Nin saw, had a sparkling marble which they batted around with their paws.
The master summoned Nin before him and gave him a koan to contemplate: “What does the mind think about in-between thoughts?” and then he sent Nin away to meditate on the answer.
A wise master lived on the far side of the forest. So early one morning Nin, hoping the master might take him as a student, set off on the winding, narrow road that lead through the woods to the master’s house.
“Let me explain my thoughts on the matter,” said Nin. But he found this difficult, as he wasn’t entirely sure what his thoughts on the matter were. He hopped around for a minute until he had a reasonable starting position: “I think that people who try to justify their belief in god with evidence are […]
“I know the name of what lurks inside your heart,” said the lizard. “It is god.” “How could you know what lurks inside my heart better than me, myself?” asked Nin. He was incensed by the lizard’s presumptuousness.
Here is a story from the time when Nin lived at home, and was a still a prince among rabbits: Part of Nin’s royal studies was learning the affairs of state. Following this, he was appointed to a municipal planning committee, which had purview over the expansion and redistricting of the warren.
Nin, resolving to do more good in the world, set off in search of wrongs to right, eventually falling in with a group of beggar monks. They’d taken a vow of poverty: no property, no wealth, no possessions but a simple beggar’s bowl.
Nin sat and cursed his labyrinthine fate. He felt as though life were a great river and he was being swept away by its current. If only someone would throw him a life-preserver! Just then, as if in answer to his prayer, a white rabbit appeared before him. Nin recognized them as a rabbit he […]
Nin sat in the thicket without much to do, and without much on his mind. He was just about ready to turn in for an early evening when he heard the song of a nightingale pierce through the darkening night:
Maybe the raven was right. Nin had been hopping around quite a bit, and he was beginning to wonder if perhaps it was all in vain. While Nin felt that he had learned much, he wasn’t sure if he was any wiser, or any closer to his goal. Always, it seemed, that the little truth […]
Nin was hopping along one day when he came across a great black raven. The raven was sitting over the corpse of a rabbit, poking and prodding at it with his instruments. “What are you doing?” asked Nin. He was concerned to see the dead body of a brother desecrated so brazenly. “Why, I’m learning […]
The starfish gestured to the side of the tide-pool, where a deep mark had been cut into the rock. “What do you make of that?” he asked. Nin hopped over and studied the gouge—the depth, the width, the angle. “I would say this is the mark of an eagle’s claw.”
The fox chased Nin through the forest, nipping at his heels. Nin’s only escape was to dive headfirst into an old weasel’s hole. He squeezed himself inside, but the hole was narrow, and he got stuck, leaving his tail exposed to the air. The fox came up and tried to fish Nin out. He snipped […]
On the bank by the shore Nin came upon a certain turtle with whom he was old friends. He arranged passage to the other side, and soon found himself on the back of the turtle as she swam across the lake.
Nin sat on the rocky shore. He had been drawn by the crashing waves, but now lazed idly by the side of a tide-pool, making pleasant conversation with an oyster and a starfish who lived in the shallows. “I have often thought,” said the oyster, “that beings are ignorant of the true nature of the […]
The old grey rabbit led Nin through a meadow and over a hill towards a small hamlet by the sea. They scrambled over a stone wall and into a small flower garden.
“Why listen to me? Why trust me?” asked the bluebird. “For all you know, I may be a demon in disguise, leading you astray!” “I doubt that very much,” replied Nin.
Despite his best efforts Nin could not fly, so he cursed the sky, and went to live among the moles. He found a patch of land dotted by mole hills, went up to the nearest one and stuck his head inside. “I admire your handiwork!” he shouted. “Will you take a rabbit as a disciple?”
“Where were your cries for resistance when the enemy came to your country?” asked the Speaker. “Did you fight then? No, you hid in your dens and you endured. Do not judge us.” “We—I was younger then,” said Nin, the rabbit prince. “And now you are older, and you are older because of your cowardice,” […]
Nin despaired. “It is as it was before, before I left my home. I am lost—pulled in many conflicting directions.”
When Nin reached the top of the mountain he saw that it was just one of many, part of a long mountain range that stretched far off beyond the horizon. His was a mere foothill compared to the others, and in the morning sun their whites peaks shined bright like daggers of ice.
Of course, it was not exclusively strong rabbits to exhorted the virtue of strength. Just as often—perhaps more often—Nin encountered weak rabbits who worshipped both might and power.
A semi-circle of rabbits sat in front of a smouldering coal that someone had stolen from a nearby farm. They’d taken a leaf of dried tobacco and set it over the coal, filling the hall with a heady scent. They were pacifists, extremists who eschewed all violence, even self-defence. Nin—the traveller, the seeker—had come to […]
Nin came to an abandoned keep that had once served as a toll-house. Now a gigantic and fearsome Sphinx had taken up residence there, demanding travelers answer her riddle in order to pass unharmed. Those that failed to answer correctly were devoured on the spot.
In his fever Nin dreamed of many things. Great gods and old demons, the lives of rabbits; the fate of rabbit-kind. In the midst of these visions one small memory kept doggedly resurfacing.
When he was young, and still living in the warren, Nin would often talk with his fellow rabbits. He debated everything, had discussions concerning all topics—from the lowest gossip to the highest philosophies. He relished these conversations, but not for the topics themselves, although he found value in them, too.
For a moment all the world was cast in shadow, but then the darkness passed. Nin craned his neck, he could only just make out the silhouette of a winged figure circling far above him. It turned slowly beneath the sun; large, hideous wings cut the air. He squinted, and soon recognized its form to […]
On the other side of the desert was a vast tundra, and as he approached it, Nin found it little better than the desert itself. A harsh, pervasive wind blew through the underbrush—a coarse and hardy brush hardly fit to eat. Rain fell in short, fierce bursts and never pooled upon the ground.
Often, before he left on his pilgrimage, Nin would sit beneath the mulberry tree and think. He called it meditation, but in practice it was closer introspection, or just arguing with himself.
“One day the truth will be so remote that you will resent it for even existing,” said the demon. “When that time comes, little princeling, seek me out and I will tell you the truth behind truths; the secret that lies buried at the heart of the world.”
A fog crept in over the meadow. It was so thick and came so suddenly that young Nin thought perhaps it was smoke from a nearby farmer’s field. “This is an evil fog, and an ill-omen,” said an elder rabbit. “Let us return to the burrow, little ones, where it is safe.”
Nin looked to those he should have called brothers, and he found among them no brotherhood. “I will not find what I seek here,” he said. “I will not have my wants fulfilled.”
Five rabbits came before Nin, and each flashed a part of their body. “I have God’s tooth,” said a large, mean-looking rabbit, “and with it I have killed a thousand enemies.” And as he spoke, Nin could see the gleam of gold protruding from his mouth.
“This is the land of milk and honey,” said the white-tailed rabbit, and Nin observed that it was so. All around him was abundance—food and drink to spare. The spring flowed clear, and nowhere to be found was a frown, or sadness.
“The desert will play tricks on you, it will deceive you, it will kill you,” said the first retainer. “This is the desert of lies. Do not enter, it will be the death of us.” Nin looked out over the level sands and felt the little truth that beat within his heart. “But I must.”