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The Dragon of One Thousand Faces: A Fantasy Becomes Reality

The Dragon of One Thousand Faces: A Fantasy Becomes Reality

translated by Nate Lukinsky


Many years ago, after meditating for 40 nights

A Master Teacher sat quietly in a cave

Considering various ways

To enlighten his miserable people


Thirty souls had already been lost

Swallowed up by the plentiful waves of the river

People sat in mourning

Awaiting an announcement from their Teacher


“I’m already old,” he said

“It’s befitting for me to enjoy my twilight years

Oh, I suffer from the heavy burden I must carry

I’ve been secluded too long in this cave”


At last on a night full of splendor and charm

When the full moon protruded from the sky

The Teacher awoke and jumped to his feet: “Eureka!” he shouted

He had found a shining source of brilliance


Energized by this experience he returned to town

The people saw him and gathered around

They looked miserable, their eyes were downcast

They had often urinated in their pants

They needed some spiritual guidance

From their wise Teacher


“Brothers and sisters, young and old

From this day forth in this blessed year

Nobody should ever again enter the river

Nobody can be careless in this regard”


“Dwelling within the river there is a DRAGON

Ravenous and ferocious in his disposition

Ready to devour you at any moment

Owww, he is ghastly and gruesome”


The inhabitants were speechless and uncertain

“Has our Great Teacher really had a supernatural vision?”

Their eyes became wide and astonished like durian seeds

They needed more convincing and persuasion


“My lethargic and dispirited Brothers and Sisters

This decree does not emanate from me

Instead it comes from the supernatural world

It was revealed to me on a miraculous night”


“A DRAGON is lurking

In the still waters of the river

Those who believe will be blessed

Those who hesitate will reap misfortune”


“I saw it myself

On a calm and quiet evening

When the full moon

Suddenly emerged”


“I myself was nearly devoured

It was fortunate I was alert

I beseeched him to be peaceful and not at war

He only implored that no one enter his river anymore”


The inhabitants began to be persuaded, singing out in unison

They cried out contentedly and stomped their feet

“Dring, dring, dring…

A DRAGON is lurking

Shiver, shiver…

Hiding in the still waters of our river”


They danced together to the wee hours of the morning

Energetically reciting the mantra without ever tiring

“Dring, dring, dring…

A DRAGON is lurking

Shiver, shiver…

Hiding in the still waters of our river”


The previously dejected people were now cheerful

No casualties were reported from drowning in the river

The Master Teacher was respected and revered

Although this situation did not last forever


One bright Sunday morning in the beginning of the month

The people joyfully assembled

They met near the banks of the river

Sharing stories about the dreaded DRAGON


“My child has seen it himself

Said Polan who was partial to the color red

“The eyes of the DRAGON hik… hik… hik… are beautiful

Its eyes are apparently red”


Aminah said otherwise

She preferred the color green

“Jeng, my husband met it once

The eyes of the DRAGON, hmmm… seem to be green”


Badu didn’t want to be left out

She always wore a yellow suit

“I was startled when we met,” she cried

“The DRAGON has yellow eyes” [1]


The people’s discussion raised a clamor

The DRAGON dominated this noisy chatter

Each person gave a different rendition

Of what each had convinced himself about this matter


“Recount our tales of the DRAGON to the Teacher

Though he is already old and anemic”

“Teacher… Please arise… Please come hither”

“The DRAGON has emerged from the river

The people have congregated to watch it slither”


“Ha?” The stunned Teacher hissed

“Let it not be that the Dragon truly exists”

Curious, he hurried to the shore

He trotted there as fast as a horse


Seeing him, the people flung fragrant flowers into the water

Lined up along the banks of the river, they sang together:

“Dring, dring, dring…

A DRAGON is lurking

Shiver, shiver…

Hiding in the still waters of our river”


The tables had turned, it was now the Teacher who was persuaded

The tale of the Dragon which was initially a hoax

Had changed into a truthful command

Even the Master Teacher had forgotten it was a fantasy [2]


Now even the Teacher was persuaded

To believe what he had previously instigated


So this remains the story of a country

That still stands in this century


The people visit the river each evening in their wagons

And bestow fragrant offerings to the DRAGON



[1] Differences of interpretation with regard to the story of the Dragon should only be trivial matters. However, phenomena that can be apprehended by the senses, such as religion, philosophy, and even reality, are mediated by concerns that people consider essential.   Immanuel Kant said the noumenal world may exist, but it is completely unknowable through human sensation; all we know are the observable manifestations of phenomena, i.e. certain “facts” that we experience through our senses and cognition. These, like the “observed” color of the dragon’s eyes, can be biased and varied. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noumenon

[2] A similar phenomenon parallels the story of the Teacher who initially composes a story based on his own fantasy but eventually convinces himself that this fantasy is factually real. This can also concern trivial matters. However, this may also represent a condition that underlies human psychology, a mental disorder called schizophrenia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia


Karya : Denny JA