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The Way of the Bunny


malign

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The Way of the Bunny

A Panda Warrior Story

He was not like the other bunnies. Oh, he was an ordinary enough rabbit, but one day he decided that he was tired of being afraid all the time. He no longer wanted to spend his time sneaking around, nibbling on juicy leaves in the moonlight, and running away at the tiniest sound. So he set out to find another way. He wanted to be a warrior.

He traveled in the laborious manner of bunnies. He skirted open areas, choosing instead to sprint in zigzags through the underbrush and then pause, ears searching and nose twitching, to be sure he was not being followed. He was afraid, and he hated it.

He sought the dwelling of one who was famous throughout the forest for her wisdom and, more importantly, for being a great warrior. She had settled in this region so long ago that even his great-grandbunny did not remember when she had come. She no longer went out on quests, but occasionally she left her hut to use her knowledge of healing on a particularly ill inhabitant of the forest. She was known far and wide for her rousing story-telling, but our bunny friend was hoping to learn more secret knowledge.

He found the ancient panda sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of her one-room hut. The black portions of her fur were frosted with gray, and he thought she might be losing her sight from the way she looked into the distance with unfocused eyes. But when he asked her to teach him how to fight, she pierced him with a look that he imagined could see the thoughts inside his head.

"You want to learn how to kill, then, do you?" she asked sharply. "Well, I myself have never done it. Not by choice at least." She paused, and our bunny friend bowed his head in disappointment.

"Look at me, boy! Do I look like a killer to you? I'm a panda! Oh, sure, I trained to be a Warrior, but not so that I could kill. I spent long weary years of my life learning about death, but not so that I could cause it." Her voice softened. "I learned about death in all its forms for one reason only: that I might honor life. Not always to preserve life; that is neither possible nor even desirable. But to give to life its proper respect."

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She was silent for a moment, as if she were actually honoring life simply by that gesture. Or maybe she was just remembering some of the lives she had encountered in her life's long journey. Then she turned her attention back to the bunny in front of her. "Now, why is it that you want to learn to fight, eh?"

So he told her of his fear, and how it made him hate his life as a bunny. She looked at him wistfully for a moment, remembering a time when she herself had been that young. Then she sighed, knowing that the wisdom of her words would not be a comfort for him, and told him as gently as she could.

"But it is not in the nature of a bunny to fight. You don't have claws or teeth, and you can't grip a sword or staff. Sure, you can kick pretty well, as a last resort. But what you're good at is hearing and smelling danger before it reaches you, and running away faster than almost anything that might hurt you. That is the nature of a bunny. That is what makes you a good bunny." She saw the despair in his eyes, so she went on.

"Take me: I'm a large peaceful animal that loves to wander, so I made that my life's work. I trained in accordance with my nature, not contrary to it. The learned masters who trained me believed that living in accord with one's nature was the highest form of spirituality. We each have our place in the flowing Way, and though we are free to move around in the flow, attempting to violate one's nature will surely cause suffering." The young bunny was listening now, though he did not seem to understand. She tried a simpler approach.

"Perhaps it's not your behavior that you need to change. Running away is what bunnies do. But if you look at it as the only intelligent thing to do, instead of a shameful result of your fear, would that make you feel better? Often it matters more how we interpret reality than what the reality actually is. I would be willing to train you in this change of viewpoint, and in meditation techniques to help you put it into practice. Would you consider it?"

The bunny accepted with as much grace as he could muster. It was not what he had wanted, but if that were impossible, at least he would learn all that he could from the panda.

To Be Continued

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He spent a month with the panda, living under her porch, though she made him forage for tender shoots in the surrounding woods instead of nibbling on her garden. He learned to meditate, and to let go of his fear. She helped him train his senses, and she forced him to practice running until he could outrun a bird. The panda would have liked him to stay even longer, to learn the inner way of the spirit, but the bunny was impatient to return home. Having reconciled himself to being a bunny, he saw no reason to stay away from other bunnies any longer.

So, he thanked his teacher, and began the long journey home. He traveled much as he had in the other direction, only this time not out of fear but in the knowledge that this was the way of his people. He felt better not being afraid, but somewhere in his heart, he still felt that he had failed somehow.

When he returned home, his joyful family threw a big party for him. They had been afraid he would not return from his adventure. After all, bunnies aren't known for adventures, or at least not for surviving them.

He met a girl bunny, and they decided to raise a family together, in the way of bunnies everywhere. She loved him for his courage, and he loved her for seeing something in him that he couldn't see himself. Together they built a burrow, and soon they had a big litter of baby bunnies to take care of.

The parents took turns foraging for food. When it was his turn, our bunny friend found himself behaving exactly as he had before his quest. In fact, in some ways, his time with the panda seemed almost like a dream that had happened to someone else. Except ... he was no longer afraid. He was just as cautious as ever, but now he understood the reason. He used all of his rabbit abilities, not out of fear, but because that was what they were for.

To Be Continued ...

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Then, one night just after sunset, he was out seeking fresh leaves in the forest near the burrow when his rabbit senses detected that he was not alone. He sat up as tall as he could, sniffing the air, swiveling his long ears to identify and locate what was there. It was a fox, nose down, following the bunny track towards their burrow. It had almost reached the hidden entrance, and if it did, it would almost certainly catch all the babies at least.

The bunny felt a thrill of fear. He wished he were a warrior and knew how to fight off the fox. But he was just a bunny; what could he do. Then he remembered the panda's teachings. "You're a good bunny," she had said. "Do what bunnies do." So he ran.

He ran straight across the fox's path, just a foot in front of its nose. When he passed it, he was running as fast as a bunny can. The fox, surprised, took a moment to begin chasing him. But then, thinking it had found the rabbit it was tracking, it poured on all the speed it could muster. The bunny zigzagged and feinted, ducking through thickets and around trees. He splashed through a shallow stream and hopped up the steep bank and down the far side. The fox stayed close behind, falling back when it had to go around some obstacles, but catching up with its longer stride on the straight runs.

On the downhill it was just inches behind. Suddenly it snapped, and catching the bunny's right foot in its jaws, skidded to a halt. The bunny tumbled to the ground, winded and caught. Despite his fear, he again heard the panda's voice. "You can kick pretty well, as a last resort." So he drew up his left foot as far as it would go, and unleashed a powerful kick to the fox's pointed muzzle. The fox yelped and loosened its grip on the bunny's foot. For good measure, the bunny delivered a second, two-footed kick to the wounded nose of the fox, then sprinted off. From a distance he watched as the fox stood sneezing, then hurried off to lick its wounds.

The new master of the way of the warrior bunny returned to his family, limping slightly.

The End

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This is a wonderful story. Did you write it yourself? If so, I'm amazed at what a good storyteller and author you are. I am not a very good storyteller. But I have a plot for a sequel. Or maybe it should be a prequel, I'm not sure. Are you interested?

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Thank you. :-)

Yes, all my stories (filed with the tag 'fairy godfather') are mine, and for that matter, all my blog entries ... I've always been good with words, but it's kind of a new thing to have ideas that work.

I'm interested in all sorts of ideas, DD. I might not use them, but the cool thing about blog comments is that the conversations often go off in interesting directions. What's your idea?

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My idea is that some are born with a nature to be warriors – my cats, for instance. As the Panda Warrior said, such creatures have claws and teeth. If it is in their nature to be like that then if they – or their owners -- try to violate that it will surely cause suffering. Take de-clawing, for instance.

So I had an idea for a story about a kitten. His mother was a feral cat who was carrying her litter of 3 kittens from the safe place where she gave birth to them to another location closer to food, so that they could learn how to catch prey before she weaned them.

She had taken the first two kittens to the new location and was carrying the last when a stray bullet from a hunter struck her and killed her.

The little kitten crawled out of her mouth. There was a soft hole in the ground nearby and he crawled down it, looking for warmth and food. There was pile of baby rabbits and he cuddled up with them, as he had with the other kittens in his litter. When the mama rabbit come he cuddled up her and found a nipple. It felt a little strange and tasted different, but it was definitely food. He had found a foster family. (Don’t know if a kitten suckling on a rabbit could actually work but this is a story, right?)

When the parent rabbits started taking the little ones out of the burrow to look for food the kitten tasted some of the grass and but didn’t much care for all the foliage that his foster brothers and sisters were eating. He saw a moving thing, a cricket, under a leaf and put his paw on it. He tasted that – it tasted good! And he ate it.

In time the kitten was drawn to the smells and sounds away from the burrow and went off on his own, in the nature of cats. But his mind did not look on baby rabbits as potential prey. (This has basis in fact, with pet kittens raised with pet rabbits.)

He marked his territory and fed himself on crickets and snakes and other animals that he found. He fended off foxes and other cats (even those born of mama cats he had wandered off to mate with) and for a while there was peace in the land for the bunnies.

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