"A novel full of facts" - English Translation Archive for the first book of Landig's "Thule" trilogy, Goetzen gegen Thule

Friday, September 21, 2012

sample from Chapter 18: Om Mani Padme Hum


Who strives to possess worldly goods,
Instead of developing his mind,
Is like an eagle whose wings are crippled.

(Tagpo Lhadje)

Bearded, hollow-eyed and torn the five men and the girl had moved for days in the direction given by Dubtób. The pace of travel was quite slow.
            In a remote gompa, whose monks stood out through extraordinary silence, they took in a day of rest on the courteous invitation of the abbot, since the distant construction offered considerable security. Yet they had to contend with a simple storage room in an extension of the gompa, for the monks did not allow a woman to walk through the halls of the Holy Monestary. The llamas here were more strict and ascetic than the people from the gompa of the Seven Lotus, and they were also clearly of a different sect.
            Through the whole day one could hear the murmurs of the praying monks and the creaking of prayer-wheels, “Om mani padme hum – Oh, Lotus-Jewel!...”
            In this cloister Gutmann made a remarkable discovery. In the brief and merely formal farewell ceremony, given by the abbot of the abstruse gompa, Gutmann saw on a low table top a round copper plate with the form of a temple’s rising tower in the middle.
            He stepped closer to the abbot, “Permit me a question, Light of Amithaba in this holy house,” Gutmann pointed to the curious disc, “What is thus, oh tangpo, oh Abbot?”
            The tangpo’s air was almost hostile, “Why would you want to know, stranger?”
            “It reminds me of a thing we call mani and has an archetypal form that resembles this piece.”
It wasn’t appearent for sure whether the tangpo, the ordinary abbot, had understood the explanation. His face betrayed neither knowledge nor ignorance. After a brief pause he allowed reluctantly, “It is a symbol of of a Buddhist city, we call it Chot-Mandal…”
Gutmann looked meaningfully at Juncker, who’d accompanied him when they were leaving. In a low voice he said, “A very peculiar name. Undoubtedly a synonym of the mani-form. Right here in this monestary…”
The abbot had tried distrustfully to catch the whispered words, but he was unable to understand their foreign language. With an almost rude-imperious gesture he demanded attention, “Are you scribes, that you know more about this disk?”
“We’ve seen disks flying,” diverted Gutmann, “They glowed with different colors, or had a long flaming tail!”
KyeHe-!Nis-chu' terykh – flying carts!” The tangpo did not hide his excitement. “You are guests of my gompa,” he continued, after a brief moment of surprise, “But I have the right to ask: are you spies for a foreign power who are seeking these disks? If that’s so, then know that I know nothing. I don’t know anything!” The tone bespoke his lies.
            “We’re no spies,” assured Juncker calmly, continuing in Gutmann’s place, “But surely you’ve seen disks in the sky at least once, like us. It doesn’t make me a spy if you saw some things and acknowledge that you remember them!”
            Kye!” cried the tangpo again, “Nis-chu' terykh mk'a la – the flying carts in the heavens, kye, they’re the sign of some new era! And it could be that our secret writings in Potala are right, that report of a time that will come to finish the tests. When it is fulfilled, the King of Shamballa will appear and save those who are faithful and lead them from the sorrows of this world into his realm of bliss, which is more beautiful than the paradise of Amithaba. Who but resists will be destroyed must suffer through agonies before, and then, chastised by this, being able to move into bliss. That is the last battle on this earth, the last strife of the three worlds. Then the teachings of Tsongkhapa will rule the universe and all the blessings and gifts will be common to all men…” The cheeks of the zealous tangpo showed a hectic color, “Hear, you strangers, hear and say it further!”
            “He cited the Lamaist world-mission,” said Juncker to Gutmann quickly, who scarcely understood a piece of it. To the tangpo he went on loudly, “We have heard what you have said to us, oh tangpo. But you said not but earlier that you knew nothing, and now you show us the signs in the sky!”
            The tangpo made a scowl and at the same time a threatening hand gesture, grabbing the little thungerbolt symbol and holding the demon-banishing cult fetish with the thumbs as well as holding the middle two fingers of his right hand while sticking just his index finger and little finger up. “Evil spirits guide your thoughts! How could you even allege a tangpo? I see you want to say bye and go. I won’t hold you up – right, strange men, right?”
            Juncker and Gutmann left after a formal gesture from the belligerent abbot. A bit later the little group rode on into the partially quilted landscape.
            The groups of nomads appeared much less dangerous, abundantly against Indian coins and gladly gave milk, cheese and brick tea. Even flour and some millet could be acquired.

 TN: I'm glad to be able to put this out. Translation has been erratic so far as I've not had a lot of time to continue it. I hope to post the completed first chapter by the end of Autumn 2012. 

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