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Freedom from Fear The Tale of the Blue Dragon

We have seen in a previous blog (“Consciousness and World Views” June 20 2009) of the importance of world views and how we learn to interpret the world in different ways. Chapters 2 and 16 of “Augustus Finds Serenity” deal with this subject.

In essence there are essentially only two world views (or paradigms through which we interpret our worlds). These world views are those of:

• Fear, or
• Love.

(If you want to know more about this, you might try reading the book I jointly authored with Dr Phil Harker, “The Myth of Nine to Five.”)

The meaning we give to things (events, objects, experiences, thoughts etc) is the principal determinant of how we experience the world and consequently our relationship with it.

Lesson 338 in “A Course in Miracles” is headed, “I am affected only by my thoughts”.

It goes on to state:

It needs but this to let salvation come to the world. For in this single thought is everyone released at last from fear. Now has he learned that no one frightens him. He has no enemies, and he is safe from all external things. His thoughts can frighten him, but since these thoughts belong to him alone, he has the power to change them and exchange each fear thought for a happy thought of love.”

As you know, I believe in the power of story and parable to teach such things. In another manuscript I have written I dealt with the issue in a children’s story, which I share with you below.

Yu’s most treasured recollections were of his mother when he was quite small. Then they would go out into the garden to gather flowers together. She would point out the best specimens and he would pick them and place them in her basket. Among his fondest memories were also the stories she would tell him. She had a great imagination and would make up many delightful little tales for Yu. She also has a prodigious memory and could remember dozens of traditional fables that also entertained Yu. Yu’s favourite story was “The Blue Dragon”. He would beseech her to tell it whenever there was an opportunity. Even now he could hear her soft tones. She would sit on the grassy bank under the cherry tree. He would place his head on her lap and look up at her face in devotion.

“Once upon a time,” she would begin with a far-away wistful look on her face, “in the time of the venerable Tchang Wei, in the province of Fu Ching, there lived a small blue dragon.”

In those days there were many dragons – there were black dragons; there were red dragons and there were gold dragons – but as far as anyone knew there was only one blue dragon. And it was such a small dragon. Many of the dragons were of a size they could devour an ox, but the blue dragon was scarcely as large as the emperor’s hunting dog. Most dragons, particularly the red ones, were very aggressive and were forever warring with each other. They were particularly hostile towards men and made sure that human beings stayed away from their lairs and favourite haunts. The Blue Dragon wasn’t the least bit aggressive. It played with the animals in the fields and was rather shy of people who seemed always to want to chase it away.

As is their wont, the dragons each guarded a treasure hoard in their lairs. The red, gold and black dragons all hoarded jewels, gold and silver in their lairs and they guarded their hoards jealously and with great ferocity. The red, gold and black dragons had lairs in caves, fissures in the rock and some of the vile places of the earth where men seldom ventured. The Blue Dragon didn’t have a conventional lair. He lived under a plum tree on a bed of thick grass. He did not have a hoard as such but was inclined to gather flowers, berries, nuts and herbs. The red, gold and black dragons were experts on gemstones and geology. They knew about the insides of mountains, sulphur pits and the bowels of the earth. The Blue Dragon knew about things that grew – the flowers in the meadow, the herbs in the forest, the nuts and berries of the thickets. For entertainment the red, gold and black dragons would try to steal the treasures from other dragons’ lairs, or they would terrorise the local villagers and feast on their livestock. For entertainment the Blue Dragon loved to lie on the banks of the stream and smell the water-lilies and watch the fish swim leisurely in the depths of the blue water.

One day the little dragon went down to the stream to watch the fish. It was such a beautiful day. The sun shone warmly on the grassy meadow; the sky was a glorious azure blue bespecked with a few white woolly clouds. The gentle breeze brought with it the fragrance of the water lilies. The Blue Dragon approached the stream feeling greatly contented. Then he became aware of a strange sound. Lying on the ground with her face on the grass was a young woman sobbing. The little dragon was at once full of compassion.

“What is it, maiden,” he inquired.

The girl looked up but on seeing the dragon gave a little scream and fainted! The poor dragon did not know what to do. Finally he hoisted her up and carried her to a shady tree where he laid her down again. He went back to the stream and cupping his hands scooped up a little water with which he wet the girl’s face. She at once stirred and coming into consciousness could see that she had been cared for by the dragon.

“Who are you,” she asked.

“To tell the truth I don’t really know but all my life I have been merely called the Blue Dragon. And who might you be?” he enquired.

“I am Mai Li.”

“Why were you crying?

“I am the emperor’s daughter and my father has been enchanted by an evil sorceror. He lies unconscious on his bed at the palace. The sorceror says he will only restore the emperor if I can bring him something each from the treasure hoard of a black, a red and a golden dragon. But even if I can do all this he says there will still be one more task for me to complete before my father is restored. But he will not tell me what that is until I have accomplished the other tasks. Oh Blue Dragon, what am I to do?”

The little dragon looked at her and her obvious distress. “Do you love your father?”

“Why of course – my father is wise and generous, he is brave and loving. There can be no other like him in all the land.”

“Then there is no question about what you must do.”

“No you are right, I must try to save him. But what can I do, a maiden who knows little about dragons, to achieve these impossible objectives?”

“Well then I happen to know a little about dragons.”

“But you are so small and don’t appear a bit fierce. What use can you be?”

“My task, princess is to demonstrate that love is mightier than fear, that power is no match for subtlety and that right living is about doing the best we can do, being motivated by love. That is my purpose. So let’s make a start.”

“How will we do that?”

“Well I just happen to know where the lair of a black dragon is. But first we must make preparations.”

The Blue Dragon led the young girl back to his plum tree. There on the ground lay pots and bowls of all different shapes and sizes. Some were full of liquids or pastes, other were full of ground stuff or dried herbs.

“Ah, this is what we need,” said the dragon.

“What is it?” asked the girl.

“It is an unguent of toad grass. Black dragons can’t stand the stuff. Here rub this all over your skin.”

“Why?”

“So you won’t be eaten?”

Mai Li hastily applied the unguent.

“And we may need a little of this,” said the dragon picking up a bowl full of white powder.

“What is it,” asked Mai Li.

“It is powdered bark of frithel wood. This is a soporific for dragons. If they even breath in a few particles of it they are soon fast asleep. Well, are your ready?”

Mai Li shrugged her shoulders. “I think so.”

“Do not be afraid. We have this dragon’s measure.”

The Blue Dragon led the way across the meadows that soon led to foothills. Before very long they were making their way along a rugged ravine. After walking a little further they became aware of a terrible stench.

The dragon pointed to the mouth of a rocky fissure to the right of the ravine. In front of the fissure were mounds and mounds of bones. Mai Li held her nose.

“Oh I can’t stand his stench,” she whispered.

“No matter,” laughed the little dragon, “soon he won’t be able to stand ours.”

Next there came a great booming roar. “Who is out there,” it demanded. “What a foul smell. Don’t you dare come into my lair or I will deal with you.”

The Blue Dragon marched straight into the mouth of the fissure with the maiden following (a little reluctantly) in the rear.

The Black Dragon roared and roared. “Get out, get out, you foul animals. Don’t despoil my home.”

As the Blue Dragon approached the Black Dragon, as huge and fearsome as he was, he cringed away to the rear. “What do you want? What do you want?”

The little dragon merely said, “I want just one trinket from your treasure trove.”

The dragon was obviously sickened by the smell of the toad grass and looked as if it might faint. Finally it reached out and grabbed an object in its claws and flung it at the Blue Dragon. “Here take this and begone.”

The Blue Dragon bent down and retrieved the object. It was a lovely golden statuette.

“This will do nicely, thank you.”

The maiden and the little dragon beat a hasty retreat. But the Black Dragon had no inclination to follow. It stayed hunched at the rear with its claws clutched across his nostrils.

Back at the stream the dragon and the maiden washed off the unguent of toad grass.

“Well princess that was easy enough. We didn’t even have to use our soporific. Take this trinket back to the sorceror. If you come again tomorrow we will find the lair of a red dragon.”

The maiden fondly embraced the little dragon. “I can not thank you enough. You were wonderful. Maybe there is some hope for my father yet.”

The girl marched off into the distance.

“Of course there is,” the little dragon said to himself.

The next day the girl returned.

“How did the sorceror respond when you brought him the golden statuette?” asked the dragon.

“He seemed quite angry.”

“That is understandable because you have weakened his power.”

The princess seemed a little surprised by this statement but she did not query the dragon.

“Well,” continued the dragon, “We had best make preparations to visit the lair of the red dragon.”

“Not the toad grass unguent again,” complained the princess screwing up her nose.

“No,” laughed the dragon, “that wouldn’t do for this dragon. He’d eat you up toad grass unguent and all! No, today we need cream of watercress and hog-thistle. That’s what deters red dragons.”

He fossicked around amongst his pots and jars.

“Aha! Here it is,” he said finally.

They smeared the cream all over themselves.

“And again we’ll take the soporific – just in case.”

The Blue Dragon headed off with the Princess in tow. At first they followed the bank of the stream. Then when the stream got narrower they crossed it. Over the years the stream had worn its way down through the rocky hill creating a deep valley bordered on each side by steep cliffs.

“We are nearly there,” said the dragon. “A large Red Dragon inhabits a cave on the left side cliff adjacent to the stream.”

“Ugh!” exclaimed the princess. “We must be getting near. I can smell it.”

Rounding the corner of the creek bed they came across a huge mound of bones. Behind the bones stood the cave entrance. Cautiously they entered. It was difficult to see anything much in the gloom. But after a minute or two they were able to make out a large hump at the rear of the cave. This seemed to be the sleeping form of the dragon. Although asleep it seemed somewhat restless. The smell of the cream they had smothered themselves in was obviously penetrating the sleeping mind of the dragon. It kept passing its huge claws across its nostrils, moaning and stirring its huge frame in protest.

“Where is its hoard?” asked the girl in a whisper.

“Over there to its left,” pointed the Blue Dragon.

“What shall we do?”

“I am going to use my soporific to ensure the dragon remains sleeping. While I approach the dragon, can you steal up to its hoard and retrieve something?”

The girl nodded. “I will try.”

The Blue Dragon approached the sleeping form. He was only a few yards away when a great big red eye opened and the animal bellowed, “Who goes there?”

“A benefactor, bearing a gift.”

The drowsy dragon looked suspiciously at the little form in front of him. His nostrils curled up in revulsion at the vile smell.

“What is this gift?” the beast snarled.

“Why it is the gift of sleep,” replied the Blue Dragon. And so saying he hurled a jarful of the dust at the dragon. It formed a huge cloud around the dragons head and the Blue Dragon smiled as the Red Dragon inhaled the cloud. It coughed, stumbled forward and fell unconscious back down on the floor of the cave.

While the Red Dragon had been thus distracted, the princess had stolen up to the dragon’s hoard and removed a silver goblet encrusted with rubies. By the time the Red Dragon fell to the floor of the cave she was already fleeing out in to the sunlight.

As the previous day, they returned to the plum tree beside the little stream where they washed off the Red Dragon repellent. Again the princess was profuse in her thanks. With two dragons conquered she was starting to feel much more confident. Mai Li hugged the dragon and then hurried back to the palace carrying the goblet.

“Come again tomorrow,” the dragon called after the girl.

She turned and gave a final wave. “I will,” she assured him.

On the third day Mai Li came back to find the Blue Dragon sitting under his plum tree. The dragon smiled as she approached. He could see that the girl was more light-hearted and confident now.

“How did it go with the sorceror?” he enquired.

Mai Li laughed. “He was livid!”

“Of course, because you have again diminished his power.”

The girl remembered the dragon had said something similar the previous day. This time she felt compelled to ask, “Why do you say that?”

“Well you see the only power he has over you is related to the fear you have of him. Now that we have made some progress on the tasks he set you, you are less fearful. Consequently you have reduced his power over you.”

“That’s good. But what are we to do today?”

“Well I suppose we will have to go and harass a gold dragon.”

“And what sort of muck are you going to smear me with today?”

“Muck? Muck?”the little dragon cried indignantly, “I would have you know Princess, that my concoctions stem from both an understanding of dragons and of the natural remedies that nature provides us with. One of the reasons I am here is to teach you that the antidote to silly ideas is knowledge and reason. We all acquire silly ideas and they are what tend to make life difficult. So let us learn techniques to ensure that we acquire as few as possible.”

Mai Li looked down in embarrassment. “I am sorry, Blue Dragon. I didn’t mean to decry your concoctions which I have seen with my own eyes are marvellously effective.”

The dragon laughed. “I did come on a bit strong, didn’t I? I suppose you think you have offended me. Well you haven’t and there is no way you ever could.”

He sighed. “I want only that you should learn to deal effectively with the world. But no more of this. See what pleasure I have in store for you today.”

The dragon held up a jar he had selected from his bounteous store. “Today we have a grand concoction made from the fat of tortoises and the entrails of newts.”

Mai Li winced. “Oh no,”she complained.

The dragon laughed merrily. “Oh, you are a sissy,” he said with a great belly laugh. “No that was just my little joke. Today we will be protected by an extract of cherry blossom blended with the essence of wild jonquils.”

He placed a little on his finger and held it out for the girl to smell.

With some reluctance she sniffed it. But then her face lit up and she exclaimed, “Why that’s lovely!”

Following the practice of the previous two days they covered themselves with the potion. The dragon found another jar of the soporific and they headed off to find the lair of a golden dragon.

“Where are we going?” asked Mai Li.

“To the ruined palace. Many years ago a golden dragon in a fit of spite went to the palace of the emperor Chang. He ate many people and drove the rest of the inhabitants away. He took up residence in the palace dungeon. He is the one we will deal with today.”

They marched for almost two hours. They came to a small rise. Here the Blue Dragon paused. “There it is,” he said.

They looked down over the plain beneath them. There was a wall made of stones. It was in disrepair. Many of the stones had fallen to the ground such that the wall was no way near its original height. But there was no sign of human habitation. The palace seemed to have disintegrated. The little dragon and the princess crept cautiously down to the ruins of the palace.

“I can remember,” said the dragon, “when this was one of the most elegant of palaces. But behold it is now a relic and destined to be a barren and forsaken place because of the effect of its dragon host.”

They walked through a hole in the wall where the palace gates had once been. The place was full of rubble. But then the Princess began to smell the same stench that had been present at the lairs of the previous dragons. The Blue Dragon led the way to a set of stone stairs that wound their way down into the earth. It was difficult to descend because of the bones and debris which obstructed the way. Finally they found themselves at the bottom of the stairs and in a cavernous room. Because the dungeon was so large the dragon had not heard their approach nor yet smelt them. He was crouched in the far corner. Sunlight filtered down from a hole in the roof of the dungeon and lit up the corner where the dragon sat apparently admiring his hoard. Finally he sniffed the air.

“What’s that foul smell,” he said to himself.

He flung his head around on his long protruding neck looking intently around the room. Immediately he saw the intruders.

“Get out of my lair you stinking wretches!” he roared.

Just as the Black and Red Dragons, the Gold Dragon recoiled at the impact of the smell of the potion with which they had smeared themselves. But the Gold Dragon was more resourceful than the other two. He rummaged amongst the debris on the floor of the dungeon and he came up with a long spear. He caught the Blue Dragon by surprise. He thrust forward with the spear. The Blue Dragon was unable to dodge but fortunately the spear point bounced harmlessly off his thick blue scales. The little dragon acted swiftly. He seized the spear shaft in his sturdy arms and broke it. The Gold Dragon could no longer hold him at bay and he cowered back as the Blue Dragon approached.

“What do you want, you vile creature?”

“I merely want you to donate to me something from your hoard.”

Enraged the Gold Dragon reared up. “I’ll never allow you to take from my precious hoard.”

The Blue Dragon was at quite close quarters now. He threw the contents of his jar of soporific in the face of the large dragon. “Perhaps you won’t have any say in the matter.”

In the blink of an eye the dragon fell onto the floor, dead to the world.

The Blue Dragon strode up to the pile of precious objects that the dragon had been admiring when they first entered the dungeon. He reached down and picked up a filigreed gold amulet with embedded diamonds.

He handed the amulet to the princess. “This will do,” he said.

The princess clapped her hands. “Oh how brave you were,” she said.

“No, not really. It only seemed that way. I knew there was nothing to fear.”

Back to the stream they went and washed themselves clean of the dragon deterrent. (Although the princess left a little on her neck because she thought it smelt so nice!)

Then the dragon said, “This afternoon I want to come back with you to the palace and meet this sorceror of yours.”

“By all means,” responded Mai Li. “He will be beside himself with anger now.” She laughed in anticipation of confronting the sorceror.

By the time they reached the palace it was late afternoon. They went straight to the emperor’s bed chamber. He was still unconscious on his bed. The sorceror reclined in a divan at the rear of the room.

He got up immediately on seeing the Blue Dragon. “Who is this?” he demanded.

“This is a friend of mine. And here, here is an object from the hoard of a Gold Dragon.” The princess threw the amulet on to the floor by the feet of the sorceror.

The sorceror bent down and picked it up. His greedy eyes lit up in appreciation of the valuable piece. But his greed was soon overcome with his dismay at the girl’s success. His countenance grew dark and his eyes glowered.

“I have met your demands. It is time you restored my father.”

“I warned you there would be something else. There is one further thing your must do before I will arouse your father,”

“What is that?”

“You must marry me!”

“Oh no – how could you wish that on me? I could not live with someone as evil as you.”

“Then you are sentencing your father to an endless sleep.”

The Blue Dragon could hold his tongue no longer.

“Do you fear this man princess?” he asked.

“Hold your tongue, dragon!” the sorceror screamed.

The little dragon quietly but forcefully then asked again, “Do you fear this man?”

“Well I thought I did, but then as we defeated the dragons it seemed as though I had no need to fear him.”

“Then why do you now?”

“I fear for my father.”

“But this man can not hurt your father.”

“But he already has.”

“Only with your complicity. He only has power while you fear him.”

The sorceror flew into a rage. “What would a dragon know about sorcery? I will show you. I will cast a spell you will never forget.”

“Come on then,” the dragon dared the livid man. He walked right up in front of him. “Cast a spell on me.”

“You are not afraid,” the princess asked.

“Of course not. And neither are you any longer.”

“How can you tell?”

“Look.” He pointed at the bed. “Your father is stirring already. When you have no fear, sorcery has no power.”

The princess turned her head towards her father’s bed. The emperor was stirring from sleep. When she looked back, there was no sign of the sorceror. Whether he had fled, or disappeared or whether he had ever been there at all it was hard to tell.

The Princess embraced her father and then turned and embraced the Blue Dragon. “Oh thank you, dragon. You have been wonderful to me.”

“Perhaps! Perhaps not! All that matters is this. Have you learned the lessons?”

Mai Li thought back to their first meeting. “Yes, I think so. Love is mightier than fear. Power is no match for Subtlety. Right living is about doing the best we can do, being motivated by love. Yes, I think so.”

“Good. Then I have fulfilled my purpose.” And so saying the Blue Dragon disappeared from view leaving only the happy princess Mai Li with the somewhat confused emperor who was struggling to sit up on the edge of his bed.

Yu sighed with contentment. “Thank you Mama. I love that story. Will you tell it to me again tomorrow?”

“Don’t you ever grow tired of it?”

“Oh no. It is such a wonderful story I could hear it a thousand times and never tire of it.”

Yu’s mother smiled indulgently down on him.

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