Sunday, July 29, 2012

WU LUNG and I LUNG, A short Buddhist play by Lynette Yetter

Adapted from pages 12 and 13 of the August 2012 Living Buddhism magazine published by SGI-USA, based on the gosho "Wu Lung and I Lung" page 1099 of the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin.

CHARACTERS:
Wu Lung
I Lung
The King

INT. - CALLIGRAPHY ROOM - DAY

Wu Lung and his son I Lung are seated side by side at a writing desk, carefully doing calligraphy with brushes and ink. Wu Lung writes with confidence, due to his long experience. I Lung, however, is timid and writes slowly with nervous attention; for he is just learning. 

WU LUNG
Not like that, son. Watch what I am doing, if you want to become a Master Calligrapher.

I LUNG
(Bowing low) Yes, Father.

The King enters and strides regally up to the writing desk. He lays a scroll on the desk near to Wu Lung. 

KING
Wu Lung, my Master Calligrapher. I want you to copy this document.

WU LUNG
(Bowing low) Yes, my King.

The King exits with great pomp. Wu Lung unrolls the scroll and scans the contents. 

WU LUNG (CONT’D)
I Lung, prepare more ink. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

I LUNG
Yes, Father.

Wu Lung continues to read over the scroll. Meanwhile, I Lung, completely with mime, places the ink stone in front of him and pours some water in it. He keeps the ink stick upright; holding it with the thumb on one side and the index and middle finger on the other side. He presses the ink stick on the ink stone very lightly and describes circular movements with the stick. Wu Lung is still reading the scroll. 

WU LUNG
Good thing our King is not asking us to copy anything Buddhist.

Wu Lung lowers the scroll. He has a very angry and determined look on his face. 

WU LUNG (CONT’D)
For I despise Buddhism.

Wu Lung abruptly faces his son, with great seriousness. 

WU LUNG (CONT’D)
I Lung, I want you to promise me something.

I Lung pauses from his ink-making task and faces his father with full attention.

I LUNG
Yes, Father.

WU LUNG
Promise me that, no matter what, you will never - not ever - copy a single word from a Buddhist writing.

I LUNG
Yes, Father. I promise to obey you and never copy a single word from a Buddhist writing.

Wu Lung smiles with great satisfaction. 

WU LUNG
Good!

Suddenly, Wu Lung’s facial expression changes to one of panic. He drops the scroll and clutches at his heart. He gasps for breath and stumbles offstage where he collapses dead.

WU LUNG (CONT’D)
(From offstage) Gak!!!!!

I Lung is mortified. He weeps in extreme mourning. The King enters with another scroll in his hand. I Lung stops weeping and greets the king with a deep bow.

KING
I Lung, your father’s funeral will be sumptuous as befitting his rank. Now it is your task to carry on your father’s work.

I LUNG
Yes, my King.

The King extends the scroll to I Lung. 

KING
I want you to copy this Buddhist writing, the Lotus Sutra.

Offstage we hear WU LUNG’S VOICE, with a ghostly tremor. I Lung hears the voice, but the King appears to not hear anything. 

WU LUNG
Promise me, my son, that no matter what, you will never - not ever - copy a single word from a Buddhist writing.

I Lung trembles, torn. Whose command should he follow? The king continues to extend the scroll of the Lotus Sutra to I Lung, looking a bit impatient that he has not yet accepted it. 

The voice of the deceased Wu Lung talks at the same time as the king. 

KING
I want you to copy this Buddhist writing, the Lotus Sutra.

WU LUNG
(From off stage) Promise me you will never - not ever - copy a single word from a Buddhist writing.

I Lung closes his eyes and places his hands over his ears in great anguish. 

KING
I want you to copy this Buddhist writing, the Lotus Sutra.

WU LUNG
(From off stage) Promise me you will never - not ever - copy a single word from a Buddhist writing.

Emotion bursting out, I Lung drops his hands from his ears, open his eyes and shouts. 

I LUNG
Yes, Father! Yes, Father!

The King, perplexed gazes at I Lung.

KING
And just what is THAT supposed to mean?

Trembling, and looking at the ground, I Lung explains. 

I LUNG
My father’s dying wish was for me to promise to never, not ever, copy a single word from a Buddhist writing.

Obviously highly irritated at having his imperial edict denied, the King gets a calculating look on his face, as if imagining what future punishments he can come up with to reprimand I Lung for his insubordination. I Lung notices this royal glare and trembles in deep fear. 

KING
(In a threatening tone of voice) I can’t make you break your promise. But can you at least copy the title of the Lotus Sutra?

I Lung, afraid of going against the King any more, hangs his head in remorse and reaches out his hand to accept the scroll. 

I LUNG
Yes, my King.

The King hands over the scroll and exits with haughty triumphant steps. Obviously shaken with deep fear, I Lung sits at the calligraphy desk, mimes rolling out a fresh sheet of paper and places weights on the corners to hold it in place. He dips his brush in the ink and with mortal fear, paints the characters as he recites them aloud. 

I LUNG (CONT’D)
(Stuttering) M-m-m-myo-ho Re-re-re-renge K-k-k-kk- k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k--------Kyo!

Emotionally exhausted, I Lung collapses with his head resting on his folded arms and falls asleep with TWO SOFT SNORING SOUNDS. 

I LUNG
Zzzzzz. Zzzzzzz.

Enter Wu Lung, walking in a happy heavenly dreamlike way. He addresses the sleeping I Lung. 

WU LUNG
I Lung, my son.

Still sleeping, I Lung talks in his sleep.

I LUNG
I’m sorry Father. I’m so sorry I broke the promise to you. Please forgive me Father!

WU LUNG
Forgive you? Why, I have come to visit you in your dreams in order to THANK you for ignoring my order.

I LUNG
Thank me???!!??

WU LUNG
Because I went against Buddhism, I had been miserable ever since I died. But when you wrote myoho-renge- kyo, each word turned into a Buddha who came to encourage me.

I LUNG
(Smiles in his sleep) Aaaahhh! That is great you are happy now, Father!

WU LUNG
(With a stern reprimanding tone, hand on hip and wagging an accusatory finger at I Lung) And I would have been happier a lot sooner if you had thought for yourself, instead of blindly following orders.

I LUNG
Yes, Father.

Wu Lung throws his hands in the air and looks heavenward, shaking his head as he exits. 

I Lung wakes up, stretches and yawns. He has a bright expression on his face. He leaps up and paces around with great vigor. 

I LUNG (CONT’D)
I WILL think for myself, and never again blindly follow orders. And what my heart tells me to do right now is to copy the entire Lotus Sutra for everybody’s happiness.

He sits back down, dips his imaginary brush into the ink and writes with a flourish. As I Lung writes, we HEAR I Lung, the King and Wu Lung chanting strong joyous daimoku in unison. 

ALL
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myohorenge- kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The King and Wu Lung enter. I Lung stands. The three characters stand together center stage, take a bow to the audience and together exit. 

THE END

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