A Story of 4 Bronze Coins
I knew the value of a coin, such as a quarter is worth of 25 cents. Quarters are most commonly used largest coins, even though there are standard silver dollar coins, golden bullion coins, or numismatic coins that are worth of thousand or more dollars.
That is where historically how the heads of important, powerful, extraordinary and genius people are priced or valued, such as the head-face values of Nazi Hitler, Saddam Hussein, or Einstein.
“If you can bring me the chopped-off head of our enemy’s command-in-chief, I would grand you thousand acres of land, gold worthy of millions, hundreds of servants and a royal name your ancestors never had.”
That was the standard order giving to a sniper or an assassin by his head-master. That is where we get the idea of a head-price of a human being. The loser’s head would be hanged on the pole standing above the main gate, his price-tagged money would be awarded to the killer; while the winner gets his head face-value on the coin.
You can see the images of US head-side coins: 1) the first US president has the highest commonly trade-able quarter coin in the country; 2) the president Lincoln gets just a penny, one cent of value; 3) the Dollar Coin has the head-body image of the Lady Liberty.
Now each US dollar you earn or spend, President George Washington has four of his head in it, while President Lincoln has 100% cents in it.
What are they truly worthy of and for?
I don’t know, at this time, how much my head would be valued, since most of time I have to pay for it, and I don’t think it would be priced before I become headless, let alone the footage reveals its legacy. Yet, the story below reveals something else: a boy’s livelihood witnessed by his caring Taoist master.
In early 1920s, there was a monk who lived in the White Cloud Temple in Shanghai. He took in a 14-year old boy who lived on streets, wishing to train him as his disciple. At the time, the boy’s mother washed clothes and repaired shoes for a living, and the boy begged on the streets, and ate restaurants’ leftovers.
The monk saw the boy had a Taoist-like look, though shorter in height and dirtier with worn-out cloth. He questioned the whereabouts of the boy and his family. The boy came from another province to escape from the war. His father was dead, and no siblings. The monk asked the boy to tell his mother if he could stay at temple, while performing certain needed duties, and even get paid. The mother agreed eagerly.
Time passed quickly, and the Chinese New Year began. The monk requested the boy stay at the temple performing choirs till the full moon passed before he could visit his mother. It was the busiest time of the year at the temple, and he really needed the boy’s help.
Equally, the boy got to attend the night carnivals being performed on the street, ate delicious leftovers food being donated to ancestral spirits, and received lucky money.
Towards the end of 15th full moon festival, the boy got four silver coins worthy of 40 dollars at the time: two silver coins from the temple and two from a wealthy worshiper. That was enough to feed his mother for four years.
The boy wrapped carefully each coin with a small hand towel. Then he placed towel-wrapped coins inside a bag and tied the bag tightly with a thread. He carried the bag inside his huge pocket and was eager to go home. The pocket in his cloth was huge, truly, and that was how his mother made it for, to place any and all valuable stuff in, including lunch bread and dinning bowel.
Before departing, the boy went to the toilet. The public toilet in the temple was much like public restrooms in our parks. There was neither drainage system built in, nor running water to flush. It had a big open-spaced basement to collect the coming-down falling from the person kneeing above. And it would at least take 5 years to pay for a janitor to come and take out the ancient piles of feces.
Out of nowhere, the money bag slipped out of his huge pocket, dropped hurriedly and horribly into the feces below while his body was kneeling like a standing bell above. The toilet door was locked at the time and there was no way for the boy to obtain the key. Further, there was no way for him to squeeze his body through the little hole-opener of the wooden toilet floor, in order to collect his bag now being buried by both fresh and old feces. And it was 16th of the day, the Chinese New Year was over and he wanted badly to pay visit to his mother and gave her the coins.
On that evening, the monk saw the boy was back, quickly, but with a sad look on his face. Normally the boy would be gone at least for at least a week. Why was he back this soon, this early? The monk wondered.
Before bedtime, the monk asked: “Is everything ok?
“Fine,” the boy replied.
Day in and night out, the boy became sicker and sicker, and he was dying after a week long. The monk safeguarding the boy tried to figure out the whys, or the true reason behind the boy’s illness. He had food to eat, a place to sleep, and there were no ill physical symptoms whatsoever before this. What was really happened.
Finally, the monk threatened the boy to tell him the truth, as the story went above.
Right upon listening to the story, the monk discussed the situation quickly with the chief janitor what was happening. They must dig the coin-bag out immediately to save the boy’s life.
And it took a week for the entire crew of 7 janitors to remove the collect feces around the bag. By the time they unveiled the bag, it was coded with thick blood.
Strangely, as the monk’s reason went, the red blood went from the boy’s body, carrying all his hopeless longing, suffering and misery to the bag of coins buried by the human feces. Each layers of blood-clog were every means of his suffering and agony. Entire liveliness of the boy was invested into this blood-clogged bag.
After removing layer by layer of blood-cloaked fabrics, the four coins were there, safely.
Shortly after, the boy recovered from his dying illness.
My guess and suggest after the story are:
“Are the boy’s coins bloody or filthy?”
“Did the boy concern more of his mother or his coin”?
“What do coins represent: the source of liveliness, or the force of blood?”
“Are his coins containing his value or retailing his sickness?”
“Did the monk find the root cause of sickness or prescription for the cure?”
“Did the monk save the boy’s life or his coins?”
“Was the janitor the transport or the doctor?”
“was the story more about the energetic transmutation between a person and an object, or the relationship between the monk and his disciple”?
“What did the boy gain or lose eventually”?