Tathagata - Book Three: Teacher
The Buddha had not intended to return so soon. But things were not well with Earth, and the worsening (by the day it seemed) situation could not brook another 2,500 years of idly standing by. That much was clear.
So after a brief reconnaissance life as Giordano Bruno, he returned in current times to again set things right. This time as a young girl called Ruth Marten, Melissa's daughter. More
USC’s Taper Hall was standing room only, and a densely packed expectancy not only filled every available seat, but also lined the walls, while others sat in the center aisle.
It was the fourth of January, a Friday, and this was the enigmatic Ruth Marten’s first lecture since accepting her teaching position at USC.
At Ruth’s insistence, first row seats had been reserved for both Melissa and Ananda, and they were now settling in. Ananda, somehow both looking, and not at all looking his age, leaned back and closed his eyes. He could hear Melissa take her seat next to him and then turn and draw breath to say something, then changing her mind, perhaps because his eyes were closed. They were closed quite often these days, signaling to the surrounding world his wish for privacy, something the world seemed to both respect and grant, age bordering on antiquity commanding this.
The anticipation of the room was palpable. The sometimes chatter sometimes murmur sometimes almost roar rose and faded like long, sometimes loudly sometimes softly crashing waves. Ananda took several slow breaths, wishing the Tathagata well in her endeavor. The Tathagata did not reply directly, but nonetheless acknowledged him with an immaterial smile, which made Ananda smile in turn. He opened his eyes. Melissa must have noticed.
“I’m sure she’ll do fine,” she said. But it was a question.
“She will say or do nothing unwise,” said Ananda.
“That’s not what I meant,” she said. Then, after brief reflection, “Actually, that is probably what I meant.”
“She has promised to tread watchfully. All she wants to do is gain trust, earn the world’s ear.”
“That’s how she put it to me as well.”
Then, as Ruth now appeared, wearing jeans and a loose sweater, the susurrus of the hall dimmed, then faded altogether. Melissa’s daughter, the Tathagata, stepped up to the podium, and tapped the two little microphones to test the sound. The taps filled the room, and she seemed satisfied that all was in order. On some cue or other that Ananda did not catch, the light in the hall dimmed as well, and a faint spotlight highlighted Ruth’s intensely black hair, as she grasped the edges of the podium with her hands and surveyed the audience.
Ananda closed his eyes the better to hear.
Ruth did not speak for some time, and then did not speak again, and then she said: