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
The Bodhisatta Setaketu saw that the time had now come.
After a nearly uncountable span in the Tusita Heaven awaiting his destiny, awaiting his return to the little blue planet so far below, how could he know that now was the time?
Because, far below, man had begun once again to ask meaningful questions. Because nearly incessant war and slaughter had finally begun again to subside, and the northern part of the large Indian subcontinent now lay spent but peaceful after centuries of upheaval. For how long this peace would last he could not tell, but he did see that it would last long enough for his purpose.
The barbarism that had flourished for the last many centuries had finally run out of breath or passion or both, and in the settling down he now saw a small, still lake of opportunity in that far-below spiritual darkness. And so, seeing by the light that he was, he knew that the time had come to show and share this light once more.
Although he had made a point not to share his plans, word nonetheless spread throughout the Tusita realm that Setaketu was leaving for Earth, and as he prepared to descend many a well-wisher gathered to see him off, each proffering their advice as a parting gift—some sensible, most not. It is so very easy to be wise from such a safe distance.
Embracing his friends one by one, thanking each for his or her well-meant guidance, Setaketu finally stepped back, bowed in slow and graceful namaskar to honor them all, then turned and strode toward gates that now swung open to admit soon to be Siddhattha Gotama into the cold and starry beneath and beyond.
And that is how, with a final step, he left Tusita and with it the brilliant body he had worn so long. Then, as if falling through a long and dizzying shaft, he plummeted to Earth, through seas of lightless space, through the dust of a billion, billion stars, through harder and harder gravity, through miasmal planetary grasping, and finally into startled flesh that legend holds fell out of his mother’s side feet first to then take seven steps in each of the four directions: North, South, East, West.
“We’ve already decided on a name,” said Melissa as she returned from the kitchen with a fresh pot of tea.
“What did you pick?” said Becky.
“Ruth,” she said while refilling her friend’s cup.
“Yes.” She straightened and rubbed the base of her now softly swelling belly in the way of mothers-soon-to-be, contented and proud. “She will be Ruth.”
“Ruth is a fine name,” said Becky, even though she didn’t much care for it—a grumpy aunt of hers was also named Ruth, and she could not stand the woman.
“We think so,” said Melissa.
“When is she due?” said Becky.
“Late January.” Melissa poured some more tea for herself as well, then eased herself back into her chair.
Melissa was twenty-six years old and this was her first child. She and Charles had been trying for a while—long enough, in fact, for Melissa to begin to worry, at times even wondering aloud to her husband if he thought there might be something wrong, since things were not “taking” as she put it—the word her obstetrician, Dr. Ross, favored in this situation and one day had explained to Melissa in some depth.
“It’ll happen,” Charles would say. “It happens when it happens. Don’t you worry.”
“I’m not really worried,” she’d say. “Just wondering.”
“Don’t you worry,” Charles would say again, his attention already back on whatever it was that Melissa had interrupted—a football game, his breakfast read of the Los Angeles Times, outlining a brief or a response, chewing.
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