IV - Treasures of the Heart
Christine followed the girl dragon's trail of smoke north. She passed a myriad of starfishes and sunfishes, rainbow-hued swirls of silver fish trying not to become a shark's next meal, and a friendly, smiling family of dolphins. Christine kept swimming. She saw a shiny, golden treasure chest on the bottom of the sea floor, sunken into a crevasse between pink and blue corals, muddy brown kelp, marsh-green sea grasses, and a colony of strawberry anemones. The treasure chest sparkled in the warm depths and Christine wondered what was in it. Maybe its contents would lead her to the Orange Octopus and Evangeline.
Christine watched the treasure chest as its lid slowly opened to reveal its treasure inside. The golden chest was overflowing with jewels, silver, gold, diamonds and trinkets of all shapes and sizes. Christine's eyes opened wide at the sight. She swam over to the treasure chest and hovered slightly above the treasure, flipping her tail and humming a tune softly under her breath. Little air bubbles rose above her in a thin trail and Christine spotted a small, glass bottle with a white piece of paper inside it, half-buried inside the chest's treasure pile.
Christine started grabbing handfuls of silver jewelry, gold coins, and diamonds. She had just about stuffed her mermaid pockets with treasure when her hand grabbed hold of the glass bottle with the note. She pulled the bottle toward her and yanked the note out to see what it said. Christine's note read:
More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. From the time you read this letter on, strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart! The heart of the Buddha’s lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is found in the “Never Disparaging” chapter. What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being. The wise may be called human, but the thoughtless are no more than animals.
"I wonder what these words mean?" Christine paused and sat on a nearby rock to read her message. Her head bent over in thought, Christine read the first sentence: More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. The little note didn't say anything else and Christine wondered what it meant. She read the note a second time. More valuable than treasures in a storehouse. Christine glanced at the shiny treasure chest next to her overflowing with jewels and gold. Treasures of the body. Christine looked down at her glimmering turquoise mermaid tail and waved her fins slowly in the water. The treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. Christine though about her small, mermaid heart and whatever it was it might really want. She immediately thought of Evangeline. How am I going to find Evangeline? Where is the Orange Octopus?
Christine realized that if she was going to find Evangeline in time for their afternoon tea party, she was going to need to swim much faster. She quickly emptied her mermaid pockets filled with jewels back into the shining treasure chest, as she didn't want to be weighed down and crammed her note into the left side of her tail. Christine waved her long scaly tail in goodbye and left the gold treasure chest far behind.