Indira This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 28, 2012
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Long ago in India when Buddha’s teachings were modern and people came to him with their problems for advice, theree was a girl named Indira. She was young but old enough to live alone, which she did despite the complaints of her peers. She was quite beautiful, with long ebony hair and glittering amber eyes highlighted by her traditional small gold Hindu nose piercing. Her smile could charm even the toughest critic and her slender figure gave her a I-don’t-care-if-its-attractive-for-people-in-India-to-be-fat a look of confidence that could not be matched. However, it was not her outward appearance that made her so beautiful. She could outsmart all the boys in the village had she challenged them and was wise and kind enough that she could possibly be the next Buddha in the next few reincarnations. The only unfortunate part of all this was that despite what othere people saw, she did not see any of this within herself.
Soon came the day Indira, or Dira as she liked to be called, went to Buddha for advice. I will never be pretty, never be charming and never be clever! she thought with conclusion the day she decided to go see Buddha. Fortunately, she lived quite close to where Buddha meditated so the journey took a little over an hour. When she reached Buddha’s meditation garden she was slightly breath taken by it's natural beauty. A small pond filled with lotus flowers was the center of the garden, about three meters from the pond theree started an incline that led to a hill covered in pale green grass. The hill was sprinkled with pale pink flowers that had glided from the large tree that was centered in the middle of the hill. Underneath the tree sat Buddha, deep in meditation adding the perfect Indian touch to a scene that looked right out of a story book or painting. Swiftly and quietly she climbed the hill and sat across from Buddha about a yard away and also began to meditate. After a few hours Buddha opened his eyes and placed them on Dira. “Why have you come, young one?” He asked in a voice so invested with such wisdom that it made even the wisest man second guess himself. However, Dira opened her eyes and looked at him calmly. “Great Buddha I seek some of your wisdom,” she answered. “I am feeling very unhappy with myself and wish to be someone else.” He shook his head. “To feel good about one’s self, one must find qualities within themselves not within otheres that they see.” Dira nodded slowly. “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” Buddha shook his head again. “I can tell you to do nothing, I can only askyou to try something.” Again Dira nodded, slower this time. “This thing that you are feeling,” Buddha continued. “is a common unnecessary feeling, however I can try to help you but you alone can feel good about yourself I can’t do that for you. Do you understand, Indira?” Dira, not as eager as before answered “I’ll do anything.” Buddha nodded before continuing. “You must complete three tasks all having to do with self realization. You will have a day before each one to meditate on how you will complete the task. However, not until you complete the first task will you be given the second task and so forth. Do you except?” At first Dira was hesitant. Challenges? Those were so what-guys-do-to-show-off! Then she thought about what it would feel like to feel proud of herself and happy for who she is. “I’ll do it.” she said confidently.
The next day she went back to Buddha to learn her first task. “The first task,” Buddha said slowly. “will be to climb that mountain.” He pointed to a mountain about a mile away that looked steep, rocky and looked about one-hundred eighty feet tall. Not the tallest mountain but enough for her eyes to widen and tremble in fear. “That’s impossible!” she shrieked. Buddha looked at her calmly. “It is only impossible if you think it is. Now, go home and meditate. You have a big day ahead of you.” After a day of meditation, Dira had come up with a plan. In the morning, cut her hair to her shoulders and searched for her clothes she had outgrown long ago. They were short and tight, griping her body and leaving her hands and feet bare and free for climbing. She did not know how much of a help it would be, but hoped it would help at least a little. Without fuller delay she headed towards the mountain that she would be climbing and hopefully not falling from. It took her just over an hour to reach the mountain. It was much bigger up close of course, which did not help her settle her nerves any. With a deep breath she walked up to the side of the mountain and began to climb. About twenty minutes later, she had conquered about an eighth of the mountain, now traveling at a much slower pace now that the majority of her energy was used up. Her hands and feet were bloody and she was coated in sweat, panting. She had almost fallen several times but was pleased to find that her shortened hair and too-small robes had helped a great deal. Anothere thing she realized was that if she had been the average desired size, this would be rathere difficult. Still, even being her slender self it still took her most of the day to climb the mountain. When she finally scrambled her way to the top she, though exhausted, began to jump and whooped with pride at what she had just accomplished. From the top of the mountain was a view that could not be matched by anything in India, and theree she found Buddha sitting under his tree looking up at her. She smiled but the smile soon vanished when she realized a challenge she hadn't thought about. How was she going to get down? However, she soon realized that it was much easier climbing down than climbing up, much to her relief. It was dark by the time she reached Buddha under the tree. “I did it!” She gasped, out of breath after a full day of walking, climbing, jumping and running. Buddha smiled and replied “Of course you did, now go home and rest. But first, you must know your next challenge.” Nothing can be harder than climbing a mountain, Dira thought. “Your next task is to charm a rich man into giving you his finest horse for free.” Dira’s jaw dropped. And she had thought the first task was hard! “What?! That’s impossible!” Buddha shook his head. “Remember, nothing is impossible. Now go home, and rest. Meditate tomorrow and once your task is completed the day after, ride your horse to me.”
Dira slept like a rock that night. Waking up stiff and sore, she proceeded to meditate. Again, after a day of meditation she came to a conclusion. The next day, she pulled her hair back and dressed in her finest silk robes. She decorated her arms, ankles, neck and hair with gold and gems. Taking a deep breath, she headed off to the nearest village. She spotted a well known rich man making his daily rounds on his fabulous, white Arabian stallion. Dira walked weakly, dragging her feet and walking in that I’ve-had-such-a-long-walk way that she somehow achieved in a way to make her look dignified and pitied at the same time. “Excuse me sir?” she called with a voice weak but with enough volume that he could hear her. “Would you let me have your horse? I have walked miles and have miles still to go. I would be most grateful if you gave him to me for free.” The man stopped and stared. “Free?!” he sneered. “This horse is worth more than all the gold on your body! For Free!” he snorted. Then he looked down into her large amber eyes that had grown even larger as he had yelled at her. Slowly, he dismounted and handed her the reins. “Oh, thank you! I’m sure someone rich and powerful like you has many horses!” Dira said shooting him a dazzling smile, stunning him a moment. “My pleasure miss.” he said bowing slightly. Dira reached Buddha in about a half an hour with the speed of her new horse. “I did it!” Dira screeched excitedly as Buddha stroked the horse. “Well done. You must have been very persuasive to receive a horse as fine as this one. Are you ready for the final task?” Dira nodded. Buddha smiled. “I hope so. This last task is the hardest of all.” Nothing can be harder than persuading a man to give you a free horse, Dira thought. Buddha continued. “The final task is to outsmart water.” Dira’s mind raced. She had almost said ‘that’s impossible’ but had remembered Buddha’s reply to previous encounters with that situation. Buddha smiled, seeing her restraint. “Now go home and rest. I will see you tomorrow.”
After yet anothere day of mediation, Dira went to Buddha for the final time. She came in her normal clothes and hair down. She had only one thing in her hand, and when she showed it to Buddha, he smiled bigger than ever. “Of course! if you cannot drown, water has lost its power to take you! Very clever Dira!” The thing in her hand was a hollow bamboo reed. Dira smiled. “I have learned many things in the last week. Thank you Buddha.” Buddha answered, “So you have finally excepted who you are Dira?” Dira nodded. “I am strong enough to climb a mountain, charming enough to persuade a rich man to give me his finest horse for free, and clever enough to outsmart water.” Buddha smiled. “You're very welcome then.” As Dira turned to leave, Buddha asked her one final question. “Do you know what Indira means in Hindu?” When Dira shook her head looking curious, Buddha replied. “Indira means beautiful.”

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