In the darkened room, the incense billows and chanting fills the air. A tiger appears, or is it a man, all that is seen are eyes, huge eyes, peering around a corner, straight into my eyes, my brain, my mind, then into my heart.
Surprise, then almost anger, perhaps contempt, then, is that fear?
Surprise of my unexpected presence.
Anger for being in their space without permission.
Contempt for not going through the stages to allow access.
Fear, for that all fades away and here I am, before the tiger, the dragon, the man… who is this? What is this? What is this that protects this monastery? Is that even what this place is? Where is this place? Is it even really here?
Then after fear, acceptance, and chanting consumes the air and smoke clouds all sight… expect in the corner, inconspicuous, a tiny Buddha statue stares at the unfolding seen.
I bow, the tigerman bows and the buddha rings some bells.
The bells remain deadly still and our heads vibrate with the cosmos.