Zen Buddhism in Fiction

I quote at length, wisdom with hints of zen buddhism from Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance. For those who doubt the value of reading fantasy novels, the following shall prove them wrong.


“Because,” Ym said, “you and I are One.”

“One what?”

“One being,” Ym said. He set aside that shoe and got out another. “Long ago, there was only One. One knew everything, but had experienced nothing. And so, One became many – us, people. The One, who is both male and female, did so to experience all things.”

“One. You mean God?”

“If one wish to say it that way,” Ym said. “But it is not completely true. I accept no god. You should accept no god. We are Iriali, and part of the Long Trail, of which this is the Fourth Land.”

“You sound like a priest.”

“Accept no priests either,” Ym said. “Those are from other lands, come to preach to us. Iriali need no preaching, only experience. As each experience is different, it brings completeness. Eventually, all will be gathered back in – when the Seventh Land is attained – and we once again become One.”

“So you an’ me…” the urchin said. “Are the same?”

“Yes. Two minds of a single being experiencing different lives.”

“That’s stupid.”

“It is simply a matter of perspective,” Ym said, dusting the boy’s feet with powder and slipping back on a pair of the test shoes.

“The things you’re talking about,” the boy said. “They sound dumb to me. I mean, if we’re all the same person, shouldn’t everyone know this already?”

“As One, we knew truth,” Ym said, “but as many, we need ignorance. We exist in variety to experience all kinds of thought. That means some of us must know and others must not – just like some must be rich, and others must be poor.”


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