Thousand Whispers

Observe the humble centipede. Unlike the cricket, he does not jump; unlike the wasp, he cannot fly. Instead, he trundles along on 100 legs, each connected to a segment of his body. Each segment moves harmoniously, yet contains its own set of legs, its own shell and, some say, its own heart. Xue noted the harmony of the centipede; by its example, he was enlightened.

The Hollow Reed praises moderation; while the other paths describe themselves as storms or fires, the Reed speaks of emptiness given form. The sutra’s title comes from the Dharmic ideal: to be like the reed, fed by water but filled with nothing, rooted in the ground but reaching to the sky. The Way’s name comes from its practice of living multiple lives to gain multiple insights. To maintain balance, the so-called “Rootless Trees” walk a thousand roads, each under a different name. It’s a long path to enlightenment, but then, vampires have nothing but time.

The whispers do not believe that the Sixth Age is the end of creation. To them, it’s a ritual death, one of many. Like the reeds rising from a riverbed, the Rootless Ones trust that when the storm ends, their flexibility will carry them through. Other Dharmas will not survive. The cricket is drowned. The wasp is blown away. The centipede remains unharmed. The hollow reed still stands.

This path’s disciples love riddles and couch everything in symbolism. Some vampires claim that the Thousand Whispers write sutras for each blade of grass, and, while that’s an overstatement, it captures the Way’s perspective. These Kuei-jin love to look at old things through new eyes, and do so literally at every opportunity. Talented shapechanges, the Rootless Trees shift gender, alliance, lifestyle and temperament with bewildering speed. Each change, claim the sages, teaches a Whisper a little more.

The Whispering Way is the rarest of Dharmas, and with good reason: It’s the hardest to maintain. Kuei-jin are neither balanced nor temperate. To offset their destructive natures, Whispers cultivate the Broken Mask technique—a multiple-personality path to enlightenment. While most people cling to their identities, the Rootless Trees take on different personas, then kill them off when all lessons appear to have been learned. Since most lives tend to be full-time affairs, many vampires take on one or two personas at once, then stage tragic deaths and enter new roles. Immortal as they are, the Whispers can experience the full range of human perspective and thus rise above any single view.

Naturally, such insight takes time. In the early stages of the path, a Whisper is pretty much like any other Running Monkey. Her elders scold her and offer koans that demand a wider view. As she moves through many lives, the vampire’s vision broadens. In time she becomes like a fine jade carving—precious in the rough, but smoothed into exquisite form by the sculptor’s steady hands. The key to the path is to be both sculptor and jade, to craft yourself into a work of art.

Training: To follow the Whispering Way, a Kuei-jin must continually die and be reborn. Every few years, she suffers a ritual “death,” is buried and returns as a new person. During her burial, the vampire enters a long trance, during which she meditates on the lessons of her past life. Certain powerful Whispers project their soul into the spirit worlds while the body sleeps. The Kuei-jin’s body remains in stasis, guarded by mortal friends or other Whispers. The former are usually devoured when the vampire returns from her travels; the latter salute her and walk away as she emerges from the tombs. Each time she “dies,” the Kuei-jin severs all ties to her past life; in time, she walks away from her wu and court as well.

In their breathing days, most Whispers were either fanatics for one cause or scattered among many. Neither path allowed them to learn their karmic lessons. When the training begins, sifus ask impossible questions, then send their pupils out to seek the answers. Disciples are given three new identities by their masters, and these identities are as different as possible. All the necessary skills are passed on through early training, along with funds, sutras, meditations and Kuei-jin manners. When those three lives end, the disciple is on her own.

Weakness: Moderation is hellishly hard to practice, especially if you’re a vampire. Despite the meditations and Broken Mask technique, the four-way pull between Yin, Yang, Hun and P’o yanks many Rootless Trees from their paths. To hold true to their Way, many Whispers look to the earth. That earth appears solit, yet it melts away as mud, swirls into sandstorms and hardens into rock. Sometimes, it splits open and swallows its surroundings. It never simply lies still.

To be truly balanced, one must occasionally go to extremes. To avoid attachments, Whispers destroy things and people they love too much. These betrayals gave rise to the Dharma’s other name—the Way of the Wise Centipede, a sarcastic comment on the Arhat’s inspiration. Other vampires distrust the followers of Balance; who knows when your friend might suddenly turn on you?

Affiliations: Earth, the color white, the number 0 and the center point direction. Auspicious Omens and Symbols: Jade masks, caves, centipedes, tunnel complexes, boulders carved into human shapes.

Auspicious Omens and Symbols: Earth, the color white, the number 0, and the centre direction.

Tenets

  • Live 1,000 lifetimes, each one different from the last.
  • Learn what you can from each life.
  • Change as much as possible between breaths.
  • If you grow too close to something, kill it. It will only hinder you.
  • Turn your back on each life as you leave it.
  • Give when generosity is needed; take when theft is required.
  • Pry open the eyes of the sightless and make the mute defend their wordless state. All beings must confront their choices, so question them as you pass.
  • When something appears to be out of balance, correct it. If you cannot, destroy it.

Commentaries on the Thousand Whispers

Upon the thinking of tenets as penned by Tong Kai .

All the world is a stage, and we are but actors playing out our parts. It was a Westerner who said this. For all the unenlightened masses, the grains of truth to be found among them never cease to amuse me. For those who follow the path of a thousand whispers, this is the ultimate truth. And we have entered our final act.

No thing is one sided, not even a coin. When you understand the truth of this, you will have taken your first step upon the path. A person only sees the side he wishes to see. When you understand the truth of this, you will have taken your second step upon the path. Throw a coin in the path of a resplendent crane and it will always land heads up. Throw a coin in the path of a devil tiger and it will always land tails up.

All of the other dharmas are extremists. All of them follow one way to the exclusion of all others. By being imbalanced in this life they try to right the karmic imbalance of their previous one. We understand that each life is separate. The scales of karma are not measured over the entirety of your spiritual existence, but only in each life you live. At the end of the life, you are given your fate, and the scales are reset for your next one. This is the third step.

Live 1,000 lifetimes, each one different from the last.

This is the beginning and end of our dharma. Everyone exists in the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, but we do not. We are cursed. To let this pull you from the path is foolishness. So you must continue to live lives and exist within this cycle. A warrior without a sword must still be a warrior. It will be difficult, yes, but that is our curse. Instead of letting the cycle take us, we must create it for ourselves, just as a warrior without a sword must forge a new one. It is not easy to continue the cycle for yourself, but if reaching heaven were easy, none of us would be here.

Every life has its own karma, it’s own lessons, failings and successes. Take these into account when choosing your next life. To live each life the same as the one before is to walk in place. It may look like you’re moving, but you are really going no where.

Learn what you can from each life.

What is the point of going to school if you learn nothing? Our lives were a mistake. Looking back on them, we learn what those mistakes were, and now can make restitution for them. So it is with the lives you create. If you learn nothing, you cannot change in your next life. If you cannot change, you cannot accomplish anything. Learning from your lives, and changing your next ones must replace the karma that is denied to us now.

Change as much as possible between breaths.

Look at a coin. Now look at it from a slightly different angle. It is still the same coin. You see a little more of the same thing, and nothing else. Look at the coin. Now rotate it ninety degrees. Now it is an entirely new coin. Where did you get this new coin? Everything about it has changed. You see new things about the coin that you did not realize before. After studying both coins in detail can you finally realize the truth. They are the same coin. This is the truth of our dharma.

Live a life. Once it is done, you understand more. But if you chose your new life to be similar, what more will you learn? To not change as much as possible is to begin to walk down only one path. Walking down one path is the way of the other dharmas. Every color has its opposite. You do not truly see a color until it is placed beside its opposite. So you must live your lives this way. In this contrast can the lessons of each life stand out. In this way are things most clear.

If you grow too close to something, kill it. It will only hinder you.

If you care about one thing more than any other thing, you will always bend towards it. If you walk along the path, and see this thing, you will leave the path to go to it. Then, when you turn, you will see that you have lost the path. But we are weak. If we were strong, we would not have gone to hell. If you find the road of moderation to be difficult, destroy those things that would pull you from the road. Without them, there is no temptation…then you may continue on the path.

Turn your back on each life as you leave it.

A single life is a whole and complete thing. Each of your lives must be whole and complete unto themselves. If they are not, they are not truly lives. If they are not truly lives, then you are not truly living them. If you’re not living them, then you cannot learn the truth about them. If you cannot learn the truth, what is the point of continuing? So when your life is ended, be done with it. Remember that the lives we create are artificial, but to truly live them they must not be artificial to you. Do you remember your previous lives before the one that sent you screaming into Yomi? No. You accrued your karmic debt, and began a new life, and that is all. So it is with each of your lives. If you allow them to linger, they will not truly be lives.

Give when generosity is needed; take when theft is required.

Balance is our way, and so in this do we strive in all things. But balance cannot be maintained by locking it down with chains. So it is we must flow with the world, not try to force the world to flow with us. By flowing with the world we can do what is needed instead of trying to narrow the possibilities. Balance is a natural way, an easy process. Often are we deceived into believing that Balance must be maintained rather than lived. By living our lives in the moments of our lives we can flow with balance, and maintain ourselves without effort.

Pry open the eyes of the sightless, and make the mute defend their wordless state. All beings must confront their choices, so question them as you pass.

It is easy not to think. When one makes it easy not to think then they realize it is also easy not to see. When one makes it easy not to see, then they realize they will never need to speak again. This is our opponent. Always think about where you have come from, and where you are going, but most importantly think on who, and what, you are. It is often easier for people to forget themselves and not think on who they are. In this, they fail to truly know themselves. You must know yourself. And you must not let others ignore themselves. The Thrashing Dragon indulges in the world. Does he know why? Ask him. Does the Devil Tiger understand why he brings misery into the world? Ask him. Sometimes a simple question is not enough. Sometimes you must tear open their eyelids to make them see. Sometimes you must pierce their ears to make them hear.

When something appears to be out of balance, correct it. If you cannot, destroy it.

It was your lack of balance that dragged you down to hell. Now you have the opportunity to correct that balance, not only in yourself, but others. Something that is not within balance will turn in upon itself. It will grow corrupt and rotten. This is disgusting. If a wu is not in balance, they will turn upon each other. If a person is not in balance, he may suffer our fate. Better to tear the wu apart and let them be balanced elsewhere than to kill each other. Better to slay the man so that he may find balance in his next life. Often we Thousand Whispers are sought as mediators for this reason. In a dispute, we will bring balance to both, even though both might not be satisfied. This is how you must live your life, and your lives. Perfect balance, and you will not fall from either side of the path.