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The Jeweled Mirror Country

文‧ 孫果秀 by Jennifer Lin




The strong and wealthy Jeweled Mirror Country has a big, round mirror, which is the nation's treasure of protection.  This mirror has been displayed for worship by kings of the past in the Palace of the Jeweled Mirror. The Crown Prince of every generation lives there from a  very young age to learn all the virtues, knowledge, skills and mannerisms that a king should have. Even after they inherit  the throne, they still have to come every morning and night to bow to the mirror and discipline their bodies and minds. Sometimes, when the kings have perplexing problems, they sit silently in front of the mirror to receive unexpected inspirations. The first king of this nation set up these rules of worship because he claimed  that his unsurpassed wisdom had been obtained through the Jeweled Mirror. He said that if latter generations practice this tradition, they surely will obtain superior wisdom and always enjoy prosperity. And this has actually been the case.

One day, the little Crown Prince was playing at shooting marbles. By accident, he shot the marble into the room with the mirror and broke the glass. The little Crown Prince was so frightened that he didn't know what to do. The elderly instructor who had been teaching the crown princes for three generations swept up the broken glass as if nothing had happened. Then from a secret door in the double wall, he brought out a piece of glass the same size as the former mirror, and fixed it into the frame. The little Crown Prince wiped his tears and asked in a hushed tone, "Even if my father, the King, does not know this is fake now, when he cannot gain any more wisdom from the mirror, he will know that it is fake. And  I won't obtain any wisdom in the future, either. How can I make my people believe in me ?”  His old teacher smiled kindly and said, "Do not worry. You will gain wisdom, too. If you believe it is real, then the fake one will be real. If you do not believe it to be real, even the real one becomes fake. Your father broke one Jeweled Mirror when he was little. The one you broke is the one I used to replace the one he broke.” "You mean that one is also not real ?" the little Crown Prince asked in surprise. He became more puzzled. "Why does my father still worship that mirror so sincerely and how does he still  obtain his wisdom?” The elderly teacher's smile broadened and he said, "It is because he knew the one he broke was the one I replaced for your grandfather, the former King." The little Crown Prince stared at the mirror stupidly. The reflection in the mirror showed a stupid little boy. The old teacher patted his shoulder lightly and said, "In fact, one need not seek for wisdom outside his own mind. However, the Jeweled Mirror is so precious because it can truly reflect yourself for your own disciplining. Think about this: you gain your wisdom to become a good king from your training and rearing, not from the magic power of a mirror. Kings have sat in front of the mirror to meditate on their problems and observe themselves. It is because of their training that they are able to meditate, and This is what allows you to gain inspiration and wisdom. A mirror cannot grant you anything. I am getting old. I am afraid that I will not have the chance to replace the mirror glass for your son. But don't worry, I've already told the new instructor that there is some more glass inside that double wall.”

The little Crown Prince smiled. The mirror showed a future king  beaming confidently with newfound wisdom.


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