A Boy with One Hundred Demons

In the time of feudal warlords, one warlord stroke a deal with 48 demons.   In exchange with his first-born child, the demons agreed to help him to concur the country.  When he came back to his castle from the campaign, his wife gave birth to a son.  The baby was born with no eyes, no limbs, no vocal cords, no ears, no nose.   The warlord ordered his wife to get rid of the creature.  The wife put him in a cradle and let the river take care of it.

A medicine man living in the woods walked by the river and found a baby crying without voice.  He took a pity on the poor creature and brought him home. The baby survived and grew up to be a boy.   The medicine man made artificial limbs and false eyes for the boy.  The child could see with his mind’s eyes, and could hear and talk without hearing and talking.  The child grew up to be a young man.  The young man was excelled in the way of sword.   The medicine man created special prosthetics for him. The artificial limbs were loaded with swords and other weapons.

When the medicine man passed away, a spirit came to the young man and told him that he was destined to go and find 48 demons.   “For each demon you kill, you would reclaim the body part the demon took away,” the Spirit said.

The young man became a vagabond to follow his destiny.   He encountered a demon in a village.  It was torturing the villagers.  He fought the demon for the villagers to be liberated.  When the young man killed the demon, he regained one of his body parts back…with agonizing pain.   Seeing the young man growing a new body part, the villagers deemed him as one of the demons and cast him out.  So it goes on.  He had to keep on wandering till he became whole.  People started to call him Hyakkimaru, a Boy with One Hundred Demons.

I loved this story when I was a kid.  It is a manga/anime by Osamu Tezuka.   If you are interested in the original story, check Dororo and Hyakkimaru.  The plot summary above is from my memory and may contain some interpretation.

It is one of the Hero’s Journey stories a la Joseph Campbell.

Some of us are just like the boy.   The sense of wholeness was taken away from us, sometimes when we were very young and just because we were born into a certain family; in other cases due to some traumatic experience. When it’s not safe to be in our body, we dissociate.    It hurts less if we can emotionally detach ourselves from physical experience.

We lose the wholeness of being.  Our body becomes an aggregate of parts. It doesn’t hurt because it’s not me; it’s not real.  Detachment from physical and emotional experience is a useful strategy.   It keeps us alive and helps us to survive.  If you have ever been touched emotionally or physically in a way you don’t like and felt powerless, you would understand.

We’ve survived.  And we don’t feel pain.

Physical and emotional experience we detached ourself from won’t just go away.    They become the demons who took the boy’s body parts and keep on torturing people around us.  We become the boy with one hundred demons.

To reclaim each and every part we lost to survive requires hard and painful work. We need to face the demon and kill it.   And it will f!@#ing hurt every time we integrate the part we lost.

Are you up to the fight?

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