Susan Brassfield Cogan The Three Jewels of Buddhism are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
Almost everyone has heard of the Buddha but the other two words, Dharma and Sangha, are usually strange to western ears. In Buddhism, taken together, they are known as “The Three Jewels.” The first part of this book will consider the life of the Buddha. The second part will give an overview of the Dharma, the body of Buddhist teachings. The third section, the Sangha, will illuminate the lives of a few teachers who have shared those teachings with us.
An old woman called Becuma sold rare and unusual things. Her shop was tucked away in a dark corner off the main market street. Many went there out of curiosity, many left with something strange they did not know they needed or wanted until they entered Becuma’s narrow and crowded aisles. Tuila knew what she needed and she knew Becuma would have it.
The old woman sat behind the counter at the back of the shop reading from a large book. She looked up when Tuila entered. She smiled, exposing stumps of yellow teeth. She held up her palm and spread her fingers in the sign of the Holy Five, Tuila returned the greeting gesture.
“Good morning! Mother Tuila!” Tuila was half the old woman’s age, but everyone called her mother. As wife of the Domun she represented the mother Goddess Mayb, just as Abram represented Haill, King of Heaven. Becuma closed the book and pushed it under the counter before Tuila was close enough to see what it might be.
“My condolences on the death of your son,” said the old woman. Tuila flinched at the blasphemy, but the sentiment was comforting nevertheless. “He was immoral and deserved to go to the Pit,” Tuila recited. She could not make herself say “deserved to die” no matter how correct it would have been.
The old woman’s eyes narrowed. “No one deserves the Pit,” she whispered. Tuila gasped and almost turned to go, but stopped herself. Tuila knew Becuma despised the gods and fought against them. In spite of that Becuma’s Holy Mark—five radiating lines representing the Five Holy Gods—was always fresh and black. Mark Makers were mas-tech devices and illegal for any but the clergy to possess. Tuila suspected that the old woman owned one. Becuma would ignore that illegality as blithely as she ignored other laws. Tuila only maintained a friendship with the old woman because of days just such as this one.
“Please do not say such things to me,” said Tuila. The old woman grinned, deepening the wrinkles in her cheeks, and nodded.
“And who will say them to you if I do not?”
“No one would dare,” said Tuila.
“Of course,” said Becuma. She tilted her head and looked way. “I have some wonderful Endorian scarves you should look at, Mother Tuila. They have strands of crystal woven into them.” She stood and made to lead Tuila over to the tangled racks of clothing.
“No, Becuma. I want to look at your books. Not the ones you keep on display out here, but the ones that you keep hidden in the back.”
“I have no books in the back. Where did you get such a notion?” Tuila wasn’t sure, but there may have been a tiny glint of fear in the old woman’s eyes. It could have been a hint of defiance. It was hard to tell.
“I am the wife of the Domun,” Tuila said simply. “I have many friends.”
“Your friends have steered you wrong,” said the old woman caustically. “I don’t own any secret books.”
“In that case you won’t mind if I invite the MPs to search your shop. Were you at worship this morning? Your Holy Mark is very fresh.”
Becuma stared at Tuila, her mouth tight. “Come,” she said. She stood and with her twisted walking stick for support, she led Tuila to the back room, a place as crowded and chaotic as the store itself. Tucked away in the very back was a dark alcove lined with books floor to ceiling.
"You don't even know for sure if it was an Atharian," said Cabe glumly. They'd already had a couple of versions of this conversation.
"It was an Atharian. I heard him talking to the MPs. He gave them a fistful of chips to let him go. If he'd told them about the weapon they'd have taken that instead." Brax was patient with his friend. He knew Cabe's Holy Father would not help Cabe escape the pit. Cabe's father, filled with love for the Five Gods, would cast his own son down into darkness.
"How do you know he didn't come back for it?"
"Don't. But he didn't." Brax's stomach tightened at the thought of that. He hoped hard. He almost prayed but never before had The Five been interested in helping a street rat like himself. He was counting on the fact that it would be too dangerous for the Atharian to come back for his mas-tech device. Once, he could flash some chips and get a free ride back to his ship. Twice, a shipload of chips would not keep him out of the Pit.
Finally the right alley gaped darkly in front of them. An MP patrol car rolled by in the street. Taking it easy, they blended into the shadow of a warehouse, empty and probably abandoned, but conveniently placed. They had both long ago acquired the knack of casually blending into whatever was nearby. Brax could do it without even thinking about it. He'd had buddies dragged off to the Pit while he hid two feet away thinking peaceful thoughts.
When the rolling MPs were gone, Brax ran for the trash bin. There'd be walking MPs but Cabe would keep an eye out for them. Brax fell onto his belly and peered underneath. His heart sank at first. He couldn't see a thing, but then the dark was thickening and the undersides of trash bins weren't famous for being well lit. Only The Five knew what nameless horrors were rotting in that velvety black, though his nose could make a guess. Brax pushed his hand under the bin. He found something soft and slightly damp, jerked away from it and continued groping.
Cabe, flattened against the bin in the darkness, whistled one soft note. MPs at a distance. Brax worked faster. He flattened himself harder against the crumbled asphalt of the alley and pushed his arm further in. There! His fingers brushed against something smooth and cold.
Susan Brassfield Cogan Excerpt from "The Stone of Immortality"
Inside, the cottage smelled of spices and woodsmoke. He felt folded into a pervasive sense of hominess laced with a faint, sharp tang that could only be the taste of magic. The sweet young girl stood by the hearth, stirring porridge. Near her sat a very old woman, whose loose white hair flowed about her like a shawl. She was unbent and bright of eye, but frail seeming and wrapped about with a heavy cloak decorated with bits of fur and much fanciful embroidery.
"Come here, young man." Her voice was thin, but strong. She did not invite him to sit. He approached, his knees like water. "I have a message for your father." She stretched out a scrawny white hand covered with blue veins. In the withered palm was a smooth gray stone.
Susan Brassfield Cogan Angie Tanaka, a professional thief, has an uneasy friendship with Daiyu, a dragon who has been around since China was a collection of mud huts. This is the first of a series of interviews with an ancient dragon who struggles to live down her past. And she has such a lot of it to live down.
Daiyu wore a black leather jacket, tight black pants and her short hair was all spiky and dangerous looking. She has a black dragon tattoo that winds around her neck and up the right side of her face. The dragon's head rests above her right eye.
She sat across the little table from me and lifted the ancient tea cup.
“Good Morning, Angela.”
I hate being called anything but Angie. Of course, she knows that.
“Good morning, Daiyu. Thank you for doing this.”
She tilted her head a sixteenth of an inch and sipped her tea.
What do you talk about with someone who has witnessed a big hunk of history, someone who can flawlessly speak every human language, someone who can shape-shift and look like anybody or anything they want? It's hard to narrow down the questions because there are too many.
Susan Brassfield Cogan This ancient book of Buddhist wisdom is older than the Bible. Rewritten in clear, clean modern language, the words of the Buddha will connect with the modern reader. The Dhammapada has been called the distilled essence of Buddhism. In 423 brief verses, said to be actual sayings from the Buddha himself, you will find inspiration and guidance.
My name is Angela Rosarita Tanaka, but you will call me Angie if you know what’s good for you.
I needed to get out of Hong Kong. To say Hong Kong cops are humorless bastards would be, well something that’s so obvious that it would be silly to say it. Even if I just said it.
If you give a man who owns a fishing boat a big enough wad of cash, he will not ask why you are giving him so much. He will pocket the fistful of bank notes and say the Chinese equivalent of “Where to, Ma’am”? In my case, “where to” was anywhere but here.
Susan Brassfield Cogan So I told myself the Dhammapada is one of the oldest books of Buddhist thought. I should read it. What I wanted was a nice simple readable version that I could dip into. The Dhammapada isn’t something you read straight through like a novel. It’s basically a collection of aphorisms, little short sayings, like a box of really, really good fortune cookies.
I quickly discovered that most translations are completely unreadable, some more than others. A few of the more modern ones attempt to clarify the language—I don’t think I’m the first person to notice the readability problem. However, I may be the first person that noticed the problem who was a writer and not a translator.
Susan Brassfield Cogan In 1792, Paris is in flames and the hungry guillotine waits . . . .
Strong and resourceful heroines, an intrepid hero and a complex and terrifying nemesis are ingredients in a tale of passionate love, bright courage and dark revenge that carries the reader from the royal palace to the shadow of the guillotine.
Susan Brassfield Cogan Cherie Jung reviewing for Over My Dead Body: “It’s been quite some time since I read a book I was willing to skip lunch to continue reading, but I read straight through from page one to the end without stopping. Everything clicks. A good story, fascinating characters, and snappy dialogue.”
Lady Margaret’s quest to bring a killer to justice leads her out of her art studio to a seedy all-night cafe, a Depression-era tenement, the waterfront, and eventually to the dark underbelly of Chinatown.
Inspector Monahan, the blunt-talking son of Irish immigrants has no love for the English nobility. He takes a dim view of interfering amateur sleuths and doesn’t like being strong-armed, even by a gorgeous dame.
Together they pursue the Mandarin, a shadowy Chinese gangster who may have the answers to blackmail, smuggling, and the whereabouts of a heartless killer.
Susan Brassfield Cogan A young queen must save her kingdom from her crazy, homicidal brother and her ambitious wizard. She's doing a pretty good job of that until she gets kidnapped by a charming, hunk-a-licious warrior who plans to cheerfully sell her out.
Susan Brassfield Cogan Here we go again! Angie Tanaka can't seem to stay out of trouble. She finds herself haunted by a cute little hungry ghost and a not-so-cute demon who has a special hell kept warm just for dragons.
And this is how it all starts:
I needed to steal something.
I don't mean I really wanted something in particular. I mean I wanted to steal something.
So to scratch that itch I was climbing up the side of the Twelve Treasure Museum to a hidden floor not open to the public. It was supposed to be haunted. That was perfect. Perfect for me anyway.
I'm Angie Tanaka, the one woman crime wave. That's what it says on my business cards. I stumbled across this museum one day when I was bored and feeling too much like an upright citizen....
I pulled myself up onto the roof—the first level of the house, anyway. It was an old-fashioned Chinese pagoda built like a wedding cake. The outside was covered with the Asian version of gingerbread. The carvings and embellishments had a dragon theme, but a lot of things are decorated with dragons on Shaolong, the Land of Nine Dragons. Real ones. I'm being honest here. I b******t a lot—I was kidding about the business cards—but not about this.