Record of Miraculous Events in Japan

Record of Miraculous Events in Japan: The Nihon ryoiki

TRANSLATED BY BURTON WATSON
Introduction by Haruo Shirane
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/wats16420
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  • Book Info
    Record of Miraculous Events in Japan
    Book Description:

    The Nihon ryoiki, a collection of setsuwa, or "anecdotal" tales, compiled by a monk in late-eighth- or early-ninth-century Japan, records the spread of Buddhist ideas in Japan and the ways in which Buddhism's principles were adapted to the conditions of Japanese society. Beginning in the time before Buddhism was introduced to Japan, the text captures the effects of the nation's initial contact with Buddhism -- brought by emissaries from the king of the Korean state of Paekche -- and the subsequent adoption and dissemination of these new teachings in Japanese towns and cities.

    The Nihon ryoiki provides a crucial window into the ways in which Japanese Buddhists began to make sense of the teachings and texts of their religion, incorporate religious observances and materials from Korea and China, and articulate a popularized form of Buddhist practice and belief that could extend beyond monastic centers. The setsuwa genre would become one of the major textual projects of classical and medieval Buddhism, with nearly two dozen collections appearing over the next five centuries. The Nihon ryoiki serves as a vital reference for these later works, with the tales it contains finding their way into folkloric traditions and becoming a major source for Japanese authors well into the modern period.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53516-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-XVI)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)
    Haruo Shirane

    The Record of Miraculous Events in Japan (Nihon ryōiki, ca. 822), compiled in the early Heian period (794–1192), is Japan’s first major collection of anecdotal (setsuwa) literature and, as such, had a huge impact on the formation of Japanese literature. It is also the first collection of Buddhist anecdotal literature, establishing a major precedent for this genre, which would come to be popular throughout the medieval period. Setsuwa (anecdotes), a modern term that literally means “spoken story,” are stories that were orally narrated and then written down. These recorded stories were often used for oral storytelling, resulting in new...

  4. Volume I
    • PREFACE
      (pp. 9-12)

      If we inquire into the matter, we find that the inner, or Buddhist, writings and the outer, or non-Buddhist, writings were first transmitted to Japan in two groups. Both of them came from the country of Paekche,¹ the latter in the reign of Emperor Homuda [Ōjin, r. 270–312], who resided at the Toyoakira Palace in Karushima, and the former in the reign of Emperor Kinmei [r. 539–571], who resided at the Kanazashi Palace in Shikishima. However, it was customary for those who studied the non-Buddhist writings to denigrate the Buddhist Law, while those who read the Buddhist writings...

    • On Catching the Thunder (1:1)
      (pp. 13-14)

      Chiisakobe no Sugaru was a favorite attendant of Emperor Yūryaku (called Ōhatsuse-wakatakeru no sumeramikoto, who reigned for twenty-three years at the Asakura Palace in Hatsuse).¹

      Once, when the emperor was living at the Iware Palace, he and the empress were sleeping together in the Ōandono and were intimately engaged. Unaware of this, Sugaru walked in, whereupon the emperor, embarrassed, stopped what he was doing. At that moment, there was a clap of thunder in the sky.

      The emperor then ordered Sugaru, saying, “You—invite that clap of thunder to come here!”

      “I shall do so,” replied Sugaru

      The emperor said,...

    • On Taking a Fox as a Wife and Producing a Child (1:2)
      (pp. 14-15)

      This took place long ago in the reign of Emperor Kinmei (Emperor Amekuni-oshiharaki-hironiwa no mikoto, who resided at the Kanazashi Palace in Shikishima). A man of the Ōno district of Mino province set out on his horse in search of a good wife. At that time in a broad field, he came on an attractive woman, who responded to him. He winked at her and asked, “Where are you going, pretty miss?” She answered, “I am looking for a good husband.” “Will you be my wife?” he then asked. She replied, “I will.” So he took her home, and they...

    • On a Boy of Great Strength Who Was Born of the Thunder’s Rejoicing (1:3)
      (pp. 16-18)

      Long ago in the time of Emperor Bidatsu [r. 572–584] (who was named Nunakura-futotama-shiki no mikoto and resided at the Osada Palace in Iware), there was a farmer living in the village of Katawa in the Ayuchi district of Owari province. He was preparing his rice fields and flooding them with water when a light rain began to fall. Accordingly, he took shelter under a tree and stood there holding a metal rod.⁴ Presently, it began to thunder. Frightened, the man held the rod over his head, whereupon the thunder dropped down in front of him, taking the form...

    • On Imperial Prince Shōtoku’s Showing Unusual Signs (1:4)
      (pp. 19-21)

      Imperial Prince Shōtoku was the son of Emperor Tachibana-no-toyohi, who resided at the Ikenobe-no-namitsuki Palace in Iware. He became prince regent for Empress Suiko,⁷ who resided at the Owarida Palace.

      He had three names: Umayado no toyotomimi, Shōtoku, and Kamitsumiya. Umayado, or “stable door,” because he was born in front of the stables. Toyotomimi, or “intelligent ears,” because he was born by nature so wise that he could attend to ten men arguing legal claims at the same time without missing a single word. And because he not only was scrupulous in his conduct like a monk, but also wrote...

    • On Having Faith in the Three Treasures and Gaining an Immediate Reward (1:5)
      (pp. 21-25)

      Lord Ōtomo no Yasunoko no muraji of the Great Flower Rank was an ancestor of the Ōtomo no muraji in Uji, in the Nagusa district of Kii province.10 He was endowed by Heaven with a clear mind, and he revered the Three Treasures.11

      According to the annals, in the reign of Emperor Bidatsu, sounds of musical instruments were heard off the coast of Izumi province. There were sounds of flutes, shō [panpipes], and various types of stringed instruments, or others that sounded like rolls of thunder. They were heard in the daytime, and at night a bright light spread to...

    • On Gaining an Immediate Reward for Faith in Bodhisattva Kannon (1:6)
      (pp. 25-26)

      The Venerable Monk Gyōzen, when he was in lay life, was a member of the Tatebe family. In the reign of the sovereign who resided in the Owarida Palace, he was sent to Koguryŏ for study.16 When that country was overthrown, he was forced to wander.17 Suddenly he came to a river, but the bridge had been destroyed and there was no boat, so he had no way to get across. Standing on the broken bridge, he began to meditate on Kannon. As he did so, an old man in a boat came along, greeted him, and ferried him to...

    • On Paying For and Freeing Turtles and Being Rewarded Immediately and Saved by Them (1:7)
      (pp. 26-27)

      Meditation Master Gusai [Universal Salvation] was a native of the country of Paekche. When that country encountered a period of troubles, an ancestor of the governor of the Mitani district of Bingo province was put in charge of reinforcements and sent to Paekche.18 At that time, the present governor’s ancestor vowed to build a temple to the deities of Heaven and Earth if he returned home safely. Eventually, he escaped harm and thereupon invited Meditation Master Universal Salvation to return to Japan with him. Mitani Temple, as well as other temples, were founded by him, and he was looked on...

    • On a Deaf Man Whose Hearing Was Restored Immediately, Owing to His Faith in a Mahayana Sutra (1:8)
      (pp. 27-28)

      In the reign of the sovereign who resided at the Owarida Palace, there was a man named Kinunui no tomonomiyatsuko Norimichi, who suddenly became seriously ill. He lost the hearing in both ears and suffered from skin disease all over his body. And these ailments never healed. He said to himself, “These are the result of past karma, and there is no hope they will end soon. Rather than living a long life and being hated by others, it is better to do good now and quickly die!” Therefore, he swept the ground, decorated the hall, and summoned a monk...

    • On a Baby Carried Away by an Eagle and Reunited with Her Father in Another Province (1:9)
      (pp. 28-30)

      In the reign of the sovereign who resided at the Itabuki Palace in Asuka Kawara, in the year mizunoto-u [643],22 in the spring, around the Third Month, there was a man in a mountain village who had a baby girl. She was crawling in the courtyard when an eagle seized her, flew into the sky, and headed toward the east. Her father and mother, startled and shocked, grieved and tried to run after her, but it was impossible. Therefore, they held a Buddhist memorial service for better luck in her next existence.

      Eight years later, in the reign of the...

    • On a Man’s Stealing from His Son, Being Reborn as an Ox, and Showing an Unusual Sign (1:10)
      (pp. 30-31)

      In the central village of Yamamura in the Sou district of Yamato province, there was once a man called Lord Kura no Iegimi. In the Twelfth Month, he decided to atone for his past sins by having a Mahayana sutra recited. Therefore, he said to his servant, “Go and call a monk!”

      The servant asked, “What temple should I go to in order to find a monk?”

      The master replied, “You don’t have to go to a temple. You can invite any monk you happen to meet.” The servant, following these instructions, brought home a monk he happened to meet...

    • On a Lifetime of Catching Fish in a Net and the Immediate Penalty Gained (1:11)
      (pp. 31-32)

      The Most Venerable Jiō, a monk of Gangō-ji in the capital, at the invitation of a patron of the temple, went on a summer retreat to lecture on the Lotus Sutra at No-no-o Temple in the Shikama district of Harima province. In the neighborhood, there was a fisherman who had been netting fish for a long time, from childhood to the present. Then one day, he suddenly crawled in among the mulberry bushes, crying in a loud voice, “The flames are about to devour me!” When his family tried to help him, he called out to them, “Don’t come near...

    • On a Skull That Was Saved from Being Stepped On by Men and Beasts, Showing an Extraordinary Sign and Repaying the Benefactor Immediately (1:12)
      (pp. 32-33)

      Dōtō, a Buddhist scholar of Koguryŏ, was a monk of Gangō-ji. He came from the Eman family of Yamashina province. In the second year of the Taika era, the year hinoe-uma [646], he built the bridge at Uji. Once, when he was passing through the valley in the Nara hills, he saw a skull that had been trampled on by men and beasts. Sorrowing at the sight, he had his attendant Maro hang it on a tree.

      On New Year’s Eve of the same year, a man came to the gate of the temple, saying, “I would like to see...

    • On a Woman Who Loved Pure Ways, Ate Sacred Herbs, and Flew to Heaven Alive (1:13)
      (pp. 33-34)

      In the village of Nuribe in the Uda district of Yamato province, there lived a very unusual woman. She was a concubine of Nuribe no miyatsuko Maro. She practiced Heaven-approved ways, had gained enlightenment, and possessed a pure heart.26 She gave birth to seven children, but being extremely poor, she had nothing to feed them. Having no means to raise them, she wove vines to clothe them. Every day, she would bathe her body, clean it, and put on ragged clothing. And when she went abroad, she always gathered herbs, and at home was careful to keep her house clean....

    • On a Monk Who Recited the Shin-gyō and, Receiving an Immediate Reward, Showed an Extraordinary Sign (1:14)
      (pp. 34-35)

      Shaku Gigaku was originally from Paekche,29 but when that country was overthrown, in the reign of the sovereign who resided in the later Okamoto Palace,30 he came to our country and lived at the Kutara Temple in Naniwa. He was seven feet tall, well read in the Buddhist scriptures, and particularly skilled in reciting the Hannya Shin-gyō.31

      Egi, a fellow monk at the same temple, happened to go out alone one night around midnight. He found a bright light coming out of the room where Gigaku lived. Thinking this strange, he secretly poked a hole in the paper panel and...

    • On a Wicked Man Who Persecuted a Begging Monk and Gained an Immediate Penalty (1:15)
      (pp. 35-36)

      Long ago, in the time of the old capital, there was a foolish man who did not believe in the law of karmic causality. Once, seeing a monk begging for food, he grew angry and tried to stop him. The monk fled into the water in a rice field, but the man chased after him and caught him. The monk, not knowing what else to do, put a spell on him. The man went completely wild, running about in every direction. The monk, meanwhile, ran far away and could not be found.

      This man had two sons. In order to...

    • On Mercilessly Skinning a Live Rabbit and Receiving an Immediate Penalty (1:16)
      (pp. 36-36)

      In Yamato province, there lived a man whose name and native village are unknown. He was by nature merciless and loved to kill living creatures. He once caught a rabbit, skinned it alive, and then turned it loose in the fields. But not long afterward, pestilent sores broke out all over his body, his whole body was covered with scabs, and they caused him unspeakable torment. In the end, he never gained any relief, but died groaning and lamenting.

      Ah, how soon do such deeds receive an immediate penalty! We should consider others as we do ourselves, exercise benevolence, and...

    • On Suffering Damage in War, Showing Faith in an Image of Bodhisattva Kannon, and Gaining an Immediate Reward (1:17)
      (pp. 36-37)

      Ochi no atai, ancestor of the governor of the Ochi district of Iyo province, was sent to Paekche with the Japanese expeditionary forces.32

      He was taken prisoner by Tang Chinese soldiers and brought to China. There, with other Japanese, eight men in all, he lived on an island. They acquired an image of Bodhisattva Kannon and worshipped it with deep devotion. Secretly, they worked together to cut down a pine tree and fashion a boat. Placing the Kannon image reverently in the boat, they made their vows to it and set off, their thoughts fixed on Kannon. They caught a...

    • On Remembering and Reciting the Lotus Sutra and Gaining an Immediate and Wonderful Reward (1:18)
      (pp. 37-39)

      In the Kazuraki upper district of Yamato province, there was once a devotee of the Lotus Sutra. He was a member of the Tajihi family. Even before he was eight years old, he could recite the Lotus Sutra, but with the exception of one character that always escaped his memory.

      Even when he was in his twenties, it continued to escape him.

      He prayed to Kannon, confessing his offense, and had a dream. In it, a man said to him, “In a previous existence, you were a child of Kusakabe no Saru of the Wake district of Iyo province. At...

    • On Ridiculing a Reciter of the Lotus Sutra and Getting a Twisted Mouth as an Immediate Penalty (1:19)
      (pp. 39-39)

      Long ago in Yamato province, there was a self-ordained monk. His family and given name are unknown. He used to play go incessantly. One day when he was playing go with a white-robed layman, a beggar came along, reciting the Lotus Sutra and asking for alms. The monk laughed scornfully at him, and then purposely twisted his mouth around in imitation of that of the man. The layman was shocked, saying with each play of the game, “How disrespectful!” He won every time at the game, while the monk lost. But while this was going on, the monk’s mouth became...

    • On a Monk Who Gave Away the Wood Used to Heat the Bath, Was Reborn as an Ox, and Labored Until an Extraordinary Sign Appeared (1:20)
      (pp. 40-40)

      Shaku Eshō was a monk of Engō-ji. Once, in the course of his daily life, he gave a bundle of wood to be used to heat the bath to someone else and then died. At that temple, there was a cow that gave birth to a male calf. When the calf grew up into an ox, it was tied to a cart and put to work, endlessly pulling a load of firewood.

      One day, as it pulled the cart into the temple grounds, there was a strange monk at the temple gate who said, “Monk Eshō was good at reciting...

    • On Mercilessly Driving Horses with a Heavy Load and Getting an Immediate Penalty (1:21)
      (pp. 41-41)

      Long ago in Kawachi province, there was a man named Ishiwake who sold melons. He would saddle a horse with a far greater load than the horse was capable of pulling, and then, when the horse failed to move, would whip it angrily and drive it forward. The horse would strain at the heavy load, tears pouring from its eyes. Once he had sold all his melons, he would kill the horse. After Ishiwake had killed a number of horses this way, he happened to peer into a cauldron of boiling water, whereupon both his eyes fell into the water...

    • On Working Diligently to Study the Buddhist Law, Spreading the Teachings for the Benefit of All, and, at the Time of Death, Receiving an Extraordinary Sign (1:22)
      (pp. 41-42)

      The late monk Dōshō belonged to the Fune family of Kawachi province. Under imperial auspices, he went abroad to study Buddhism, journeying to Tang China.40 There he met and became a disciple of Tripitaka Master Xuanzang.41 The master said to his other disciples, “This man, when he returns home, will convert many people to Buddhism. You should not look down on him but treat him well.”

      Once his studies were completed, he returned home and founded a temple called Zen’in-ji, where he resided. He excelled in the keeping of the precepts, and his wisdom shone like a mirror. He traveled...

    • On a Bad Man Who Neglected to Pay Filial Duty to His Mother and Got the Immediate Penalty of an Evil Death (1:23)
      (pp. 43-44)

      In the Sou upper district of Yamato province, there once lived a man whose family name is unknown; his personal name was Miyasu. In the reign of the emperor residing at the Naniwa Palace,43 he became a student of the classics. He spent all his time with books and neglected to take care of his mother.

      His mother had borrowed some rice from him and was unable to return it. Miyasu grew angry and pressed her for repayment. At that time, the mother was kneeling on the floor, while Miyasu sat on a sleeping mat. When his visitors saw this,...

    • On an Evil Daughter Who Lacked Filial Respect for Her Mother and Got the Immediate Penalty of a Violent Death (1:24)
      (pp. 44-45)

      In the old capital there lived a wicked woman whose name is unknown. She had no feelings of filial respect and did not love her mother.

      Once, it being a day for fasting,46 the mother cooked no rice at home but went to her daughter’s place, thinking to eat there. But the daughter said, “Today my husband and I are fasting. So there’s just enough for the two of us—nothing left over for you!”

      At that time, the mother had a little child. As she and the child returned home, she happened to notice a packet of boiled rice...

    • On a Loyal Minister, Satisfied and with Few Wants, Who Won Heaven’s Sympathy and Was Rewarded by a Miraculous Event (1:25)
      (pp. 45-46)

      The late Middle Councillor Lord Ōmiwa no Takechimaro, of the Junior Third Rank awarded posthumously, was a loyal minister of Empress Jitō.47 According to the records, in the seventh year of the Akamidori era, the year mizunoe-tatsu [692], an imperial order was given to the officials telling them to prepare for the empress’s visit to Ise on the third day of the month. The Middle Councillor, fearing that the visit would interfere with agricultural work, presented a memorial attempting to dissuade the empress. She dismissed this, however, saying that she would go anyway. He then took off his official cap...

    • On a Monk Who Observed the Precepts, Was Pure in His Activities, and Won an Immediate Miraculous Reward (1:26)
      (pp. 46-46)

      In the reign of Empress Jitō, there was a meditation master of Paekche named Tara. He always lived in Hokiyama Temple in the Takechi district, following a life of strict discipline. He specialized in caring for the sick and the dying, who were restored to life through his art. When he recited a spell for a sick person, there was a miraculous result.

      Once, when he was climbing a slope with the use of a staff, he stuck a second staff onto the first one, so that the two supported each other without falling, but acted like a chisel.49

      The...

    • On an Evil Novice, Name Unknown, Who Tore Down the Pillar of a Pagoda and Gained a Penalty (1:27)
      (pp. 46-47)

      The shami [novice] of Ishikawa was a self-ordained monk who had no clerical name; his secular name, too, is unknown. He was called the Ishikawa novice because his wife came from the Ishikawa district of Kawachi province. Although he had the appearance of a novice, his heart was set on thieving. Once he falsely told people that he was collecting funds to build a pagoda, but then he and his wife privately spent the money on personal items. Again, when he was living in the Tsukiyone Temple in the Shima-no-shimo district of Settsu province, he tore down a pillar of...

    • On Learning the Chant of the Peacock King and Thereby Gaining Extraordinary Power to Become a Saint and Fly to Heaven in This Life (1:28)
      (pp. 47-49)

      E no ubasoku, or E the Layman, was of the Kamo-no-enokimi family, presently the Takakamo-no-asomi family. He came from the village of Chihara in the Kazuraki upper district of Yamato province. He was wise by nature, had studied widely, and had attained the One.51 He put his faith in the Three Treasures of Buddhism and made this his life work. His constant desire was to ascend a five-colored cloud, fly off to the vast blue, visit as a guest in the palace of the immortals, sport in the gardens of eternity, and lie among their blossoms and suck their nectar...

    • On Being an Unbeliever, Breaking the Bowl of a Begging Monk, and Incurring the Immediate Penalty of a Violent Death (1:29)
      (pp. 49-50)

      Shirakabe no Imaro was a man from the Oda district of Bitchū province. He was evil by nature and did not believe in the Three Treasures of Buddhism.

      One day a monk came to him, begging for food. Imaro offered him nothing, but on the contrary abused him, broke his begging bowl, and drove him away. Later, Imaro went on a trip to another province. On the way, he ran into wind and rain. He sought shelter in a storehouse and was killed when it was blown over.

      Truly we know that retribution is close at hand in the present...

    • On Taking Goods from Others Unjustly and Causing Evil, Gaining a Penalty, and Showing a Miraculous Event (1:30)
      (pp. 50-53)

      Kashiwade no omi Hirokuni was an assistant governor of the Miyako district of Buzen province. In the reign of the emperor at the Fujiwara Palace,55 in the second year of the Kyōun era, the year kinoto-mi [705], on the fifteenth day of the Ninth Month, the day kanoe-saru, he suddenly died. Three days passed, and on the fourth day, the Day of the Boar, around four in the afternoon, he came back to life and told the following tale:

      “There were two messengers, one with the hairstyle of an adult, and the other with that of a child. They accompanied...

    • On Earnestly Believing in Kannon, Praying for His Share of Good Fortune, and Immediately Receiving Great Good Fortune (1:31)
      (pp. 53-54)

      In the reign of Retired Emperor Shōhō-ōjin-shōmu, residing at the Nara Palace,58 Miteshiro no Azumahito went to Mount Yoshino to practice the Buddhist doctrine and pray for good fortune. Three years passed, during which he praised Kannon’s name, reciting, “Hail to Kannon. Please favor me with ten thousand strings of copper coins, ten thousand bushels of white rice, and lots of pretty girls!”

      At that time Awata no asomi of the Junior Third Rank had a daughter who was unmarried and a virgin. She suddenly fell ill at her home in Hirose. Her suffering was so great that there appeared...

    • On Having Faith in the Three Treasures, Revering Monks, Having Sutras Recited, and Gaining an Immediate Reward (1:32)
      (pp. 54-55)

      In the fourth year of the Jinki era, the year hinoto-u [727], in the Ninth Month, Emperor Shōmu went hunting with his officers in the mountains in Yamamura in the Sou upper district. A deer ran into a farmer’s house in the village of Hosomi, and the people in the house, unaware of where it had come from, killed it and ate it. Later, when the emperor received word of this, he sent officers to arrest the people involved. There were more than ten men and women implicated in the affair, and they shook with fear, having no one to...

    • On a Wife Who Had a Buddhist Picture Painted for Her Deceased Husband That, as an Immediate Reward, Miraculously Survived the Flames (1:33)
      (pp. 55-56)

      In Hata Temple in the Ishikawa district of Kawachi province, there is a painted image of Amida. The villagers say that a virtuous wife once lived in the neighborhood of the temple, though her name is not known. On the day her husband was dying, she vowed to have a Buddhist image created. But because of her poverty, many years went by with the vow unfulfilled.

      Each autumn she gleaned the fields, and then she asked a painter to help her make an offering to the dead, weeping tears of sorrow. The painter, moved to join in her devotion, completed...

    • On Getting Back Silk Robes That Had Been Stolen Through a Petition to Bodhisattva Myōken (1:34)
      (pp. 56-56)

      In front of the temple called Shinobu-dera in the Ate district of Kii province, there was once a house. When ten silk robes were stolen from the owners of the house, they prayed earnestly for their recovery to Bodhisattva Myōken at the temple. However, the robes were sold to a merchant in the town of Kii.

      Before seven days had passed, a violent wind suddenly arose. The robes wrapped themselves around the body of a deer, which carried them south and left them in the garden of the owners, who exclaimed, “A gift from Heaven!” When the man who had...

    • On a Nun Who, in Gratitude for the Four Kinds of Blessings, Gained the Power to Show an Extraordinary Sign (1:35)
      (pp. 56-58)

      In the village of Yuge in the Wakae district of Kawachi province, there lived a well-disciplined novice nun. Her name is unknown, but she lived in a mountain temple at Heguri. She organized an association of devotees and painted a Buddha image with a picture of the six realms of existence in order to give thanks for the four kinds of blessings.59 After the dedication ceremony, it was enshrined in the temple, where it helped to show to all the various circumstances of birth. But the Buddha image was stolen, and though she wept and searched for it, she could...

  5. Volume II
    • PREFACE
      (pp. 61-64)

      If we survey the history of the early period, we see that in the time before Emperor Senka, people followed non-Buddhist methods in inquiring about the gods. But from the reign of Emperor Kinmei on, people honored the Three Treasures of Buddhism and believed in the correct doctrine. To be sure, there were some ministers to the throne who burned temples and cast away Buddhist images.¹ But there were other ministers to the throne who built temples and worked to spread the Buddhist teachings. Among the latter was Retired Emperor Shōhō-ōjin-shōmu, who built a colossal statue of the Buddha and...

    • On Depending on One’s Exalted Virtue, Committing the Offense of Hitting a Humble Novice, and Receiving the Immediate Penalty of a Violent Death (2:1)
      (pp. 65-66)

      Retired Emperor Shōbō-ōjin-shōmu [Shōmu, r. 724–749], who resided at the Nara Palace and reigned over the Eight Great Islands, in the first year of the Tenpyō era, the year tsuchinoto-mi [729], in the spring, on the eighth day of the Second Month, held a great Dharma meeting at Gangō-ji in the eastern sector of the capital and paid honor to the Three Treasures of Buddhism. Prince Nagaya,¹ Chancellor of the Senior Second Rank, was directed by edict to take charge of serving food to the monks. At that time, there was a novice who brazenly went to the place...

    • On Observing Licentious Birds, Renouncing the World, and Practicing Good (2:2)
      (pp. 66-68)

      Meditation Master Shingon was originally Chinu no agatanushi Yamatomaro, governor of the Izumi district of Izumi province in the reign of Emperor Shōmu. By the gate of his house, there stood a big tree in which crows roosted, gave birth to their young, and raised them. Once, the male bird flew off to search for food, leaving his mate to shelter the chicks. While he was away looking for food, other crows constantly came around, seeking companionship. The wife took up with one of them, soaring high into the sky with her new friend, heading north, and flying off without...

    • On the Evil Death Visited Immediately on an Evil and Perverse Son Who, Out of Love for His Wife, Plotted to Kill His Mother (2:3)
      (pp. 68-70)

      Kishi no Homaro was from the village of Kamo in the Tama district of Musashi province. Homaro’s mother was Kusakabe no Matoji. In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, Homaro was appointed by Ōtomo (exact name unknown)⁶ to serve for three years as a frontier guard in Tsukushi.⁷ His mother accompanied him to see to his needs, while his wife remained in Musashi to look after the house.

      At that time Homaro, separated from his wife, was filled with unbearable longing for her, and hit on a perverse scheme, thinking, “If I murder my mother, I will be obliged to tend...

    • On a Contest Between Two Women of Extraordinary Strength (2:4)
      (pp. 70-71)

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, there was a woman of extraordinary strength at Ogawa Market in the Katakata district of Mino province. She was a big woman named Mino Kitsune (the fourth generation of the one whose mother was long ago named Kitsune of Mino province). Her strength equaled that of a hundred men. She lived in the marketplace of Ogawa and took great pride in her strength, making a living by browbeating the merchants who came and went there and seizing their goods.

      At that time, there was another woman of great strength in the village of Katawa...

    • On Worshipping Chinese Gods, Killing Oxen as a Sacrifice, but Also Doing Good by Setting Free Living Creatures, He Received Both Good and Evil Rewards (2:5)
      (pp. 71-74)

      Once in the province of Settsu, the district of Himugashinari, in the village of Nadekubo, there lived a master of a rich household. His name is not known, but the time was the reign of Emperor Shōmu. This rich man worshipped Chinese gods and used to pray to them and make offerings. Each year he would slaughter an ox as a sacrifice.⁸

      At the end of seven years, having killed seven oxen, he was suddenly seized with a severe illness that lasted for seven years. The doctors tried various remedies, but to no effect. The rich man summoned diviners and...

    • On Copying the Lotus Sutra with Utmost Devotion and Witnessing an Extraordinary Event (2:6)
      (pp. 74-75)

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, there was a man in the Sagara district of Yamashiro province who made a vow. His family and personal names are not known. He copied the Lotus Sutra in order to repay the four kinds of blessings11 and sent messengers to the four quarters in search of white sandalwood and black sandalwood to make a box for the scrolls of the scripture. Eventually, they found some in the capital of Nara, which he purchased for the price of one hundred kan.12 Then he asked a skilled craftsman to measure the new scrolls and fashion...

    • On a Wise Man Who, Out of Envy, Abused an Incarnated Sage and, as an Immediate Penalty, Visited the Palace of King Yama and Underwent Suffering in Hell (2:7)
      (pp. 75-79)

      Shaku Chikō was a monk of Sugita Temple in the Asukabe district of Kawachi province, his native land. His secular name was Sugita no muraji, later changed to Kami no suguri. (His mother was of the Asukabeno-miyatsuko family.) He was innately intelligent and ranked first in knowledge. He wrote commentaries on the Urabon-kyō, Daihannyakyō,13 Hannya Shin-gyō [Heart Sutra], and other works, and lectured on Buddhist teachings to many students.

      There was at this time a monk named Gyōgi. His secular name was Koshi no Fubito, and he came from the Kubiki district of Echigo province. His mother was of the...

    • On Saving the Lives of a Crab and a Frog, Setting Them Free, and Receiving an Immediate Reward (2:8)
      (pp. 79-80)

      Okisome no omi Tahime was the daughter of a nun named Hōni, the presiding officer of the nunnery of Tomi in the capital of Nara. She was utterly devoted to the Way and was careful to preserve her chastity, constantly collecting herbs and every day without fail presenting them to the Most Venerable Gyōgi as an offering.

      Once, going into the mountains to collect herbs, she saw a large snake about to swallow a large frog. “Please give me that frog!” she pleaded, but the snake went on swallowing the frog. Once more she pleaded, “I will become your wife,...

    • On Building a Temple and Then Using Its Goods for Private Purposes, He Was Reborn as a Laboring Ox (2:9)
      (pp. 81-81)

      Ōtomo no Akamaro was the governor of the Tama district of Musashi province. On the nineteenth day of the Twelfth Month in the first year of the Tenpyō shōbō era, the year tsuchinoto-ushi [749], he died and was reborn on the seventh day of the Fifth Month, in the summer of the second year, the year kanoe-toru [750], as a calf with black spots. It had an inscription on its back that said, “Akamaro selfishly used the goods of the temple he himself founded and died without paying for them. In payment for these goods he has been reborn as...

    • On Constantly Stealing Birds’ Eggs, and Boiling and Eating Them, He Suffered an Immediate and Evil Penalty (2:10)
      (pp. 82-83)

      In the village of Shimoanashi in the Izumi district of Izumi province, there lived a young man whose name is unknown. He was inherently evil and did not believe in the law of karmic causation, but constantly looked for birds’ eggs to boil and eat.

      In the sixth year of the Tenpyō shōbō era, in the spring, the Third Month of the year kinoe-uma [754], a strange soldier came to him and announced, “I was sent by a provincial official!” He had a formal document four feet long fastened at his waist. They went off together, and when they came...

    • On Cursing a Monk and Committing a Lustful Act, He Suffered an Evil Result and Died (2:11)
      (pp. 83-84)

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, the nuns of Sayadera in Kuwahara in the Ito district of Kii province vowed to hold a service and invited a monk of Yakushi-ji on the West Side of Nara, Dharma Master Daie (popularly known as Dharma Master Yosami because his secular name was Yosami no muraji), to perform the rite of repentance before the statue of the Eleven-Headed Kannon.

      At that time in the village, there lived a very wicked man. His surname was Fumi no imiki (his popular name was Ueda no Samurō). He was evil by nature and did not believe...

    • On Saving the Lives of Some Crabs and a Frog and Freeing Them, She Gained an Immediate Reward from the Crabs (2:12)
      (pp. 84-86)

      In Yamashiro province, in a community in the district of Kii, there was a young woman whose family and personal names are unknown. Tender-hearted by nature, she believed firmly in the law of karma, observed the five precepts and the ten good deeds,24 and never deprived any living thing of life. In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, some of the cowherds in the village where she lived caught eight crabs in a mountain stream and were about to roast and eat them. The young woman, seeing this, pleaded with the herd boys, saying, “Please be so kind as to give...

    • On Manifesting Love for the Image of Goddess Kichijō, Which Responded with an Extraordinary Sign (2:13)
      (pp. 86-87)

      In a mountain temple of Chinu, in the Izumi district of Izumi province, there was a clay image of Kichijō-tennyo, Goddess Kichijō.25 In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, a lay brother of Shinano province came to live at the temple. Attracted by the image, he fell in love with it and prayed to it passionately six times a day, saying, “Please send me a woman who is as beautiful as you!”

      Once he dreamed that he had relations with the goddess. When he awoke the next morning, he found that the skirt of the image was stained with semen. Seeing...

    • On a Destitute Woman Who Prayed to the Image of Goddess Kichijō and the Immediate Reward It Gained Her (2:14)
      (pp. 87-88)

      During the reign of Emperor Shōmu, twenty-three princes and princesses, being one in heart, got together to take turns giving banquets and providing entertainment. But there was one destitute princess among the group. After the other twenty-two had taken their turns in providing food and entertainment, she alone was left with no means of doing so. Filled with shame at her inability to respond, she went to the Hatoribe Hall on the East Side of Nara to pay her respects to the image of Goddess Kichijō, saying, “Because I planted the seeds of poverty in my previous existence, I am...

    • On Copying the Lotus Sutra and Making an Offering of It, He Made Clear Why His Mother Had Been Reborn as a Cow (2:15)
      (pp. 88-90)

      Takahashi no muraji Azumahito was a man of the village of Hamishiro in the Yamada district of Iga province. He was very wealthy and had many possessions. For the sake of his deceased mother, he copied the Lotus Sutra, making a vow, saying, “I want to get a monk to comply with my vow and bring her salvation.” He arranged to hold a religious service the next day and gave orders to a servant, saying, “The first monk you meet will do to officiate at the service. If he looks as though he can conduct it, do not bother whether...

    • On Freeing Creatures, but Giving No Alms, and the Good and Bad Results That Immediately Appeared (2:16)
      (pp. 90-92)

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, in the village of Sakata in the Kagawa district of Sanuki province, there lived a rich man. Both he and his wife belonged to the Aya no kimi family. Next door to them lived an old man and an old woman who were widowed, having lost their children. They were very poor, possessing only clothes enough to cover their nakedness and no food to keep them alive. They came to the Aya no kimi household day after day without fail to beg for their evening meal. Once, the master of the Aya no kimi...

    • On Bronze Images of Kannon That Showed, by Their Transformation into the Form of a Heron, an Extraordinary Sign (2:17)
      (pp. 92-93)

      In the nunnery of Okamoto, in the village of Ikaruga in the Heguri district of Yamato province, there were twelve bronze images of Kannon. (In the past, in the reign of the empress at the Owarida Palace,29 it had been the residence of Prince Regent Kamitsumiya, who made a vow and turned it into a nunnery.) During the reign of Emperor Shōmu, six of the bronzes were stolen. A search was made, but they could not be found, after which many days and months passed.

      To the west of the stage house in Heguri, there was a small pond. One...

    • On Speaking Ill of a Monk Reciting the Lotus Sutra and Gaining the Immediate Penalty of an Evil Death (2:18)
      (pp. 93-94)

      In the Tenpyō era [729–749] in the Sagaraka district of Yamashiro province, there once lived a layman whose name is unknown. At Koma Temple in the same district, there was a monk named Yōjō31 who used to recite the Lotus Sutra constantly. It happened that the monk and the layman had been playing go for some time.32 Whenever the monk put down a stone, he said, “This is the Venerable Yōjō’s game of go.” When he did so, the layman would mock him, deliberately twisting his mouth and saying, “This is the Venerable Yōjō’s game of go.” He went...

    • On a Woman Devotee of the Shin-gyō Visiting the Palace of King Yama and the Following Extraordinary Event (2:19)
      (pp. 94-96)

      The laywoman Tokari no ubai was from Kawachi province. Her surname was Tokari no suguri, and hence she was called the laywoman Tokari. She was innately pure of heart and put her faith in the Three Treasures of Buddhism. She constantly chanted the Shin-gyō as a form of religious devotion. Her chanting of the Shin-gyō was so beautiful that she was beloved by both clergy and laity.

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, this laywoman went to sleep one night and, without being ill, died suddenly and went to the palace of King Yama. The king, seeing her, stood up...

    • On a Mother Who, Having Had a Bad Dream, Had Scriptures Recited with True Faith and Saved Her Daughter by an Extraordinary Sign (2:20)
      (pp. 96-97)

      In the village of Yamamura in the Sou upper district of Yamato province, there lived an aged mother whose name is unknown. She had a married daughter who had two children. Her son-in-law was appointed provincial magistrate, and accordingly he took his family to his post. Several years passed.

      The wife’s mother had stayed in the village to look after the household. Suddenly, she had a dream that portended ill for her daughter. She was greatly disturbed and thought, “I must have a sutra recited for my daughter!” But, being very poor, she had no money to do so. Having...

    • On the Clay Image of a God-King from Whose Legs Emanated a Light, and Whose Supplicant Received an Immediate Reward (2:21)
      (pp. 97-98)

      On the hill east of the city of Nara, there was a temple named Konjū-ji.35 In that mountain temple lived a man who was called Konjū because he made his residence there.36 That temple later became known as Tōdai-ji. During the reign of Emperor Shōmu, the practitioner Konjū constantly lived there and followed the ways of Buddhism. In the temple was enshrined a clay image of Vajradhara Shūkon.37 The practitioner took hold of a rope tied to the legs of the image and prayed to it day and night without ceasing.

      It happened that light emanating from its legs reached...

    • On a Bronze Image of the Buddha That Was Stolen by a Thief and Revealed His Identity by a Marvelous Sign (2:22)
      (pp. 99-100)

      In a part of the Hine district of Izumi province, there was a thief. He lived near the highway, but his name is unknown. He was inherently evil, killing and stealing for a living, and did not believe in the law of karmic causation. Constantly, he stole metal from temples, made it into strips, and sold it.

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, he stole a metal image of the Buddha from a temple named Jin’e-ji in the district. At that time, there happened to be a man passing along the road. When his horse passed the north side of...

    • On a Bronze Image of Bodhisattva Miroku That Was Stolen and Revealed the Thief Through a Miraculous Sign (2:23)
      (pp. 100-101)

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, an imperial messenger went around the city at night. At midnight, he heard wailing emanating from the field of smartweed south of the Kazuraki nunnery in the capital of Nara. It made a sound like “It hurts, it hurts!” Hearing the sound, the messenger proceeded in the direction of the cries. He found a thief breaking up a bronze image of Bodhisattva Miroku,40 using a stone. When he caught and questioned the thief, he replied, “Yes—this is the bronze image of the Kazuraki nunnery.” The image was returned to the nunnery, and the...

    • On the Devils, Messengers of King Yama, Who Accepted the Hospitality of the One for Whom They Had Been Sent and Repaid It (2:24)
      (pp. 101-103)

      Nara no Iwashima lived on Fifth Avenue and Sixth Street, on the East Side of Nara—that is, in the village west of Daian-ji. During the reign of Emperor Shōmu, he borrowed thirty kan41 from the Shutara fund of Daian-ji, went to the port of Tsuruga in Echizen, purchased goods, and loaded them on a ship he had bought to bring them home. On the way home, he was suddenly taken ill. Leaving the ship, he decided to go on alone and hired a horse to do so.

      When he reached Shiga-no-karasaki in the Takashima district of Ōmi province, he...

    • On the Devil, Messenger of King Yama, Who Accepted the Hospitality Offered Him and Repaid the Kindness (2:25)
      (pp. 103-105)

      In the Yamada district of Sanuki province, there lived a woman named Nunoshi no omi Kinume. In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, this woman suddenly fell ill. At the time, she prepared a splendid feast and placed it to the left and right of her doorway as an offering for the god of the dead.

      A demon messenger came from King Yama to summon her. The messenger was tired, and, casting a covetous look at all the delicacies, he accordingly helped himself. Then he said to the woman, “I have accepted your delicious meal, and hence owe you some reward....

    • On a Log, Intended for Buddha Images, That Was Abandoned but Showed an Extraordinary Sign (2:26)
      (pp. 105-106)

      Meditation Master Kōdachi, whose secular name was Shimotsukeno no asomi, was a man of the Muza district of Kazusa province. (Some say that he was from Ahiru district.) During the reign of Emperor Shōmu, he went to the mountain called Kane-no-mitake in Yoshino, where he walked around underneath the trees, reciting scriptures and seeking to practice the Way of Buddhism.

      At that time, there was a horse-chestnut tree in the village of Tsuki in Yoshino district. This tree was cut down with the intention of making Buddha images, but was abandoned for many years. At that place, there was a...

    • On a Woman of Great Strength (2:27)
      (pp. 106-107)

      Owari no sukune Kukuri was the governor of the Nakashima district of Owari province in the reign of Emperor Shōmu. His wife came from the village of Katawa in the Aichi district of the same province (a granddaughter of the Venerable Dōjō of Gangō-ji). She was faithful to her husband and as gentle and compliant as silk cloth that has been glossed. Once, she wove fine hemp for her husband’s sake. Its color and pattern were beyond compare.

      At that time, the ruler of that province was Wakasakurabe no Tau. When he saw the beauty of the robe the governor...

    • On a Very Poor Woman Who Trusted to the Beneficence of the Sixteen-Foot Buddha and Won an Extraordinary Sign and Great Good Fortune (2:28)
      (pp. 108-109)

      During the reign of Emperor Shōmu, there was a woman living in the village west of Daian-ji in the capital of Nara. She was extremely poor, having nothing with which to sustain life and, in fact, was starving.

      Having heard that the Sixteen-Foot Buddha of Daian-ji responded to the vows of the community, she went as quickly as possible to present her pleas. She brought flowers, incense, and lamp oil and presented them before the Buddha, voicing her pleas, saying, “I did not plant the seeds of good fortune in my past existence, and hence I am rewarded with extreme...

    • On How the Most Venerable Gyōgi Used His Divine Insight to Examine a Woman’s Hair and Scold Her for Applying Animal Oil (2:29)
      (pp. 110-110)

      In the village of Gangō-ji in the old capital,49 there was once held a splendid Dharma meeting at which, before the gathering of monks and lay members, the Most Venerable Gyōgi was invited to preach for seven days. Among those assembled to listen to the preaching of the Law was a young woman whose hair had been smeared with animal oil. When the Most Venerable Gyōgi saw her, he spoke admonishingly, saying, “This smell is highly offensive to me. Her hair smells of blood! Take her far away from here!” The woman was greatly astonished and left the congregation.

      We...

    • On the Most Venerable Gyōgi Examining the Child of a Woman, Perceiving That It Was an Enemy from Past Ages, and Recommending That She Throw It Away, Resulting in an Extraordinary Sign (2:30)
      (pp. 110-112)

      The Most Venerable Monk Gyōgi opened up the Naniwa River Canal, set up ferry crossings, preached the Way, and converted people. Monks and laymen, eminent and humble, all gathered about him to listen to the Dharma. On one such occasion in the province of Kawachi, the district of Wakae, in the village of Kawamata, there was a woman who, carrying her child in her arms, went to take part in the religious meeting and listen to the Dharma. But the child began to wail and complain, so she could not hear the sermon. The child was already more than ten...

    • On the Birth of a Girl with Shari in Her Hand, Owing to Her Parents’ Vow to Build a Pagoda (2:31)
      (pp. 112-113)

      Niu no atai Otokami was a man of the Iwata district of Tōtōmi province. He made a vow to build a pagoda, but a number of years had gone by and he still had not done so. He always looked on this with regret.

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, Otokami, who was seventy years old, and his wife, who was sixty-two, gave birth to a girl baby. At the time of birth, her left hand was clenched tight. Her father and mother, lamenting, wondering at this, tried to make her unclench her fist, but it was clenched tight and...

    • On Borrowing Money from the Temple Rice-Wine Fund, Failing to Repay It, and Being Reborn as an Ox as a Result (2:32)
      (pp. 113-114)

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, villagers of Mikami in the Nagusa district of Kii province organized a devotees’ association to rotate the fund of Yakuō-ji (now called Seta Temple). At the home of Okada no suguri Obame, this medical fund was used to earn profits in a brewery.52

      One day, a spotted calf came onto the grounds of Yakuō-ji and lay down at the base of the pagoda. The men of the temple chased it away, but it came back again and lay down, refusing to be shooed away. The men, wondering at this, said, “Who does this calf...

    • On a Woman Devoured by an Evil Demon (2:33)
      (pp. 115-116)

      During the reign of Emperor Shōmu, a popular song spread all over the country:

      Who asked you to be a bride,

      Yorozu-no-ko of Amuchi-no komuchi?

      Namu, namu.

      Mountain ascetics chanting formulas,

      Bring us wine

      Lots and lots of it!55

      At that time, there was a wealthy man who lived in the eastern part of the village of Amuchi in the Tōchi district of Yamato province. His surname was Kagamitsukuri no miyatsuko. He had a daughter named Yorozu-no-ko. She was unmarried, a virgin, and of beautiful appearance. But although men of high rank proposed to her, she refused them all, and...

    • On an Orphan Girl Who Paid Respects to a Bronze Statue of Kannon and Received Recompense in a Miraculous Manner (2:34)
      (pp. 116-118)

      In a village near the Uetsuki Temple in the western sector of the capital of Nara there lived an orphan girl who was as yet unmarried; her family and given names are unknown. When her father and mother were alive, the family possessed great wealth, built numerous houses and storerooms, and cast a bronze image of Bodhisattva Kannon, two feet five inches in height, erecting a sanctuary some distance from the main house in which the statue was enshrined and worshipped. But in the time of Emperor Shōmu, the young woman’s parents passed away, the servants ran off, and the...

    • On Hitting a Monk and Incurring the Immediate Penalty of Death (2:35)
      (pp. 119-120)

      Prince Uji was innately evil and put no faith in the Three Treasures of Buddhism. During the reign of Emperor Shōmu, this prince happened to be traveling through Yamashiro, accompanied by eight men, on his way to Nara. It chanced that the monk Taikyō of the Shimotsuke Temple was traveling on foot from Nara to Yamashiro, and was passing through the district of Tsuzuki. He chanced to come upon the prince so suddenly that there was no place for him to move out of the way. He lowered his hat, hiding his face, and stood at the side of the...

    • On the Wooden Image of Kannon That Revealed Godlike Power (2:36)
      (pp. 120-120)

      In the reign of Retired Emperor Shōmu,58 the head of the image of Kannon, the attendant image on the east side of the Amida in the Shimotsuke Temple in the capital of Nara, fell off for no apparent reason.

      The patron of the temple, observing this, decided that he would repair it on the following day and, meanwhile, left it as it was for a day and a night. On the morning of the following day, however, when he looked, he found that the head had returned to its original position on its own. Not only that, but now it...

    • On a Wooden Image of Kannon That Survived Fire and Revealed Godlike Power (2:37)
      (pp. 121-121)

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, in the Izumi district of Izumi province, in a mountain temple, there was a wooden image of Bodhisattva Shōkanjizai that was enshrined and venerated.60 Once, a fire broke out and consumed the entire hall. But the wooden image of this bodhisattva moved about thirty steps out of the burning hall, and then lay down without sustaining any damage.

      Truly we know that the Three Treasures of Buddhism, although they have no visible form or mind and cannot be seen by the eye, yet possess divine power. This is the first of all wonders!...

    • On Rebirth as a Huge Snake Because of Avarice (2:38)
      (pp. 121-122)

      In the reign of Emperor Shōmu, there was a monk who always lived in a mountain temple in Maniwa in the capital of Nara. When he was on the verge of death, he said to his disciples, “After I die, you must not open the door to my room until three years have passed!”

      But after he died, when only seven times seven days had gone by, a huge snake appeared, lying at the door to the room. The disciples, knowing the reason it had come, obtained its permission and then opened the door. They found thirty kan of coins...

    • On the Wooden Image of Yakushi Buddha, Washed Away in Water and Buried in Sand, That Showed an Extraordinary Sign (2:39)
      (pp. 122-123)

      Between Suruga province and Tōtōmi province, there flows a river called Ōigawa. Beside the river is the village of Uda, which is in the Harihara district of Tōtōmi province. In the second year of the Tenpyō hōji era of the reign of Emperor Ōhi [Junnin, r. 758–764], who reigned at the Nara Palace, the year tsuchinoe-inu [758], in the spring, the Third Month, a voice was heard coming from the sand on the beach at the village of Uda, crying, “Get me out! Get me out!”

      At that time, a monk was traveling through Tōtōmi province, and when he...

    • On an Evil-Loving Man Who Got an Immediate Penalty, Being Killed by Sharp Swords and Suffering an Evil Death (2:40)
      (pp. 123-123)

      Tachibana no asomi Naramaro was a son of Prince Kazuraki [d. 757]. With overweening ambition, he plotted to usurp the throne, gathering around him a band of disaffected persons for that purpose. He had a monk’s figure painted and used it as a target, trying to shoot out its eyes. He loved to do evil deeds, none more evil than this.

      Once a lackey of Naramaro went to the Nara Hills with a hawk to hunt birds. Finding many foxes there, he caught one and skewered it with a stick, leaving it stuck in the ground at the opening to...

    • On a Woman Who Was Violated by a Large Snake but Survived, Due to the Power of Drugs (2:41)
      (pp. 124-125)

      In the village of Umakai in the Sarara district of Kawachi province, there lived a daughter of a wealthy family. In Emperor Ōhi’s reign, in the third year of the Tenpyō hōji era, in the summer, the Fourth Month of the year tsuchinoto-i [759], the girl climbed a mulberry tree in order to pick the leaves. A large snake crawled up the tree after her. A passerby, seeing this, warned her, whereupon, frightened, she fell to the ground. The snake, too, fell to the ground and, taking advantage of her unconscious state, entered her vagina.

      Her father and mother, seeing...

    • On an Extremely Poor Woman Who Implored the Thousand-Armed Kannon, Asking for Aid, and Received Great Good Fortune (2:42)
      (pp. 126-128)

      Amanotsukai Minome lived at the juncture of Ninth Street and Second Avenue on the East Side of the capital of Nara. She had given birth to nine children and, being extremely poor and having no means to support them, was having great difficulties. She had been praying for nearly a year to the Thousand-Armed Kannon of Hozumi Temple for a share of good fortune.67

      In the reign of Emperor Ōhi, in the seventh year of the Tenpyō hōji era, in the winter, on the tenth day of the Tenth Month of the year mizunoto-u [763], quite unexpectedly her younger sister...

  6. Volume III
    • PREFACE
      (pp. 131-134)

      The root causes of good and evil are revealed in the scriptures of Buddhism, while the workings of good luck and bad are recorded in the outer writings, those of a non-Buddhist nature. Studying all the teachings of Śākyamuni made in the course of his lifetime, we learn that these fall into three periods. First is the 500 years of the Correct Law, second is the 1,000 years of the Counterfeit Law, and third is the 10,000 years of the Latter Day of the Law. Since the date when the Buddha entered nirvana, 1,722 years have elapsed by the time...

    • On the Tongues of the Reciters of the Lotus Sutra That Did Not Decay, Although Exposed to the Elements (3:1)
      (pp. 135-137)

      In the reign of Empress Abe,¹ who ruled over the Eight Great Islands at the Nara Palace, there was a monk, Meditation Master Yōgō, in the village of Kumano in the Muro district of Kii province. The people of the time, highly esteeming his activities, honored him with the title of bodhisattva. And because he lived south of the imperial city, he was called the Bodhisattva of the South.

      At that time, there was a meditation master who came to the bodhisattva’s place, bringing with him a copy of the Lotus Sutra (it was written in very small characters in...

    • On Killing Living Creatures and Suffering Revenge, Being Reborn as a Fox and a Dog, Hating Each Other, and Incurring a Penalty (3:2)
      (pp. 137-138)

      Meditation Master Yōgō was a monk of Kōfuku-ji on the East Side of the capital of Nara. His secular name showed that he belonged to the Ashiya-no-kimi or the Ichiyuki family. He came originally from the Teshima district of Settsu province, and lived in the village of Kumano in the Muro district of Kii province, observing a disciplined way of life.

      Once, a sick man came to the temple where he lived, asking him to cure him of a disease. As long as he recited a sacred formula, the disease was cured, but when he stopped reciting, the disease would...

    • On a Monk Who, Devoting Himself to an Eleven-Headed Kannon Image, Received an Immediate Reward (3:3)
      (pp. 138-139)

      The monk Bensō was a clergyman of Daian-ji temple. He was innately eloquent and, acting as representative of the congregation, addressed the Buddha, gaining numerous devotees and expressing the wishes of the mass of believers.

      During the reign of Empress Abe, Bensō borrowed thirty kan from the Shutaraku fund of the temple for his private use and was unable to repay it. The official of the temple who handled such matters pressed for repayment, but he was unable to do so. He therefore went up to the mountain temple of Hatsuse to confront the image of the Eleven-Headed Kannon and...

    • On a Monk Who Was Thrown into the Sea, but Was Saved from Drowning by Reciting a Mahayana Sutra (3:4)
      (pp. 139-141)

      In the capital of Nara, there was a fully qualified monk, whose family and personal names are unknown. This monk constantly recited a Mahayana sutra, but he lived as a secular person and lent money to support his wife and family. He had one daughter who was married and lived separately with her husband.

      During the reign of Empress Abe, his son-in-law was appointed an official in Mutsu province. He accordingly borrowed twenty kan from his father-in-law to cover expenses and went off to his new post in the province. After a year and more had passed, he had repaid...

    • On How Bodhisattva Myōken Assumed a Strange Form in Order to Detect a Thief (3:5)
      (pp. 142-142)

      In the Asuka district of Kawachi province, there was a mountain temple in Shidehara. It was a place to offer lamps to Bodhisattva Myōken.7 Every year, lamps were offered from the provinces around the capital.

      In the reign of Empress Abe, the devotees’ association held the usual celebration, offering lamps to the bodhisattva and making offerings of money and valuables to the monk in charge of the temple. At that time, his disciple stole five kan of the money for the offerings and hid it. Later the disciple went to get the money, but could not find it. All he...

    • On the Fish That a Meditation Master Wanted to Eat, Which Turned into the Lotus Sutra to Defend Him from Popular Abuse (3:6)
      (pp. 142-144)

      On Mount Yoshino, there was a mountain temple called Amabe-no-mine. In the reign of Empress Abe, a fully qualified monk was living there who was ardent in his actions and diligently followed the Way. But he was physically weak and lacking in strength, and when he could no longer move around freely, he conceived a desire to eat some fish, saying to his disciple, “I have a longing for fish. Get me some so I can replenish my strength!” Since his master had requested it, he went to the seacoast of Kii province, where he bought eight fresh gray mullet...

    • On Receiving the Help of a Wooden Kannon and Narrowly Escaping the King’s Punishment (3:7)
      (pp. 144-145)

      Hasetsukaibe no atai Yamatsugu of the Senior Sixth Rank, Upper Grade, came from the village of Ogawa in the Tama district of Musashi province. His wife was of the Shirakabe family. Yamatsugu became a soldier and was sent to the frontier to fight against the hairy men.8 While he was away, his wife, praying for her husband’s safety, made a wooden image of Kannon and worshipped it with great devotion and reverence. When the husband returned, having escaped harm in his mission, he joined his wife in paying honor to it, only too delighted to do so, and continued for...

    • On the Miraculous Appearance of Bodhisattva Miroku in Response to a Vow (3:8)
      (pp. 145-146)

      In the village of Tōe in the Sakata district of Ōmi province, there lived a wealthy man whose name is unknown. He made a vow to copy the Yuga-ron,10 but although many years passed the vow was still unfulfilled. Finally, the man fell on hard times and lost his means of livelihood. He left home, abandoned his wife and family, and practiced the Buddhist Way, hoping for good luck. But when he thought of his unfulfilled vow, it was a constant weight on his mind.

      In the reign of Empress Abe, in the second year of the Tenpyō jingo era,...

    • On King Yama Sending Out a Strange Order and Encouraging a Man to Do Good (3:9)
      (pp. 146-148)

      During the reign of Empress Abe, Fujiwara no asomi Hirotari was suddenly stricken with illness. In order to cure his sickness, in the second year of the Jingo keiun era [768], on the seventeenth day of the Second Month, he went to a mountain temple at Makihara in the Uda district of Yamato province to live and observe the eight precepts. He took up a brush, as though to practice his calligraphy, but leaned on his desk without moving until evening came. His attendant, thinking that he must have fallen asleep, shook him, trying to wake him, saying, “The sun...

    • On the Lotus Sutra, Copied in Accordance with the Law, That Survived a Fire (3:10)
      (pp. 148-149)

      The Muro no shami, or novice of Muro, was of the Enomoto family. He was self-ordained and had no clerical name. Because he was a native of the Muro district of Kii province, he was called by the name of Muro. He lived in the village of Arata in Ate district, shaved his head, and wore a surplice, but he lived a householder’s life and followed a vocation to earn his living. He made a vow to copy the Lotus Sutra, reverently and in accordance with the rules of the Law, doing the copying himself. After every major or minor...

    • On a Woman, Blind in Both Eyes, Whose Sight Was Restored Through Her Devotion to the Wooden Image of Yakushi Buddha (3:11)
      (pp. 149-150)

      In the Tadehara Hall in the village of Tadehara, south of the pond of Koshide in the capital of Nara, there was a wooden image of Yakushi Nyorai, or the Buddha of Healing.16

      During the reign of Empress Abe, a woman blind in both eyes lived in the village. She was a widow whose only daughter was seven years old. Having no husband and being so poor, she had great difficulty living. Lacking any way to acquire food, she was on the verge of starvation. She said to herself, “This is due to the deeds of my past lives. It...

    • On a Man, Blind in Both Eyes, Who Paid Reverence to the Name of Nichimani-no-mite of the Thousand-Armed Kannon and Was Rewarded by Having His Eyesight Restored (3:12)
      (pp. 150-151)

      In the village east of Yakushi-ji in the capital of Nara, there lived a blind man. Both his eyes were open, but he could not see out of them. He was devoted to Kannon and meditated on Nichimani-no-mite in hope of restoring his sight.17 During the day, he would sit at the eastern gate of Yakushi-ji, spread a handkerchief, and chant the name of Nichimani-no-mite. Passersby, sympathizing with him, would put money, rice, or other types of grain on top of the handkerchief. Or at other times, he would sit in the marketplace doing the same thing. When the temple...

    • On a Man Who Vowed to Copy the Lotus Sutra and Was Saved from a Pit Devoid of Sunlight by the Power of His Vow (3:13)
      (pp. 151-153)

      In the Aita district of Mimasaka province, there was an iron mine owned by the state. In the reign of Empress Abe, a provincial magistrate commanded ten workmen to enter the mine to dig out the ore. At that time, the entrance to the mine suddenly caved in. The workmen, surprised and terrified, made a rush for the exit. Nine of them barely managed to escape, but one was left behind and could not get out. Before he could do so, the entrance was blocked. The magistrate and the other people, supposing that he had been crushed to death, grieved...

    • On Striking the Reciter of the Dharani of the Thousand-Armed Kannon and Receiving the Immediate Penalty of a Violent Death (3:14)
      (pp. 153-154)

      In the Kaga district of Koshi-no-michi province,19 there was an official in charge of vagrants.20 He tracked them down and made them pay production and labor taxes. At that time, there was a man registered in the capital of Nara whose name was Ono no asomi Niwamaro. He became a lay brother and constantly recited the dharani of the Thousand-Armed Kannon.21 He wandered here and there in the mountains of the Kaga district, carrying out his religious practice.

      In the third year of the Jingo keiun era, the year tsuchinoto-tori [769], in the spring, on the twenty-sixth day of the...

    • On Hitting a Novice Who Was Begging for Food and Receiving the Immediate Penalty of a Violent Death (3:15)
      (pp. 155-155)

      Inukai no sukune Maoi lived in the village of Saki, north of the imperial mausoleum of Ikume in the capital of Nara. He was innately evil in nature and hated beggars. In the reign of Empress Abe, a novice came to Maoi begging for food. Maoi, far from off ering him anything, stripped him of his surplice and abused him, saying, “What kind of monk are you?” The novice replied, “I am a self-ordained monk!” Maoi chased him away and, deeply offended, he left.

      That evening, Maoi cooked some carp in soup and set it aside to chill and set....

    • On a Licentious Woman Whose Children Cried for Milk and Who Received an Immediate Penalty (3:16)
      (pp. 156-157)

      Yokoe no omi Naritojime was from the Kaga district of Koshi no Michi province.25 She was innately licentious and used to keep company with many men. Before she had completed the best years of her life,26 she died, and many years passed.

      Dharma Master Jakuren, who was from the village of No-no-o in the Nagusa district of Kii province, left his home and traveled to other provinces, practicing the teachings and seeking the Way. He came to the village of Uneda in Kaga district and stayed there for some years.

      In the reign of Emperor Shirakabe [Kōnin r. 770–781],...

    • On Clay Images, Half Finished, Whose Groans Produced an Extraordinary Sign (3:17)
      (pp. 157-158)

      Novice Shingyō came from the village of Mike in the Naga district of Kii province. His secular name was Ōtomo no muraji Oya. He renounced his secular status, ordained himself, shaved his head, and wore a surplice, looking for anything that would bring good fortune. In that village was a sacred place, called the Mikeyamamuro Hall, built by the villagers themselves. (Its formal Buddhist name was Jishi zenjū-dō [Maitreya’s Meditation Hall].) Inside were two unfinished images of the attendants of Bodhisattva Miroku. Their arms, which were broken off, were kept in the bell hall. The patrons of the temple, discussing...

    • On a Sutra Master Who Copied the Lotus Sutra but, Because of Licentiousness, Incurred the Immediate Penalty of a Violent Death (3:18)
      (pp. 159-159)

      Tajihi the sutra master came from the Tajihi district of Kawachi province. His surname was Tajihi, and so he was called by that name.

      In that district, there was a temple called Nonaka Hall and a person who made a vow there. In the second year of the Hōki era, the year with the sign kanoto-i [771], in the summer, the Sixth Month, he went to the sutra master and requested him to make a copy of the Lotus Sutra, gathering the women members of the congregation to provide pure water to add to the copier’s ink. The time was...

    • On a Girl Born of a Flesh Ball Who Practiced Good and Converted People (3:19)
      (pp. 160-161)

      The wife of Toyobuku no Hirogimi of the village of Toyobuku in the Yatsushiro district of Higo province became pregnant. In the second year of the Hōki era, the year kanoto-i [771], in the winter, on the fifteenth day of the Eleventh Month, about four o’clock in the morning, she gave birth to a flesh ball. It looked like an egg. Both husband and wife, considering this inauspicious, put it in a container and stored it in a cave in the mountains. After seven days had passed, they went to look at it and found that the ball had broken...

    • On Speaking Ill of a Woman Copying the Lotus Sutra and Immediately Getting a Twisted Mouth (3:20)
      (pp. 162-162)

      In the village of Hani in the Nakata district of Awa province, there was a woman whose surname was Imube no obito. (Her given name was Tayasuko.) In the reign of Emperor Shirakabe, she was copying the Lotus Sutra at Sonoyama-dera in Oe district. At that time, Imube no muraji Itaya of the same Oe district spoke ill of her, slandering her, and for that reason his mouth became twisted and did not mend, remaining always that way.

      In the Lotus Sutra it says: “If one speaks ill of the reciter of this sutra, his faculties will be impaired; he...

    • On a Blind Monk Who Had the Diamond Sutra Recited and Was Cured (3:21)
      (pp. 162-163)

      The novice Jōgi was a monk of Yakushi-ji on the West Side of the capital of Nara. In the third year of the Hōki era [772], he lost the sight in one of his eyes. Five months went by, and day and night he was ashamed and grieved. He invited a number of monks to recite the Diamond Sutra for three days and nights. As a result, his eye was then cured, and he could see as he had in the past.

      How great is the power of the Diamond Sutra! Therefore, make your vow in a spirit of faith....

    • On Using Heavy Scales to Cheat Others, but Copying the Lotus Sutra, and the Immediate Good and Bad Rewards He Got (3:22)
      (pp. 163-165)

      Osada no toneri Ebisu was a man of the village of Atome in the Chiisakata district of Shinano province. He had great wealth and used to lend money and rice to others. He copied the Lotus Sutra twice, and each time held a ceremony to recite it. After thinking it over further, he was not satisfied with this, so reverently copied it once more, but held no ceremony when it was done.

      In the fourth year of the Hōki era, the year mizunoto-ushi [773], in the summer, the last week of the Fourth Month, Ebisu suddenly died. His wife and...

    • On Using Temple Property, but Vowing to Copy the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, and the Immediate Good and Bad Rewards He Got (3:23)
      (pp. 165-166)

      Ōtomo no muraji Oshikatsu was a man of the village of Omuna in the Chiisakata district of Shinano province. The Ōtomo family, being all of like mind, got together to build a hall in the village to serve as a family temple. Oshikatsu, in order to provide it with a copy of the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, made a vow, gathered contributions, shaved his head, put on a surplice, and, accepting the precepts, became a follower of the Way, constantly living in the hall.

      In the fifth year of the Hōki era, the year kinoe-tora [774], in the spring,...

    • On Preventing People from Practicing the Way and Being Reborn as a Monkey in Penalty (3:24)
      (pp. 167-169)

      In the Yasu district of Ōmi province, on the mountain called Mikamuno-take, there was a shrine named the home of Taga no Ōkami. It had the holdings of six families as its endowment. Near the shrine was a temple.

      In the reign of Emperor Shirakabe, during the Hōki era [770–781], there was a monk living in the temple, Eshō of Daian-ji, who was carrying out a retreat. In a dream, a man appeared to him, saying, “Please recite a sutra for me!” He was surprised, and after he awoke, he wondered and pondered the matter.

      The next day, a...

    • On Being Put Adrift on the Ocean, Reverently Reciting Śākyamuni Buddha’s Name, and Preserving Their Lives (3:25)
      (pp. 169-170)

      Ki no omi Umakai was a man from the village of Kibi in the Ate district of Kii province. Nakatomi no muraji Ōjimaro was a boy from the village of Hamanaka in the Ama district of the same province. Kinomaro no asomi lived in a port in the Hidaka district of the same province, using a net to catch fish. Umakai and Ōjimaro were paid annually for their labor by Kinomaro no asomi. Regardless of whether day or night, they went with him, trying to catch fish with a net.

      In the reign of Emperor Shirakabe, the sixth year of...

    • On Collecting Debts by Force and with High Interest, and Receiving the Immediate Penalty of a Violent Death (3:26)
      (pp. 171-173)

      Tanaka no mahito Hiromushime was the wife of Oya no agatanushi Miyate of Outer Junior Sixth Rank, Upper Grade, a governor of the Miki district of Sanuki province. She gave birth to eight children and was very rich, possessing heaps of wealth. Her riches included horses, cattle, male and female slaves, money, rice, rice fields, other kinds of fields, and more. But by nature, she lacked any feeling for the Way and was so greedy that she never gave anything away. By selling rice wine diluted with a lot of water, she managed to make a big profit. When she...

    • On a Man Who Removed a Bamboo Shoot from the Eye of a Skull and Prayed for It, Receiving an Extraordinary Sign (3:27)
      (pp. 173-175)

      In the reign of Emperor Shirakabe, the ninth year of the Hōki era, the year tsuchinoe-uma [778], in the winter, the latter part of the Twelfth Month, Homuchi no Makihito of the village of Ōyama in the Ashida district of Bingo province went to the Fukatsu market in the Fukatsu district of the same province to buy things in honor of the New Year. Evening overtook him while he was still on the road, so he spent the night in the bamboo grove at Ashida in Ashida district.

      In the place where he spent the night, he heard a voice...

    • On a Sixteen-Foot Image of Miroku Whose Neck Was Bitten by Ants and the Extraordinary Sign It Showed (3:28)
      (pp. 175-176)

      In the village of Kishi in the Nagusa district of Kii province, there was a temple called Kishi-dera. It was so called because the villagers of Kishi had built it with their donations.

      In the reign of Emperor Shirakabe, there was a lay believer who lived in the temple. Once, when he was in the temple, he heard a voice crying, “It hurts! It hurts!” It sounded like the voice of an old man.

      At first, he thought that someone, having been taken ill, had come to the temple in the early part of the evening and was staying there....

    • On a Village Boy Who in Play Made a Wooden Buddha and a Foolish Man Who Broke It, Incurring the Immediate Penalty of a Violent Death (3:29)
      (pp. 176-177)

      In the village of Hamanaka in Niki, in the Ama district of Kii province, there lived an ignorant man whose name is unknown. He was ignorant by birth and had no understanding of the law of karmic retribution.

      For people going back and forth between Ama and Ate, there was a little mountain trail called Tamasaka. If one climbs the mountains from Hamanaka and travels south, he will come out in the village of Hata. One time, a child of the village went into the mountains to collect firewood. He played along the way, collecting wood and fashioning a Buddha...

    • On a Monk Who Accumulated Merit by Making Buddhist Images and, When His Life Ended, Showed an Extraordinary Sign (3:30)
      (pp. 177-179)

      Elder Master Kanki’s secular name was Mimana no Kanuki. He was from the Nagusa district of Kii province. By nature, he was a highly learned man. He had completed the usual Buddhist ceremonies, as well as being accomplished in secular matters. He lived the life of a layman, pursuing agricultural occupations and thereby supporting his wife and family.

      In the village of No-no-o, there was a temple built by his ancestors, called Miroku-dera but popularly referred to as No-no-o-dera. In the reign of Emperor Shōmu [r. 724–749], Kanki made a vow to carve a sixteen-foot image of Śākya, along...

    • On a Woman Who Gave Birth to Stones and Honored Them as Gods (3:31)
      (pp. 179-179)

      In the village of Kusumi in Mizuno, in the Katakata district of Mino province, there was a woman whose surname was Agata. She was over twenty when, being unmarried, she became pregnant without any sexual intercourse. Three years went by, and in the reign of Emperor Yamabe, the first year of the Enryaku era, the year mizunoto-i [782], in the spring, the latter part of the Second Month, she gave birth to two stones. They measured five inches in diameter. One was mixed blue and white in color, while the other was pure blue. They grew larger year by year....

    • On Taking a Net, Going to Sea to Fish, and Meeting Trouble, but Due to Devotion to Bodhisattva Myōken, He Was Saved (3:32)
      (pp. 180-180)

      Kurehara no imiki Naguhashimaro was from the village of Hata in the Takechi district of Yamato province. From the time he was little, he used to make nets and catch fish for a living. In the second year of the Enryaku era, the year kinoe-ne [783], in the autumn, on the night of the nineteenth day of the Eighth Month, he went out on the sea between Iwataki Island, in the Ama district of Kii province, and Awaji province to cast his net for fish. There were three boats fishing, with a total of nine men. Suddenly a great wind...

    • On Persecuting a Humble Begging Novice and Receiving the Immediate Penalty of a Violent Death (3:33)
      (pp. 181-183)

      Ki no atai Yoshitari, popularly known as Master Hashi-no-iegimi, was from the village of Wake in the Hitaka district of Kii province. He was evil by nature and did not believe in the law of karmic causation. In the fourth year of the Enryaku era, the year kinoto-ushi [785], in the summer, the Fifth Month, a provincial official who was making the rounds of the district to hand out loans of government rice came to that district to distribute them to all the peasants.

      There was a self-ordained monk who was called Ise no shami, or the novice of Ise....

    • On Contracting a Foul Disease but Embracing the Precepts, Practicing Goodness, and Gaining an Immediate Cure (3:34)
      (pp. 183-184)

      Kosebe no Azame was a woman from the village of Haniu in the district of Nagusa in Kii province. In the fifth year of the Tenpyō hōji era, the year kanoto-ushi [761], she contracted a foul disease, which caused a growth to form on her neck as big as a melon. It was extremely painful and did not go away with the years. She said to herself, “My past deeds have brought this on, not those of my present existence only. If I am to wipe out those sins and cure my sickness, nothing is more effective than doing good!”...

    • On Borrowing an Official’s Authority, Ruling Unrighteously, and Thus Gaining an Immediate Penalty (3:35)
      (pp. 184-186)

      In the reign of Emperor Shirakabe, there was a man of the district of Matsura in the province of Hizen in Tsukushi named Hi no kimi, who died suddenly and went to the land of King Yama. When the king checked, however, it was found that his death was premature, and he accordingly was sent home.

      On his way back, he saw a Hell that looked like a boiling kettle in the ocean. In it was something that looked like a black stump rising and sinking, and as it rose, it spoke to him, saying, “Wait—I have something to...

    • On Decreasing the Number of Stories in a Pagoda and Taking Down the Temple Banners, and the Penalty Received (3:36)
      (pp. 186-187)

      Fujiwara no asomi Nagate was chancellor in the reign of Emperor Shirakabe, who resided at the Nara Palace.49 In the first year of the Enryaku era [782], his son Ieyori [d. 785] of the Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade, had a bad dream involving his father, and said to him, “Unknown soldiers, more than thirty of them, came to summon you, Father. This is an ill omen! Therefore, you should pray to ward off disaster!”

      In spite of this warning, his father refused to follow his advice. Shortly after, he died. Then Ieyori fell victim to a prolonged illness. He...

    • On Doing Evil Because of Ignorance of the Law of Karmic Causation and Receiving a Penalty (3:37)
      (pp. 188-189)

      Saheki no sukune Itachi of the Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade, lived in the reign of the emperors who resided at the Nara Palace.52 Once a man from the capital went to Chikuzen in Kyushu, was taken ill, and suddenly died. He proceeded to the palace of King Yama. Although he did not see anybody, he heard the voice of a man who was being beaten echoing far and wide. With each lash he cried, “It hurts! It hurts!”

      The king questioned his clerks, saying, “When this person was in the world, what good deeds did he do?” The clerks...

    • On the Appearance of Good and Evil Omens, Which Were Followed by Results Indicating Disaster or Good Luck (3:38)
      (pp. 189-198)

      It is said that when good or evil omens are about to appear, they are preceded by songs that spread through the land.53 The people of the time in the lands throughout the country hear the songs, sing them, and thus communicate their message.

      Retired Emperor Shōhō-ōjin Shōmu [Shōmu, r. 724–749], who had ruled the country for twenty-five years from the Nara Palace, summoned High Councilor Fujiwara-no-asomi Nakamaro into his presence and delivered a decree, saying, “It is my desire to see Princess Abe and Prince Funado rule over the land.54 What do you think of my decree? Is...

    • On a Monk Who Excelled in Both Wisdom and Practice and Who Was Reborn as a Prince (3:39)
      (pp. 198-202)

      Meditation Master Shaku Zenjū’s secular name was Ato no muraji. He was named after his mother’s family, Ato no uji. When he was a little boy, he lived with his mother in the village of Shikishima in the Yamanobe district of Yamato province.

      After he was ordained, he worked very diligently, studying the doctrine and excelling in both wisdom and practice. The ruler and his ministers regarded him highly, and he was respected by clergy and laity alike. He worked to spread a knowledge of the Law and guide others, making these his concern. Accordingly, the emperor, in acknowledgment of...

  7. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 203-204)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-208)