Enjoying Otogi Zoshi with the Help of Synopsis and Illustrations, Fifth Story ; Tsukumogam
** Volume 1 **
According to "Yin-Yang Book", more than 100-year-old tools get souls and disconcert the public. Those tools are called Tsukumogami. At every beginning of a new year, the event called Sweeping soot is held in which old tools are thrown away on an alley. This aims not to get mishap from Tsukumogami.
In Kenpo Period, old tools are thrown away as always on Sweeping soot. The old tools gather and hold discussion.
"We have served as hard as we could for long years. How sore that we are not only far from praise but thrown away and kicked by horses or cows. Now, we become specters and take revenge."
It sounds very vicious. The old tools seem to get heated up.
Ichiren-bonze, the beadroll, puts a ward in.
"Everybody, we were thrown away, but it is our luck. We will return good for evil."
Arataro, the club, gets angry at the ward.
"Hey, you smartmouth! You sound so pious and annoying. Get away, get away!"
And he beats Ichiren-bonze harshly until the clamp of beadroll is cracked. Ichiren is gasping. He is saved by his disciples and barely escapes with his life.
The old tools continue their discussion. Professor Kobun, who is wise man, submits a proposal using the Way of Yin and Yang.
"In the first place, all creation is equal. Their appearances are just temporary given in accordance with Yin-Yan. God of Creation will give souls even to us. Bean-Throwing Festival is the season when Yin and Yan are counterchanged, so we will wait until it comes. If we throw our lives away at that time, God of Creation will reincarnate us as specters."
All tools agree to it.
Meanwhile, Ichiren-bonze is very mortified at the affaire. He says that he goes back and gets even with them. His disciples stop him for their lives.
Hitosujini Omoimokiranu Tamanoono Musubohoretaru Wagakokorokana
"As like as beads are tied in a beadroll firmly my heart is also tied to angry insistently"
Deshitotada Ochitekienamu Michinobeno Kusabanotsuyuno inochinariseba
"I want to vanish away with my disciples because my life is so transient as grass beside trails"
It comes the night of Bean-Throwing Festival at last. As Professor Kobun said, the old tools throw their lives and resign themselves to God of Creation. They transform in a flash after 100-year life. Some tools get the figure of man, woman, old man or child, and others get the figure of monster or beast. They are all fearful specters.
The specters talk over their abode. If it is too far away from human habitation, they will suffer from shortages of food. So they decide depth of Nagasaka, back of Mt. Funaoka as their abode, and move there.
They go to the city to take revenge for being thrown away by eating cows and horses to say nothing of humans. People are feared and sorrow. They want to fight off the specters, but they don't know the way because their opponents are invisible. All they can do is pray to gods and Buddha.
The specters are very pleased. Holding a rowdy drinking party, they talk big that they don't envy even celestial beings' pleasure. They seem to get rather carried away.
The verses which subject is "Spring"
Harutatsuto Ifusonohiyori Wagagotoku Sakuramohanano Nasaketsukuramu
"Like me having got the soul to become a specter on the first day of spring, it looks like that the cherry blossom also got the heart to become living"
Ikanishite Ayataruhanazo Yamazakura Miruhitogotoni Kokorowadohasu
"How did it get the mysterious power?
With its beauty, the mountain cherry blossom beguiles all the appreciator"
One day, the specters come up with the idea that they dedicate a shrine to God of Creation.
"We got reincarnated thanks to God of Creation. If we don't worship him, we are nothing more than stocks and stones. We will hold religious ceremonies to praise him as our tutelary god, so he will keep our tribe populated."
They build a shrine in the depth of Mt. Funaoka and name their God "Transformation Deity." They choose priests, shamans, and kagura performers from them to hold a religious ceremony every morning and evening. They are the specters of faith.
They also make a miniature shrine to hold a festival like other shrines. At midnight on April 5th, they march down Ichijo-dori to the east. They give variety to their accouterments and deck themselves out beautifully.
Just at the moment, the party of Regent is proceeding down Ichijo-dori to the west for a special investiture. They bump into the specters. The attendants at the head fall off their horses and faint, and others also fall down to the ground. Regent however, does not bat an eyelid. He stares them fixedly from within the palanquin, and a flame inexplicably blows off from his amulet. The flame spreads in just about no time and pounces upon the specters. They flee for their lives.
** Volume 2 **
Regent is not able to go to the Imperial Palace because of this rabblement, so he goes back. In the gray of the morning, he reports this event to Emperor. Emperor is so astonished that he makes a diviner perform augury. The result of it tells that prudent behavior is necessary, so they make offerings to shrines and make priests pray in temples.
By the way, on the amulet of Regent which produced strange power the night before, the blessed incantation "Sonshodarani" had been written by a certain bishop. Regent always keeps it on him. Emperor hears about it and issues an order to make the bishop carry out all the prayers afterwards. The bishop tries to decline again and again, but he has no choice but to obey to Emperor's command. He decides to conduct Sonshodarani's Mass in Seiryoden Chamber.
Only temple dignitaries perform this Mass. They light a holy fire, rub their beads, and prey.
It is the 6th day. On the way to Seiryoden Chamber for hearing, Emperor sees bright light over the roof. There are several guardian children in the light. They all bear arms; some sling swords, and others shoulders clubs. The light flies heading off for north. This must be the sign that the retainers of Acala, the God of Fire, are going to make the evil spirits surrender. Emperor is moved to tears.
After a ritual, Emperor takes the bishop aside on his side and says,
"The great efficacy of the prayers is absolutely the result of your ascetic practices."
Receiving the blessed compliment, the bishop sheds tears with emotion when he bows out from the royal presence.
For the meanwhile, the guardian children fly to the haunt of the specters, and fight off them in no time.
"If you promise that you won't harm humans and will worship Buddhism, we don't kill you. If not, we will exterminate you all."
The specters promise faithfully never to torment humans.
After that, the specters gather and tremble with fear remembering that they were close to being killed.
"We had killed a lot of living creatures, so we incurred the punishment of Buddha. This is what we deserved. Despite it, he saved our lives considering our penitence. We will enter Buddhism and desire for enlightenment."
The specters immediately become religious.
They talk about next who is qualified to teach them Buddhism.
"In retrospect, Ichiren-bonze is a celebrated and virtuous priest. We will look up to him as a teacher and devote ourselves to ascetic practices. But we affronted him last winter. Although he must be angry about it, if we repent from the bottom of our heart, he will forgive us in his mercy."
The specters decide to visit the priest.
Meanwhile, Ichiren-bonze has deeply despaired of this world since the affair of last winter, so he lives in obscurity in the bosom of the mountains.
One evening, Ichiren-bonze hears the sound of knocking the door.
"Who is it in the bosom of the mountains?"
He opens the door to find the specters in fearful figures.
"Whoever are you? Are you evil spirits who are trying to disturb my ascetic practices?"
"No, we are not. We are the old tools you know very well. We were transformed as you can see."
The old tools talk that they became the specters by praying to God of Creature, and they were fought off by the guardian children to become religious.
"I've been worried about you all. I cannot be more delighted that as well as visiting me all the way, you become religious."
Arataro, the club who beat Ichiren-bonze especially begs forgiveness from the bottom of his heart.
"Don't be so sorry. It is all fate. Because you beat me, I got to devote myself to ascetic practices."
The specters are ordained priest by Ichiren-bonze, and devote themselves to ascetic practices. One day, they ask Ichiren-bonze,
"We heard that the speed of attaining Buddhahood is different depending on the profundity of doctrine. We want to be taught profound doctrine to achieve enlightenment as soon as possible."
"I've learned several religious sects' doctrines for long years. It is not easy to discuss the rights and wrongs because each doctrine of Buddha is all the same even if their profundities are different. But when it comes to the speed of attaining Buddhahood, the Singon Sect is the best. A long time ago, when the temple dignitaries of all sects debated at court, Kobodaishi of Singon Sect preached the doctrine of attaining Buddhahood while still in the flesh, and he united with Dainichi Buddha in front of them at Emperor's command. So you become a believer of Singon Sect and show that you attain enlightenment."
The specters are delighted to hear this. They learn the doctrine of Singon Sect.
The old tools are big enough to store knowledge because some of them were vessels by nature. Ichiren-bonze teachs them all doctrines of Singon Sect.
After the months passed, Ichiren-bonze gathers the specters and says,
"I was fortunately blessed with you disciples and could teach all doctrines of Singon Sect. I have realized my desire."
Saying so, he attains Buddhahood while still in the flesh in no time. He was 108 years old. Light fills in all directions, and the room becomes like a paradise. After the specters witnessed Ichiren-bonze attain Buddhahood, they devote themselves to ascetic practices more diligently.
After while, one of the specters makes a suggestion.
"Living together like this, we might make light of our practices by being lenient toward each another. The Buddhist Scriptures says, 'Go deep into the mountains and seek Buddhism'. We will partly go into deep mountains and dark valleys to devote ourselves to mental training far from secular world."
The specters agree to that, and leave to live separately in a fond farewell. They lead ascetic lives; one lives between rocks back in the mountains, and another under a pine deep in the valley.
Their practices are rewarded. They finally have attained Buddhahood while still in the flesh. They have become different saints from each other depending on their practices. This is the feature of Singon Sect that the results are different.
Only Singon Sect clearly states that even inanimate beings like old tools can attain Buddhahood. If so, why can't we living creatures? Having heard this story, you will get to believe the doctrines of Singon Sect more strongly. If you want to attain Buddhahood while still in the flesh, believe Singon Sect.
** The End **
Copyright 2001. Kyoto University Library