Flowering of Goodness    

J Krishnamurti
Tao Te Ching

Buddhist Classics

A Call To Practice!
One Buddha Per Universe
A Lesson From A Ghost
Karma Tales
A Scripture That Protects Kings
The Realms of Rebirth

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Buddhist Classics
Karma Tales

...Continued from Part One

Circumstances by Which a Wise Person Slandered a Manifest Holy Man, Went to King Yama's Hell, and Suffered

The monk Chiko, originally of Kawachi Province, was a sramana [Buddhist ascetic] at Sukita Temple in Asukabe District. His secular status was Sukita lineage (uji) with Muraji title (kabane) - later renamed Kami lineage, Suguri title. (His mother's lineage was Asukabe, Miyatsuko title.) He was innately gifted with a sharp memory and was first in wisdom. He wrote commentaries on Buddhist sutras such as the Yulanpen jing (Japanese: Urabonkyo), the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, and the Heart Sutra, and he taught student monks how to chant the Buddha's teachings.

At the same time there was a novice named Gyogi. His secular status was Koshi lineage, Fuhito title. He was from Kubiki District, Echigo Province. His mother was from Otori District, Izumi Province, Hachita line, Kusushi title. Gyogi discarded the secular, avoided desires and propagated the dharma to reform deluded people. He was clever, diligent and innately intelligent. Inwardly he concealed his bodhisattva attributes, while outwardly he assumed the form of a sravaka [disciple]. The Heavenly Sovereign Shomu [701-756], awed by Gyogi's majesty and virtue, trusted him completely. Ordinary people revered him and addressed him as 'bodhisattva'. For these reasons, during the eleventh moon of the Elder Tree Year of the Monkey, Tenpyo sixteen [744], Gyogi was appointed Great Sangha Prefect (daisojo).

Chiko became jealous. He slandered Gyogi: 'I am the wise person while Gyogi is a mere novice. Why does the heavenly sovereign not rely on my wisdom? Why does he promote Gyogi alone to office?' Filled with enmity, he returned to Sukita Temple to reside. Almost immediately, however, he came down with diarrhoea, and after just one month he faced death. Chiko admonished his disciples, 'After I die, wait nine days before cremating my corpse. If student monks inquire about me, say that I had business elsewhere. Postpone making any offerings [in my memory] and be careful not to let anyone know [of my death].' His disciples accepted his instructions and sealed the door to their teacher's room. They did not inform anyone else, but cried tears in secret. Day and night they guarded his home, waiting for the designated period. When student monks came seeking Chiko, the disciples responded as they had been instructed. They postponed the offerings.

[The deceased] Chiko was fetched by two attendants of Yama, the king of hell. First, they took him west [towards the direction of the pure land]. Further ahead on that route Chiko could see a golden palace. He asked: 'What is that residence?' They replied: 'How could the famous wise person from the Land of Reed Plains [i.e., Japan] not know? It is the residence into which the bodhisattva Gyogi will be reborn.'

On the left and right of its gateway there stood two gods. They wore armour and had crimson foreheads. The two attendants bowed to the ground and reported: '[Here is the one] you summoned.' [The gods guarding the gateway] asked: 'Are you the one from the Land of Abundant Reed Plains with Rice Sprouts [i.e., Japan] who is known as dharma master Chiko?' 'Just so,' Chiko replied. The guards pointed towards the north and said: 'Go that way.'

Accompanied by the two attendants, Chiko walked ahead. Although he could not see any fire or sunlight, he felt rays of heat burning the surface of his body. While the extreme heat was uncomfortable, nonetheless his mind was drawn towards it. Chiko asked: 'What is the source of this heat?' The attendants replied: 'It is the heat of hell, which will boil you.' Further ahead on that route there stood an extremely hot iron pillar. The attendants commanded: 'Embrace it.' Chiko did so. His flesh melted and burned until only his skeleton remained. Three days passed. Then the attendants came, swept together all of his remains from around the base of the pillar, and said: 'Live! Live!' Chiko's body was reborn. Again they directed him to travel north. There stood a copper pillar, even hotter than the one before. Drawn towards it by his evil deeds, Chiko wanted to embrace the hot pillar. The attendants commanded: 'Embrace it.' Chiko did so. His body burned and melted away. Three days passed. As before, the attendants swept around the pillar and said: 'Live! Live!' Chiko was reborn. Once again they directed him towards the north.

Fiery heat rose like clouds of mist. It was so hot that if a flying bird had happened upon it, the bird would instantly fall as [its blood] boiled. Chiko asked: 'What is this place?' The attendants replied: 'Avici Hell, where you will be boiled.' They immediately grabbed Chiko and threw him into the boiling flames. Only by hearing the sound of a bell being struck could Chiko cool off and rest. Three days passed. The attendants pulled Chiko out of hell and said: 'Live! Live!' Chiko regained his former self.

They took him back the way he had come until they arrived at the gateway to the golden residence. The attendants announced: 'We have brought him back.' The two guards at the gateway said: 'You were summoned here so that you might eliminate your sin of having criticized the bodhisattva Gyogi in the Land of Reed Plains. After the bodhisattva finishes converting people in the Land of Reed Plains, he will be born in this residence. We are waiting for his arrival. Be careful not to eat any food cooked on the hearths of Yellow Springs [i.e., the netherworld]. Now, return home.' Accompanied by the attendants, Chiko headed east towards the way he had come.

When the disciples had observed the nine-day period, they heard Chiko call out for them. They gathered around him, overjoyed at his recovery. Chiko sighed heavily, turned towards his disciples, and told them in detail of the lands of Yama. He respectfully decided to tell Gyogi of his jealousy.

At that time Gyogi was in Naniwa, where he directed the construction of bridges, canals and docks. When Chiko physically recovered, he went to Gyogi's location. The bodhisattva saw Chiko and by means of his penetrating vision instantly knew what Chiko thought. Filled with loving kindness, Gyogi said: 'Why have we so rarely met?' Chiko announced his repentance. He confessed: 'I was jealous of the bodhisattva. I said, "I am a fully ordained, senior monk, with innate wisdom. Gyogi is a novice with shallow intelligence who has never been ordained with the complete precepts. Why does the heavenly sovereign only elevate Gyogi while discarding me?" As a result of this verbal sin, King Yama summoned me and forced me to embrace iron and copper pillars for nine days until I atoned for the sin of slander. I fear what retributions my remaining sins will engender in my afterlife. Therefore I am confessing. Please excuse my sins.' Venerable Gyogi, with a kind expression, silently [consented]. Chiko added: 'I saw the golden residence where you will be reborn.' Gyogi listened to him and said: 'How joyful! How valuable!'

Our mouths are entryways for mishaps that injure our bodies, while our tongues are axes that mutilate our goodness. For this reason, the Inconceivable Radiant Bodhisattva Sutra [Japanese: Fushigi ko bosatsukyo] teaches: 'Because the bodhisattva Surplus Assets (Nyozai) committed the sin of criticizing the faults of the bodhisattva Noble Divinity (Kenten), for ninety-one aeons he was always reborn in the womb of a whore, who always abandoned him at birth, so that the wild foxes always ate him.'

...Excerpt from Buddhist Scriptures

Daily Words of Wisdom