On Practicing the Formula of the Peacock King and Thereby Gaining an Extraordinary Power to Become a Saint and Fly to Heaven in This Life
A tale from the Nihon Ryoiki
of the Monk Kyokai
E no ubasoku was of the Kamo-no-enokimi family, presently the Takakamo-no-asomi family. He came from the village of Chihara, Upper Kazuraki district, Yamato province. By nature he was endowed with wisdom; he excelled in learning and attained ultimate knowledge. He lived with reverence and faith in the Three Treasures. His greatest desire was to fly on a five-colored cloud beyond the sky and play in the garden of eternity with the guests of the heavely palace, lying in the flowering garden and sucking the vital force out of the haze to nourish his nature.
Accordingly, in his late forties he went to live in a cave, wore clothing made of vines, drank the dewdrops on pine needles, bathed in pure spring water to rinse away the filth of the world of desire, and learned the formula of the Peacock to attain extraordinary power. Thus he could employ spirits and kami at his command at his command.
Once he summoned them all and ordered them, "Make a bridge between Kane-no-take and Kazuraki-no-take." They were not happy about this, and in the reign of the emporer residing at Fujiwara Palace, Hitokotonushi no Okami of Kazuraki-no-take was possessed and slandered him, saying, "E no ubasoku plans to usurp the throne." The emporer dispatched messengers to capture him, but they found it hard to take him due to his mysterious power, so they captured his mother instead. In order that his mother might be freed, he gave himself up.
He was exiled to the island of Izu. One time his body went floating on the sea as if he were walking on land. Again, his body perched on a mountain ten thousand feet high and looked like a huge phoenix in flight. In the daytime he stayed on the island in accord with the emporer's command, but at night he went to Fuji-no-take [Mt. Fuji] in Suruga to practice austerities. As he prayed for pardon from his severe punishment and for permission to return to the capital, he lay down on the blade of an assassin's sword and ascended Mt. Fuji. Three years passed in ascetic practice after he was exiled to the island. At the turn of the eighth year of the ox, the first year of the Taiho era, he was pardoned and approached the capital, finally becoming a saint and flying to heaven.
Dharma Master Dosho of our country received an imperial order to go to Great T'ang China in order to search out Buddhist teachings. On the request of five hundred tigers he went to Silla to lecture in the mountains on the Hoke-kyo. At that time there was a man among the tiger who raised a question in Japanese. The monk asked, "Who are you?" and the man answered, "E no ubasoku." The monk thought that the man was a Japanese sage and came down from his high seat to inquire about him, but he was gone.
Hitokotonushi no Okami was bound with a spell by E no gyoja, and he has not escaped even to this day. E no ubasoku did so many miraculous deeds that we cannot enumerate them all. Indeed we learn that Buddhist miraculous arts are comprehensive. Those who have faith will attain them without fail.
Miraculous Stories from the Japanese Buddhist Tradition: The Nihon Ryoiki of the Monk Kyokai. Translated and edited by Kyoko Motomochi Nakamura. First published in 1973 by Harvard University Press: MA. This edition published by Curzon Press: Surrey, Great Britain. Copyright 1997. For non-profit educational use only. ISBN:0-7007-0449-3