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Myoe Shonin

Myoe Shonin (1173-1232) was a Japanese monk living in a time when Buddhism (and many civil institutions) had decayed. Priests were corrupt (some were robbers); temples had been burned, and lines of oral/experiential teaching (vital in many Buddhist sects) wiped out. Myoe was determined to reconstruct the early purity of Buddha's teaching from scratch if need be; and he used ecstatic dreams and visions like the following to do it.

Myoe's dream journal is one of the earliest extant; the surviving portion covers about 1195-1226, with about 180 dreams. The best English version is Myoe the Dreamkeeper by George Tanabe. Below are five of the longer, more vivid dreams.

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THE BOULDER DISSOLVES: by Myoe Shonin; mid Dec. 1230, an old monk's dream of liberation
I was trapped inside a boulder, but as I chanted it melted around me until it resembled a discarded skin...
DRINK THE DOVE: by Myoe Shonin; c.1202/9/11, a pre-Surrealist surreal dream
The sparrow died in the ashes, but the dove in my hands became a blue cloud.
I drank it, thinking "This will benefit us all"...
PEACOCK KINGS: by Myoe Shonin; 1196/8 or 1196/9, an ecstatic dream
I meet two Peacock Kings bigger than human beings, who chant blessings until I wake with tears drenching my pillow...
SHEEP IN THE SKY: by Myoe Shonin; c.1220/9/20, a dream of strange advice.
A strange transforming thing appeared in the sky--a light, a sheep, a man. It told me to stop burning my head...
ZEMMYO: by Myoe Shonin; c.1221/4/20, a spiritual Pygmalion dream.
A doll sent from China breaks into tears over her exile here in Japan. I reassure her and she becomes real...

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