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Dreamed late 1196 ("8th or 9th month") by Myoe Shonin.
In a dream, there were two golden Great Peacock Kings which were larger in size than a man's body. Their heads and tails were decorated with an assortment of jewels, and from their entire bodies came a fragrant force that permeated the entire world. The two birds frolicked and flew through the sky, and from the jewels came a great voice of sublime beauty resounding throughout the world. The sound of that voice recited a verse:
"The 84,000 teachings and the means for countering [ignorance]
A man was there and he said, "These birds always dwell on Vulture Peak; they deeply love and delight in the unsurpassed Mahayana, and are far removed from attachment to worldly matters."
are the wonderful law preached by the honored Sakyamuni."
After the birds recited the verse, I held two sutra scrolls in my hands. On one scroll was written the title, "Butsugen Nyorai," and on the other was written, "Shaka Nyorai". I thought of how I had obtained these two sutras from the peacocks, and a feeling of great joy arose when I heard the verse. As I chanted "Praise be to Shaka Nyorai! Praise be to Butsugen Nyorai!," tears of joy began to flow and I rejoiced at holding the two sutra scrolls.
When I awoke from my dream, the bottom of my pillow was soaked with tears.
- 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 dreams and visions like this to do it.
- The date: The year is definite, but the "8th or 9th month" in the manuscript is in a lunar calendar, and may not line up with our August or September. Probably summer, though; the previous entry is simply dated "spring".
- The sketch is strictly my image of their meeting. I haven't found a contemporary Japanese illustration or sculpture of it.
- Around the time of this dream, Myoe spent much time living austerely in a hut on tiny Karumo Island, surrounded by nature; it doesn't surprise me that the revelation leaving him in tears of joy comes from birds.
- Sakyamuni: the Buddha.
- Mahayana: the "Big Cart", one of the two main branches or styles of Buddhism, prevalent in Tibet, China and Japan.
- Not all Myoe's dreams were ecstatic and unworldly. In fact he records dreams of anxiety over lost luggage and resentment over slights, too. But it is true that his clearest dreams are often happy, even blissed-out, and full of surreal beauty. There really is something to this meditation thing.
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