Shoku (910-1007 AD)


Shoku (910-1007 AD)


Praying to see the living body of Fugen Bosatsu (Samantabhadra), one night Shoku was told in a dream, "Go visit the brothel owner in Kanzaki." A joyfully smiling Shoku immediately went there. At the brothel owner's house, partying and wild dancing were underway. One of the prostitutes was reciting a poem and beating out the rhythm on a hand drum. "What an elegant and beautiful woman!" thought Shoku. Completely absorbed in the wonderful poem and music, he closed his eyes and made gassho.

Closing his eyes, a hard-to-believe thing happened. Behind his eyelids, the form of the prostitute was not seen, but rather it was Fugen Bosatsu, riding on a 6-tusked white elephant! Besides that, from the middle of Fugen's forehead light was shining, illuminating both priests and laity, men and women. Startled, Shoku opened his eyes and there was the prositute as expected. Thinking this strange, he then opened and closed his eyes repeatedly. And in spite of seeing and ordinary woman's form with his eyes open, when he closed them he would see Fugen Bosatsu.

And not only that. The poem was also different with the eyes opened and with the eyes closed. With the eyes opened, he would hear, "At the Sacred Washing Basin in the middle of the protected enclosure there is no wind, yet ripples rise on the water," but with the eyes closed he would hear the Dharma passage, "In the great ocean of undiminishing truth, the winds of the 5 desires and the 6 realms do not blow and following the nature of the True Thusness, waves are at no time raised."

Feeling choked up and moved to tears and thinking, "Certainly this is the living body of Fugen Bosatsu" Shoku returned and arrived back at the temple. The prostitute, who had left in the middle of the party and followed him, then said, "There is nothing more to say to people," whereupon she collapsed on the bed and died. It is said that on that occasion there was the fragrant odor indicating birth in the Pure Land.

In ways like this Shoku was a monk who saw the other world. He also had telepathic powers. For example, a priest named Zoga, wanting to copy the Makashikan, searched for some beautiful paper. The following note attached to a packet of beautiful paper was sent by Shoku: "Please copy the Makashikan on this paper." It was strange because Zoga had leaked out nothing of the matter to Shoku.


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