On a Woman Who Performed Work in an Extraordinary Way,
Ate Sacred Herbs,
and Flew up to Heaven Alive

A tale from the Nihon Ryoiki
of the Monk Kyokai

Kishimojin and her children

In a village of Nuribe, Uda district, Yamato province, there lived an extraordinary woman, who was married to Nuribe no miyatsuko Maro. Innately pure and straight-forward in upholding what was right, she gave birth to seven children, but was too poor to feed them since she had no one to depend on. Since the children had no clothes, she wove vines into clothes for them. Every day she purified herself in a bath and clothed herself in rags. She would gather edible herbs in the fields, and devoted herself to staying at home and cleaning the house. When she cooked the herbs, she called her children, sat up straight, and ate the food, all the while smiling, talking cheerfully, and being grateful. This constant discipline in mind and body made her spirit resemble that of a guest from heaven.

In the fifth year of the Hakuchi era of the emporer who resided at the Palace of Nagara no Toyosaki in Naniwa, heavenly beings communicated with her, and she ate special herbs gathered in the field in springtime and flew about in the heavens.

Indeed, we know that her extraordinary qualities and her diet of special herbs are well recognized, even though she has not studied Buddhist teachings. The Shojin nyomon-kyo gives this relevant passage: "You will be able to achieve five kinds of merit by leading a lay life and sweeping the garden with an upright mind."

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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
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