On a Nun Who Painted a Buddha Image out of Gratitude for the Four Kinds of Blessings and Gained a Power to Show an Extraordinary Sign

A tale from the Nihon Ryoiki
of the Monk Kyokai

In a village of Yuge, Wakae district, Kawachi province, there lived a highly disciplined novice nun. Her name is unknown. She lived in a mountain temple at Heguri, and, organizing a devotees' association, painted a Buddha image with a picture of the six existences in order to give thanks for the four kinds of blessings. When completed, it was enshrined in the temple after the dedication ceremony.

Tara Buddha

Meanwhile she left the temple, going from place to place on errands. During that time the picture was stolen, and she looked for it in vain, crying pitifully. Still leading the devotees' organization, she wanted to free living beings, and the members went to Naniwa to visit the market. When they saw a basket in a tree, they heard various animals crying in the basket. They waited for the owner to return, for they thought there must be animals in the basket and they wanted to buy them and set them free. Meanwhile, the owner returned. When they said to him, "We heard some animals in your basket, and we have been waiting to buy them from you," the owner said, "No, there is nothing alive in it." The nun did not give up, however. She continued begging till the merchants around them said to the owner, "You should open the basket." The owner was frightened, and he ran away, leaving the basket. When they opened it, they discovered the stolen image. In joy and tears the devotees cried, "Since we lost this image, we have been longing for it day and night. Now, by chance, we have found it. How happy we are!" When the merchants heard this, they gathered around and praised the nun's perseverence.

Joyfully the nun and the others set living beings free, held memorial services, and reconsecrated the image in the original temple, where it remained an object of devotion for both clergy and laity. This is indeed a miraculous event.

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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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