Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/40

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the dead. By once obeying them, you have put yourself in their power. If you obey them again, after what has already occurred, they will tear you in pieces. But they would have destroyed you, sooner or later, in any event. . . . Now I shall not be able to remain with you to-night: I am called away to perform another service. But, before I go, it will be necessary to protect your body by writing holy texts upon it.”

Before sundown the priest and his acolyte stripped Hōïchi: then, with their writing-brushes, they traced upon his breast and back, head and face and neck, limbs and hands and feet,—even upon the soles of his feet, and upon all parts of his body, — the text of the holy sûtra called Hannya-Shin-Kyō. [1] When

  1. The Smaller Pragña-Pâramitâ-Hridaya-Sûtra is thus called in Japanese. Both the smaller and larger sûtras called Pragña-Pâramitâ (“Transcendent Wisdom”) have been translated by the late Professor Max Müller, and can be found in volume xlix. of the Sacred Books of the East (“Buddhist Mahâyâna Sûtras”).— Apropos of the magical use of the text, as described in this story, it is worth remarking that the subject of the sûtra is the Doctrine of the Emptiness of Forms,—that is to say, of the unreal character of all phenomena or noumena. . . . “Form is emptiness; and emptiness is form. Emptiness is not different from form; form is not different from emptiness. What is form—that is emptiness. What is emptiness—that is form. . . . Perception, name, concept, and knowledge, are also emptiness. . . . There is no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.