毒の水あめ

この年末年始の季節は家族と友達が集まって、お雑煮やおせち料理を始め美味しいご馳走をいただきます。伝統的な旬の料理をいただきますと昔の人たちとの繋がりを感じます。

私はこの間初めて水あめを食べました。初めて味わったものでしたが、一休さんで知られている一休宗純禅師(1394〜1481)の幼い頃のとんち話に水あめが出てくるので、ずっとどんな味かと気になっていました。一休さんは本願寺の第八代のご門主蓮如上人(1415〜1499)と同じ時代に京都周辺にて活躍されており、お二人は仲の良い法友だったと伝えられています。

一休さんは後小松天皇(1377〜1433)の血を引くといわれ、6歳の時に京都の安国寺というお寺に入門しました。ある日、安国寺の和尚さんは水あめをお土産にもらいましたが、小僧たちが食べないように和尚さんが次のように言いました:「これは大人用の薬じゃ。子供には毒じゃ。食べたら、死んでしまうぞ。決して食べてはいかん。」

その後、和尚さんの外出中、一休さんは和尚さんの大好きな硯 (すずり)を割ってしまいました。仲間の小僧たちは和尚さんが帰ってきたら大変だと心配していましたが、そこで一休さんはとんちを働かせました。一休さんは和尚さんの水あめを持ってくると、皆で全部食べてしまいました。そして、食べ終わると、畳の上にジッとして寝るように言いました。

和尚さんが帰ってくると、硯は割られ、水あめは無くなり、小僧たちが皆床に寝ていることを見て、「一体何のことじゃ」と一休さんに聞きました。そして、一休さんは次のように答えました「私たちの不注意で硯を割ってしまいましたので、毒の水あめを食べて、命でお詫びしようとしているのです。まだ死んでいませんが、もう少ししたら毒が効いてくると思いますので、少々お待ちください。」和尚さんはこのとんちを聞いて、笑うしかなかったそうです。

過ぎた一年間の日頃の行いを省みて、仏様の智慧の光に輝いてる人生を送ることができただろうかと反省するのは念仏者の新年の迎え方です。私は自分の都合で、嘘をついたり、真実を認めなかったりする癖があります。私たちは自分のいつわりが明らかにされた時、どのような態度をとるでしょうか?素直に認めることもあれば、頑固になって認めないこともあります。和尚さんが自分の嘘がばれて笑ったのは、「我」から解放され、プライドに縛れていなかったからだと私はこのとんち話の味わいを感じています。

一休禅師は1461年に本願寺で営まれた親鸞聖人の二百回忌法要にお参りされたとき「襟巻きのあたたかそうな黒坊主こやつが法は天下一なり」と詠まれたと伝えられています。親鸞聖人は教行信証に善導大師の次の言葉を引用しています。

心のうちにはいつわりをいだいて、貪り・怒り・よこしま・いつわり・欺きの心が絶えずおこって、悪い本性は変わらないのであり、それはあたかも蛇や蝎のようである。身・苦・意の三業に行を修めても、それは毒のまじった善といい(略)この毒のまじった行を因として、阿弥陀仏の浄土に生まれようと求めても、決して生まれることはできない。なぜかというと、まさしく、阿弥陀仏が因位において、菩薩の行を修めれたときには、わずか一念一刹那の間であっても、その身・苦・意の三業に修められた行はみな、真実の心においてなされたことによる事に由るからである。

(『浄土真宗聖典 顕浄土真実教行証文類 現代語訳』170〜171頁)

親鸞聖人が説かれた念仏の法というのは、阿弥陀如来の智慧の光が私たちの心を照らしてくれることにより、私たちの本当の心の有様に気づかせてくれ、私たちが仏様の真実の心に帰依することによりお浄土に往生できるという教えであります。

 

南無阿弥陀仏


Poison Candy

At this time of year we have many opportunities to eat delicious food as we gather to celebrate the winter holidays with our friends and families. During New Year’s many of our temple members will enjoy traditional Japanese dishes like ozōni stew or the traditional osechi menu. When we eat these traditional Japanese dishes we feel a deep connection to the past and the lives of those who have come before. This past year I had the opportunity to try mizuame, a thick, sugary syrup that has been enjoyed by Japanese children for centuries.

It was the first time tasting mizuame, but I had been curious about it since first hearing of it in an apocryphal story about the Zen Buddhist monk Ikkyu Sōjun Zenji (1394–1481). Ikkyu was a contemporary of Rennyo Shonin (1415-1499) the eighth abbot of our mother temple, the Hongwanji. Ikkyu and Rennyo were renowned Buddhist priests active in the Kyoto area, and while there are no authoritative historical records of their relationship, legend has it that they were good Dharma friends.

Ikkyu is said to have been an unrecognized son of the Emperor Go-Komatsu (1377–1433). His mother left him in the care of a temple in Kyoto at the age of six to be raised as a monk. The tales of Ikkyu’s youthful exploits and sharp wit continue to delight and inspire children and adults in Japan to this day.

One day the abbot of Ikkyu’s temple received a gift of mizuame. It seems the abbot had a sweet tooth. To discourage his young students from pillaging this special treat, he told them that the jar did not contain candy, but rather a special medicine that was safe for adults, but poisonous to children.

Later, while the abbot was away from the temple on official business, young Ikkyu accidentally broke the treasured inkstone that the abbot used for brush painting and calligraphy. His fellow monks immediately began speculating about what severe punishment they would all face upon the abbot’s return. Ikkyu, however, remained calm and reflected on the situation until he arrived at an elegant solution to their dilemma.

Ikkyu invited all the other young monks to join him in eating up the mizuame. When they had finished off the whole jar, he instructed them to lie on the tatami mat floor as if they were dead. They waited there on the floor until the abbot came home. When the abbot walked into his quarters, he was astonished to see all the young monks lying on the floor of his room, next to the broken inkstone, and the empty jar of mizuame. When the abbot demanded an explanation, Ikkyu confessed, “We broke your precious inkstone, so we tried to give our lives in apology. We ate all this poison, but for some reason, we haven’t died yet. I’m sure it will take effect soon, so we’ll just keep lying here until it does.” When the abbot heard this explanation, he knew that he had been bested by Ikkyu’s quick wit. The abbot burst into laughter, admitted defeat and dismissed the young monks.

It is our custom to take the arrival of the New Year as an opportunity to reflect deeply on our daily activities over the past year and ask ourselves if we have lived in a way that reflects the light of the Buddha’s wisdom that we receive in the Nembutsu. It is in my nature to tell lies and twist the truth at my own convenience. The real test of our character is how we respond when someone shines the light of wisdom on our actions and reveals our attempts to deceive ourselves and others. Do we freely admit our deception and gracefully own up, or do we double down on the falsehood? The abbot’s ability to gracefully own up to his deception shows that he is free from pride and ego.

Legend has it that when he saw a portrait of Jodo Shinshu founder Shinran Shonin (1173-1262) wearing the white scarf that indicated his mastery of the Tendai Buddhist doctrine, Ikkyu remarked, “The Dharma taught by this monk in the warm scarf and the black robe is the finest in the world.” In the Chapter on Shinjin from Shinran’s True Teaching Practice and Realization, he quotes the follow passage from the writings of Shandao:

We are filled with all manner of greed, anger, perversity, deceit, wickedness, and cunning, and it is difficult to put an end to our evil nature. In this we are like poisonous snakes or scorpions. Though we perform practices in the three modes of action*, they must be called poisoned good acts or false practices. . . . To seek birth in the Buddha’s Pure Land by directing the merit of such poisoned practice is completely wrong. Why? Because when, in his causal stage, Amida Buddha was performing practices as a bodhisattva, in every single moment – every single instant – he performed his practices in the three modes of action with a true and real mind. [True practice] depends on this.

(Collected Works of Shinran, p. 84-85)

*three modes of action: bodily action, words, thoughts

In the Nembutsu teaching of Shinran Shonin, we begin by recognizing the light of Amida Buddha that continually shines into our hearts and minds, showing us that our path to liberation is found in deep entrusting in the true and real mind of the Buddha.

Namo Amida Butsu