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Tales of Old Japan by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford

Part 6 out of 7

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salvation. Yet I would not get this money by violent or unlawful
means; I only think of what might be if I had it. So you see, since
you have expressed such kind feelings towards me, I have told you what
is on my mind." When the priest had done speaking, the badger leant
its head on one side with a puzzled and anxious look, so much so that
the old man was sorry he had expressed a wish which seemed to give the
beast trouble, and tried to retract what he had said. "Posthumous
honours, after all, are the wish of ordinary men. I, who am a priest,
ought not to entertain such thoughts, or to want money; so pray pay no
attention to what I have said;" and the badger, feigning assent to
what the priest had impressed upon it, returned to the hills as usual.

From that time forth the badger came no more to the hut. The priest
thought this very strange, but imagined either that the badger stayed
away because it did not like to come without the money, or that it had
been killed in an attempt to steal it; and he blamed himself for
having added to his sins for no purpose, repenting when it was too
late: persuaded, however, that the badger must have been killed, he
passed his time in putting up prayers upon prayers for it.

After three years had gone by, one night the old man heard a voice
near his door calling out, "Your reverence! your reverence!"

As the voice was like that of the badger, he jumped up as soon as he
heard it, and ran out to open the door; and there, sure enough, was
the badger. The priest, in great delight, cried out, "And so you are
safe and sound, after all! Why have you been so long without coming
here? I have been expecting you anxiously this long while."

So the badger came into the hut, and said, "If the money which you
required had been for unlawful purposes, I could easily have procured
as much as ever you might have wanted; but when I heard that it was to
be offered to a temple for masses for your soul, I thought that, if I
were to steal the hidden treasure of some other man, you could not
apply to a sacred purpose money which had been obtained at the expense
of his sorrow. So I went to the island of Sado,[81] and gathering the
sand and earth which had been cast away as worthless by the miners,
fused it afresh in the fire; and at this work I spent months and
days." As the badger finished speaking, the priest looked at the money
which it had produced, and sure enough he saw that it was bright and
new and clean; so he took the money, and received it respectfully,
raising it to his head.

[Footnote 81: An island on the west coast of Japan, famous for its
gold mines.]

"And so you have had all this toil and labour on account of a foolish
speech of mine? I have obtained my heart's desire, and am truly

As he was thanking the badger with great politeness and ceremony, the
beast said, "In doing this I have but fulfilled my own wish; still I
hope that you will tell this thing to no man."

"Indeed," replied the priest, "I cannot choose but tell this story.
For if I keep this money in my poor hut, it will be stolen by thieves:
I must either give it to some one to keep for me, or else at once
offer it up at the temple. And when I do this, when people see a poor
old priest with a sum of money quite unsuited to his station, they
will think it very suspicious, and I shall have to tell the tale as it
occurred; but as I shall say that the badger that gave me the money
has ceased coming to my hut, you need not fear being waylaid, but can
come, as of old, and shelter yourself from the cold." To this the
badger nodded assent; and as long as the old priest lived, it came and
spent the winter nights with him.

From this story, it is plain that even beasts have a sense of
gratitude: in this quality dogs excel all other beasts. Is not the
story of the dog of Totoribe Yorodzu written in the Annals of Japan?
I[82] have heard that many anecdotes of this nature have been
collected and printed in a book, which I have not yet seen; but as the
facts which I have recorded relate to a badger, they appear to me to
be passing strange.

[Footnote 82: The author of the tale.]


In days of yore there lived a forefather of the Prince of Tosa who
went by the name of Yamanouchi Kadzutoyo. At the age of fourteen this
prince was amazingly fond of fishing, and would often go down to the
river for sport. And it came to pass one day that he had gone thither
with but one retainer, and had made a great haul, that a violent
shower suddenly came on. Now, the prince had no rain-coat with him,
and was in so sorry a plight that he took shelter under a willow-tree
and waited for the weather to clear; but the storm showed no sign of
abating, and there was no help for it, so he turned to the retainer
and said--

"This rain is not likely to stop for some time, so we had better hurry

As they trudged homeward, night fell, and it grew very dark; and their
road lay over a long bank, by the side of which they found a girl,
about sixteen years old, weeping bitterly. Struck with wonder, they
looked steadfastly at her, and perceived that she was exceedingly
comely. While Kadzutoyo stood doubting what so strange a sight could
portend, his retainer, smitten with the girl's charms, stepped up to
her and said--

"Little sister, tell us whose daughter you are, and how it comes that
you are out by yourself at night in such a storm of rain. Surely it is
passing strange."

"Sir," replied she, looking up through her tears, "I am the daughter
of a poor man in the castle town. My mother died when I was seven
years old, and my father has now wedded a shrew, who loathes and
ill-uses me; and in the midst of my grief he is gone far away on his
business, so I was left alone with my stepmother; and this very night
she spited and beat me till I could bear it no longer, and was on my
way to my aunt's, who dwells in yonder village, when the shower came
on; but as I lay waiting for the rain to stop, I was seized with a
spasm, to which I am subject, and was in great pain, when I had the
good luck to fall in with your worships."

As she spoke, the retainer fell deeply in love with her matchless
beauty, whilst his lord Kadzutoyo, who from the outset had not uttered
a word, but stood brooding over the matter, straightway drew his sword
and cut off her head. But the retainer stood aghast, and cried out--

"Oh! my young lord, what wicked deed is this that you've done? The
murder of a man's daughter will bring trouble upon us, for you may
rely on the business not ending here."

"You don't know what you're talking about," answered Kadzutoyo: "only
don't tell any one about it, that is all I ask;" and so they went home
in silence.

As Kadzutoyo was very tired, he went to bed, and slept undisturbed by
any sense of guilt; for he was brave and fearless. But the retainer
grew very uneasy, and went to his young lord's parents and said--

"I had the honour of attending my young lord out fishing to-day, and
we were driven home by the rain. And as we came back by the bank, we
descried a girl with a spasm in her stomach, and her my young lord
straightway slew; and although he has bidden me tell it to no one, I
cannot conceal it from my lord and my lady."

Kadzutoyo's parents were sore amazed, bewailing their son's
wickedness, and went at once to his room and woke him; his father shed
tears and said--

"Oh! dastardly cut-throat that you are! how dare you kill another
man's daughter without provocation? Such unspeakable villany is
unworthy a Samurai's son. Know, that the duty of every Samurai is to
keep watch over the country, and to protect the people; and such is
his daily task. For sword and dirk are given to men that they may slay
rebels, and faithfully serve their prince, and not that they may go
about committing sin and killing the daughters of innocent men.
Whoever is fool enough not to understand this will repeat his misdeed,
and will assuredly bring shame on his kindred. Grieved as I am that I
should take away the life which I gave you, I cannot suffer you to
bring dishonour on our house; so prepare to meet your fate!"

With these words he drew his sword; but Kadzutoyo, without a sign of
fear, said to his father--

"Your anger, sir, is most just; but remember that I have studied the
classics and understand the laws of right and wrong, and be sure I
would never kill another man without good cause. The girl whom I slew
was certainly no human being, but some foul goblin: feeling certain of
this, I cut her down. To-morrow I beg you will send your retainers to
look for the corpse; and if it really be that of a human being, I
shall give you no further trouble, but shall disembowel myself."

Upon this the father sheathed his sword, and awaited daybreak. When
the morning came, the old prince, in sad distress, bade his retainers
lead him to the bank; and there he saw a huge badger, with his head
cut off, lying dead by the roadside; and the prince was lost in wonder
at his son's shrewdness. But the retainer did not know what to make of
it, and still had his doubts. The prince, however, returned home, and
sending for his son, said to him--

"It's very strange that the creature which appeared to your retainer
to be a girl, should have seemed to you to be a badger."

"My lord's wonder is just," replied Kadzutoyo, smiling: "she appeared
as a girl to me as well. But here was a young girl, at night, far from
any inhabited place. Stranger still was her wondrous beauty; and
strangest of all that, though it was pouring with rain, there was not
a sign of wet on her clothes; and when my retainer asked how long she
had been there, she said she had been on the bank in pain for some
time; so I had no further doubt but that she was a goblin, and I
killed her."

"But what made you think she must be a goblin because her clothes were

"The beast evidently thought that, if she could bewitch us with her
beauty, she might get at the fish my retainer was carrying; but she
forgot that, as it was raining, it would not do for her clothes not to
be wet; so I detected and killed her."

When the old prince heard his son speak thus, he was filled with
admiration for the youth's sagacity; so, conceiving that Kadzutoyo had
given reliable proof of wisdom and prudence, he resolved to
abdicate;[83] and Kadzutoyo was proclaimed Prince of Tosa in his

[Footnote 83: _Inkiyo_, abdication. The custom of abdication is common
among all classes, from the Emperor down to his meanest subject. The
Emperor abdicates after consultation with his ministers: the Shogun
has to obtain the permission of the Emperor; the Daimios, that of the
Shogun. The abdication of the Emperor was called _Sento_; that of the
Shogun, _Oyosho_; in all other ranks it is called _Inkiyo_. It must be
remembered that the princes of Japan, in becoming Inkiyo, resign the
semblance and the name, but not the reality of power. Both in their
own provinces and in the country at large they play a most important
part. The ex-Princes of Tosa, Uwajima and Owari, are far more notable
men in Japan than the actual holders of the titles.]


[Illustration: A JAPANESE SERMON.]


"Sermons preached here on 8th, 18th, and 28th days of every month."
Such was the purport of a placard, which used to tempt me daily, as I
passed the temple Cho-o-ji. Having ascertained that neither the
preacher nor his congregation would have any objection to my hearing
one of these sermons, I made arrangements to attend the service,
accompanied by two friends, my artist, and a scribe to take notes.

We were shown into an apartment adjoining a small chapel--a room
opening on to a tastily arranged garden, wealthy in stone lanterns and
dwarfed trees. In the portion of the room reserved for the priest
stood a high table, covered with a cloth of white and scarlet silk,
richly embroidered with flowers and arabesques; upon this stood a
bell, a tray containing the rolls of the sacred books, and a small
incense-burner of ancient Chinese porcelain. Before the table was a
hanging drum, and behind it was one of those high, back-breaking
arm-chairs which adorn every Buddhist temple. In one corner of the
space destined for the accommodation of the faithful was a low
writing-desk, at which sat, or rather squatted, a lay clerk, armed
with a huge pair of horn spectacles, through which he glared,
goblin-like, at the people, as they came to have their names and the
amount of their offerings to the temple registered. These latter must
have been small things, for the congregation seemed poor enough. It
was principally composed of old women, nuns with bald shiny pates and
grotesque faces, a few petty tradesmen, and half-a-dozen chubby
children, perfect little models of decorum and devoutness. One lady
there was, indeed, who seemed a little better to do in the world than
the rest; she was nicely dressed, and attended by a female servant;
she came in with a certain little consequential rustle, and displayed
some coquetry, and a very pretty bare foot, as she took her place,
and, pulling out a dandy little pipe and tobacco-pouch, began to
smoke. Fire-boxes and spittoons, I should mention, were freely handed
about; so that half-an-hour which passed before the sermon began was
agreeably spent. In the meanwhile, mass was being celebrated in the
main hall of the temple, and the monotonous nasal drone of the plain
chant was faintly heard in the distance. So soon as this was over, the
lay clerk sat himself down by the hanging drum, and, to its
accompaniment, began intoning the prayer, "Na Mu Miyo Ho Ren Go Kiyo,"
the congregation fervently joining in unison with him. These words,
repeated over and over again, are the distinctive prayer of the
Buddhist sect of Nichiren, to which the temple Cho-o-ji is dedicated.
They are approximations to Sanscrit sounds, and have no meaning in
Japanese, nor do the worshippers in using them know their precise

Soon the preacher, gorgeous in red and white robes, made his
appearance, following an acolyte, who carried the sacred book called
_Hokke_ (upon which the sect of Nichiren is founded) on a tray covered
with scarlet and gold brocade. Having bowed to the sacred picture
which hung over the _tokonoma_--that portion of the Japanese room
which is raised a few inches above the rest of the floor, and which is
regarded as the place of honour--his reverence took his seat at the
table, and adjusted his robes; then, tying up the muscles of his face
into a knot, expressive of utter abstraction, he struck the bell upon
the table thrice, burnt a little incense, and read a passage from the
sacred book, which he reverently lifted to his head. The congregation
joined in chorus, devout but unintelligent; for the Word, written in
ancient Chinese, is as obscure to the ordinary Japanese worshipper as
are the Latin liturgies to a high-capped Norman peasant-woman. While
his flock wrapped up copper cash in paper, and threw them before the
table as offerings, the priest next recited a passage alone, and the
lay clerk irreverently entered into a loud dispute with one of the
congregation, touching some payment or other. The preliminary
ceremonies ended, a small shaven-pated boy brought in a cup of tea,
thrice afterwards to be replenished, for his reverence's refreshment;
and he, having untied his face, gave a broad grin, cleared his throat,
swallowed his tea, and beamed down upon us, as jolly, rosy a priest as
ever donned stole or scarf. His discourse, which was delivered in the
most familiar and easy manner, was an _extempore_ dissertation on
certain passages from the sacred books. Whenever he paused or made a
point, the congregation broke in with a cry of "Nammiyo!" a corruption
of the first three words of the prayer cited above, to which they
always contrived to give an expression or intonation in harmony with
the preacher's meaning.

"It is a matter of profound satisfaction to me," began his reverence
Nichirin, smiling blandly at his audience, "to see so many gentlemen
and ladies gathered together here this day, in the fidelity of their
hearts, to do honour to the feast of Kishimojin."[84]

[Footnote 84: Kishimojin, a female deity of the Buddhists.]

"Nammiyo! nammiyo!" self-depreciatory, from the congregation.

"I feel certain that your piety cannot fail to find favour with
Kishimojin. Kishimojin ever mourns over the tortures of mankind, who
are dwelling in a house of fire, and she ever earnestly strives to
find some means of delivering them.

"Nammiyo! nammiyo!" grateful and reverential.

"Notwithstanding this, it is useless your worshipping Kishimojin, and
professing to believe in her, unless you have truth in your hearts;
for she will not receive your offerings. Man, from his very birth, is
a creature of requirements; he is for ever seeking and praying. Both
you who listen, and I who preach, have all of us our wants and wishes.
If there be any person here who flatters himself that he has no wishes
and no wants, let him reflect. Does not every one wish and pray that
heaven and earth may stand for ever, that his country and family may
prosper, that there may be plenty in the land, and that the people may
be healthy and happy? The wishes of men, however, are various and
many; and these wishes, numberless as they are, are all known to the
gods from the beginning. It is no use praying, unless you have truth
in your heart. For instance, the prayer _Na Mu_ is a prayer committing
your bodies to the care of the gods; if, when you utter it, your
hearts are true and single, of a surety your request will be granted.
Now, this is not a mere statement made by Nichiren, the holy founder
of this sect; it is the sacred teaching of Buddha himself, and may not
be doubted."

"Nammiyo! nammiyo!" with profound conviction.

"The heart of man is, by nature, upright and true; but there are seven
passions[85] by which it is corrupted. Buddha is alarmed when he sees
the fires by which the world is being consumed. These fires are the
five lusts of this sinful world; and the five lusts are, the desire
for fair sights, sweet sounds, fragrant smells, dainty meats, and rich
trappings. Man is no sooner endowed with a body than he is possessed
by these lusts, which become his very heart; and, it being a law that
every man follows the dictates of his heart, in this way the body, the
lusts of the flesh, the heart, and the dictates of the heart, blaze up
in the consuming fire. 'Alas! for this miserable world!' said the
divine Buddha."

[Footnote 85: The seven passions are joy, anger, sadness, fear, love,
hatred, and desire.]

"Nammiyo! nammiyo!" mournful, and with much head-shaking.

"There is not so foul thing under heaven as the human body. The body
exudes grease, the eyes distil gums, the nose is full of mucus, the
mouth of slobbering spittle; nor are these the most impure secretions
of the body. What a mistake it is to look upon this impure body as
clean and perfect! Unless we listen to the teachings of Buddha, how
shall we be washed and purified?"

"Nammiyo, nammiyo!" from an impure and very miserable sinner, under
ten years of age.

"The lot of man is uncertain, and for ever running out of the beaten
track. Why go to look at the flowers, and take delight in their
beauty? When you return home, you will see the vanity of your
pleasure. Why purchase fleeting joys of loose women? How long do you
retain the delicious taste of the dainties you feast upon? For ever
_wishing_ to do this, _wishing_ to see that, _wishing_ to eat rare
dishes, _wishing_ to wear fine clothes, you pass a lifetime in fanning
the flames which consume you. What terrible matter for thought is
this! In the poems of the priest Saigiyo it is written, 'Verily I have
been familiar with the flowers; yet are they withered and scattered,
and we are parted. How sad!' The beauty of the convolvulus, how bright
it is!--and yet in one short morning it closes its petals and fades.
In the book called _Rin Jo Bo Satsu_[86] we are told how a certain
king once went to take his pleasure in his garden, and gladden his
eyes with the beauty of his flowers. After a while he fell asleep; and
as he slumbered, the women of his train began pulling the flowers to
pieces. When the king awoke, of all the glory of his flowers there
remained but a few torn and faded petals. Seeing this, the king said,
'The flowers pass away and die; so is it with mankind: we are born, we
grow old, we sicken and die; we are as fleeting as the lightning's
flash, as evanescent as the morning dew.' I know not whether any of
you here present ever fix your thoughts upon death; yet it is a rare
thing for a man to live for a hundred years. How piteous a thing it is
that in this short and transient life men should consume themselves in
a fire of lust! and if we think to escape from this fire, how shall we
succeed save only by the teaching of the divine Buddha?"

[Footnote 86: One of the Buddhist classics.]

"Nammiyo! nammiyo!" meekly and entreatingly.

"Since Buddha himself escaped from the burning flames of the lusts of
the flesh, his only thought has been for the salvation of mankind.
Once upon a time there was a certain heretic, called Rokutsuponji, a
reader of auguries, cunning in astrology and in the healing art. It
happened, one day, that this heretic, being in company with Buddha,
entered a forest, which was full of dead men's skulls. Buddha, taking
up one of the skulls and tapping it thus" (here the preacher tapped
the reading-desk with his fan), "said, 'What manner of man was this
bone when alive?--and, now that he is dead, in what part of the world
has he been born again?' The heretic, auguring from the sound which
the skull, when struck, gave forth, began to tell its past history,
and to prophesy the future. Then Buddha, tapping another skull, again
asked the same question. The heretic answered--

"'Verily, as to this skull, whether it belonged to a man or a woman,
whence its owner came or whither he has gone, I know not. What think
you of it?"

"'Ask me not,' answered Buddha. But the heretic pressed him, and
entreated him to answer; then Buddha said, 'Verily this is the skull
of one of my disciples, who forsook the lusts of the flesh.'

"Then the heretic wondered, and said--

"'Of a truth, this is a thing the like of which no man has yet seen.
Here am I, who know the manner of the life and of the death even of
the ants that creep. Verily, I thought that no thing could escape my
ken; yet here lies one of your disciples, than whom there lives no
nobler thing, and I am at fault. From this day forth I will enter your
sect, praying only that I may receive your teaching.'

"Thus did this learned heretic become a disciple of Buddha. If such
an one as he was converted, how much the more should after-ages of
ordinary men feel that it is through. Buddha alone that they can hope
to overcome the sinful lusts of the flesh! These lusts are the desires
which agitate our hearts: if we are free from these desires, our
hearts will be bright and pure, and there is nothing, save the
teaching of Buddha, which can ensure us this freedom. Following the
commands of Buddha, and delivered by him from our desires, we may pass
our lives in peace and happiness."

"Nammiyo! nammiyo!" with triumphant exultation.

"In the sacred books we read of conversion from a state of sin to a
state of salvation. Now this salvation is not a million miles removed
from us; nor need we die and be born again into another world in order
to reach it. He who lays aside his carnal lusts and affections, at
once and of a certainty becomes equal to Buddha. When we recite the
prayer _Na Mu Miyo Ho Ren Go Kiyo_, we are praying to enter this state
of peace and happiness. By what instruction, other than that of
Nichiren, the holy founder of this sect, can we expect to attain this
end? If we do attain it, there will be no difference between our state
and that of Buddha and of Nichiren. With this view we have learnt from
the pious founder of our sect that we must continually and thankfully
repeat the prayer _Na Mu Miyo Ho Ren Go Kiyo_, turning our hearts away
from lies, and embracing the truth."

Such were the heads of the sermon as they were taken down by my
scribe. At its conclusion, the priest, looking about him smiling, as
if the solemn truths he had been inculcating were nothing but a very
good joke, was greeted by long and loud cries of "Nammiyo! nammiyo!"
by all the congregation. Then the lay clerk sat himself down again by
the hanging drum; and the service ended as it had begun, by prayer in
chorus, during which the priest retired, the sacred book being carried
out before him by his acolyte.

Although occasionally, as in the above instance, sermons are delivered
as part of a service on special days of the month, they are more
frequently preached in courses, the delivery occupying about a
fortnight, during which two sermons are given each day. Frequently the
preachers are itinerant priests, who go about the towns and villages
lecturing in the main hall of some temple or in the guest-room of the
resident priest.

There are many books of sermons published in Japan, all of which have
some merit and much quaintness: none that I have seen are, however, to
my taste, to be compared to the "Kiu-o Do-wa," of which the following
three sermons compose the first volume. They are written by a priest
belonging to the Shingaku sect--a sect professing to combine all that
is excellent in the Buddhist, Confucian, and Shin To teaching. It
maintains the original goodness of the human heart; and teaches that
we have only to follow the dictates of the conscience implanted in us
at our birth, in order to steer in the right path. The texts are
taken from the Chinese classical books, in the same way as our
preachers take theirs from the Bible. Jokes, stories which are
sometimes untranslatable into our more fastidious tongue, and pointed
applications to members of the congregation, enliven the discourses;
it being a principle with the Japanese preacher that it is not
necessary to bore his audience into virtue.



Moshi[87] says, "Benevolence is the heart of man; righteousness is the
path of man. How lamentable a thing is it to leave the path and go
astray, to cast away the heart and not know where to seek for it!"

[Footnote 87: Moshi, the Japanese pronunciation of the name of the
Chinese philosopher Meng Tse, whom Europeans call Mencius.]

The text is taken from the first chapter of Koshi (the commentator),
on Moshi.

Now this quality, which we call benevolence, has been the subject of
commentaries by many teachers; but as these commentaries have been
difficult of comprehension, they are too hard to enter the ears of
women and children. It is of this benevolence that, using examples and
illustrations, I propose to treat.

A long time ago, there lived at Kioto a great physician, called
Imaoji--I forget his other name: he was a very famous man. Once upon a
time, a man from a place called Kuramaguchi advertised for sale a
medicine which he had compounded against the cholera, and got Imaoji
to write a puff for him. Imaoji, instead of calling the medicine in
the puff a specific against the cholera, misspelt the word cholera so
as to make it simpler. When the man who had employed him went and
taxed him with this, and asked him why he had done so, he answered,
with a smile--

"As Kuramaguchi is an approach to the capital from the country, the
passers-by are but poor peasants and woodmen from the hills: if I had
written 'cholera' at length, they would have been puzzled by it; so I
wrote it in a simple way, that should pass current with every one.
Truth itself loses its value if people don't understand it. What does
it signify how I spelt the word cholera, so long as the efficacy of
the medicine is unimpaired?"

Now, was not that delightful? In the same way the doctrines of the
sages are mere gibberish to women and children who cannot understand
them. Now, my sermons are not written for the learned: I address
myself to farmers and tradesmen, who, hard pressed by their daily
business, have no time for study, with the wish to make known to them
the teachings of the sages; and, carrying out the ideas of my teacher,
I will make my meaning pretty plain, by bringing forward examples and
quaint stories. Thus, by blending together the doctrines of the
Shinto, Buddhist, and other schools, we shall arrive at something
near the true principle of things. Now, positively, you must not laugh
if I introduce a light story now and then. Levity is not my object: I
only want to put things in a plain and easy manner.

Well, then, the quality which we call benevolence is, in fact, a
perfection; and it is this perfection which Moshi spoke of as the
heart of man. With this perfect heart, men, by serving their parents,
attain to filial piety; by serving their masters they attain to
fidelity; and if they treat their wives, their brethren, and their
friends in the same spirit, then the principles of the five relations
of life will harmonize without difficulty. As for putting perfection
into practice, parents have the special duties of parents; children
have the special duties of children; husbands have the special duties
of husbands; wives have the special duties of wives. It is when all
these special duties are performed without a fault that true
benevolence is reached; and that again is the true heart of man.

For example, take this fan: any one who sees it knows it to be a fan;
and, knowing it to be a fan, no one would think of using it to blow
his nose in. The special use of a fan is for visits of ceremony; or
else it is opened in order to raise a cooling breeze: it serves no
other purpose. In the same way, this reading-desk will not do as a
substitute for a shelf; again, it will not do instead of a pillow: so
you see that a reading-desk also has its special functions, for which
you must use it. So, if you look at your parents in the light of your
parents, and treat them with filial piety, that is the special duty of
children; that is true benevolence; that is the heart of man. Now
although you may think that, when I speak in this way, I am speaking
of others, and not of yourselves, believe me that the heart of every
one of you is by nature pure benevolence. I am just taking down your
hearts as a shopman does goods from his shelves, and pointing out the
good and bad qualities of each; but if you will not lay what I say to
your own accounts, but persist in thinking that it is all anybody's
business but yours, all my labour will be lost.

Listen! You who answer your parents rudely, and cause them to weep;
you who bring grief and trouble on your masters; you who cause your
husbands to fly into passions; you who cause your wives to mourn; you
who hate your younger brothers, and treat your elder brothers with
contempt; you who sow sorrow broadcast over the world;--what are you
doing but blowing your noses in fans, and using reading-desks as
pillows? I don't mean to say that there are any such persons here;
still there are plenty of them to be found--say in the back streets in
India, for instance. Be so good as to mind what I have said.

Consider, carefully, if a man is born with a naturally bad
disposition, what a dreadful thing that is! Happily, you and I were
born with perfect hearts, which we would not change for a
thousand--no, not for ten thousand pieces of gold: is not this
something to be thankful for?

This perfect heart is called in my discourses, "the original heart of
man." It is true that benevolence is also called the original heart of
man; still there is a slight difference between the two. However, as
the inquiry into this difference would be tedious, it is sufficient
for you to look upon this original heart of man as a perfect thing,
and you will fall into no error. It is true that I have not the honour
of the personal acquaintance of every one of you who are present:
still I know that your hearts are perfect. The proof of this, that if
you say that which you ought not to say, or do that which you ought
not to do, your hearts within you are, in some mysterious way,
immediately conscious of wrong. When the man that has a perfect heart
does that which is imperfect, it is because his heart has become
warped and turned to evil. This law holds good for all mankind. What
says the old song?--"When the roaring waterfall is shivered by the
night-storm, the moonlight is reflected in each scattered drop."[88]
Although there is but one moon, she suffices to illuminate each little
scattered drop. Wonderful are the laws of Heaven! So the principle of
benevolence, which is but one, illumines all the particles that make
up mankind. Well, then, the perfection of the human heart can be
calculated to a nicety, So, if we follow the impulses of our perfect
heart in whatever we undertake, we shall perform our special duties,
and filial piety and fidelity will come to us spontaneously. You see
the doctrines of this school of philosophy are quickly learnt. If you
once thoroughly understand this, there will be no difference between
your conduct and that of a man who has studied a hundred years.
Therefore I pray you to follow the impulses of your natural heart;
place it before you as a teacher, and study its precepts. Your heart
is a convenient teacher to employ too: for there is no question of
paying fees; and no need to go out in the heat of summer, or the cold
of winter, to pay visits of ceremony to your master to inquire after
his health. What admirable teaching this is, by means of which you
can learn filial piety and fidelity so easily! Still, suspicions are
apt to arise in men's minds about things that are seen to be acquired
too cheaply; but here you can buy a good thing cheap, and spare
yourselves the vexation of having paid an extravagant price for it. I
repeat, follow the impulses of your hearts with all your might. In the
_Chin-yo_, the second of the books of Confucius, it is certified
beyond a doubt that the impulses of nature are the true path to
follow; therefore you may set to work in this direction with your
minds at ease.

[Footnote 88:
"The moon looks on many brooks;
The brooks see but one moon."--T. MOORE.]

Righteousness, then, is the true path, and righteousness is the
avoidance of all that is imperfect. If a man avoids that which is
imperfect, there is no need to point out how dearly he will be beloved
by all his fellows. Hence it is that the ancients have defined
righteousness as that which ought to be--that which is fitting. If a
man be a retainer, it is good that he should perform his service to
his lord with all his might. If a woman be married, it is good that
she should treat her parents-in-law with filial piety, and her husband
with reverence. For the rest, whatever is good, that is righteousness
and the true path of man.

The duty of man has been compared by the wise men of old to a high
road. If you want to go to Yedo or to Nagasaki, if you want to go out
to the front of the house or to the back of the house, if you wish to
go into the next room or into some closet or other, there is a right
road to each of these places: if you do not follow the right road,
scrambling over the roofs of houses and through ditches, crossing
mountains and desert places, you will be utterly lost and bewildered.
In the same way, if a man does that which is not good, he is going
astray from the high road. Filial piety in children, virtue in wives,
truth among friends--but why enumerate all these things, which are
patent?--all these are the right road, and good; but to grieve
parents, to anger husbands, to hate and to breed hatred in others,
these are all bad things, these are all the wrong road. To follow
these is to plunge into rivers, to run on to thorns, to jump into
ditches, and brings thousands upon ten thousands of disasters. It is
true that, if we do not pay great attention, we shall not be able to
follow the right road. Fortunately, we have heard by tradition the
words of the learned Nakazawa Doni: I will tell you about that, all in
good time.

It happened that, once, the learned Nakazawa went to preach at Ikeda,
in the province of Sesshiu, and lodged with a rich family of the lower
class. The master of the house, who was particularly fond of sermons,
entertained the preacher hospitably, and summoned his daughter, a girl
some fourteen or fifteen years old, to wait upon him at dinner. This
young lady was not only extremely pretty, but also had charming
manners; so she arranged bouquets of flowers, and made tea, and played
upon the harp, and laid herself out to please the learned man by
singing songs. The preacher thanked her parents for all this, and

"Really, it must be a very difficult thing to educate a young lady up
to such a pitch as this."

The parents, carried away by their feelings, replied--

"Yes; when she is married, she will hardly bring shame upon her
husband's family. Besides what she did just now, she can weave
garlands of flowers round torches, and we had her taught to paint a
little;" and as they began to show a little conceit, the preacher

"I am sure this is something quite out of the common run. Of course
she knows how to rub the shoulders and loins, and has learnt the art
of shampooing?"

The master of the house bristled up at this and answered--

"I may be very poor, but I've not fallen so low as to let my daughter
learn shampooing."

The learned man, smiling, replied, "I think you are making a mistake
when you put yourself in a rage. No matter whether her family be rich
or poor, when a woman is performing her duties in her husband's house,
she must look upon her husband's parents as her own. If her honoured
father-in-law or mother-in-law fall ill, her being able to plait
flowers and paint pictures and make tea will be of no use in the
sick-room. To shampoo her parents-in-law, and nurse them
affectionately, without employing either shampooer or servant-maid, is
the right path of a daughter-in-law. Do you mean to say that your
daughter has not yet learnt shampooing, an art which is essential to
her following the right path of a wife? That is what I meant to ask
just now. So useful a study is very important."

At this the master of the house was ashamed, and blushing made many
apologies, as I have heard. Certainly, the harp and guitar are very
good things in their way; but to attend to nursing their parents is
the right road of children. Lay this story to heart, and consider
attentively where the right road lies. People who live near haunts of
pleasure become at last so fond of pleasure, that they teach their
daughters nothing but how to play on the harp and guitar, and train
them up in the manners and ways of singing-girls, but teach them next
to nothing of their duties as daughters; and then very often they
escape from their parents' watchfulness, and elope. Nor is this the
fault of the girls themselves, but the fault of the education which
they have received from their parents. I do not mean to say that the
harp and guitar, and songs and dramas, are useless things. If you
consider them attentively, all our songs incite to virtue and condemn
vice. In the song called "The Four Sleeves," for instance, there is
the passage, "If people knew beforehand all the misery that it brings,
there would be less going out with young ladies, to look at the
flowers at night." Please give your attention to this piece of poetry.
This is the meaning of it:--When a young man and a young lady set up a
flirtation without the consent of their parents, they think that it
will all be very delightful, and find themselves very much deceived.
If they knew what a sad and cruel world this is, they would not act as
they do. The quotation is from a song of remorse. This sort of thing
but too often happens in the world.

When a man marries a wife, he thinks how happy he will be, and how
pleasant it will be keeping house on his own account; but, before the
bottom of the family kettle has been scorched black, he will be like a
man learning to swim in a field, with his ideas all turned
topsy-turvy, and, contrary to all his expectations, he will find the
pleasures of housekeeping to be all a delusion. Look at that woman
there. Haunted by her cares, she takes no heed of her hair, nor of her
personal appearance. With her head all untidy, her apron tied round
her as a girdle, with a baby twisted into the bosom of her dress, she
carries some wretched bean sauce which she has been out to buy. What
sort of creature is this? This all comes of not listening to the
warnings of parents, and of not waiting for the proper time, but
rushing suddenly into housekeeping. And who is to blame in the matter?
Passion, which does not pause to reflect. A child of five or six years
will never think of learning to play the guitar for its own pleasure.
What a ten-million times miserable thing it is, when parents, making
their little girls hug a great guitar, listen with pleasure to the
poor little things playing on instruments big enough for them to climb
upon, and squeaking out songs in their shrill treble voices! Now I
must beg you to listen to me carefully. If you get confused and don't
keep a sharp look-out, your children, brought up upon harp and guitar
playing, will be abandoning their parents, and running away secretly.
Depend upon it, from all that is licentious and meretricious something
monstrous will come forth. The poet who wrote the "Four Sleeves"
regarded it as the right path of instruction to convey a warning
against vice. But the theatre and dramas and fashionable songs, if the
moral that they convey is missed, are a very great mistake. Although
you may think it very right and proper that a young lady should
practise nothing but the harp and guitar until her marriage, I tell
you that it is not so; for if she misses the moral of her songs and
music, there is the danger of her falling in love with some man and
eloping. While on this subject, I have an amusing story to tell you.

Once upon a time, a frog, who lived at Kioto, had long been desirous
of going to see Osaka. One spring, having made up his mind, he started
off to see Osaka and all its famous places. By a series of hops on
all-fours he reached a temple opposite Nishi-no-oka, and thence by the
western road he arrived at Yamazaki, and began to ascend the mountain
called Tenozan. Now it so happened that a frog from Osaka had
determined to visit Kioto, and had also ascended Tenozan; and on the
summit the two frogs met, made acquaintance, and told one another
their intentions. So they began to complain about all the trouble they
had gone through, and had only arrived half-way after all: if they
went on to Osaka and Kioto, their legs and loins would certainly not
hold out. Here was the famous mountain of Tenozan, from the top of
which the whole of Kioto and Osaka could be seen: if they stood on
tiptoe and stretched their backs, and looked at the view, they would
save themselves from stiff legs. Having come to this conclusion, they
both stood up on tiptoe, and looked about them; when the Kioto frog

"Really, looking at the famous places of Osaka, which I have heard so
much about, they don't seem to me to differ a bit from Kioto. Instead
of giving myself any further trouble to go on, I shall just return

The Osaka frog, blinking with his eyes, said, with a contemptuous
smile, "Well, I have heard a great deal of talk about this Kioto being
as beautiful as the flowers, but it is just Osaka over again. We had
better go home."

And so the two frogs, politely bowing to one another, hopped off home
with an important swagger.

Now, although this is a very funny little story, you will not
understand the drift of it at once. The frogs thought that they were
looking in front of them; but as, when they stood up, their eyes were
in the back of their heads, each was looking at his native place, all
the while that he believed himself to be looking at the place he
wished to go to. The frogs stared to any amount, it is true; but then
they did not take care that the object looked at was the right object,
and so it was that they fell into error. Please, listen attentively. A
certain poet says--

"Wonderful are the frogs! Though they go on all-fours in an attitude
of humility, their eyes are always turned ambitiously upwards."

A delightful poem! Men, although they say with their mouths, "Yes,
yes, your wishes shall be obeyed,--certainly, certainly, you are
perfectly right," are like frogs, with their eyes turned upwards. Vain
fools! meddlers ready to undertake any job, however much above their
powers! This is what is called in the text, "casting away your heart,
and not knowing where to seek for it." Although these men profess to
undertake any earthly thing, when it comes to the point, leave them to
themselves, and they are unequal to the task; and if you tell them
this, they answer--

"By the labour of our own bodies we earn our money; and the food of
our mouths is of our own getting. We are under obligation to no man.
If we did not depend upon ourselves, how could we live in the world?"

There are plenty of people who use these words, _myself_ and _my own_,
thoughtlessly and at random. How false is this belief that they
profess! If there were no system of government by superiors, but an
anarchy, these people, who vaunt themselves and their own powers,
would not stand for a day. In the old days, at the time of the war at
Ichi-no-tani, Minamoto no Yoshitsune[89] left Mikusa, in the province
of Tamba, and attacked Settsu. Overtaken by the night among the
mountains, he knew not what road to follow; so he sent for his
retainer, Benkei, of the Temple called Musashi, and told him to light
the big torches which they had agreed upon. Benkei received his orders
and transmitted them to the troops, who immediately dispersed through
all the valleys, and set fire to the houses of the inhabitants, so
that one and all blazed up, and, thanks to the light of this fire,
they reached Ichi-no-tani, as the story goes. If you think
attentively, you will see the allusion. Those who boast about _my_
warehouse, _my_ house, _my_ farm, _my_ daughter, _my_ wife, hawking
about this "_my_" of theirs like pedlers, let there once come trouble
and war in the world, and, for all their vain-gloriousness, they will
be as helpless as turtles. Let them be thankful that peace is
established throughout the world. The humane Government reaches to
every frontier: the officials of every department keep watch night
and day. When a man sleeps under his roof at night, how can he say
that it is thanks to himself that he stretches his limbs in slumber?
You go your rounds to see whether the shutters are closed and the
front door fast, and, having taken every precaution, you lay yourself
down to rest in peace: and what a precaution after all! A board,
four-tenths of an inch thick, planed down front and rear until it is
only two-tenths of an inch thick. A fine precaution, in very truth!--a
precaution which may be blown down with a breath. Do you suppose such
a thing as that would frighten a thief from breaking in? This is the
state of the case. Here are men who, by the benevolence and virtue of
their rulers, live in a delightful world, and yet, forgetting the
mysterious providence that watches over them, keep on singing their
own praises. Selfish egotists!

[Footnote 89: The younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, who first
established the government of the Shoguns. The battle of Ichi-no-tani
took place in the year A.D. 1184.]

"My property amounts to five thousand ounces of silver. I may sleep
with my eyes turned up, and eat and take my pleasure, if I live for
five hundred or for seven hundred years. I have five warehouses and
twenty-five houses. I hold other people's bills for fifteen hundred
ounces of silver." So he dances a fling[90] for joy, and has no fear
lest poverty should come upon him for fifty or a hundred years. Minds
like frogs, with eyes in the middle of their backs! Foolhardy
thoughts! A trusty castle of defence indeed! How little can it be
depended upon! And when such men are sleeping quietly, how can they
tell that they may not be turned into those big torches we were
talking about just now, or that a great earthquake will not be
upheaved? These are the chances of this fitful world. With regard to
the danger of too great reliance, I have a little tale to tell you. Be
so good as to wake up from your drowsiness, and listen attentively.

[Footnote 90: Literally, "a dance of the Province of Tosa."]

There is a certain powerful shell-fish, called the Sazaye, with a very
strong operculum. Now this creature, if it hears that there is any
danger astir, shuts up its shell from within, with a loud noise, and
thinks itself perfectly safe. One day a Tai and another fish, lost in
envy at this, said--

"What a strong castle this is of yours, Mr. Sazaye! When you shut up
your lid from within, nobody can so much as point a finger at you. A
capital figure you make, sir."

When he heard this, the Sazaye, stroking his beard, replied--

"Well, gentlemen, although you are so good as to say so, it's nothing
to boast of in the way of safety; yet I must admit that, when I shut
myself up thus, I do not feel much anxiety."

And as he was speaking thus, with the pride that apes humility, there
came the noise of a great splash; and the shell-fish, shutting up his
lid as quickly as possible, kept quite still, and thought to himself,
what in the world the noise could be. Could it be a net? Could it be a
fish-hook? What a bore it was, always having to keep such a sharp
look-out! Were the Tai and the other fish caught, he wondered; and he
felt quite anxious about them: however, at any rate, he was safe. And
so the time passed; and when he thought all was safe, he stealthily
opened his shell, and slipped out his head and looked all round him,
and there seemed to be something wrong--something with which he was
not familiar. As he looked a little more carefully, lo and behold
there he was in a fishmonger's shop, and with a card marked "sixteen
cash" on his back.

Isn't that a funny story? And so, at one fell swoop, all your boasted
wealth of houses and warehouses, and cleverness and talent, and rank
and power, are taken away. Poor shell-fish! I think there are some
people not unlike them to be found in China and India. How little self
is to be depended upon! There is a moral poem which says, "It is
easier to ascend to the cloudy heaven without a ladder than to depend
entirely on oneself." This is what is meant by the text, "If a man
casts his heart from him, he knows not where to seek for it." Think
twice upon everything that you do. To take no care for the examination
of that which relates to yourself, but to look only at that which
concerns others, is to cast your heart from you. Casting your heart
from you does not mean that your heart actually leaves you: what is
meant is, that you do not examine your own conscience. Nor must you
think that what I have said upon this point of self-confidences
applies only to wealth and riches. To rely on your talents, to rely on
the services you have rendered, to rely on your cleverness, to rely on
your judgment, to rely on your strength, to rely on your rank, and to
think yourself secure in the possession of these, is to place
yourselves in the same category with the shell-fish in the story. In
all things examine your own consciences: the examination of your own
hearts is above all things essential.

(The preacher leaves his place.)



"If a man loses a fowl or a dog, he knows how to reclaim it. If he
loses his soul, he knows not how to reclaim it. The true path of
learning has no other function than to teach us how to reclaim lost
souls." This parable has been declared to us by Moshi. If a dog, or a
chicken, or a pet cat does not come home at the proper time, its
master makes a great fuss about hunting for it, and wonders can it
have been killed by a dog or by a snake, or can some man have stolen
it; and ransacking the three houses opposite, and his two next-door
neighbours' houses, as if he were seeking for a lost child, cries,
"Pray, sir, has my tortoiseshell cat been with you? Has my pet chicken
been here?" That is the way in which men run about under such
circumstances. It's a matter of the utmost importance.

And yet to lose a dog or a tame chicken is no such terrible loss after
all. But the soul, which is called the lord of the body, is the master
of our whole selves. If men part with this soul for the sake of other
things, then they become deaf to the admonitions of their parents, and
the instructions of their superiors are to them as the winds of
heaven. Teaching is to them like pouring water over a frog's face;
they blink their eyes, and that is all; they say, "Yes, yes!" with
their mouths, but their hearts are gone, and, seeing, they are blind,
hearing, they are deaf. Born whole and sound, by their own doing they
enter the fraternity of cripples. Such are all those who lose their
souls. Nor do they think of inquiring or looking for their lost soul.
"It is my parents' fault; it is my master's fault; it is my husband's
fault; it is my elder brother's fault; it is Hachibei who is a rogue;
it is Matsu who is a bad woman." They content themselves with looking
at the faults of others, and do not examine their own consciences, nor
search their own hearts. Is not this a cruel state of things? They set
up a hue and cry for a lost dog or a pet chicken, but for this
all-important soul of theirs they make no search. What mistaken
people! For this reason the sages, mourning over such a state of
things, have taught us what is the right path of man; and it is the
receiving of this teaching that is called learning. The main object of
learning is the examination and searching of our own hearts; therefore
the text says, "The true path of learning has no other function than
to teach us how to reclaim lost souls." This is an exhaustive
exposition of the functions of learning. That learning has no other
object, we have this gracious pledge and guarantee from the sage. As
for the mere study of the antiquities and annals of China and Japan,
and investigation into literature, these cannot be called learning,
which is above all things an affair of the soul. All the commentaries
and all the books of all the teachers in the world are but so many
directories by which to find out the whereabouts of our own souls.
This search after our own souls is that which I alluded to just now as
the examination of our consciences. To disregard the examination of
our consciences is a terrible thing, of which it is impossible to
foresee the end; on the other hand, to practise it is most admirable,
for by this means we can on the spot attain filial piety and fidelity
to our masters. Virtue and vice are the goals to which the examination
and non-examination of our consciences lead. As it has been rightly
said, benevolence and malice are the two roads which man follows. Upon
this subject I have a terrible and yet a very admirable story to tell
you. Although I dare say you are very drowsy, I must beg you to listen
to me.

In a certain part of the country there was a well-to-do farmer, whose
marriage had brought him one son, whom he petted beyond all measure,
as a cow licks her calf. So by degrees the child became very sly: he
used to pull the horses' tails, and blow smoke into the bulls'
nostrils, and bully the neighbours' children in petty ways and make
them cry. From a peevish child he grew to be a man, and unbearably
undutiful to his parents. Priding himself on a little superior
strength, he became a drunkard and a gambler, and learned to wrestle
at fairs. He would fight and quarrel for a trifle, and spent his time
in debauchery and riotous living. If his parents remonstrated with
him, he would raise his voice and abuse them, using scurrilous
language. "It's all very well your abusing me for being dissolute and
disobedient. But, pray, who asked you to bring me into the world? You
brought me into the world, and I have to thank you for its miseries;
so now, if you hate dissolute people, you had better put me back where
I came from, and I shall be all right again." This was the sort of
insolent answer he would give his parents, who, at their wits' end,
began to grow old in years. And as he by degrees grew more and more of
a bully, unhappy as he made them, still he was their darling, and they
could not find it in their hearts to turn him out of the house and
disinherit him. So they let him pursue his selfish course; and he went
on from worse to worse, knocking people down, breaking their arms, and
getting up great disturbances. It is unnecessary to speak of his
parents' feelings. Even his relations and friends felt as if nails
were being hammered into their breasts. He was a thoroughly wicked

Now no one is from his mother's womb so wicked as this; but those who
persist in selfishness lose their senses, and gradually reach this
pitch of wickedness. What a terrible thing is this throwing away of
our hearts!

Well, this man's relations and friends very properly urged his
parents to disown him; but he was an only child, and so his parents,
although they said, "To-day we really will disinherit him," or
"To-morrow we really will break off all relations with him," still it
was all empty talk; and the years and months passed by, until the
scapegrace reached his twenty-sixth year, having heaped wickedness
upon wickedness; and who can tell how much trouble he brought upon his
family, who were always afraid of hearing of some new enormity? At
last they held a family council, and told the parents that matters had
come to such a pass that if they did not disown their son the rest of
the family must needs break off all communication with them: if he
were allowed to go on in his evil courses, the whole village, not to
speak of his relations, would be disgraced; so either the parents,
against whom, however, there was no ill-will felt, must be cut by the
family, or they must disinherit their son: to this appeal they begged
to have a distinct answer. The parents, reflecting that to separate
themselves from their relations, even for the sake of their own son,
would be an act of disrespect to their ancestors, determined to invite
their relations to assemble and draw up a petition to the Government
for leave to disinherit their son, to which petition the family would
all affix their seals according to form; so they begged them to come
in the evening, and bring their seals with them. This was their

There is an old saw which says, "The old cow licks her calf, and the
tigress carries her cub in her mouth." If the instinct of beasts and
birds prompt them to love their young, how much the more must it be a
bitter thing for a man to have to disown his own son! All this trouble
was the consequence of this youth casting his heart from him. Had he
examined his own conscience, the storm of waves and of wind would not
have arisen, and all would have been calm. But as he refused to listen
to his conscience, his parents, much against their will, were forced
to visit him with the punishment of disinheritance, which he had
brought upon himself. A sad thing indeed! In the poems of his
Reverence Tokuhon, a modern poet, there is the following passage:
"Since Buddha thus winds himself round our hearts, let the man who
dares to disregard him fear for his life." The allusion is to the
great mercy and love of the gods. The gods wish to make men examine
their consciences, and, day and night, help men to discern that which
is evil; but, although they point out our desires and pleasures, our
lusts and passions, as things to be avoided, men turn their backs upon
their own consciences. The love of the gods is like the love of
parents for their children, and men treat the gods as undutiful
children treat their parents. "Men who dare to disregard the gods, let
them fear for their lives." I pray you who hear me, one and all, to
examine your own consciences and be saved.

To return to the story of the vagabond son. As it happened, that day
he was gambling in a neighbouring village, when a friend from his own
place came up and told him that his relations had met together to
disinherit him; and that, fine fellow as he was, he would find it a
terrible thing to be disowned. Before he had heard him half out, the
other replied in a loud voice--

"What, do you mean to say that they are holding a family council
to-night to disinherit me? What a good joke! I'm sure I don't want to
be always seeing my father's and mother's blubbering faces; it makes
me quite sick to think of them: it's quite unbearable. I'm able to
take care of myself; and, if I choose to go over to China, or to live
in India, I should like to know who is to prevent me? This is the very
thing above all others for me. I'll go off to the room where they are
all assembled, and ask them why they want to disinherit me. I'll just
swagger like Danjuro [91] the actor, and frighten them into giving me
fifty or seventy ounces of silver to get rid of me, and put the money
in my purse, and be off to Kioto or Osaka, where I'll set up a
tea-house on my own account; and enjoy myself to my heart's content! I
hope this will be a great night for me, so I'll just drink a cup of
wine for luck beforehand."

[Footnote 91: A famous actor of Yedo, who lived 195 years ago. He was
born at Sakura, in Shimosa.]

And so, with a lot of young devils of his own sort, be fell to
drinking wine in teacups,[92] so that before nightfall they were all
as drunk as mud. Well, then, on the strength of this wine, as he was
setting out for his father's house, he said, "Now, then, to try my
luck," and stuck a long dirk in his girdle. He reached his own village
just before nightfall, thinking to burst into the place where he
imagined his relations to be gathered together, turning their
wisdom-pockets inside out, to shake out their small provision of
intelligence in consultation; and he fancied that, if he blustered and
bullied, he would certainly get a hundred ounces of silver out of
them. Just as he was about to enter the house, he reflected--

[Footnote 92: The ordinary wine-cup holding only a thimbleful, to
drink wine out of teacups is a great piece of debauchery--like
drinking brandy in tumblers.]

"If I show my face in the room where my relations are gathered
together, they will all look down on the ground and remain silent; so
if I go in shouting and raging, it will be quite out of harmony; but
if they abuse me, then I shall be in the right if I jump in on them
and frighten them well. The best plan will be for me to step out of
the bamboo grove which is behind the house, and to creep round the
verandah, and I can listen to these fellows holding their
consultation: they will certainly be raking up all sorts of scandal
about me. It will be all in harmony, then, if I kick down the shutters
and sliding-doors with a noise like thunder. And what fun it will be!"

As he thought thus to himself, he pulled off his iron-heeled sandals,
and stuck them in his girdle, and, girding up his dress round his
waist, left the bamboo grove at the back of the house, and, jumping
over the garden wicket, went round the verandah and looked in. Peeping
through a chink in the shutters, he could see his relations gathered
together in council, speaking in whispers. The family were sitting in
a circle, and one and all were affixing their seals to the petition of
disinheritance. At last, having passed from hand to hand, the document
came round to where the two parents were sitting. Their son, seeing
this, said--

"Come, now, it's win or lose! My parents' signing the paper shall be
the sign for me to kick open the door and jump into the middle of

So, getting ready for a good kick, he held his breath and looked on.

What terrible perversion man can allow his heart to come to! Moshi has
said that man by nature is good; but although not a particle of fault
can be found with what he has said, when the evil we have learned
becomes a second nature, men reach this fearful degree of wickedness.
When men come to this pass, Koshi[93] and Moshi themselves might
preach to them for a thousand days, and they would not have strength
to reform. Such hardened sinners deserve to be roasted in iron pots in
the nethermost hell. Now, I am going to tell you how it came about
that the vagabond son turned over a new leaf and became dutiful, and
finally entered paradise. The poet says, "Although the hearts of
parents are not surrounded by dark night, how often they stray from
the right road in their affection for their children!"

[Footnote 93: Koshi is the Japanese pronunciation of the name of the
Chinese philosopher Kung Ts[=u], or Kung Fu Ts[=u], whom we call

When the petition of disinheritance came round to the place where the
two parents were sitting, the mother lifted up her voice and wept
aloud; and the father, clenching his toothless gums to conceal his
emotion, remained with his head bent down: presently, in a husky
voice, he said, "Wife, give me the seal!"

But she returned no answer, and with tears in her eyes took a leather
purse, containing the seal, out of a drawer of the cupboard and placed
it before her husband. All this time the vagabond son, holding his
breath, was peeping in from outside the shutters. In the meanwhile,
the old man slowly untied the strings of the purse, and took out the
seal, and smeared on the colouring matter. Just as he was about to
seal the document, his wife clutched at his hand and said, "Oh, pray
wait a little."

The father replied, "Now that all our relations are looking on, you
must not speak in this weak manner."

But she would not listen to what he said, but went on--

"Pray listen to what I have to say. It is true that if we were to give
over our house to our undutiful son, in less than three years the
grass would be growing in its place, for he would be ruined. Still, if
we disinherit our child--the only child that we have, either in heaven
or upon earth--we shall have to adopt another in his place. Although,
if the adopted son turned out honest and dutiful, and inherited our
property, all would be well; still, what certainty is there of his
doing so? If, on the other hand, the adopted son turned out to be a
prodigal, and laid waste our house, what unlucky parents we should
be! And who can say that this would not be the case? If we are to be
ruined for the sake of an equally wicked adopted son, I had rather
lose our home for the sake of our own son, and, leaving out old
familiar village as beggars, seek for our lost boy on foot. This is my
fervent wish. During fifty years that we have lived together, this has
been the only favour that I have ever asked of you. Pray listen to my
prayer, and put a stop to this act of disinheritance. Even though I
should become a beggar for my son's sake, I could feel no resentment
against him."

So she spoke, sobbing aloud. The relations, who heard this, looked
round at one another, and watched the father to see what he would do;
and he (who knows with what thoughts in his head?) put back the seal
into the leather purse, and quickly drew the strings together, and
pushed back the petition to the relations.

"Certainly," said he, "I have lost countenance, and am disgraced
before all my family; however, I think that what the good wife has
just said is right and proper, and from henceforth I renounce all
thoughts of disinheriting my son. Of course you will all see a
weakness of purpose in what I say, and laugh at me as the cause of my
son's undutiful conduct. But laugh away: it won't hurt me. Certainly,
if I don't disinherit this son of mine, my house will be ruined before
three years are over our heads. To lay waste the house of generations
upon generations of my ancestors is a sin against those ancestors; of
this I am well aware. Further, if I don't disinherit my son, you
gentlemen will all shun me. I know that I am cutting myself off from
my relations. Of course you think that when I leave this place I shall
be dunning you to bestow your charity upon me; and that is why you
want to break off relations with me. Pray don't make yourselves
uneasy. I care no more for my duties to the world, for my impiety to
my ancestors, or for my separation from my family. Our son is our only
darling, and we mean to go after him, following him as beggars on
foot. This is our desire. We shall trouble you for no alms and for no
charity. However we may die, we have but one life to lose. For our
darling son's sake, we will lay ourselves down and die by the
roadside. There our bodies shall be manure for the trees of the
avenue. And all this we will endure cheerfully, and not utter a
complaint. Make haste and return home, therefore, all of you. From
to-morrow we are no longer on speaking terms. As for what you may say
to me on my son's account, I do not care."

And as his wife had done, he lifted up his voice and wept, shedding
manly tears. As for her, when she heard that the act of disinheritance
was not to be drawn up, her tears were changed to tears of joy. The
rest of the family remained in mute astonishment at so unheard-of a
thing, and could only stare at the faces of the two old people.

You see how bewildered parents must be by their love for their
children, to be so merciful towards them. As a cat carrying her young
in her mouth screens it from the sun at one time and brings it under
the light at another, so parents act by their children, screening
their bad points and bringing out in relief their good qualities. They
care neither for the abuse of others, nor for their duties to their
ancestors, nor for the wretched future in store for themselves.
Carried away by their infatuation for their children, and intoxicated
upon intoxication, the hearts of parents are to be pitied for their
pitifulness. It is not only the two parents in my story who are in
this plight; the hearts of all parents of children all over the world
are the same. In the poems of the late learned Ishida it is written,
"When I look round me and see the hearts of parents bewildered by
their love for their children, I reflect that my own father and mother
must be like them." This is certainly a true saying.

To return to the story: the halo of his parents' great kindness and
pity penetrated the very bowels of the prodigal son. What an admirable
thing! When he heard it, terrible and sly devil as he had been, he
felt as if his whole body had been squeezed in a press; and somehow or
other, although the tears rose in his breast, he could not for shame
lift up his voice and weep. Biting the sleeve of his dress, he lay
down on the ground and shed tears in silence. What says the verse of
the reverend priest Eni? "To shed tears of gratitude one knows not
why." A very pretty poem indeed! So then the vagabond son, in his
gratitude to his parents, could neither stand nor sit. You see the
original heart of man is by nature bright virtue, but by our selfish
pursuit of our own inclinations the brilliancy of our original virtue
is hidden.

To continue: the prodigal was pierced to the core by the great mercy
shown by his parents, and the brilliancy of his own original good
heart was enticed back to him. The sunlight came forth, and what
became of all the clouds of self-will and selfishness? The clouds were
all dispelled, and from the bottom of his soul there sprang the desire
to thank his parents for their goodness. We all know the story of the
rush-cutter who saw the moon rising between the trees on a moorland
hill so brightly, that he fancied it must have been scoured with the
scouring-rush which grew near the spot. When a man, who has been
especially wicked, repents and returns to his original heart, he
becomes all the more excellent, and his brightness is as that of the
rising moon scoured. What an admirable thing this is! So the son
thought to enter the room at once and beg his parents' forgiveness;
but he thought to himself, "Wait a bit. If I burst suddenly into the
room like this, the relations will all be frightened and not know what
to make of it, and this will be a trouble to my parents. I will put on
an innocent face, as if I did not know what has been going on, and
I'll go in by the front door, and beg the relations to intercede for
me with my parents." With stealthy step he left the back of the house,
and went round to the front. When he arrived there, he purposely made
a great noise with his iron-heeled sandals, and gave a loud cough to
clear his throat, and entered the room. The relations were all
greatly alarmed; and his parents, when they saw the face of their
wicked son, both shed tears. As for the son, he said not a word, but
remained weeping, with his head bent down. After a while, he addressed
the relations and said, "Although I have frequently been threatened
with disinheritance, and although in those days I made light of it,
to-night, when I heard that this family council had assembled, I
somehow or other felt my heart beset by anxiety and grief. However I
may have heaped wickedness upon wickedness up to the present moment,
as I shall certainly now mend my ways, I pray you to delay for a while
to-night's act of disinheritance. I do not venture to ask for a long
delay,--I ask but for thirty days; and if within that time I shall not
have given proofs of repentance, disinherit me: I shall not have a
word to say. I pray you, gentlemen, to intercede with my parents that
they may grant this delay of thirty days, and to present them my
humble apologies." With this he rubbed his head on the mat, as a
humble suppliant, in a manner most foreign to his nature.

The relations, after hearing the firm and resolute answer of the
parents, had shifted about in their places; but, although they were on
the point of leaving the house, had remained behind, sadly out of
harmony; when the son came in, and happily with a word set all in tune
again. So the relations addressed the parents, and said, "Pray defer
to-night's affair;" and laid the son's apologies at their feet. As for
the parents, who would not have disinherited their son even had he not
repented, how much the more when they heard what he said did they weep
for joy; and the relations, delighted at the happy event, exhorted the
son to become really dutiful; and so that night's council broke up. So
this son in the turn of a hand became a pious son, and the way in
which he served his parents was that of a tender and loving child. His
former evil ways he extinguished utterly.

The fame of this story rose high in the world; and, before half a year
had passed, it reached the ears of the lord of the manor, who, when he
had put on his noble spectacles and investigated the case, appointed
the son to be the head man of his village. You may judge by this what
this son's filial piety effected. Three years after these events, his
mother, who was on her death-bed, very sick, called for him and said,
"When some time since the consultation was being held about
disinheriting you, by some means or other your heart was turned, and
since then you have been a dutiful son above all others. If at that
time you had not repented, and I had died in the meanwhile, my soul
would have gone to hell without fail, because of my foolish conduct
towards you. But, now that you have repented, there is nothing that
weighs upon me, and there can be no mistake about my going to
paradise. So the fact of my becoming one of the saints will all be the
work of your filial piety." And the story goes, that with these words
the mother, lifting up her hands in prayer, died.

To be sure, by the deeds of the present life we may obtain a glimpse
into the future. If a man's heart is troubled by his misdeeds in this
life, it will again be tortured in the next. The troubled heart is
hell. The heart at rest is paradise. The trouble or peace of parents
depends upon their children. If their children are virtuous, parents
are as the saints: if their children are wicked, parents suffer the
tortures of the damned. If once your youthful spirits, in a fit of
heedlessness, have led you to bring trouble upon your parents and
cause them to weep, just consider the line of argument which I have
been following. From this time forth repent and examine your own
hearts. If you will become dutiful, your parents from this day will
live happy as the saints. But if you will not repent, but persist in
your evil ways, your parents will suffer the pains of hell. Heaven and
hell are matters of repentance or non-repentance. Repentance is the
finding of the lost heart, and is also the object of learning. I shall
speak to you further upon this point to-morrow evening.



Moshi has said, "There is the third finger. If a man's third or
nameless finger be bent, so that he cannot straighten it, although his
bent finger may cause him no pain, still if he hears of some one who
can cure it, he will think nothing of undertaking a long journey from
_Shin_ to _So_[94] to consult him upon this deformed finger; for he
knows it is to be hateful to have a finger unlike those of other men.
But he cares not a jot if his heart be different to that of other men;
and this is how men disregard the true order of things."

[Footnote 94: Ancient divisions of China.]

Now this is the next chapter to the one about benevolence being the
true heart of man, which I expounded to you the other night. True
learning has no other aim than that of reclaiming lost souls; and, in
connection with this, Moshi has thus again declared in a parable the
all-importance of the human heart.

The nameless finger is that which is next to the little finger. The
thumb is called the parent-finger; the first finger is called the
index; the long is called the middle finger; but the third finger has
no name. It is true that it is sometimes called the finger for
applying rouge; but that is only a name given it by ladies, and is not
in general use. So, having no name, it is called the nameless finger.
And how comes it to have no name? Why, because it is of all the
fingers the least useful. When we clutch at or grasp things, we do so
by the strength of the thumb and little finger. If a man scratches his
head, he does it with the forefinger; if he wishes to test the heat of
the wine[95] in the kettle, he uses the little finger. Thus, although
each finger has its uses and duties, the nameless finger alone is of
no use: it is not in our way if we have it, and we do not miss it if
we lose it. Of the whole body it is the meanest member: if it be
crooked so that we cannot straighten it, it neither hurts nor itches;
as Moshi says in the text, it causes no pain; even if we were without
it, we should be none the worse off. Hence, what though it should be
bent, it would be better, since it causes no pain, to leave it as it
is. Yet if a person, having such a crooked finger, hears of a clever
doctor who can set it straight, no matter at how great a distance he
may be, he will be off to consult this doctor. And pray why? Because
he feels ashamed of having a finger a little different from the rest
of the world, and so he wants to be cured, and will think nothing of
travelling from Shin to So--a distance of a thousand miles--for the
purpose. To be sure, men are very susceptible and keenly alive to a
sense of shame; and in this they are quite right. The feeling of shame
at what is wrong is the commencement of virtue. The perception of
shame is inborn in men; but there are two ways of perceiving shame.
There are some men who are sensible of shame for what regards their
bodies, but who are ignorant of shame for what concerns their hearts;
and a terrible mistake they make. There is nothing which can be
compared in importance to the heart. The heart is said to be the lord
of the body, which it rules as a master rules his house. Shall the
lord, who is the heart, be ailing and his sickness be neglected, while
his servants, who are the members only, are cared for? If the knee be
lacerated, apply tinder to stop the bleeding; if the moxa should
suppurate, spread a plaster; if a cold be caught, prepare medicine and
garlic and gruel, and ginger wine! For a trifle, you will doctor and
care for your bodies, and yet for your hearts you will take no care.
Although you are born of mankind, if your hearts resemble those of
devils, of foxes, of snakes, or of crows, rather than the hearts of
men, you take no heed, caring for your bodies alone. Whence can you
have fallen into such a mistake? It is a folly of old standing too,
for it was to that that Moshi pointed when he said that to be
cognizant of a deformed finger and ignore the deformities of the soul
was to disregard the true order of things. This is what it is, not to
distinguish between that which is important and that which is
unimportant--to pick up a trifle and pass by something of value. The
instinct of man prompts him to prefer the great to the small, the
important to the unimportant.

[Footnote 95: Wine is almost always drunk hot.]

If a man is invited out to a feast by his relations or acquaintances,
when the guests are assembled and the principal part of the feast has
disappeared, he looks all round him, with the eyeballs starting out of
his head, and glares at his neighbours, and, comparing the little
titbits of roast fowl or fish put before them, sees that they are
about half an inch bigger than those set before him; then, blowing out
his belly with rage, he thinks, "What on earth can the host be about?
Master Tarubei is a guest, but so am I: what does the fellow mean by
helping me so meanly? There must be some malice or ill-will here." And
so his mind is prejudiced against the host. Just be so good as to
reflect upon this. Does a man show his spite by grudging a bit of
roast fowl or meat? And yet even in such trifles as these do men show
how they try to obtain what is great, and show their dislike of what
is small. How can men be conscious of shame for a deformed finger, and
count it as no misfortune that their hearts are crooked? That is how
they abandon the substance for the shadow.

Moshi severely censures the disregard of the true order of things.
What mistaken and bewildered creatures men are! What says the old
song? "Hidden far among the mountains, the tree which seems to be
rotten, if its core be yet alive, may be made to bear flowers." What
signifies it if the hand or the foot be deformed? The heart is the
important thing. If the heart be awry, what though your skin be fair,
your nose aquiline, your hair beautiful? All these strike the eye
alone, and are utterly useless. It is as if you were to put horse-dung
into a gold-lacquer luncheon-box. This is what is called a fair
outside, deceptive in appearance.

There's the scullery-maid been washing out the pots at the kitchen
sink, and the scullion Chokichi comes up and says to her, "You've got
a lot of charcoal smut sticking to your nose," and points out to her
the ugly spot. The scullery-maid is delighted to be told of this, and
answers, "Really! whereabouts is it?" Then she twists a towel round
her finger, and, bending her head till mouth and forehead are almost
on a level, she squints at her nose, and twiddles away with her
fingers as if she were the famous Goto[96] at work, carving the
ornaments of a sword-handle. "I say, Master Chokichi, is it off yet?"
"Not a bit of it. You've smeared it all over your cheeks now." "Oh
dear! oh dear! where can it be?" And so she uses the water-basin as a
looking-glass, and washes her face clean; then she says to herself,
"What a dear boy Chokichi is!" and thinks it necessary, out of
gratitude, to give him relishes with his supper by the ladleful, and
thanks him over and over again. But if this same Chokichi were to come
up to her and say, "Now, really, how lazy you are! I wish you could
manage to be rather less of a shrew," what do you think the
scullery-maid would answer then? Reflect for a moment. "Drat the boy's
impudence! If I were of a bad heart or an angular disposition, should
I be here helping him? You go and be hung! You see if I take the
trouble to wash your dirty bedclothes for you any more." And she gets
to be a perfect devil, less only the horns.

[Footnote 96: A famous gold- and silver-smith of the olden time. A
Benvenuto Cellini among the Japanese. His mark on a piece of metal
work enhances its value tenfold.]

There are other people besides the poor scullery-maid who are in the
same way. "Excuse me, Mr. Gundabei, but the embroidered crest on your
dress of ceremony seems to be a little on one side." Mr. Gundabei
proceeds to adjust his dress with great precision. "Thank you, sir. I
am ten million times obliged to you for your care. If ever there
should be any matter in which I can be of service to you, I beg that
you will do me the favour of letting me know;" and, with a beaming
face, he expresses his gratitude. Now for the other side of the
picture. "Really, Mr. Gundabei, you are very foolish; you don't seem
to understand at all. I beg you to be of a frank and honest heart: it
really makes me quite sad to see a man's heart warped in this way."
What is his answer? He turns his sword in his girdle ready to draw,
and plays the devil's tattoo upon the hilt: it looks as if it must end
in a fight soon.

In fact, if you help a man in anything which has to do with a fault
of the body, he takes it very kindly, and sets about mending matters.
If any one helps another to rectify a fault of the heart, he has to
deal with a man in the dark, who flies in a rage, and does not care to
amend. How out of tune all this is! And yet there are men who are
bewildered up to this point. Nor is this a special and extraordinary
failing. This mistaken perception of the great and the small, of
colour and of substance, is common to us all--to you and to me.

Please give me your attention. The form strikes the eye; but the heart
strikes not the eye. Therefore, that the heart should be distorted and
turned awry causes no pain. This all results from the want of sound
judgment; and that is why we cannot afford to be careless.

The master of a certain house calls his servant Chokichi, who sits
dozing in the kitchen. "Here, Chokichi! The guests are all gone; come
and clear away the wine and fish in the back room."

Chokichi rubs his eyes, and with a sulky answer goes into the back
room, and, looking about him, sees all the nice things paraded on the
trays and in the bowls. It's wonderful how his drowsiness passes away:
no need for any one to hurry him now. His eyes glare with greed, as he
says, "Hullo! here's a lot of tempting things! There's only just one
help of that omelette left in the tray. What a hungry lot of guests!
What's this? It looks like fish rissoles;" and with this he picks out
one, and crams his mouth full; when, on one side, a mess of young
cuttlefish, in a Chinese[97] porcelain bowl, catches his eyes. There
the little beauties sit in a circle, like Buddhist priests in
religious meditation! "Oh, goodness! how nice!" and just as he is
dipping his finger and thumb in, he hears his master's footstep; and
knowing that he is doing wrong, he crams his prize into the pocket of
his sleeve, and stoops down to take away the wine-kettle and cups; and
as he does this, out tumble the cuttlefish from his sleeve. The master
sees it.

[Footnote 97: Curiosities, such as porcelain or enamel or carved jade
from China, are highly esteemed by the Japanese. A great quantity of
the porcelain of Japan is stamped with counterfeit Chinese marks of
the Ming dynasty.]

"What's that?"

Chokichi, pretending not to know what has happened, beats the mats,
and keeps on saying, "Come again the day before yesterday; come again
the day before yesterday."[98]

[Footnote 98: An incantation used to invite spiders, which are
considered unlucky by the superstitious, to come again at the Greek

But it's no use his trying to persuade his master that the little
cuttlefish are spiders, for they are not the least like them. It's no
use hiding things,--they are sure to come to light; and so it is with
the heart,--its purposes will out. If the heart is enraged, the dark
veins stand out on the forehead; if the heart is grieved, tears rise
to the eyes; if the heart is joyous, dimples appear in the cheeks; if
the heart is merry, the face smiles: thus it is that the face reflects
the emotions of the heart. It is not because the eyes are filled with
tears that the heart is sad; nor because the veins stand out on the
forehead that the heart is enraged. It is the heart which leads the
way in everything. All the important sensations of the heart are
apparent in the outward appearance. In the "Great Learning" of Koshi
it is written, "The truth of what is within appears upon the surface."
How then is the heart a thing which can be hidden? To answer when
reproved, to hum tunes when scolded, show a diseased heart; and if
this disease is not quickly taken in hand, it will become chronic, and
the remedy become difficult: perhaps the disease may be so virulent
that even Giba and Henjaku[99] in consultation could not effect a
cure. So, before the disease has gained strength, I invite you to the
study of the moral essays entitled _Shin-gaku_ (the Learning of the
Heart). If you once arrive at the possession of your heart as it was
originally by nature, what an admirable thing that will be! In that
case your conscience will point out to you even the slightest wrong
bias or selfishness.

[Footnote 99: Two famous Indian and Chinese physicians.]

While upon this subject, I may tell you a story which was related to
me by a friend of mine. It is a story which the master of a certain
money-changer's shop used to be very fond of telling. An important
part of a money-changer's business is to distinguish between good and
bad gold and silver. In the different establishments, the ways of
teaching the apprentices this art vary; however, the plan adopted by
the money-changer was as follows:--At first he would show them no bad
silver, but would daily put before them good money only; when they had
become thoroughly familiar with the sight of good money, if he
stealthily put a little base coin among the good, he found that they
would detect it immediately,--they saw it as plainly as you see things
when you throw light on a mirror. This faculty of detecting base money
at a glance was the result of having learned thoroughly to understand
good money. Having once been taught in this way, the apprentices would
not make a mistake about a piece of base coin during their whole
lives, as I have heard. I can't vouch for the truth of this; but it is
very certain that the principle, applied to moral instruction, is an
excellent one,--it is a most safe mode of study. However, I was
further told that if, after having thus learned to distinguish good
money, a man followed some other trade for six months or a year, and
gave up handling money, he would become just like any other
inexperienced person, unable to distinguish the good from the base.

Please reflect upon this attentively. If you once render yourself
familiar with the nature of the uncorrupted heart, from that time
forth you will be immediately conscious of the slightest inclination
towards bias or selfishness. And why? Because the natural heart is
illumined. When a man has once learned that which is perfect, he will
never consent to accept that which is imperfect; but if, after having
acquired this knowledge, he again keeps his natural heart at a
distance, and gradually forgets to recognize that which is perfect, he
finds himself in the dark again, and that he can no longer distinguish
base money from good. I beg you to take care. If a man falls into bad
habits, he is no longer able to perceive the difference between the
good impulses of his natural heart and the evil impulses of his
corrupt heart. With this benighted heart as a starting-point, he can
carry out none of his intentions, and he has to lift his shoulders
sighing and sighing again. A creature much to be pitied indeed! Then
he loses all self-reliance, so that, although it would be better for
him to hold his tongue and say nothing about it, if he is in the
slightest trouble or distress, he goes and confesses the crookedness
of his heart to every man he meets. What a wretched state for a man to
be in! For this reason, I beg you to learn thoroughly the true silver
of the heart, in order that you may make no mistake about the base
coin. I pray that you and I, during our whole lives, may never leave
the path of true principles.

I have an amusing story to tell you in connection with this, if you
will be so good as to listen.

Once upon a time, when the autumn nights were beginning to grow
chilly, five or six tradesmen in easy circumstances had assembled
together to have a chat; and, having got ready their picnic box and
wine-flask, went off to a temple on the hills, where a friendly priest
lived, that they might listen to the stags roaring. With this
intention they went to call upon the priest, and borrowed the guests'
apartments[100] of the monastery; and as they were waiting to hear the
deer roar, some of the party began to compose poetry. One would write
a verse of Chinese poetry, and another would write a verse of
seventeen syllables; and as they were passing the wine-cup the hour of
sunset came, but not a deer had uttered a call; eight o'clock came,
and ten o'clock came; still not a sound from the deer.

[Footnote 100: All the temples in China and Japan have guests'
apartments, which may be secured for a trifle, either for a long or
short period. It is false to suppose that there is any desecration of
a sacred shrine in the act of using it as a hostelry; it is the custom
of the country.]

"What can this mean?" said one. "The deer surely ought to be roaring."

But, in spite of their waiting, the deer would not roar. At last the
friends got sleepy, and, bored with writing songs and verses, began to
yawn, and gave up twaddling about the woes and troubles of life; and
as they were all silent, one of them, a man fifty years of age,
stopping the circulation of the wine-cup, said--

"Well, certainly, gentlemen, thanks to you, we have spent the evening
in very pleasant conversation. However, although I am enjoying myself
mightily in this way, my people at home must be getting anxious, and
so I begin to think that we ought to leave off drinking."

"Why so?" said the others.

"Well, I'll tell you. You know that my only son is twenty-two years of
age this year, and a troublesome fellow be is, too. When I'm at home,
he lends a hand sulkily enough in the shop: but as soon as he no
longer sees the shadow of me, he hoists sail and is off to some bad
haunt. Although our relations and connections are always preaching to
him, not a word has any more effect that wind blowing into a horse's
ear. When I think that I shall have to leave my property to such a
fellow as that, it makes my heart grow small indeed. Although, thanks
to those to whom I have succeeded, I want for nothing, still, when I
think of my son, I shed tears of blood night and day."

And as he said this with a sigh, a man of some forty-five or forty-six
years said--

"No, no; although you make so much of your misfortunes, your son is
but a little extravagant after all. There's no such great cause for
grief there. I've got a very different story to tell. Of late years my
shopmen, for one reason or another, have been running me into debt,
thinking nothing of a debt of fifty or seventy ounces; and so the
ledgers get all wrong. Just think of that. Here have I been keeping
these fellows ever since they were little children unable to blow
their own noses, and now, as soon as they come to be a little useful
in the shop, they begin running up debts, and are no good whatever to
their master. You see, you only have to spend your money upon your own

Then another gentleman said--

"Well, I think that to spend money upon your shop-people is no such
great hardship after all. Now I've been in something like trouble
lately. I can't get a penny out of my customers. One man owes me
fifteen ounces; another owes me twenty-five ounces. Really that is
enough to make a man feel as if his heart was worn away."

When he had finished speaking, an old gentleman, who was sitting
opposite, playing with his fan, said--

"Certainly, gentlemen, your grievances are not without cause; still,
to be perpetually asked for a little money, or to back a bill, by
one's relations or friends, and to have a lot of hangers-on dependent
on one, as I have, is a worse case still."

But before the old gentleman had half finished speaking, his neighbour
called out--

"No, no; all you gentlemen are in luxury compared to me. Please listen
to what I have to suffer. My wife and my mother can't hit it off
anyhow. All day long they're like a couple of cows butting at one
another with their horns. The house is as unendurable as if it were
full of smoke. I often think it would be better to send my wife back
to her village; but then I've got two little children. If I interfere
and take my wife's part, my mother gets low-spirited. If I scold my
wife, she says that I treat her so brutally because she's not of the
same flesh and blood; and then she hates me. The trouble and anxiety
are beyond description: I'm like a post stuck up between them."

And so they all twaddled away in chorus, each about his own troubles.
At last one of the gentlemen, recollecting himself, said--

"Well, gentlemen, certainly the deer ought to be roaring; but we've
been so engrossed with our conversation, that we don't know whether we
have missed hearing them or not."

With this he pulled aside the sliding-door of the verandah and looked
out, and, lo and behold! a great big stag was standing perfectly
silent in front of the garden.

"Hullo!" said the man to the deer, "what's this? Since you've been
there all the time, why did you not roar?"

Then the stag answered, with an innocent face--

"Oh, I came here to listen to the lamentations of you gentlemen."

Isn't that a funny story?

Old and young, men and women, rich and poor, never cease grumbling
from morning till night. All this is the result of a diseased heart.
In short, for the sake of a very trifling inclination or selfish
pursuit, they will do any wrong in order to effect that which is
impossible. This is want of judgment, and this brings all sorts of
trouble upon the world. If once you gain possession of a perfect
heart, knowing that which is impossible to be impossible, and
recognizing that that which is difficult is difficult, you will not
attempt to spare yourself trouble unduly. What says the Chin-Yo?[101]
The wise man, whether his lot be cast amongst rich or poor, amongst
barbarians or in sorrow, understands his position by his own instinct.
If men do not understand this, they think that the causes of pain and
pleasure are in the body. Putting the heart on one side, they
earnestly strive after the comforts of the body, and launch into
extravagance, the end of which is miserly parsimony. Instead of
pleasure they meet with grief of the heart, and pass their lives in
weeping and wailing. In one way or another, everything in this world
depends upon the heart. I implore every one of you to take heed that
tears fall not to your lot.

[Footnote 101: The second book of Confucius.]





Seppuku _(hara-kiri)_ is the mode of suicide adopted amongst Samurai
when they have no alternative but to die. Some there are who thus
commit suicide of their own free will; others there are who, having
committed some crime which does not put them outside the pale of the
privileges of the Samurai class, are ordered by their superiors to put
an end to their own lives. It is needless to say that it is absolutely
necessary that the principal, the witnesses, and the seconds who take
part in the affair should be acquainted with all the ceremonies to be
observed. A long time ago, a certain Daimio invited a number of
persons, versed in the various ceremonies, to call upon him to explain
the different forms to be observed by the official witnesses who
inspect and verify the head, &c., and then to instruct him in the
ceremonies to be observed in the act of suicide; then he showed all
these rites to his son and to all his retainers. Another person has
said that, as the ceremonies to be gone through by principal,
witnesses, and seconds are all very important matters, men should
familiarize themselves with a thing which is so terrible, in order
that, should the time come for them to take part in it, they may not
be taken by surprise.

The witnesses go to see and certify the suicide. For seconds, men are
wanted who have distinguished themselves in the military arts. In old
days, men used to bear these things in mind; but now-a-days the
fashion is to be ignorant of such ceremonies, and if upon rare
occasions a criminal is handed over to a Daimio's charge, that he may
perform _hara-kiri,_ it often happens, at the time of execution, that
there is no one among all the prince's retainers who is competent to
act as second, in which case a man has to be engaged in a hurry from
some other quarter to cut off the head of the criminal, and for that
day he changes his name and becomes a retainer of the prince, either
of the middle or lowest class, and the affair is entrusted to him, and
so the difficulty is got over: nor is this considered to be a
disgrace. It is a great breach of decorum if the second, who is a most
important officer, commits any mistake (such as not striking off the
head at a blow) in the presence of the witnesses sent by the
Government. On this account a skilful person must be employed; and, to
hide the unmanliness of his own people, a prince must perform the
ceremony in this imperfect manner. Every Samurai should be able to cut
off a man's head: therefore, to have to employ a stranger to act as
second is to incur the charge of ignorance of the arts of war, and is
a bitter mortification. However, young men, trusting to their youthful
ardour, are apt to be careless, and are certain to make a mistake.
Some people there are who, not lacking in skill on ordinary occasions,
lose their presence of mind in public, and cannot do themselves
justice. It is all the more important, therefore, as the act occurs
but rarely, that men who are liable to be called upon to be either
principals or seconds or witnesses in the _hara-kiri_ should
constantly be examined in their skill as swordsmen, and should be
familiar with all the rites, in order that when the time comes they
may not lose their presence of mind.

According to one authority, capital punishment may be divided into two
kinds--beheading and strangulation. The ceremony of _hara-kiri_ was
added afterwards in the case of persons belonging to the military
class being condemned to death. This was first instituted in the days
of the Ashikaga[102] dynasty. At that time the country was in a state
of utter confusion; and there were men who, although fighting, were
neither guilty of high treason nor of infidelity to their feudal
lords, but who by the chances of war were taken prisoners. To drag out
such men as these, bound as criminals, and cut their heads off, was
intolerably cruel; accordingly, men hit upon a ceremonious mode of
suicide by disembowelling, in order to comfort the departed spirit.
Even at present, where it becomes necessary to put to death a man who
has been guilty of some act not unworthy of a Samurai, at the time of
the execution witnesses are sent to the house; and the criminal,
having bathed and put on new clothes, in obedience to the commands of
his superiors, puts an end to himself, but does not on that account
forfeit his rank as a Samurai. This is a law for which, in all truth,
men should be grateful.

[Footnote 102: Ashikaga, third dynasty of Shoguns, flourished from
A.D. 1336 to 1568. The practice of suicide by disembowelling is of
great antiquity. This is the time when the ceremonies attending it
were invented.]


In old days the ceremony of _hara-kiri_ used to be performed in a
temple. In the third year of the period called Kan-yei (A.D. 1626), a
certain person, having been guilty of treason, was ordered to
disembowel himself, on the fourteenth day of the first month, in the
temple of Kichijoji, at Komagome, in Yedo. Eighteen years later, the
retainer of a certain Daimio, having had a dispute with a sailor
belonging to an Osaka coasting-ship, killed the sailor; and, an
investigation having been made into the matter by the Governor of
Osaka, the retainer was ordered to perform _hara-kiri_, on the
twentieth day of the sixth month, in the temple called Sokusanji, in
Osaka. During the period Shoho (middle of seventeenth century), a
certain man, having been guilty of heinous misconduct, performed
_hara-kiri_ in the temple called Shimpukuji, in the Koji-street of
Yedo. On the fourth day of the fifth month of the second year of the
period Meireki (A.D. 1656), a certain man, for having avenged the
death of his cousin's husband at a place called Shimidzudani, in the
Koji-street, disembowelled himself in the temple called Honseiji. On
the twenty-sixth day of the sixth month of the eighth year of the
period Yempo (A.D. 1680), at the funeral ceremonies in honour of the
anniversary of the death of Genyuin Sama, a former Shogun, Naito
Idzumi no Kami, having a cause of hatred against Nagai Shinano no
Kami, killed him at one blow with a short sword, in the main hall of
the temple called Zojoji (the burial-place of the Shoguns in Yedo).
Idzumi no Kami was arrested by the officers present, and on the
following day performed _hara-kiri_ at Kiridoshi, in the temple called

In modern times the ceremony has taken place at night, either in the
palace or in the garden of a Daimio, to whom the condemned man has
been given in charge. Whether it takes place in the palace or in the
garden depends upon the rank of the individual. Daimios and Hatamotos,
as a matter of course, and the higher retainers of the Shogun,
disembowel themselves in the palace: retainers of lower rank should do
so in the garden. In the case of vassals of feudatories, according to
the rank of their families, those who, being above the grade of
captains, carry the baton,[103] should perform _hara-kiri_ in the
palace; all others in the garden. If, when the time comes, the persons
engaged in the ceremony are in any doubt as to the proper rules to be
followed, they should inquire of competent persons, and settle the
question. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, during the
period Genroku, when Asano Takumi no Kami[104] disembowelled himself
in the palace of a Daimio called Tamura, as the whole thing was sudden
and unexpected, the garden was covered with matting, and on the top of
this thick mats were laid and a carpet, and the affair was concluded
so; but there are people who say that it was wrong to treat a Daimio
thus, as if he had been an ordinary Samurai. But it is said that in
old times it was the custom that the ceremony should take place upon a
leather carpet spread in the garden; and further, that the proper
place is inside a picket fence tied together in the garden: so it is
wrong for persons who are only acquainted with one form of the
ceremony to accuse Tamura of having acted improperly. If, however, the
object was to save the house from the pollution of blood, then the
accusation of ill-will may well be brought; for the preparation of the
place is of great importance.

[Footnote 103: A baton with a tassel of paper strips, used for giving
directions in war-time.]

[Footnote 104: See the story of the Forty-seven Ronins.]

Formerly it was the custom that, for personages of importance, the
enclosure within the picket fence should be of thirty-six feet square.
An entrance was made to the south, and another to the north: the door
to the south was called _Shugiyomon_ ("the door of the practice of
virtue"); that to the north was called _Umbanmon_ ("the door of the
warm basin"[105]). Two mats, with white binding, were arranged in the
shape of a hammer, the one at right angles to the other; six feet of
white silk, four feet broad, were stretched on the mat, which was
placed lengthwise; at the four corners were erected four posts for
curtains. In front of the two mats was erected a portal, eight feet
high by six feet broad, in the shape of the portals in front of
temples, made of a fine sort of bamboo wrapped in white[106] silk.
White curtains, four feet broad, were hung at the four corners, and
four flags, six feet long, on which should be inscribed four
quotations from the sacred books. These flags, it is said, were
immediately after the ceremony carried away to the grave. At night two
lights were placed, one upon either side of the two mats. The candles
were placed in saucers upon stands of bamboo, four feet high, wrapped
in white silk. The person who was to disembowel himself, entering the
picket fence by the north entrance, took his place upon the white silk
upon the mat facing the north. Some there were, however, who said that
he should sit facing the west: in that case the whole place must be
prepared accordingly. The seconds enter the enclosure by the south
entrance, at the same time as the principal enters by the north, and
take their places on the mat that is placed crosswise.

[Footnote 105: No Japanese authority that I have been able to consult
gives any explanation of this singular name.]

[Footnote 106: White, in China and Japan, is the colour of mourning.]

Nowadays, when the _hara-kiri_ is performed inside the palace, a
temporary place is made on purpose, either in the garden or in some
unoccupied spot; but if the criminal is to die on the day on which he
is given in charge, or on the next day, the ceremony, having to take
place so quickly, is performed in the reception-room. Still, even if
there is a lapse of time between the period of giving the prisoner in
charge and the execution, it is better that the ceremony should take
place in a decent room in the house than in a place made on purpose.
If it is heard that, for fear of dirtying his house, a man has made a
place expressly, he will be blamed for it. It surely can be no
disgrace to the house of a soldier that he was ordered to perform the
last offices towards a Samurai who died by _hara-kiri_. To slay his
enemy against whom he has cause of hatred, and then to kill himself,
is the part of a noble Samurai; and it is sheer nonsense to look upon
the place where he has disembowelled himself as polluted. In the
beginning of the eighteenth century, seventeen of the retainers of
Asano Takumi no Kami performed _hara-kiri_ in the garden of a palace
at Shirokane, in Yedo. When it was over, the people of the palace
called upon the priests of a sect named Shugenja to come and purify
the place; but when the lord of the palace heard this, he ordered the
place to be left as it was; for what need was there to purify a place
where faithful Samurai had died by their own hand? But in other
palaces to which the remainder of the retainers of Takumi no Kami were
entrusted, it is said that the places of execution were purified. But
the people of that day praised Kumamoto Ko (the Prince of Higo), to
whom the palace at Shirokane belonged. It is a currish thing to look
upon death in battle or by _hara-kiri_ as a pollution: this is a thing
to bear in mind. In modern times the place of _hara-kiri_ is eighteen
feet square in all cases; in the centre is a place to sit upon, and
the condemned man is made to sit facing the witnesses; at other times
he is placed with his side to the witnesses: this is according to the
nature of the spot. In some cases the seconds turn their backs to the
witnesses. It is open to question, however, whether this is not a
breach of etiquette. The witnesses should be consulted upon these
arrangements. If the witnesses have no objection, the condemned man
should be placed directly opposite to them. The place where the
witnesses are seated should be removed more than twelve or eighteen
feet from the condemned man. The place from which the sentence is read
should also be close by. The writer has been furnished with a plan of
the _hara-kiri_ as it is performed at present. Although the ceremony
is gone through in other ways also, still it is more convenient to
follow the manner indicated.

If the execution takes place in a room, a kerchief of five breadths of
white cotton cloth or a quilt should be laid down, and it is also said
that two mats should be prepared; however, as there are already mats
in the room, there is no need for special mats: two red rugs should be

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