23. Hotoke

 A 'Hotoke' is a general term for a soul who was once born as a human, and finished its mission, and went back to the spirit world, but was not raised to the rank of god. We call 'Hotoke' only the soul who left its human body. Meanwhile, we have a word of 'Johbutsu', but it is different from 'Hotoke'. Therefore, even if monkeys, cats, dogs, cows, or horses die, we still call these souls monkeys, cats, dogs, cows, or horses. It is wrong for you to say that your ancesters are always higher in rank as souls than you are, or superior to you in wisdom and that your descendants are always lower in rank as souls than you, or inferior to you in wisdom. Though some of them, according to their achievements, have won a certain rank of god, many of them are generally in the rank of Hotoke who is destined to be born as a human. However, the souls who are now raised to a rank of god even though they were in the rank of Hotoke before must not be called 'Hotoke'. The souls who have already had a rank of god, and the Hotokes who committed very few sins in this world and had so few lingering desires for the affairs of this world that they could arrive at the blissful state are allowed to take as much moisture (water) and smell vapor as they like. People can dimly see the spirit world at the moment of death, so that they can vaguely be aware of themselves. At this time, it's no use to repent of their way of life and to struggle to live over again, because it is too late. Most people are usually forsaken by the gods who lead the dead because of the sins committed in this world and because of the lingering desires retained at the moment of death for the affairs of this world. They become very anxious about their future in the spirit world and become confused and suffer agony. As Heavenly punishment, they are not given any water (moisture) and smell vapor (food for them), or are often taken to a place where there is so little water and smell vapor that souls can barely live. The place is called 'Sai-no-kawara', a prison of the spirit world where no living things can exist. It consists of many clusters of gravels or pebbles, and revolves slowly.

 You should be very diligent in your callings, clinging to many gods, reforming yourselves, and apologizing for your faults, and should render services to the god world by saving Hotokes or the living thing souls who come to cling to you so that they can arrive at the blissful state with Johbutsu Kuyoh-Hoh (the Heavenly rule). Thus, from now on, you must be ready to arrive at the blissful state taking the matter of your last moment into consideration so as not to retain your lingering desires for the affairs of this world.

 Hotokes can be divided into two kinds.

(a) Hotokes in the state of Johbutsu (Hotokes already arriving at the blissful and peaceful state)
(b) Hotokes in the state of difficulty (restless and blissless state)

 The former are the Hotokes who retain very few lingering desires for the affairs of this world at the moment of death, and who accompany the gods charged with leading the dead and are led to the place where the Hotokes must go, and who are allowed to go their own way. In the part of the spirit world where they live, they can hear wonderful music and songs in all directions, they can get as much water and smell vapor as they like, they can see well the aspects where gods are working in the universes, they can practise their Gyoh (discipline) in any place they like, and they can amuse themselves playing what they please. There are always happy smiles. The others are the Hotokes forsaken by the gods who lead the dead, and are left alone without water and smell vapor. They suffer agony. They ask for help by possessing or clinging to their relatives or acqaintances. However, the Hotokes who are visited with more serious godly and Heavenly punishment are taken to the places called 'Sai-no-kawara' where they can hardly take water and smell vapor, and are not allowed to come and cling to humans. They are left alone confused and unsaved at the moment of their death for the following reasons:

(1) They were disliked and punished by many gods for their bad traits such as stubbornness, obstinancy, selfishness and egotism.
(2) They and their predecessors were visited with some godly punishment.
(3) They could not accompany the gods who lead the dead because of being possessed and clung by so many parasitic souls or so many predecessors of theirs who were left alone confused and unsaved.
(4) They were forsaken for having retained lingering desires for the affairs of this world.
(5) Many gods opposed to their Johbutsu (arriving at the blissful and peaceful state in the spirit world after death) for the reason of their having believed the teachings the wicked or failure-gods established.

 In such cases, as a punishment, they are allowed to take very little water and smell vapor, so that they have no way to obtain water or smell vapor except when they possess or cling to the physical bodies of their relatives or acquaintances (even Slight acquaintances) in order to take food enough out of these bodies to live. Therefore, those to whom the Hotokes cling grow weak little by little, and they get ill periodically because the living ions are taken out of their physical bodies by these souls. Their fortunes also decline. As for the punishments that Hotokes are subject to, their surviving family is destined to take them over. You can see through dreams that these souls ask you for help very often. If not through dreams, when they come to cling to you, you can be aware of them coming and clinging to you from the fact that your legs and loins feel heavy, you have a slight cold, your family drinks more tea or water than usual, you have a great desire to eat fruit or the same food that the Hotokes liked before their death, and, also, you often behave just as they did before their death. These symptoms often show themselves especially in children's daily behavior.

 If you let them alone without taking any proper steps, you will suffer from the same diseases that they did during their life. However, you will get well if you save them by practising the Kuyoh-Hoh for Johbutsu (the Heavenly rule for saving restless souls). They usually come to ask you for your help periodically starting from the year they died, which you easily become aware of by your careful observation. The bitterness after death is more serious than the one experienced in this world. A religious ceremony 'Necromancy' has been known since ancient times. However, such Hotokes that are conjured up and come to possess human bodies are all the restless and confused ones who stand in need of 'Johbutsu-Kuyoh' the Heavenly rule to save them. If they are left alone and unsaved, some disaster will come upon you in the future. You must not conjure (call) up any Hotokes who have already been saved and have arrived at the blissful state. Your calling them out is an annoyance, for this degrades them in rank. You don't dream any dreams about such souls, except when they are raised to a rank of god. There are some distinct differences between the dreams of the souls who gained a rank of god and the ones of the unsaved Hotokes. You feel refreshed when you dream of the souls raised to a rank of god. Some of the saved Hotokes sometimes come and bring restless and blissless Hotokes to you in order to ask you to save them. In this case, you see people unknown to you with the saved Hotokes in your dreams. All the dreams have their own meanings or explanations given as a rebus to any of them. I wish you to read and judge the reason why they are left unsaved and restless. If they cling to you; at first you will feel heavy in the legs or loins, catch cold or a chill, have running ears, and in the end suffer from the same diseases from which they died. You sometimes fail in business or even die out.

 To save such restless and blissless Hotokes, you chant our Kyohtens (canons), where many gods'names and prayers are written, give the Hotokes a little of the virtues you have striven for, and practise Johbutsu-Kuyoh, the Heavenly rule to save restless and blissless Hotokes into Johbutsu (blissful and peaceful state). Your mere suggestion "Do not hurt me since I see you have come to cling to me, and I'll help you to get to Johbutsu." often makes you get well. Or, your mere buying a twig of Shikibi (a kind of tree) sometimes helps you break a fever.

 The joy of the saved Hotokes' adds to your religious merits, and fortune turns in your favor. The souls do not fail to repay your acts of kindness.

 You should be so reliable that Taishuh-Muen-Botokes (many Hotokes unrelated and unknown to you) come and cling to you. It's very interesting that Hotokes are led to come and cling to you on the day of their death. To save them you pray to the gods for their Johbutsu, and in your coming to our Tengen church to practise Johbutsu-Kuyoh, you say, for instance, "Mr. late So and so, I'll help you to get to Johbutsu. Come along with me." when you leave your house, for the Hotokes are usually so dimly conscious from so much pain that they are sometimes left out of the ceremony of Johbutsu-Kuyoh (the ceremony for saving restless souls). In any case, you had better take any Hotokes in need of Johbutsu-Kuyoh, for even those who rest in peace in the spirit world usually retain a few lingering desires for the affairs of this world, even though thoughtful and careful not to mistake the way. Helping Hotokes get to Johbutsu is not only for their happiness but for your happiness, and in turn, for the happiness of all humans.

 Souls live on smell vapor and water, which are burning in the soul-bodies. Therefore, when the saved and blissful Hotokes get into your physical bodies, you feel a slight warmth, and on the other hand, when the restless and blissless ones get in, you feel a chill, for they have weak calorie force because they are not allowed to get enough smell vapor and moisture. Therefore, when possessed by many still unsaved and confused Hotokes, you feel a chill regardless of how many clothes you have on. A man possessed by restless Hotokes is sometimes icy to the touch. When legs and loins are always cold, it is often caused by possession of these Hotokes: Your Mayoi (losing your way) after death, which is a sin, will bring on pain not only to you but also to the persons whom you loved or yearned for before your death. When dead parents are still restless, the most dutiful son (or daughter) tends to be unhappy, because he (or she) has the most chances to be asked for help, but is not aware of their asking, and leaves them alone unsaved. However, the contrary is quite true if only they can get to Johbutsu. Even if Hotokes do not come and cling to you, their descendants, the punishments that Hotokes are subject to for their having mistaken the way will come down periodically to you, their descendants.

 In a dream where you see a Hotoke you have once helped to get to Johbutsu with JohbutsuKuyoh, if there appears some living person, you must put a contrary interpretation on the dream, that is, if the Hotoke is related to you by blood, you must take the dream as that of Muen-Botokes (Hotokes unrelated to you by blood) clinging to you; and on the other hand, if you dream about a dead person related to you (when you once helped to get to Johbutsu) and some person unknown to you in the same dream, you must interpret the dream as that of your family-souls (any relatives within the sixth grade) clinging to you. Here, 'contrary interpretation' means the living persons in your dream are taken for the dead ones in the real world, and family-souls (related souls) are taken for the other family-souls (unrelated souls). This is a dream where dream-gods suggest you help such Hotokes to get to Johbutsu (a blissful and peaceful state) even though they are unknown to you. In this case, you must help them early, or some disaster will come upon you. As you accumulate virtuous deeds, even your ancestors are given good treatment owing to the virtues, and at last as many as thirty or fifty Hotokes who have been shut up in a 'Sai-no-kawara' prison of the spirit world, are sometimes allowed by turns to come out and cling to you. In this case, as your physical body rapidly grows weaker, and on the other hand the Hotokes are very painful, you must practise Johbutsu-Kuyoh (the Heavenly rule to save restless and blissless souls) for them early. If you leave them alone unsaved and restless without practising Johbutsu-Kuyoh for them, you will sometimes get cold all too soon. But, if you save them, you will prosper rapidly.