Setsuzan Doji, Sakyamuni Buddha in his past life, was practicing asceticism deep in the mountains. He heard “the song of enlightenment,” sought out the singer, and finally found the horrible-looking rakshasa on the rock.
“Is it this demon that said the wonderful words of enlightenment? Impossible…the demon like this cannot sing such a phrase. However, there was no one else who could speak.”
He continued, “His appearance is ugly as a result of what he did in a past life, but he also may have studied under a great Buddha. Then he may know the latter half of the song.”
Having some hope, he cautiously sat down and bowed with his hands on the ground.
“Master, is it you that sang the first half of the wonderful song of enlightenment a while ago?”
The rakshasa casted his fearful gaze on Setsuzan Doji, keeping silent.
“You sang the song, didn’t you? However, that was only the first half. Could you please tell me the latter half?”
Setsuzan Doji bowed deeply again. His behavior was polite, but seemed to have a strong will. After a long time, the rakshasa said, “You ascetic, I don’t know such a song of enlightenment. It’s only your fancy. However, I have not eaten anything for about ten days, so I may have said something deliriously. Now I’m too hungry to say something.”
Doji became sure that he had sung the song of enlightenment. He got closer to the rakshasa.
“I beg, I really understand you are hungry, but could you please let me know the latter half. If you grant my wish, I will serve you as an apprentice for the rest of my life. Please…please!”
“As you see, I have a horrible appearance as a result of my bad deeds in the past. I don’t want any apprentice. By the way, you only ask for what you want. You don’t worry about me at all. If you could attain enlightenment, you wouldn’t care what would happen to others? I will say again, I am too hungry to speak any word.”
“Then, Master, what would you like to eat? Whatever you ask me, I will get it for you,”
Setsuzan Doji said, but the rakshasa scornfully replied,
“That’s not worth saying. You will just be surprised and perplexed.”
“I want to attain enlightenment at the risk of my life. Whatever you say, I won’t be surprised, sad, or fearful. You don’t have to hesitate to ask me what you want.”
Doji looked quite determined. The rakshasa showed a horrible smile.
“Then I will tell you. It is not vegetables like carrots or radishes, not the meat of cats or dogs, but only the meat of humans that I eat. Moreover, I don’t like the meat of the dead. Only the fresh, bloody meat of a living person will do… ”