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A good sacrifice inspires;
A poor sacrifice in vain.

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A thousand years ago in Anwa there was a woman who believed in Jizo [Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva; Dizang Pusa] and prayed that she might have an image of the Bodhisattva in her house to make offerings to. One day she found an old wooden Jizo in the river in front of her house. She rejoiced and prayed to this Jizo every morning and evening to be granted a child. She became pregnant and delivered a boy, but when he was four years old, she suddenly died. Her husband took a second wife who was very cruel to the little boy. The child had learned from his mother to pray to Jizo. One day when his father was away he took a little rice and, weeping for his dead mother, offered it to Jizo and to his mother’s memorial tablet at the family shrine. When the stepmother came into the house she found the child kneeling before the shrine and flew into a rage. She seized the boy and threw him into a kettle that was boiling over the fire.

At that moment the father, who was traveling on a road, became very confused and was unable to go on. He felt compelled to return home. As he turned back he saw a Buddhist monk standing by the road with a child on his back who cried out with a voice that he recognized. It was the voice of his own son! The man asked who this child was. The monk answered, “I have substituted my own body for this child when his stepmother was about to kill him. You must entrust him to other people who will raise and educate him well.” He put the child in the arms of his frightened father. The man asked the monk where he lived. The monk replied, “Near the Temple of the Repository King.” and disappeared into thin air.

After giving his son over to care of kind friends the father returned home. There he found his wife stoking the fire under a kettle. When she saw her husband she quickly put out the fire and became quite distressed. He asked her, “Where is my son?” Pretending grief she told him that the boy had been playing by the river and had drowned. The man strode to the kettle and took off the lid. There he found the old wooden Jizo floating in the boiling water. He realized the terrible thing his wife had done and saw that indeed Jizo had changed places with his son to save the boy’s life. Weeping bitterly he left the life of a householder and became a monk. From that time forth he was utterly devoted to Jizo Bodhisattva.

Jizo Bodhisattva: Guardian of Children, Travelers & Other Voyagers
Jan Chozen Bays

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