When Kukai was twenty-four years old, he wrote of his experience in his first work Sango-shiiki (Indications of the Goals of the Three Teachings), in which he described the energy of sound and qi, and that of vision and qi. Let me quote from his description: "At eighteen I entered the college in the capital and studied diligently. Meanwhile a Buddhist monk showed me a scripture called Kokuzo gumonji no ho. It stated that if one recites the mantra one million times according to the proper method, one will be able to memorize passages and understand the meaning of any scripture. Believing what Buddha says to be true, I recited the mantra incessantly, as if I were rubbing one piece of wood against another to make fire, all the while earnestly hoping to achieve this result. I climbed up Mount Dairyo in Awa province and meditated at Cape Muroto in Tosa. The valley reverberated to the sound of my voice as I recited, and the planet Venus appeared in the sky."
This ascetic method, called "kokuzo gumonji no ho," is still practiced even today in esoteric Buddhism. "Kokuzo" means "sky." If a person masters this method, he should be able to memorize sounds he has heard—even if they are as limitless as the limitless sky. Kukai was already known as a genius even in childhood, but when he mastered this method he came to be called the "greatest genius." Though this practice is effective, it is obviously not for everyone. For that very reason, I became enthusiastic about the possibility of finding a new method to replace the ascetic way, so that those not as gifted as Kukai could undergo similar experiences. I focused on the technique of the Grace of the Three Mysteries, and was again struck by its practical excellence—that is, the great effect it has of concentrating the three main functions of the brain—stimulation from the fingers; listening and talking; and visualization—into a single focal point.
The sentence, "The valley reverberated to the sound of my voice as I recited and the planet Venus appeared in the sky" contains a very deep meaning. The reverberations of the mantra that Kukai recited turned his whole existence toward the reverberation of the sound. And then, the valley—in other words, the natural world around him—began to vibrate with his mantra. Thus he experienced oneness with the universe. He saw a light reminiscent of Venus behind his closed eyes. He expressed the fullness of his gratitude to the life energy seen everywhere in nature. Such moments of oneness and gratitude are the moments at which the brain can expand the range of its total understanding until it is as broad and limitless as the sky. This is far beyond any question of ego. The secret of the method which made Kukai an unparalleled genius was in providing stimulation to the brain with sound and in an image-building power that was so strong that Kukai could "see" Venus with his eyes closed.
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