There was once a young Japanese farmer named Toku who lived in a village in the northern part of Hokkaido. He tended to his fields everyday with the rest of the villagers, which amounted to some 500 people. They were hardworking people who toiled bravely under the sun. It was a largely agrarian based community with immense emphasis on the cultivation of food for personal consumption and the subsequent sale of surpluses to a central market many miles away. They were a peace loving community which settled disputes and conflicts through peaceful resolution and mediation by senior members of the community.
They also had a shrine where they offered their prayers to a deity called Shinju; an all pervading spirit of nature which controlled the weather, gave life to the plants and allowed the animals to multiply. Their rituals and offerings seek to appease and placate Shinju while also invoking his aid when tragedy or calamities befall them.
A gargantuan mountain range stood overshadowing the village and within the chasms of one of the caves of the mountain lived an ascetic hermit, a hikikomori, whose presence has always been of welcome when he makes his visits into the village; laughing and entertaining the village folk with tales of mysticism and wonder. But as time passed, his visits began to decline and eventually he was never seen again.
One fateful Spring morning, a band of bandits came from the North and plundered the village; burning the houses, destroying crops and slaughtering the animals. The villagers ran in fear and confusion. Most of them could only weep as they saw everything that they had for themselves vanish, burn and perish before their very eyes. It was a sight they will never soon forget. It was a catastrophe.
The next morning, young Toku went up the mountain to see the hikikomori. He entered into his cave with a bowl of soup and some rice. The old man invited him in and bid him to have a seat. The man asked “What gives me the privilege of your presence in my abode, young man?”. Toku said, “We have been attacked by bandits, oh Wise one. We seek your guidance on a question that plagues us all. “. The old man’s face lit up and he then asks, “What is the question?”. Toku then says,
“Why is there Suffering?”.
The old man closed his eyes and goes into a deep state of meditation before responding, “The spirit of Shinju is testing you. He sees great weakness in all your hearts. You have not been living up to his ideals, you have not been taking care of your wives and your children. You have been too unfriendly to your neighbours and with those who are near to you. You have committed many sins and Shinju has to punish you so you will learn your lesson. Go back now and welcome those close to you, let your women wander freely, go to the East and clear the forests so that the animals and people from the Eastern region can come and feast upon your crops. All your crops are made possible by Shinju and it is for Shinju’s creations that it must go back to. Let all be full and none be hungry. You would be living up to Shinju’s message if you obey it.”
The man ran hastily back to his village and did as the old man commanded. The village readily accepted this new way of life. The village began to prosper yet again and the population grew. There were many families and larger farms with market squares and sundry shops. There was a variety of goods and services and well as a general increase in the standard of living. People were much more comfortable with their lives and there was a huge shrine erected in the middle of the city honoring Shinju. There were yearly celebrations for Shinju; commemorating his bountiful gifts to the people since the bandit attack and many would come bearing gifts; which would be divided to the poorer members of society as all must be full and none must be hungry.
The next Spring, 9 years after the bandit attack, a horde of bandits rode into the city from the East, this time with horses and deadly weapons. They maimed and injured people before raping or kidnapping many women. They pillaged, plundered and decimated all of the markets squares. They stole as much as they could and laid utter waste to the homes, buildings and structures around the city. They were merciless in their ways and had no regard for the people. They screamed, shouted and howled like a vociferous pack of hungry wolves. They executed the old and the infirm before setting everything they laid their sights on on fire. The city became a blazing inferno; a vision of inexplicable horror and terror – a living nightmare.
Very early in the morning, when the fires subsided, young Toku ran up the mountain to see the hikikomori. He entered into his cave with some cold tapioca and mashed rice. The old man invited him in and bid him to have a seat. The old man then said “I have not seen you for many years young man. You are no longer even young I should say…hahahah….what brings you here?”. Toku said, “Wise one, the dreaded has happened. We have been attacked viciously by the bandits. Please help us. We have a question that must be answered“. The old man squints his eyes, leans forward and then says, “Please ask me.” Toku then says,
“Why is there Evil?”.
The old man closes his eyes and goes into a trance like state before replying, “There will always be evil because Man is evil. Only Shinju is good. Do not worry about those who are evil for they will receive great anguish and torment when they die. Shinju will inflict upon them all the pain and agony they have given to you. Shinju will curse them and fill the lives of their children with much disease and pestilence. They will never be happy. You must now go back to the village and prove to Shinju that no matter what evil is put on you, that you will never become like that of the evildoers. You must have faith in Shinju and you must show that to him. You must rebuild your city and make it better than it ever was, proving to Shinju that evil can never taint your heart. You must go to the South of your village and dam the river so you can build a bridge over it. This will bring in much people from the South and your city will prosper. You must also teach everyone how to pray to Shinju when there is evil lurking. This will give them great comfort in their time of need. Finally, you must always make your city open, friendly and without any secrets so that all who come to your city will be impressed by your faith in Shinju.”
Toku ran as fast as he ever could and the very next day the works on the dam and the city began. People worked very quickly and in a mere 9 months, the city was as bustling as it used to be. There were smaller villages, bigger stacked abodes, merchant shops, butcheries, abattoirs, grocers, blacksmiths, magicians, musicians, artists, inns, carriage makers, shrines, temples and many more things. The dammed river was also used to provide irrigation to the crops and this multiplied produce many a times thus sustaining a far bigger population. There were foreigners from all parts of the region seeking comfort, refuge and trade in the city. There were a myriad of artisans which helped build much more homes, altars, market squares and roads which facilitated rickshaws and carts. There were a vast series of canals and pipes through the city which supplied clean running water to the people increasing health and life expectancy. There were even trading posts and carriage stations erected for people to travel back and forth between different villages and regions. There were also constructed medicinal halls where the sick would go to to see healers and herbalists who seek to cure them. Universities and schools were also built for the people to learn about nature, the region and culture. They finally set up a huge Gate at the entrance of the city as a sign of ‘Welcome’ to all who visited it. The people thanked Shinju. They prayed. They worshipped. They venerated. They were happy.
One fine morning, just as the sun was rising, a horde of bandits came from the South across the river. Another band came from the East and a third group came from the North. They moved all the way to the heart of the city while burning everything down, raping the women as they went along before stabbing them and disemboweling them. They slaughtered all men. They stole food and other resources. They killed the animals as sport, laid waste to excess crops and ruthlessly tortured children. People were hysterical. Families were forced to commit incest and bestiality. The medicinal halls became decapitating posts, where people would be made to stand in a line and be decapitated one at a time. Some were forced into forced labour and slavery and some made to dig huge holes where corpses would be buried into, some that were buried were still alive. The inns became rape camps and universities and schools became torture chambers where necrophilia and cannibalism was also a common practice. The city was on fire for 7 days, the people prayed valiantly for intervention but nothing happened. All around them were suffering, evil and death. The whole city reeked of death. The only sight they had was of death. The bandits seem to be free to go and come as they please, and to do whatever they please. After sucking off the village of all the life it had, they headed straight to the dam and destroyed it, and the whole city was flooded. The bandits then left. A few villagers escaped, Toku was one of them.
The very next dawn, Toku scurried to the hikikomori. He entered into his cave with some wintry bitter gourd soup. The old man embraced him and obliged him to take a seat. The old man then said “What is it you seek Toku?” Toku, in tears, said, “Oh Prophet, everything we ever had is lost. Our city is gone, all our possessions are no more. Our loved ones have all perished. My heart is broken. My life is over.“. The old man looking very surprised and sympathetic says, “What do you wish of me Toku?” Toku, sobbing, then says,
“Please….tell……..me………….why is there Death?”
The old man closes his eyes, sinks his head and begins to recite a holy mantra over and over again before taking a deep breath. He sat silently, seemingly dead, for 10 minutes as Toku waited patiently. He then spoke, “Because you are a fucking moron! Why the fuck do you come to me asking for fucking advice on how to run a fucking city? Do I look like the fucking mayor of Hokkaido to you? I’m a cave dwelling half baked shit smelling loser and you come to me for fucking advice on dealing with murderers, rapists and thugs? Fuck you! What the fuck do I look like to you, a fucking samurai? You don’t wanna see death? Sell your house. Trade your wife and kids away. And get the fuck outta this shithole. Say “Fuck It!” and give up right now because nobody gives a fuck about you if you’re a ‘Nobody’. That’s the reality of it! And now, it’s time for me to take a shit. So, get the fuck outta my cave!”
With that, Toku left. He eventually found himself a nice cave up in the mountain range some 200 kilometres away where he ate, shit and smoked whenever he liked. He eventually died at the ripe old age of 107 holding ever strongly to the wise words of the old man – Just say “Fuck It” and Give Up!