Saint of Mt. Koya
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"The real story I want to tell you is what happened after this. I was completely alone on the road, and the thing I hated most about travelling through here were the snakes. They lay across the path with their heads buried in the grass on one side of the path and their tails disappearing in the grass on the other side. The first time I encountered one of those snakes, my knees turned to jelly and gave way beneath me. I sat on the ground, my straw hat still on my head and my walking stick still clutched in my hand. I was paralyzed with fear. It was not just that I find snakes loathsome, I actually have a pathological fear of them. I always have had.

"As I sat transfixed with terror, the snake, fortunately for me, slithered across the path and, raising his head, disappeared into the grass. I felt as though I had been saved.

"At last I managed to get to my feet and resumed my journey along the path, but five or six hundred yards further on I saw the same thing again; the snake was warming its stomach in the sun while its head and tail were hidden in the grass on either side of the path. I leaped back with a shout of surprise, but this snake, too, slithered away into the grass with a sinister, susurrant whisper. Next I encountered the third snake, but it did not move away so quickly, and judging from the great size of its body and the sluggishness with which it was moving, I estimated it would take at least five minutes for the huge serpent to cross the path. I felt I had no choice but to jump over the snake. As I did so, however, I suddenly had a feeling that all my body hairs and pores were momentarily transformed into scales, and my eyes felt cold and glassy as though even my face had become the face of a snake.


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Intangible