SHINTO The search for human meaning
May 17, 2015
2. How does Shinto provide a distinctive response to the search for humanmeaning? 3. Introduction Shinto pervades Japaneselife at every level Shinto is a way of life, ofdaily living Shinto is one of the fewexamples of a simple folkreligion still flourishing ina modern industrialsociety, seen as a livingmuseum of religion 4. What about god? There is no concept of the transcendent because everything,including the spiritual, is part of this world, one single unifiedcreation, with no founder. Shintoists understand they live in a world full of powerful forcesthat they must appease and remember. In order to please the kami adherents strive to makoto (sincerity ofheart), revering the kamis mushi (powers of creation and harmony) 5. Shamanism, a disputedbranch of Shinto,communicates with thekami spirits who enter thebodies of mediums andsend messages, advice andoracles crossing the bridge to theother world which Izanagiand Izanami stood on whenthey made islands of Japan 6. What makes the good life? Shinto is expressed through simplicity of life Shinto is not a way of explaining the world, not a religion in the westernsense of the word. However, it is a vital part of society It is accepting of other religions and many embrace more than one ofthese, especially Buddhism Morally speaking, people must do no harm and their actions shouldbenefit others. Emphasis is placed on right practice, sensibility andattitude 7. They appeal to who sensethrough music, dance,architecture andlandscaping rather thanthrough intellectualdoctrines In peoples homes, they areencouraged to follow theexamples of the ancestors(kami?) At the local level, Shinto isvery good at using festivalsto reaffirm society 8. How to know what is the rightway to live? Shinto sees people as basically good and has no concept of original sin Shintoism has no fomalised ethical code as this would only be needed forunethical people! The priority is the felt needs of people rather than following a code ofverbal laws and philosphys of life The rituals affirm the spiritual origin and nature of reality The mind must be kept open and free to enjoy the spirit of life directly. 9. What is the relationship to nature? Shintoists have a strong sense of their role in the environment They embrace the natural world as a spiritualised and meaningful whole They see in nature answers to lifes big questions. When nature is truly known and followed, then life becomes truly fulfilling Shinto associate the spiritual with the aesthetic religious feelings aroused by beauty around: poetry and music, as much as sacred texts or rituals eg Mt Fiji is seen as a religious pilgrimages 10. The focus is on beingmoved by a sense ofgratitude and awe in themystery of life Shinto poem byworshippers at Shrine ofIse: Unknown to me whatresides here, Tears flow from a sense of unworthiness And gratitude 11. What about life beyond death? The primary goal of Shintoism is toachieve immortality among theancestral beings, the Kami. All people are capable of deepaffinity with the Divine. Salvation is achieved in Shintothrough observance of all tapas(penance) and by avoiding peopleand objects that might causeimpurity or pollution. A persons Kami nature survivesdeath; therefore, fulfillment ofduty is paramount to a Shintobeing remembered with dignityafter his death. Whenever a child is bornaccording to a local Shinto shrineadds the childs name to a list keptat the shrine and declares him orher a "family child", called ujiko. 12. After death an ujiko becomes a"family spirit", or "family kami"called ujigami. One may choose to have onesname added to another list whenmoving and then be listed at bothplaces. Names can be added to the listwithout consent and regardless ofthe beliefs of the person added tothe list. However, this is not considered animposition of belief, but a sign ofbeing welcomed by the local kami,with the promise of addition to thepantheon of kami after death. Those children who die beforeaddition to the list are called"water children",mizuko, and arebelieved to cause troubles andplagues. Mizuko are often worshipped in aShinto shrine dedicated to stillingtheir anger and sadness, calledmizuko kuyo.