Do not Separate The Dead from God

In India, where Sakyamuni was born, there has been no custom of building gravestones since ancient times. They burn dead bodies and throw the ashes into the sea. It’s natural and reasonable that living things that were born on the land return to the sea because all creatures were born in the sea in ancient times and moved onto the land. I feel the custom of the deceased returning to the sea through the river reflects the world view of Shinto. There is no tomb in India, while a lot of tombs in Japan, the final destination of Buddhism.

  • custom  慣習
  • gravestone 墓石
  • reflect 反映する
  • world view 世界観
  • destination 目的地

Sakyamuni wouldn’t understand any Japanese Buddhist rituals for the dead. He doesn’t even know the Buddhist sutras written in Japanese at all. He would be surprised to hear Buddhist monks chanting them because they are meaningless, phonetic equivalents. Almost all of Buddhist sutras were made up hundreds of years after he passed away.

  • ritual  儀式
  • meaningless  意味のない
  • phonetic equivalent 当て字
  • pass away 亡くなる

Buddhists, however, believe in Buddhism or Buddhist scriptures just because they believe in Sakyamuni. The truth is the Japanese Buddhism lacks spiritual ground. They bury the dead under the name of Sakyamuni on the basis of Buddhist scriptures he doesn’t know, which is horrible. It’s no wonder they can’t send the deceased to the other world in the right way.

  • lack 欠く
  • on the basis of A Aに基づいて
  • horrible ひどい
  • no wonder 驚きではない
  • the other world あの世

Well, how did Japanese people treat the dead before the Buddhist custom of building gravestones diffused all over Japan? I feel that people in those days used to put dead bodies on the ground away from their houses and covered them with earth. When someone dies, they lay the dead body next to another and cover it with earth. If the space for the dead bodies reaches its limit, they put them onto other ones. As the result, the accumulation of dead bodies became like a small hill, which is the prototype of ancient tumuluses for the Emperor. A huge tumulus like a small hill was built for each emperor and its form was the result of accumulation of interments.

  • treat 扱う
  • diffuse 広まる
  • earth 土
  • limit 限界
  • prototype 原型
  • tumulus 古墳
  • interment 土葬

Japanese people in ancient times believed that death is returning to nature, and that the deceased become part of nature, or God. The essence of Shintoism is offering gratitude to Great Nature(=God)that gives them everything. So they offererd gratitude to the dead, too. This is why they devoted the magnetism of gratitude to ancestral spirits on a stated day or in a stated season in accordance with the movement of the sun.

  • essense 本質
  • gratitude 感謝の気持ち
  • stated 決まった
  • ancestral 先祖の
  • accordance 一致

Modern Buddhism is very costly and perform unnecessary rituals. It’s a shame that they lack the point of view, or the deeds, of offering gratitude to the dead. I hope all Buddhist sects adopt rituals that express gratitude to the dead and hold rituals at local temples to pray for the repose of the deceased. It’s unavoidable that Buddhist temples are dependant on  contributions from local people for their living expenses. I think it’s necessary for them to conduct activities based on their conscience so that local people can contribute to the temple of their own accord.

  • costly お金がかかる
  • unnecessary 不必要な
  • shame 残念な
  • deed 行い
  • conscience 良心
  • contribute 献金する

It was a mistake for Shintoism to hand over its role to hold funerals to Buddhism. Since Shintoism separated the dead from God due to the concept of impurity, Shintoism has lost its true ancient spirituality. I think Shinto Shrines have developed in such a way that they keep God to themselves and treat God as if God were a patented article.

  • hand over A Aを手渡す
  • funeral 葬式
  • impurity 汚れ
  • keep A to oneself Aを独り占めする
  • patented 特許を取られた

As more and more schools of Shintoism make up their original prayers, they have come to be self-assertive. Such prayers are meaningless for God. Ohara-e-no-kotoba(大祓詞) is the only prayer that reaches the World of Gods. It’s important to restore the deeds of offering gratitude to both God and the dead without separating them.

  • prayer 祝詞
  • self-assertive 独善的な
  • offer 捧げる
  • gratitude 感謝の気持ち

生かして頂いて ありがとう御座位ます

I Ka Shi Te I Ta Da I Te  A Ri Ga To U Go Za I Ma Su

I AM GRATEFUL FOR BEING KEPT ALIVE

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