What the Original Japanese Buddhism Means

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In foreign countries, religious rituals glorifying God are common, while those for ancestral spirits are rare. There are some countries that have no such customs. In Japan, holding memorial services for ancestral spirits have been practiced a lot since ancient times, compared with other countries, because the Buddhism in Japan, which originally came through the Eurasian Continent, valued ancestral spirits and spread all over Japan as such.

  • glorify 讃える
  • custom 習慣
  • compare 比較する
  • the Eurasian Continent ユーラシア大陸
  • value 重んじる

In the earliest Buddhism founded by Shakuson, the teachings of memorial services for ancestral spirits are very few. According to an episode, for example, when Shakuson spiritually saw the mother of Mokuren(目連), one of his Ten Disciples, was suffering in Hungry Ghost Realm of Hell, he suggested to Mokuren that he contribute food to as many monks and people as possible and get the monks to pray for his mother so that she could rest in peace.

  • the earliest Buddhism 原始仏教
  • found 創設する
  • contribute 寄付する
  • monk  僧侶

I think this episode is suggestive.

● the importance of contributing to others

●the importance and practical power of consideration by a lot of people

I feel that this just one episode caused Japanese Buddhist monks to perform funeral services and have a ceremonial dinner after the service. I also feel that the episode was used in its broad interpretation and as a result Buddhist monks came to live their lives depending on alms.

  • suggestive 示唆に富んだ
  • importance 重要性
  • consideration 思いやり
  • interpretation 解釈
  • alms 施し

This is how memorial services for ancestral spirits, which didn’t exist in the earliest Buddhism, led to the present “funeral Buddhism.” It goes without saying that this is different from the earliest Buddhism founded by Shakuson. It’s the original Japanese Buddhism. I interpret this incident as a good thing for Japan as a whole. I feel that holy spirits of the World of Gods of Japan concerned themselves with the establishment of this system.

  • funeral Buddhism 葬式仏教
  • interpret 解釈する
  • incident 出来事
  • concern oneself with A Aに関与する

The idea of worshipping ancestral spirits had existed before Buddhism was introduced to Japan. Though the present Buddhism in Japan has a  lot of problems, such as Buddhist monks enjoying luxury or exploiting people by the system of collecting money, it has surely contributed to the custom of directing people’s mind to their ancestral spirits periodically. The thing is it’s important never to forget gratitude toward ancestors and to direct your mind to them once in while. There are  various ways for doing this.

  • worship 崇拝する
  • introduce 紹介する
  • luxury 贅沢
  • explot 搾取する
  • direct 向ける
  • periodically 定期的に
  • once in a while 時折

If some spirits related to you are in pain in this World of Reality, they will try to make you notice their existence. Therefore you need to direct your mind to them by holding memorial services before you are forced to notice them. Otherwise, you would be made to notice their existence in some way. Also, even if the spirits in pain give up informing you of their existence, your spiritual line will be clogged, which, in turn, will affect the life force, fortune, and mental stability of their descendants, including you.

  •  related 関係した
  • notice 気づく
  • existence 存在
  • be forced to~  〜せざるを得ない
  • otherwise さもないと
  • inform 知らせる
  • clog 詰まらせる
  • descendant 子孫

A lot of people are going through difficulties in life, burdened with spiritual handicap. They are being tortured doubly hard. It is true that people, living in this World of Reality, world, have the hardships of life even if they hold memorial services correctly every day. Efforts are important in real life. But without spiritual handicap, they could overcome the hardships with a positive mind. There is a difference of heaven and earth here.

  • difficulties 困難
  • torture 苦しめる
  • correctly 正しく
  • effort 努力
  • overcome 乗り越える
  • positive 積極的な

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

Thank you so much for keeping me/us alive.

 

Festivals are Rituals for Regeneration and Revival

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The other day, I saw a NHK’s TV program entitled “Sunday Forum: Ise and the Japanese People.” As I had a thing to do, I could see only a part of it. But it was instructive.

  • the other day 先日
  • instructive ためになる

In the program, a scholar was answering the question “Why is Ise Grand Shrine rebuilt every twenty years?” As is often a common explanation, he said that twenty years was a reasonable period in terms of the succession of culture and technology and the alteration of generations.

  • scholar 学者
  • rebuild 立て直す
  • succession 継承
  • alteration 交代
  • generation 世代

But after that, he added something interesting. To put it simply, “To maintain the spiritual power of the holy spirit, twenty years is the limit. In more than twenty years, the power would decline and fade away. Therefore, we need to hold a big festival called Sengu(遷宮)every twenty years to resuscitate and regenerate or revive the holy spirit.”

  • maintain 維持する
  • limit 限界
  • decline 衰える
  • fade away 消える
  • therefore したがって
  • resuscitate カツを入れる
  • regenerate 再生する
  • revive 復活させる

I was both surprised and glad to hear this because he said the spiritually right thing from a scholar’s point of view. According to s study in ancient writings of religious services of Ise Grand Shrine, a lot of rituals and festivals held there seem to have been held on the ground that the holy spirit repeats life and death just like the sun rises and sets.

  • glad 嬉しい
  • point of view 観点
  • according to A Aによると
  • ritual 儀式
  • ground 根拠

Various festivals are held at shrines and temples all over Japan every year, in which people carry omikoshi, a portable shrine,  in a parade. Some are furious and valiant festivals that participants go naked or have a fight with each other. People, with Inner God inside them, get together at a festival, have fun and get wildly excited.

  • furious 激しい
  • valiant 勇壮な
  • participant 参加者
  • go naked 裸になる

I sometimes see that some spiritual magnetism which represents life energy of a lot of people is gathering into the portable shrine carried by an enthusiastic crowd and is getting big like a ball. At the end of the festival, the portable shrine is put back in the main building of the shrine and so is this ball of energy.

  • magnetism 磁気
  • enthusiastic 熱狂的な

The ball gets smaller during the course of a year as people pray for something and when the festival starts again, the ball revives. Therefore, if shinto rituals such as festivals fall into desuetude, the holy spirit as well as shrine and temples will be gone.

  • fall uno desuetude 廃れる
  • be gone いなくなる

Sengu of Ise Grand Shrine is the huge festival that it takes twenty years to prepare. Starting to make gifts presented to the holy spirit many years before the festival is the start of the shinto ritual creating spiritual magnetism.

  • prepare 準備する

Exchanging water in a small, white container put in front of a household shinto alter and offering three incense sticks toward it, which are done every morning at home, are also a deed creating spiritual magnetism and it regenerates and revives the holy spirit and ancestral spirits everyday. People who do this, affected by the reflection, regenerate themselves everyday.

  • household 家庭用の
  • shinto alter 神棚
  • incense stick 線香
  • deed 行為
  • reflection 反射

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

Thank you so much for keeping us alive.