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

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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

Diary on a Trip to Ise and Mt. Hakusan – PART 10

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I got back home from Ise, thinking that I could be relaxed staying at home on holidays. Though I had spent three days in Ise on business,  I wasn’t tired at all. On the contrary, I was full of energy. During the business trip, I visited about 50 shrines, including small ones, with gratitude. At the shrines on the last day, just putting my hands together made me full of feelings of gratefulness. I came to be able to visit them with gratitude unconsciously.

  • get back home  家に帰る
  • on the contrary それどころか
  • gratitude 感謝の気持ち
  • put A together Aを合わせる

On the next day, taking a rest after putting Kenbarai-fuda(剣祓札, a kind of talisman of shitoizm) of Geku(外宮), Naiku(内宮) and Izougu(伊雑宮) in my household shinto altar, I was asked by family members to take them for a drive to Mt. Hakusan(白山). At first, I was reluctant, for I had just driven as many as 1000 kilometers. But my families insisted on it, so I decided to go there the next day, thinking that I couldn’t complete this trip to Ise without going to Mt.Hakusan for sure.

  • take a rest 一息つく
  • household shinto altar 神棚
  • at first 最初は
  • reluctant   いやいやな
  • insist 主張する
  • complete 完成させる
  • for sure 確かに

Firstly, I visited Heisenji-Hakusan shrine(平泉寺白山神社), which I visited after a long time. The green mos covering the shrine that survived the harsh, long winter was beautiful. The precincts of the shrine had been cleaned up by local people on the day I visited. The shrine was so spiritually clean that I could pray at it smoothly.

  • after a long time 久しぶりに
  • mos 苔
  • survive 生き残る
  • harsh 厳しい
  • precinct 境内

Then next, I headed for Hakusan-Chukyo shrine(白山中居神社). The prefectural road on the way was narrow and since I saw some fallen rocks on the road that must’ve fallen from a cliff on the left side, I drove carefully. My car navigation system didn’t tell me exactly where the shrine was located, but I managed to reach it on instinct.

  • prefectrural 県の
  • narrow 狭い
  • cliff 崖
  • exactly 正確に
  • manage to~ どうにかして〜する
  • instinct 本能

I stopped my car in the parking lot in front of the shrine and looked up the huge trees on both sides of the approach leading to the main building of the shrine. I saw two Tengus(天狗)protecting the shrine on the tree tops. I hadn’t seen such a shrine for a long time. As in Tamaki Shrine(玉置神社) in Nara prefecture, Tengus, being a nature spirit, disappear from shrines as the traffic around them gets heavy and noisy.

  • parking lot 駐車場
  • huge 巨大な
  • approach 参道
  • traffic 交通

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When you visit such a shrine where Tengus keep an eye out for intruders, you had better not take any insulting and disrespectful act. Thinking “I must get hurt if I’m not serious enough,” I told my families to walk slowly and watch their steps.

  • keep an eye out for A  Aを見張る
  • had better not~ 〜しない方が良い
  • insulting 侮辱的な
  • disrespectful   無礼な
  • get hurt 怪我をする

I found a huge rock in the middle of the approach, when I saw a vision in my mind that, when a man with a disrespectful mental attitude intruded into the precincts, a long long time ago though,  a Tengu threw the huge rock at the man and he was squashed by it. Thinking that his bones must’ve been under the rock, I gazed at it on bended knees together with my families.

  • in the middle of A Aのど真ん中に
  • irrelevant 不適切な
  • squash 押しつぶす
  • gaze じっと見る

The approach descended abruptly and its stone steps were slippery because of spring water. In case you fall and hit your head on the ground, you’re sure to get seriously injured. So if you have weak legs, you should avoid the approach and instead take the path on the left side of the front guard gate that leads to the main building.

  • descend 下がる
  • slippery 滑り易い
  • spring water 湧き水
  • path 小道

We went on the approach, which looked as if it refused any visitor, and managed to get to the main building, where a chief priest of the shrine was preparing for a purification ceremony. A child, who seemed like his grandson, was following around him, with his tiny hands holding the priest’s Hakama(袴), a man’s formal divided skirt.

  • as if S+V まるでSがVするかのように
  • refuse 拒む
  • chief priest 神官
  • purification  祓い
  • grandson 孫息子

The priest had a great, dignified face.  It’s hard to explain but he had the same distinctive aura as that of an ascetic mountain priest. Then we climbed up the steep stone steps and finally stood in front of the main building.

To be continued.

  • dignified 威厳のある
  • aura 雰囲気
  • ascetic  苦行の
  • steep 険しい

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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

Religions the True God is not Involved in Need Rules that Bind People with

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After the World War II, GHQ, General Headquarters of the Allied Forces, ascribed the “frantic” attack of Japanese Army to State Shinto. GHQ must’ve planned to destroy shinto shrines all over Japan.

  • ascribe A to B  AをBのせいにする
  • state 国家
  • destroy 破壊する

The damage Japanese Army did to the US army was much bigger than expected. GHQ assumed that the frantic actions of the Japanese soldiers without fear were due to their fanatical religious cult.

  • assume 思い込む
  • frantic 半狂乱の
  • fanatical 熱狂的な

GHQ must’ve been surprised to find that there were a lot of religions in Japan, such as Shintoism, Buddhism and Christianity, and that they co-existed without uniformity. There are myriads of gods in Shintoism and each of them is worshipped by people, which must’ve been beyond Christians’ understanding.

  • lack 欠く
  • uniformity 統一性
  • myriads of A 無数のA
  • worship 崇拝する

* Who is the founder of Shintoism? None. Though His Imperial Majesty holds Shintoism in high estimation, there have been a lot of shinto shrines the Emperor has nothing to do with all over Japan since ancient times.

  • founder 創立者
  • estimation 評価
  • anctent times 古代

*What’s the doctrine of Shintoism? What does Kami, or God in Shintoism, look like? Shintoism has no doctrine and Kami has no figure. I dare say that it has a custom that rice and vegetables are offered to Kami with gratitude. Because Kami is invisible, the space for Kami is prepared in a room of a shrine.

  • doctrine 教義
  • figure 姿
  • dare   あえて〜する
  • custom 慣習
  • graitude 感謝の気持ち

* Are there any rules or penal regulations in Shintoism? None. But it’s traditionally prohibited to enter a sacred mountain with a shrine standing on it and to cut trees there without permission. People visit shrines voluntarily and randomly.

  • penal 罰の
  • sacred 神聖な
  • prohibit 禁止する
  • voluntarily 自発的に

Shintoism must’ve been unbelievable for Christians of GHQ who read the Bible every day and went to Church on Sundays to hear preaching. Why could Shintoism band the Japanese together without any rules? The more they tried to unravel the mystery, the more puzzled they became.

  • preaching 説教
  • band A together Aをまとめる
  • unravel 解明する
  • puzzeld 当惑する

Shintoism is the most advanced in spirituality of all religions. The practical power of Kami is really great. Shintoism has been supported and maintained by the Japanese for thousands of years without any rules that bind them with, which would be impossible without God’s intention. The fact that people have believed in Shintoism voluntarily for such a long time proves the existence of God.

  • advanced 進んでいる
  • maintain 維持する
  • intention 意図
  • existence 存在

Religions that have faith in false gods need rules that bind believers with. That the Japanese have visited Shinto shrines out of their own free proves that the true God is involved in Shintoism. Similarly, you should hold memorial services for your ancestral spirits voluntarily and naturally to appease them, not to get rid of your worries or out of fear.

  • false 偽の
  • free will 自由意志
  • involved 関与して
  • similarly  同様に
  • appease 慰める
  • get rid of A Aをなくす

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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

It’s very Dangerous to Take away Small Stones Put in the Precincts of Shrines

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There are some people who take away small stones put in the precincts of shrines. If shrines are eminent ones, there must be more who do such a thing. Why do they so? They must be thinking that small stones in shrines are special ones and hoping that keeping them causes something lucky to happen to them.

  • precinct 境内
  • eminent 高名な
  • lucky 幸運な

If a holy spirit were present, it would feel sad about such people’s mean mind. The fact itself of a small stone being taken away doesn’t matter. For example, if you happen to have a small stone gotten between grooves of your shoe sole and take it home accidentally, you don’t deserve any divine punishment. It is the mean mind to try to steal something good even from gods that is sinful. If the stone is a really good thing, you should be such a person who feel like leaving it as it is.

  • present その場にいる
  • mean 卑しい
  • groove 溝
  • deserve 値する
  • punishment 罰
  • as it is そのままに

In contrast, there are others who take away trash from shrines. This is because they want to keep holy precincts clean for the deities. This deed is to remove bad things from the precincts and present a good space for the deity.

  • in contrast 対照的に
  • trash ゴミ
  • remove 取り除く

There are various old tales all over the world that suggest the beautiful small stones you’ve taken from the holy precincts turn into dirt, while the trash you’ve taken from it turn into treasure. This is spiritually true. But you need not take the trouble to visit a shrine to collect trash for the purpose of getting treasure, which is also forbidden in many old tales.

  • old tale 昔話
  • suggest 示唆する
  • treasure 宝
  • take the trouble to~ わざわざ〜する
  • forbid 禁止する

Given bad consequences Kenzokushin(眷属神) guarding the precincts gives you,  it is very dangerous to take away small stones put in the precincts of shrines. If you were a child, you could develop high fever so that you can notice the seriousness of your sin like an advance warning. Adults covered with the dirt of greed, lacking in sensitivity, would be likely to keep such small stones at hand and end up receiving some divine punishment. If you should possess such stones, you should return them to where they were, if possible. If it’s not easy for you to go back there, you should put them in a nearby mountain or river.

  • consequence 結果
  • advance 事前の
  • greed 強欲
  • sensitivity 感受性
  • possess 所有する

In Shintoism, the holy spirit is thought of as ubiquitous in all natural things. Just as I feel the short approach to the main building of Izougu(伊雑宮) to be several hundred meters long when my spiritual body visits there, small stones in the precincts of shrines could be huge stones in the dimension of gods. You had better not think lightly of small stones in the holy precincts.

  • ubiquitous 偏在した
  • natural 自然の
  • approach 参道
  • huge   巨大な
  • dimension 次元

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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.

Shinto Manner of “Two Bows, Two Claps and One Bow” Set as the Standard by God’s Will

In Shintoism, it has been thought of as the standard manner and disseminated as such all over the country since Meiji era to bow two times, clap your hands two times and bow once in front of the main building of a shrine. As regards the number of the clapping by Shinto priests, however, there are various theories according to ancient traditions.

  • era 時代
  • disseminate 普及する
  • bow お辞儀する
  • as regards A Aに関して
  • ancient 古来の

For example, in Kunitsu-kami(国津神) shrines belonging to Izumo(出雲) line, it is thought of as the official manner to clap your hands four times, while in Ise Grand Shrine(伊勢神宮), to clap your hands four times and do as many times again, which is called Yahirade(八開手), is the offical manner the Shinto priests do. According to my inspiration, I feel that this manner seems to conjure up and worship the Four Haraedo Spirits(祓戸四神) led by Susanoo(スサノオ).

  • official 公式の
  • inspiration 霊感
  • conjure up A Aを呼び出す

Counting the four-time clapping as one-time, the eight-time clapping can be said to be the prototype of the present two-time clapping. Also, the number 8 has been regarded as a lucky number in Shintoism since ancient times.

  • prototype 原型
  • present 現在の
  • ancient times 古代

Humans clap their hands when they are happy or moved, which is a kind of instinct common to all human beings in the world. Babies also clap their hands when happy and so did people in ancient times. Ancient people seem to have clap their hands naturally to express their gratitude, awe or excitement of joy toward the holy spirit. Yes. They could see God.

  • moved 感動した
  • instinct 本能
  • gratitude 感謝の気持ち
  • awe 畏怖の気持ち

They sometimes saw the energy of the holy spirit spiraling up Iwakura(磐座), a huge stone on which the energy body of God comes down. The energy was often perceived as a shining dragon or huge serpent. Impressed by the energy, ancient people clapped their hands to praise God. The number of clapping didn’t matter for them in those days.

  • spiral up 螺旋状に登る
  • perceive 知覚する
  • serpent 蛇
  • praise 賞賛する

I feel that the present manner of ” two bows, two claps and one bow,” has been established by God’s will after many twists and turns. My spiritual interpretation of it is as follows:

● two bows: In shitoism, Izanagi (イザナギ)and Izanami (イザナミ)make a couple and they are the origin of other gods. Therefore, to bow two times is to bow these original gods.

● two claps: To clap two times is to praise the two gods.

● one bow: To bow once in the end is to unit the two gods as one and to express your gratitude for your having been entrusted with it as your Inner God.

  • establish 確立する
  • interpretation 解釈
  • entrust A with B  AにBを任せる

Though there are details about the manner, the most important manner is to dedicate your smiles to God. Please use this attitude as your reference.

  • detail 詳細
  • dedicate 奉納する
  • attitude 考え方
  • reference 参考

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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.