Rarely do we see deep thoughts of Shinto in open literature. This unassuming book is valuable not only for Shinto studies, but also for consciousness studies in various spiritual traditions. This post is but one of a number of Okunomichi’s series on consciousness and Mind. By Mind, we refer to the great Mind of Universe as well as the higher consciousness of the human Mind.
The World of Shinto, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, 1985, 268pp, 4892374113.
The contents of this book were first made into modern Japanese in 1977 by Professor Kamata Jun’ichi of the Okura Institute for Spiritual Cultures. Then it was rendered into English by Norman Havens of Kokugakuin University. The book is published by the Buddhist Promoting Organization.
The book contains a number of essays by members of notable Shinto families. We present excerpts from five essays written during the 12th, 14th, and 16th centuries.
Nakatomi no Harae Kunge (An Explication of the Nakatomi Liturgy of Purification)
Written near the very end of the Heian (794 – 1185) or early in the Kamakura period (1185-1333).
“The individual mind, my mind, should be viewed as something which communes with heaven and earth, nature, the cosmos. When considered in this way, we know that the gods ruling the cosmos exist within my very mind. When I come to this realization, I can comprehend the mind of the deities within my own mind. And that becomes the purification of no-mind, no-thought. When I confront the deity with this no-mind, no-thought, god and man are united, namely, I become one with god, and it is clear that all my thoughts, all my desires, are in communion with god. Namely, this is a means, a discipline for knowing my own mind, and by that, I am changed into my true self. The union of god and man means the road whereby I return to myself.”
Notes: Nakatomi no harae refers to the ritual invocations of the oharae great purification ritual which was recited on the last day of the sixth and twelfth months by the Nakatomi clan. The Nakatomi no Harae Kunge text is the oldest-known commentary on this ritual. The commentary found in the text is based upon the esoteric teachings (taimitsu) of the Tendai Buddhist sect.
Toyoashihara Jinpuu Waki (A Simple Record of the Divine Wind in Japan, by Jihen*, 1340)
“The correct way of Shinto practice is not to be misled by senseless words and theories, but merely to seek the sole true source of the mind [kokoro]. To know its origin and ultimate, and to become one with it, one must merely endeavor earnestly. Not to be led astray on false paths, but to awaken to the root of the Way, and to teach that Way even to fools, and to those who have forgotton virtue and become lost — such is the true method of Shinto practice. To act in such a way is to be in accord with the command of heaven, the fundamental Way of the universe; it can be said to be in communion with the fundamental spiritual essence of the universe.”
*Jihen was the son of the Shinto diviner Urabe Kaneaki. He was a Buddhist and became interested in Shinto, developing a unique viewpoint and theory regarding Shinto. Jihen was a strong influence on Shinto thought in the Nambokuchō and Muromachi eras, formulating the “Root, Branch and Flower” doctrine (konpon shōka, wherein Shinto represented the root, Confucianism the branches, and Buddhism the flower of the order of all things).
Shinto Yuraiki (Records of the Origins of Shinto, by Yoshida Kanetomo** 1435-1511)
“That which governs heaven and earth is called deity [kami]. That which governs the individual things in the world is called spirit [rei], while that which governs the individual human being is called mind [kokoro]. At the same time, the human mind is the very place where the kami—who govern the entire universe—dwell, a sacred place within which thus resides the root origin of the cosmos and all things. “
**Yoshida Kanetomo was the founder of Yoshida Shinto (Yuiitsu, “One and Only Shinto”). He was from the family of Shinto diviners called Urabe. They served as priests for the Yoshida, Hirano, and Ume no Miya shrines.
Yuiitsu Shinto Myoubou Youshuu (Essentials of the Distinguished System of “The One and Only Shinto,” by Yoshida Kanetomo, 1435-1511
“The center of heaven and earth is kami. Kami is also the center of all things. Even devils and beasts—compassionless things—have kami at their center. The core of grass and trees, this is kami. If so, then how can it be that the human center, mind [kokoro] can be anything but kami? Certainly, the human mind, too, is kami. The spirits possessed by all things within this world—there is none that is not kami. There is nothing within which the kami does not dwell. “
Shinto Taii (An Outline of Shinto, by Yoshida Kanetomo, 1435-1511)
“Kami is that which was there before the appearance of heaven and earth, and which gave form to them; that which surpasses the yin and the yang, yet has the quality of them. This kami is thus an absolute existence, governing the entire universe of heaven and earth, yet at the same time, it dwells within all things, where it is called spirit [rei]; omnipresent within human beings, it is called mind [kokoro]. “
” In other words, human mind communes with the kami which is ruler of heaven and earth; mind and kami are one and the same. Kami is the root origin of heaven and earth, the spiritual nature of all things, and the source of human destiny. Itself without form, it is kami which nurtures things with form. Residing within man’s “five organs,” the deepest part of the human, kami becomes the five kami. “
“For this reason, the character 神 is read not only as “kami,” but also as “tamashii” [spirit or soul]. We see color with our eyes, yet the color is not in our eyes. That which is the root source of our seeing color is kami. We hear sounds with our ears, yet it is not the ear which produces the sound. That which is the hearing is kami. Our noses’ smelling, our mouths’ tasting, the feeling of hot and cold by our skin—all these are the same. And from this, we know that mind is the dwelling place of the kami, one and the same with the origin of heaven and earth. “
Note: We suggest you re-read these essays, substituting for kami, the words Mind or consciousness. The Japanese word, kokoro, means heart-mind, heart, or mind.