Category Archives: Kototama

Kototama and “Now” — An Izumo Taisha Shinto Perspective

Izumo Taisha

KOTOTAMA

Okunomichi and WoshiteWorld are deeply interested in the study and practice of Kototama. This is another in the Kototama series of expository articles. Here, we share a Shinto view of Kototama. We received the statements below from a representative of Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine. 

Introduction

Izumo Taisha (Izumo Ōyashiro) is one of the oldest and largest Shinto shrines in Japan. The taisha enshrines Ōkuninushi no Ōkami, kami of earth and spiritual world.

Shinto is the native Japanese religion which is based on traditional nature worship and animism. It does not have a particular founder, doctrine, or scripture. This is similar to old Hawaiian and Native American religions.

Nakaima, The “Now”

The word Nakaima comes from a national history book, Shoku Nihongi, Sequel to Chronicle of Japan, 797 CE [sequel to Nihon Shoki, 720 CE]. Nakaima is made up of two words, naka and ima, where the former means middle and the latter means now, the present time.

As Shinto does not have concepts about heaven and hell in the hereafter, “this world” is considered the most valuable and important time for all lives. It is the “middle” between the past and the future. “Now” is the precious time to reflect the past and expect the future.

Kototama of Norito

Shinto prayers, norito, are based on Kototama, the worship to words and language itself. From ancient times, it is said that, “The words can move the heaven and the earth” especially in the Japanese poems (waka, tanka). Traditionally, people use and choose words very carefully when they compose the poems because of Kototama, especially yamato kotoba (ancient Japanese classical words). This is why norito is composed only from yamato kotoba. When the words are pronounced, Kototama is involved — with its vibration toward the world.

Kototama and Nakaima

In Shinto cosmology, Kototama is the basic tool to affect Nakaima.  

Experience Kototama and Nakaima

To experience Kototama in Nakaima, recite Ōharae no Kotoba, the prayer for Great Purification, one of the most famous norito. 

HARAE NO KOTOBA, PRAYER FOR PURIFICATION AND BLESSING

The Harae no Kotoba below is an invocation often recited at Izumo Taisha asking Ōkuninushi no Ōkami, and all the myriads of Kami to join in the ceremony. There are three basic types of harae purification and blessing:

  • the body (to maintain health and well-being, to heal or avoid illness;
  • the soul or spirit of the living and the dead;
  • our surroundings and natural environment.

The last three lines can be recited as a short prayer for purification and blessing.

Harae no Kotoba

kakemaku mo kashikoki Izanagi no Ōkami

Tsukushi no Himuka no Tachibana no Odo no

Ahagihara ni misogi harai tamaishi toki ni

narimaseru haraido no Ōkami tachi

kamunagaranaru Ōmichi no naka ni umarete

arinagara sono mikage woshi fukaku omowazute

sumekamitachi no mimegumi wo oroka ni omi

tarishitoki ni ayamachi okaseru wa saranari

ima mo tsumi-kegare aramu woba harai tamai

kiyome tamae to mousu kotowo yaoyorozu no

kamitachi tomoni kikoshimese to

kashikomi kashikomi mo mousu



harai tamai kiyome tamae

harai tamai kiyome tamae

harai tamai kiyome tamae

References

Izumo Taisha, Izumo Ōyashiro, website:  http://www.izumooyashiro.or.jp/’

Izumo Taisha: https://yamanomiya.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/eleven-shrines-in-izumo-izumo-taisha/

Norito and Oharae:  [https://japanshrinestemples.blogspot.com/2015/09/norito-incantations.html]

Kototama on Okunomichi and WoshiteWorld: Type the word “Kototama” in the Search box.

This post also appears on WoshiteWorld.

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Kototama of Wosite and Hotsuma

Kototama

Kototama, which is written in kanji as 言霊, is the study and practice of the energy/power in words and speech. Kototama can be translated as “the spirit of words,” and as “the language of Spirit.” Kototama refers to the power of human words to create, to create things. Okunomichi has several posts on this topic and they can be found by using the Search box to the right and entering “Kototama”.

Wosite Language

The Wosite language used in writing the Hotsuma Tsutae, the Futomani, and the Mikasafumi documents is a Kototama language. Wosite studies are posted at https://woshiteworld.wordpress.com/. Recently, WoshiteWorld has published posts on the Kototama of Hotsuma and Wosite. They are: “The Kototama of Wosite,” and ““Process of Kototama”. In addition, there is a discussion of the waka poetry of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.

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Kototama of Takenouchi and Hotsuma Civilizations

Takenouchi and The Three Civilizations

There are various koshi-koden, secret documents from ancient Japan. They have been kept secret both by hostile repression and for safekeeping of wisdom. The Takenouchi records were compiled over a vast period of time; they were preserved by the Takenouchi family until these modern times. The Hotsuma Tsutae is a later record of a time of legendary figures which gives an insight to changes in human society. According to the Takenouchi Monjo, people lived spiritually in peace and plenty for a long period of time. However, new generations grew restive; they wanted more materiality and physicality. The guiding elders discussed this seriously and eventually made the decision to let humanity undergo a period of exploration of the material world. The sages would cooperate so that this painful period would be as brief as possible.

Thus the First Civilization gradually ended and the Second began. The decision for the transition was made about ten thousand years ago. Wisdom keepers began to hide their teachings by concealing documents, by creating and spreading myths that veiled the true nature of the stories, and by building religions that would impart some and only some of the truth. Although veiled, precious wisdom would need to be accessible when the time came for it to be revealed and applied.

When we think of how much humans have accomplished even in the last two thousand years in analyzing and controlling the physical world through technology development, building of nations, formalizing religions and other social systems, we are not amazed to realize that this material civilization has just about culminated.

The Second Civilization is nearing its end. In the Takenouchi Documents, transition dates of 2011 and 2017 are given. The Third Civilization of higher consciousness and greater unity is coming. This is the age all ancient wisdom cultures have been awaiting.

Those who are on the Path of Wisdom see signs of returning spring. As the physical world of nature and man grows more disruptive, at the same time more people are awakening to walk the Path. The world is emerging from the bleakness of winter into the rebirth of spring.

Kototama

The Path of the ancient ones of the Japanese Islands is called Kototama. This term refers to the spiritual (tama) power of sound (koto). Its formal name is Kototama Futomani, Kototama Great (futo) Mana (energy). Kototama Futomani is a cosmology and a practice. It is based on the fundamental property of Universe to create, to manifest, by vibrations. Vibrations produced by the human voice form the sounds of speech. We often forget that these vibrations of speech carry great spiritual energy. Kototama is based on the principle that the way sound patterns are organized determines the development of individual human consciousness and of human society. Civilizations evolve and fall on the basis of these sound systems.

Most important of the sounds are the vowels, aptly called mother sounds. In Kototama, we teach the sounds rather than the letter names. The sequence of the vowels plays a key role and describes the process of human and societal development. Consonants are father sounds and together they create child sounds.

In the coming Third Civilization, the vowel order of Futonorito will be:

          Ah  Ih  Eh  Oh  Uh

You will see some authors write vowel sounds as A I E O U. This is only a shorthand that represents sounds. In our current Second Civilization, the order of Kanagi is:

          Ah  Ih  Uh  Eh  Oh

The past First Civilization used the Sugaso order:

          Ah  Oh  Uh  Eh  Ih

Kototama science is deep and complex. We can only give the tip of the iceberg. The power of the vowels can be briefly and inadequately presented in the following.

          Ah           Spark beginning activity

          Ih            Will, intention, desire

          Eh           Judgment, discernment, evaluation

          Oh          Memory, experience

          Uh          Senses, materiality

Do not be misled by words. It takes practice to understand the subtle workings of these vowels. Individual sounds cannot be understood in isolation, for they always interact with other sounds. By working with these hints, we can begin to get an idea of the three civilizations.

Hotsuma Tsutae

Hotsuma Tsutae is another Koshi-koden. It is a legacy written in a beautiful script called Woshite. It was recorded two to three thousand years ago. It relates history and teachings of advanced humans thousands of years prior. We can well wonder how to fit the Hotsuma Tsutae into the overall scheme of the Takenouchi.

The main characters of the Hotsuma legends are known to readers of the conventionally accepted books: Kojiki (711 CE) and Nihon Shoki (720 CE). By the eighth century when these two documents were produced by royal order, there was already a formal ruling system and a stratified society. Elements considered not suitable for the court’s political purposes were eliminated or modified. It is very illuminating to compare the contents of the two koshi-koden documents with the eighth century versions.

Today’s scholars recognize a long period of peace and culture called the Jōmon period. The name Jōmon was given to describe the cord-marked earthenware said to be the oldest in the world. The Jōmon period lasted from about 14,000 BCE to 300 BCE, a remarkably long period of peace. It was followed by the Yayoi (300 BCE to 300 CE) with significant immigration from the Asian continent which greatly impacted society in the islands. Then came the Kofun period of burial mounds, and so on into historical times.

In terms of Kototama sound order, the Jōmon would be Sugaso and the following periods Kanagi.

Where does the Hotsuma culture belong in this timeline? There are two seeming inconsistencies when dating it. From the spiritually guided nature of Hotsuma society, it would appear to belong to the Sugaso order, at least in the beginning. The early tales are full of compassion and resolution of conflicts by nonviolent means such as negotiation and Kototama. Society was guided to embody Heaven on Earth which means to live in harmony with nature and universe. In the teaching sections of the Hotsuma Tsutae, the lessons emphasized living the Way of Hotsuma which is the Way of Heaven.

We know the sound order of their language through a teaching song, Awa no uta, the song (uta) of Heaven and Earth (A and Wa). It goes like this.

          a ka ha na ma            i ki hi ni mi u ku     

          hu nu mu e ke           he ne me o ko ho no

          mo to ro so yo           wo te re se ye tu ru

          su yu n ti ri                 si yi ta ra sa ya wa

From this we see that the vowel order is Ah Ih Uh Eh Oh, the Kanagi order of the Second Civilization! So we may view the Hotsuma culture as the last gasp of the Sugaso.

As in the above Awa no uta, the entire Hotsuma document is written in verse of 5 and 7 syllables. When a master poet is asked why, she replies because 7 and 5 are the rhythms of Heaven and Earth. Deep study of the Woshite syllabary has led to some understanding of the cosmology of the Hotsuma people.

As later tales unfold, especially the last 12 chapters which were added generations later, we view society moving more and more to materialistic worldviews and behavior, thus fully entering the Kanagi civilization. The sacred is declining and materialty is growing. There are battles of nation-building. While the building of a nation may seem grand and glorious, it comes at the cost of human blood and suffering. These stories mark the beginning of our Second Civilization. Hotsuma tales record the transition from the First to the Second Civilization.

Since Hotsuma times, we have continued down this path of separation and conflict, loss of connection with other people and our environment. We can go no further. We must stop and build the Third Civilization.

The documents mentioned here all include the common story of Ama no Iwato no Hiraki, the opening of the heavenly cave door. All four prophesize that the door of darkness will be opened and light of truth will pour forth once more.

The door is opening.

Kototama Researchers of the Modern Period

Let us introduce some of the leading Kototama researcher-practitioners of the 19th and 20th centuries. The story begins with young Emperor Meiji who, soon after his marriage began the study of Kototama using two secret documents. Recall that the Kojiki is one of the two most important documents of Japan. It begins with fantastic tales of the Age of Gods. These myths were considered to hold secret meanings. Later, we will present teachings from Yamakoshi, Ogasawara, and Nakazono, as well as Shimada Masamichi.

Meiji & Shoken

Emperor Meiji    b. 1852, r. 1867 – 1912

Emperor Meiji is best known for the Meiji Restoration of 1876 when he became Emperor at a young age. After his marriage to the Empress, he began to reconstruct the Kototama meaning hidden in the Kojiki together with her, and with Yamakoshi Senior and Junior, and Ogasawara Koji.

Empress Shoken     1850 – 1914

The Empress was born in Kyoto in a prestigious Fujiwara family. Upon marriage to Meiji, she brought a key to decrypt the original meaning of the Kojiki. It was half a document, and it matched the other half kept by the Imperial family.

Yamakoshi Hiromichi (Koudo)

Calligrapher to Emperor Meiji

Yamakoshi Akimasa (Meisho)

Secretary and son of calligrapher Yamakoshi

Ogasawara Koji     1903 – 1982

Published Passage to the Third Civilization in 1964, Kototama Hyakushin in 1969.

Nakazono Masahilo     1918 – 1994

Nakazono studied with Ogasawara prior to 1969. He had studied kototama as an aikido student of Ueshiba Morihei, founder of aikido. He published several books in English, including Inochi and The Source of the Present Civilization. 

 

Kototama Practice of Mikusa no Kantakara

OMIYA GENPI BOOKMIKUSA NO KANTAKARA, three sacred treasures. This is a kototama-in (word-mudra) practice in which mysterious power of universe comes to you. The three treasures are kagami, tama, and tsurugi. These are three sacred practices.

Kagami = mirror representing the body of sun;  Tama = jewel representing spirit of moon, symbol of kami;  Tsurugi = sword representing energy of stars.

THE PRACTICES SUMMARIZED

Note that each treasure has two parts. Mudra #1 is the same for all three mikusa, but the kototama chants differ. See the book for kototama and mudras.

Kagami practice #1 – show your real self, cleanse it.  #2 – remove dirt from bad things around you.

Tama practice #1 – cleanse your tama, your soul-jewel.  #2 – bring ame-tsuchi (heaven-earth) inside & outside.

Tsurugi practice. Note: Here, tsurugi is the Murakumo no tsurugi, the sword that Susanoo took out of Yamata no Orochi’s tail. The eight-headed Orochi here represents troubles, desires,etc. Cut them with tsurugi, the double-edged sword. When you cut enemy, you can also cut yourself if you have bad thoughts, so be careful when you use it; be clear-minded.

#1 – polish the sword.  #2 – deal with the enemy.

OHARAI AND SHIME-NO-IN

Oharai is most important to do at beginning of practice: purify the place, person, and osonae offering. Wave the nusa paper wand, or its equivalent practice.

Shime-no-in, as in the straw rope called shimenawa, sets the boundary of the pure space.

We do the oharai and the shime-no in before embarking on the mikusa practice.

MISOGI AS OHARAI. Misogi has outer and inner aspects, i.e., omote and ura. The outer is the standing under the waterfall. The inner can be explained by the word misogi which is mimi-soso-gi. Mimi is ear, and misogi is the listening to all the sounds of the universe, cleansing the spirit, and bringing kajiri to your ear, where kajiri is a promise made to kami.

In mudras, the fingers making promises (kajiri) with kami. Fingers are called yubi (yu is hot water, and hi is fire in kototama).

This teaching is from the Genpi book of Omiya Shirou shown above.

 

 

 

How Kototama Makes the World

According to Rei Torii in Kamigami no Nazo

Kototama refers to the rhythms that bring forth the manifested world.

Mother rhythms are the five vowels  あ   い  う   え   お  which span the dimensions of infinite space. They are the processes of movement of: space, wind, fire, water, and earth. Moving space gives rise to moving wind, which gives rise to moving fire, and which in turn gives rise to the flowing down of moving water/liquid and earth/solid.

Father rhythms are the eight consonants which develop time. These are the processes of creating life and building the world.

Koji Ogasawara:  T”he world is perpetually beginning right here, right now!”

The 48 sounds of Hotsuma no Kototama

Please refer to the Hotsuma woshite table. This becomes a Chart of Generating Space and Time.

Image

Top row symbols are the mother symbols which span space.

Right column symbols are the father symbols of time.

The elements in the matrix, combinations of father-mother rhythms are the processes of generating space and time.

Mother Rhythms (vowels) generating space:

Symbol   /   Sound   /  Name   /   Movement of:

Circle   /   sound  あ   /   utsuho   /   space

Bell   /   sound  い  /   kaze   /   wind

Triangle   /   sound  う   /   ho   /   fire

River   /   sound  え   /   mizu   /   water

Square   /   sound  お   /   hani   /   earth

Father Rhythms (consonants) generating time, i.e., developing humans and culture:

.         The Source starting to breathe

|        Breath coming from heaven to earth (unseen to seen)

||       Separating into two (male, female)

+       combining the two

T        making humans

Y        making father

^       making mother

–        people spreading east-west

L        making leaders

<>     making countries

Observe that the Hotsuma character for utsuho is a circle. It represents ku (sora), the sacred place that creates everything in the universe. It marks places of power such as pyramids, stone circles, and kofun burial mounds. Note: utsubo is a sacred vessel and also refers to a mother’s womb. We also know of the Tsubo no Ishibumi, a stone monument, which the poet Matsuo Basho sought  at Tagajo. 

The Kototama of MIZUHO NO TSUTAE by Yamaguchi Shido

Yamaguchi Shido chart

(L)  Kada’s Inari Koden Chart.     (R) Yamaguchi’s Futomani no Mitama Chart.

Editor’s Note: This is an English rendering from the Japanese book, Koshinto Gyoho Nyumon by Omiya Shirou, pp 100-107.

Yamaguchi Shido in the mid-19th century wrote a book that integrated the strange symbols found in two ancient scrolls into a metaphysical system of Kototama.

Yamaguchi Shido

In 1765 Yamaguchi Shido, the son of a wealthy farmer, was born in Awanokuni which is the modern-day Kamogawa-shi in Chiba prefecture. He was a child prodigy and learned Chinese literature at a young age. When he was 25 or 26, he moved to Edo to live with his uncle. He started the study of kokugaku, which is the study of ancient Japanese literature.

Futomani no Mitama/Kagotama Chart

The Yamaguchi family had handed down over the generations an ancient scroll that contained a mysterious chart known as Futomani no Mitama, also called Kagotama. Yamaguchi wanted to unwrap the secret of this chart. After three decades of studying, he came to understand that Futomani no Mitama told the secret about ancient kototama, the power of sound. But he did not quite understand the kototama.

Inari Koden/Mizuhi no Ontsutae Chart

The Inari Koden or Mizuhi no Ontsutae chart was handed down in the prominent Kada family. The Kada family, together with the Hata, of Kyoto were hereditary priests of the Inari shrine in Yamashiro no kuni, the present Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine in Kyoto. The noted kokugaku scholar, Kada no Azumaro (1669-1736) possessed this chart at one time. Azumaro has a lovely shrine at Fushimi Inari which I visited in 2012. Azumaro passed the chart to his adopted child, Tamiko, who in turn passed it to Kada no Noriyuki.

Kada shrine

Yamaguchi Shido studied classical Japanese literature under Kada no Noriyuki. Later he taught nobles at the Imperial Court in Kyoto. During these studies, Yamaguchi was given the Inari Koden chart. [Inari Koden probably means the ancient document of Inari.] The secret symbols written in the chart enabled him to solve his question of the ages about the Futomani no Mitama chart.

Mizuho no Tsutae by Yamaguchi Shido, an integration of the two documents

By receiving the Inari Koden, Shido became more confident about his study. In the year Bunsei 1, 1818, he returned to Edo and spent five years in developing a solid base for his study. In the year Tempo 1, 1841, he was invited to the house of Fukui Shigetsugu, his brother-in-law, at Kameyama in Kyoto. There he began writing his work entitled Mizuho no Tsutae which became his life-time achievement.

After that, his study of Kototama became so popular among court nobles in Kyoto that he gave many lectures to them. In the year Tempo five he finished writing seven volumes of Mizuho no Tsutae. Two years later, he was invited to see Kishu Tokugawa (one of the top three Tokugawa-related families) and went to Kishu in Wakayama. There he offered his books, Kamikazeiki and his series of Mizuho no Tsutae to Kishu Tokugawa.

Kototama of Yamaguchi Shido

According to Yamaguchi, all things in the universe consist of water and fire. These are also referred to as the sound of “i” and the sound of “ki.” Earth and people are all made up of these water and fire elements. The universe can be very much affected by the kototama that is created from water and fire. Shido thought “iki,” breathing, also consisted of water “i” and fire “ki.” Breathing was absolutely imperative to carry the words with kototama in them. For him, iki means to live, ikiru.

Yamaguchi found that the Inari Koden had much to do with Futomani no Mitama. He carefully compared them to each other. He revealed that the creation written in Kojiki actually told about the generation of goju-on, the fifty Japanese kana characters/syllables.

Yamaguchi saw that the Futomani no Mitama was made upof the five elements: the dot, the circle, the horizontal line, the vertical line, and the square.

He realized that the Inari Koden, through its twelve forms explained each of the five symbols in the Futomani no Mitama chart. This helped him work out the hidden meaning of Futomani no Mitama.

Yamaguchi noted the goju-on, the fifty voices of the kana syllables, as principal sounds and he made them into figures that represented the true identity of the universe.

The Japanese 50-kana syllables are a system showing the power of sound that controls the universe.

You can control the universe if you have a deep understanding of each sound. The belief of kototama that koto, something that is said, will become koto, something that happens, is a metaphysical system in the innermost recesses of traditional beliefs.