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Friday, May 18, 2007

Surprising Shinto Texts

Well, I'm shortly back off to Japan, for a school trip with students from the place where I teach. I was interested recently to discover some Shinto texts, which were from a different perspective than I expected. Not that I have actually read a lot of Shinto writings. See if they surprise you!

Ise Teijo, who lived from 1715-1784, said, ‘Never make an image to represent the Deity… an image made by mortal hands is of no use in Shinto Worship.’[1]

Another text:

'If one ceremoniously invited me to his abode by hanging up sacred straw ropes for thousands of days, yet would I not cross his threshold were he dishonest, harsh or greedy.'[2]

A third text, written by Shima-shigeoyu, Shinto priest of Izumo Shrine in the Tokugawa period goes as follows:
'Deem not that only in this earthly shrine the Deity doth reign; The Earth entire and all the Heavens divine, His presence do proclaim.'[3]

These passages resonate with me, as a follower of Christ, as fitting with biblical principles.

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that religious groups around the world have developed many similar principles to each other. I wonder whether this could also contribute to dialogue between Shinto and Christian groups.

[1] Genchi Kato, A Study of Shinto: The Religion of the Japanese Nation, (London: Curzon Press, 2nd Edition, 1971), 185.
[2] Attributed to the Oracle of the Deity of Kasuga (Perhaps written by Shinto priest Urabe-no-kanetomo), in Kato, A Study of Shinto,(1971), 179-80.
[3] Kato, A Study of Shinto,(1971), 187.