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Shintoism Research Paper

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Shintoism Research Paper

Dilpreet Sran


Mrs. Abbruscato

February 13, 2017

Shintoism Research Paper

        The religion of Shintoism was developed in the early 500 B.C., but there is no known founder of Shinto. The term Shinto has been derived from the Chinese word “Shin tao” which means “The way of the Kami (God)” (John Chin, 2007). Shintoism was Japans main religion until the sixth century, when the Chinese Buddhist had entered the Mainland’s of Japan. Buddhism and Shintoism are very compatible religions with one another, there is no contradiction between them. Shintoism is one of the largest religions in Japan about eighty present of Japans population are Shinto. The followers of Shintoism believe upon the existence of spiritual powers in the natural world. 

                Sacred Writings: The holy book of Shinto is called the “Kojiki” or the “Records of Ancient Matters” as well as “Chronicles of Japan” (BCC, 2009). The Kojiki was created in the eighth century, it was written by O No Yasumaro, under the orders of Emperor Temmu. The Kojiki is composed from the input of both Buddhism and Confucianism. The Kojiki is a variety of different books, within the books there are ancient myths and traditional teaching that have been previously passed down orally (BBC, 2009). The myths in the Kojiki were based upon the Kami (gods), who created the Japanese islands. The myths of the holy book teach a number of truths such as that “Japan and its people are chosen and special to the Gods (Kami). The Kami have many qualities in common with human beings, the Kami are very different from God in the Western sense. The Kami have a duty to look after humanity, humanity should look after the Kami. Purity and purification are important if humanity is to thrive. Purification is a creative act, as well as a cleansing act, death is known to be the ultimate impurity (BBC, 2009). The Kojiki is based upon interpretations of mythology, but applied in a political purpose, to be better, and establish the importance of Japan, and to have a narrow sense and divine authority to the ruling classes of Japan (BBC, 2009).

        Experience of the Sacred: People of the Shinto religion pray to Kami (Gods) to obtain or to thank the Kami for something special. They pray to different Kami’s depending on the time of day. The Shinto pray in either a shrine or in their homes. They do not go to the shrine on a specified day of the week, people go whenever there is a festival or for personal spiritual reasons. Many Japanese have a kami-dana (Kami shelf), they place offerings on the shelf and say prayers. There is a mirror in the centre to connect yourself to the Kami. Many Shinto’s pray every day, especially in the mornings when the sun is rising because that is when the sun god, Amaterasu comes out.  They also believe a Kami is always around us, and you should practice daily. Public prayer is shared at the shrine amongst the others praying. Communal prayers are more everyday based and happen in the shrine or at home, the shrine is made for everyone to pray at any time. They can also have a private or individual event at the shrine or in their home to obtain something, or to thank the Kami for something good. “Private prayer allows you to connect with a Kami, to get something in specific done” (BBC, 2009). Shrines are built with a great understanding of the natural world. “There is a contrast between the human worship and nature that reflects human empathy for the world” (BCC, 2009). Rituals take place in the sanctuary as a part of worship. The nature aspect allows worshippers to go from everyday life to a place of purity and holiness.

        History:  Shintoism started with Buddhism coming into Japan. Then the Kojiki was written under Emperor Tenmu’s Reign, and then was later completed in 712 B.C. In 901-923 a collection of religious laws and rituals were created (Ben Delaney, 2014) .Then later in 1419, known as the Muromachi period, the “Shinto” name was declared. It was declared by a Tendai Bhuddist Monk, Ryohen, who first commented that it is not read “Jindo,” but “Shinto.”(Ben Delaney, 2014). In 1489 the Ise shrine burned down. “The Ise shrine is one of the principal shrines of Shintō (Kenneth Pletcher, 2014). After, it was built one hundred years later. Then, the Yoshida Shinto family licensed all professional Shinto celebrations 2014 in 1665. In 1945, World War II, separated the “Shinto State” into “Shrine Shinto” and “Denominational Shinto” The Shinto religion does not have a Supreme Being, but the Sun Goddess (ruler of the heaven), held high positions. The emperors of Japan are said to be descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu.  

        Belief: The Shinto people believe in the idea of many Kami’s. Kami’s are believed to have a specific life giving power that is called “musubi” (Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu, 2016). Everything is known to have a Kami, and sprits living in things around us. These beliefs symbolize divine beings as spirits or gods. “The existence of the power of the Kami in the real world, in nature and throughout Japan” (Beverlee Jill Carroll, 2013). Being pure, and the state of purity shows good or evil, and the state of impurity shows separation from the Kami. The things which make us impure are known as tsumi - pollution or sin (BBC, 2009). Shinto believes that humans are not born bad or impure, they are born pure and sharing the divine soul. Badness, impurity or sin are things that come later in life, and that can usually be removed by simple cleansing or purifying rituals (BBC, 2009). Shinto does not split the universe into a natural physical world and a supernatural transcendent world. It regards everything as part of a single unified creation (BBC, 2009). Kami includes gods and spirit beings, but also includes many other things that are revered for the powers that they possess. Oceans and mountains are kami, so are storms and earthquakes (BBC, 2009). They also focus on the belief that spiritual powers manifest in natural places such as mountains, rivers, and other aspects of nature including people and animals.

        Mortality: Shinto is not as fully developed as most other religions, they do not have a moral code. The moral principles of Shintoism are followed upon Confucianism’s moral principles. Humans are seen to have a natural moral sense, and humans are motivated by shame to avoid doing wrong. Any acts of wrong can be cleansed by purification. A prized human characteristic of sincerity; the harmony of thought and action (Patheos, 2010). The core responsibility based on moral principles is harmony. There should be harmony among everyone, the kami, within social groups and nature. All of humanity is regarded as "Kami's child." Thus all human life and human nature is sacred. They believe that the Kamis have “musuhi” harmonizing powers, and the followers have “Makoto” sincerity or true heart. Morality is based upon that which is of benefit to the group. "Shinto emphasizes right practice, sensibility, and attitude (B.A. Robinson, 1995).



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