Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shinto Tokyo Governor: Japan too greedy, Punishment from heaven

'Gaman,' a Japanese word meaning 'to endure,
to persevere.'

His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito, 77 years old, in power since 1989 at the death of his father, Hirohito, who was enthroned as the "Son of Heaven." While this phrase is very odd to western ears, within a non-theistic religion such as Shintoism, it is perfectly sensible. Under the context of Shinto tradition, perhaps such a recent comment made by the Governor of Tokyo makes sense if motivated by deep, conservative and traditional views:

"The outspoken governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, told reporters Monday via Otaku Who News Radio:
"The identity of the Japanese people is selfishness. The Japanese people must take advantage of this tsunami as means of washing away their selfish greed. I really do think this is divine punishment."
 The current occupant of the Japan's Chrysanthemum Throne, Akihito, 77 years old, traces his family line back through an astonishing unbroken 126 generations and more than 2,500 years of history. The Japanese title for the Emperor is Tenno, a Japanese word without clear English equivalent, though it might be paraphrased, His Transcendent Majesty, the Emperor Supreme. Clearly this is an old, traditional and stable institution within Japanese society. The Emperor seems to have descent from "the mists of time." He and his family have been the fabric of Japan since before the Christian era, before much of Buddhism, since before the current Common Era. And his son, Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan, 51 years old, is expected to be the next heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

His forebear, Hirohito, was considered a living god by some Japanese. From 1889 until Japan's defeat in World War II, the Emperor was considered "sacred and inviolable." But in today's Japan the role of emperor is chiefly ceremonial, since forced into a role by the Allies at the conclusion of World War II. Akihito's enthronement was the first Constitutional event that reduces the Emperor to a symbol, and realigns sovereignty in the Japanese people. Yet his lineage is thought to be divinely inspired. His Majesty claims to be a divinely begotten descendant of Japan's Sun Goddess, and is therefore sanctified in his own right.

Some basic beliefs of Shintoism may spread light on the current situation and aid observers in determining the relevance of statements made by this ancient Eastern Kingdom, now modernized State. Writing in his book, The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart, writer Motohisa Yamakage explains that Shinto lives today as a faith-based religion standing upon "the belief in the presence of the kami," or spirits. Yamakage calls for a return to koshinto, the ancient Shinto practice that he says had no shrines at all, and for a rejection of the "secular, materialistic, atheistic society" that he believes modern Japan has become.

He states that Shintoism is a faith which believes principally three things. First, he writes, it is "unique to the Japanese people. It has no founder, doctrine, precepts or commands; it has no organization nor idols. Yet it does teach deeply held ideas central to Japanese life and culture. A few of the beliefs he brings up for discussion are the idea of the child-spirit, the reverence for nature, the spirit of Kami, and the importance of purification.


Simple Mind Zen said...

Thank you for your interest in this subject.

"May the Lord bless you, and keep you, may he make his face to shine upon you, and may he give you peace." Amen.

Simple Mind Zen said...

At 11:20AM CST, March 21, 2011 Chris made a comment.
It was inadvertently deleted. Please post again.