many years ago I read a passage with an image that struck me so powerfully that I've carried it in my imagination ever since. just recently, I connect it to my practice I carry on in this busy, raucous life.
in his book "confessions of a mask" yukio mishima describes how once, as a child, he witnessed a shinto procession, taking place in a "confused tumult" and "purposeless uproar" on a brilliant summer's day, near his home. the centerpiece of the procession was a portable shrine, carried on poles on the shoulders of young men whose "eyes were not looking upon things of this earth" as they carried it through the crowded streets. the procession passes by and finally the shrine itself, the omikoshi, comes into view.
. . .within the thick scarlet-and-white ropes, within the guardrails of black laquer and gold, behind those fast-shut doors of gold leaf, there was a four-foot cube of pitch-blackness.
This perfect cube of empty night, ceaselessly swaying and leaping, to and fro, up and down, was boldly reigning over the noonday of early summer.
thanks for your indulgence. I hope you find the passage beautiful and apt, as I did.
Thank you Belly Button (the meaning of "Oheso") ....
For those who don't know, in the Shinto religion of Japan, it is customary to take the local enshrined god (small g), called a Kami, on a tour of the neighborhood around his Shrine typically once a year. Things can get quite raucous, with sake flowing and such. I have had the experience of carrying the "Mikoshi", and the chanting ... the sake ... the pain and sweat cause it literally weighs a ton ... one loses oneself ...
For those who don't know much about Shinto ...
Beautiful prose, so inspiring. Thank you Oheso.
Thank you for this Oheso. :)
By the way, many people may not be aware, but most Japanese families are BOTH Shinto and Buddhists! They saying is that Shinto is for weddings and Buddhism is for funerals! It is true.
In our house, in most businesses and buildings (and at almost every Buddhist temple I have ever visited) there is a Shinto shrine somewhere on the premises to keep the gods happy. Up until the 19th century, when the government separated them for political reasons, many temples and Shinto shrines were so mixed together in their structures, decorations, practices and such that you could not tell where one ended and the other began. Even today, one finds elements of one religion suddenly popping up in the other. When we had to make big repairs to the buildings at Tsukuba Treeleaf, my wife's family insisted we call a Shinto Priest to perform a ceremony to appease the ground and building spirits. I wrote about that ...
It's traditional in Japan to have a Shinto Priest come out and 'appease the spirits (Kami)' when starting big construction like we are at Treeleaf. My wife insisted.
I don't know so much about appeasing the spirits, but I do know about appeasing my wife. So, we had it done. :) You can see a few minutes of the ceremony here (those Shinto priests sure have cool Heian Age clothes, and, like Japanese Buddhist priests, some smooth dance moves). Unfortunately, it all made Leon start crying (especially when the Kami-nushi, or 'Spirit Master', let out a couple of cries to wake the dead ... listen in the middle for that. Hope it made the spirits smile).
My attitude toward such things is, well, 'Don't know if it will help, but it sure can't hurt'. Some of the rocks, trees, grounds and such around the building ... even the building itself ... sure feel sometimes that they might have a little spirit to them. Who knows?
I don't think I believe in such spirits quite literally beyond the human mind, but I could be wrong. So, I call it "winking at the gods ... giving them the benefit of the doubt, and asking for the benefit of the doubt from them too" ...