Re: Omoto-kyo Theology
I read the interview of Abe Sensei. The translation is rough in patches, but a fascinating insight even so.
Shaun, since you have had an indirect connection to Abe Sensei through Matsuoka Sensei, your observations on a few of these points would be of interest.
Abe Sensei clearly spoke of OSensei in terms somewhat different than protraying him as a simple follower of Omoto. Unlike Charles, it seems to me that Abe Sensei's point was to emphasize the distinction between OSensei's thought and that of Omoto, placing him in a far more traditionalist lineage. It is possible that this is true, but it also may be revisionism of a sort to disassociate an honored teacher from a movement that was not well thought of among people of influence in Japan.
"O'Sensei described something about spirituality using easy-to-understand Ohmotokyo-like words, in other words, "kotodama". "
I would like to know what Japanese expression Abe Sensei used was translated as "Omotokyo-like" and its use in other contexts.
He also deals with the Kojiki as though to sever its mythological interprtetation from its use for practice of kotodama. The way it is described seems analogous to a cyphertext read out with a key to obtain plaintext. This is very suggestive to me. There are strong similarities in this sensibility with mantrayana. Nevertheless, Abe Sensei seems to criticize specific aspects of the mythological figures in Kojiki as being too Chinese in derivation, an implicit swipe against ryobu shinto.
"O'Sensei strongly insisted to understand "Kojiki" thoroughly. Story at the mythological time in "Kojiki" is our back bone. Therefore, O'Sensei told us to read "Kojiki" thoroughly and read it by way of "Kotodama". This is what was O'Sensei's desire and our mission."
On the significance of center and breath, Abe Sensei also seems to bring perspective to understanding of Minakanushi no kami, as the kami of the center.
"It means that the smallest of oneself is a dot, which is 'There is a location, but there is no size.' The center of universe does not have size, either. ... [Of breath in the abdomen] It becomes such a small thing, like "there is a location, but there is no size." This is Minakanushi of breathing.
Again, I would love to have the Japanese to compare, and to see what other connotations his choice of words would encompass.
In light of my inquiry into broader and deeper connections, (which David criticizes, although not unfairly) I cannot help but observe that Abe Sensei's description of the qualities of Minakanushi no kami as written in English seems strongly to echo a description of God that has been a topic of metaphysics in the Christian world since the twelfth century.
This translated version was ascribed to Alain de Lille. It was later adopted by theologians Nicholas of Cusa and Pascal in their metaphysics:
"God is an intelligible sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."
The version in the Pseudo-Hermetic text of the Liber XXIV Philosophorum ("Book of 24 Philosophers") is:
"Deus est sphaera infinita, cuius centrum ubique, circumferentia nusquam." "God is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere, circumference nowhere."
The Pseudo-Hermetic Liber dates to the eleventh century, but of whole Corpus Hermeticum we have only parts, and the Liber text may be a medieval copy or collection from some lost original(s), but it is impossible to know. The Corpus itself reliably dates to the third century of the Christian era together with a number of related Gnostic texts.
While I feel certain that David has already jumped ship on my voyage at this point, these connections are important. Whether they bespeak direct relationship or merely show parallel development is not crucial. This is not mere idle speculation either. Ideas matter. They are the weapons and tools of the mind, as sharp and dangerous as any blade, and as liable to misuse or tragic accident.
Abe Sensei's description gives a powerful point of reference in the Western tradition for the ideas and techniques the OSensei has communicated. This kind of connection allows them more easily to be translated into a native intellectual idiom.
In light of Oscar Ratti's recent untimley death, the singular phrase "Dynamic Sphere" cannot help but remind me of this. For that specific idea imparts a meaningful way of digesting and dwelling upon the function and further exploration of the techniques we practice.