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Old 12-22-2010, 05:37 PM   #2
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Kojiki, Misogi, and the spirituality of O Sensei

Hello Matthew,

I quoted the same Motoori Norinaga on kami in Column 8. Here is the quote again.

"Speaking in general, however, it may be said that the word kami signifies first the deities of heaven and earth who appear in the ancient records and the spirits of the shrines where they are worshipped. It is unnecessary to add that it includes birds and beasts, trees and plants, seas and mountains, and so forth. In ancient usage, anything whatsoever which was outside the ordinary, which possessed superior power or was awe-inspiring was called kami. Eminence here does not refer merely to the superiority of nobility, goodness, or meritorious deeds. Evil and mysterious things, if they are extraordinary and dreadful, are also called kami. Among human beings who are called kami, the successive generations of divine emperors are all included. The fact that emperors are also called totsu kami ("distant gods") is because, from the standpoint of common people, they are far-separated, majestic, and worthy of reverence. In lesser degree, we find in the present as well as in ancient times human beings who are kami. Although they may not be accepted as such throughout the country, yet in each province, village and family there are human beings who are kami, each one according to his own proper position. The kami of the divine age were for the most part human beings of that time, and, because the people of the time were all divine, it is called the divine age." (Motoori Norinaga, Kojiki-den, quoted in Nosco, Remembering Paradise, pp. 217-218; de Barry et al., Sources of Japanese Tradition, p. 18.)

I think that if Norinaga had such an idea about kami, his view of exorcising them would have been equally robust. The wife of my (Japanese) doctor (of Chinese medicine) told me that chinkon kishin was so dangerous because you could be possessed by the spirit of the wrong kami if you did not do it properly. She is in her 70s and her beliefs are a mixture of Shingon Buddhism and folk Shinto.

Best wishes,

PAG

P A Goldsbury
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