Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The meaning of “sanpai” 参拝- pay a visit to a shrine

Nowadays the shrine I would consciously visit is Ise Jingu - The Grand Shrine of Ise. As for Hakusan, I sense the mountain itself is a shrine, so I go to look at the mountain from a distance and send my gratitude. In the old days, I used to visit different shrines in the Kinki district as I was called. There are shrines where god spirits often resides, and there are shrines where gods have been distant. God spirits are free moving energy. When I say the gods are distant, it does not mean there are no gods at all. When a person with sincere gratitude is paying a visit, a god will come around. We all are a household of our “living innate god”. Visiting a shrine means, “god spirit in a living human being” visiting “the free moving god spirit with no physical body”. A shrine is a place for two gods to meet. In a shrine, they hold a mirror as a godly body. This means that you are there to look at your own innate god.

In Shinto, from ancient times, there is a type of spiritual exercise called Jireihai, which means to honor oneself in the mirror. You are paying a visit to a shrine simply to mirror your own god within. A shrine is a place that provides you the opportunity. The important part is not the shrine but the person who is visiting. Naturally, if the shrine is kept sacred, your chance to meet your innate god will be greater. Your innate god is a derivative of Kongenshin. It holds all factors of all gods. When you visit different shrines, you will meet a different part of your innate god. When I visit Ise Izawa-no-miya, I will witness Amaterasu Ohomikami within myself. When I visit Ookawa Shrine in Nara, I witness the retainer dragon within myself. There are many shrines all over Japan. Wherever you go, you will see a different part of yourself. The important fact is that the god is within yourself, not in the shrine. A shrine only holds the space for you to meet your innate god.

I hope you can see the difference now, how paying a visit to a shrine to ask for your wish is wrong and what the correct idea of a shrine is.

When you put your hands together at a shrine, this means you are “facing the mirror”. You are facing yourself (innate god) and returning to it. A person who sends a curse at a shrine will be cursing him/herself. If you send a wish at a shrine, you will be in a situation where you will always have to be wishing. When you send gratitude, you will be in an environment where you will always be thanked.

The righteous gods do not like elusiveness. Shrines are originally a place to send gratitude for good harvest only. How did it become a place to ask for wishes? It is a tragedy.

Q.. What is the proper manner for an offertory.
A.. I do not through money. I only send gratitude. When I have the chance I will send a donation.

Q.. When you are sending a prayer at a shrine, do you need to tell your name and address?
A.. No need at all. God is not such a needy existence.

Ikashite-itadaite Arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live

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