Friday, August 29, 2008

The Grand Shrine of Ise, Gegū

I hope you will have a chance to visit The Grand Shrine of Ise or Ise-Jingu, Gegū one day. If you go in the morning, you will be able to see the golden pillar of light rising high into the heavenly sky. The Light Pillar can be seen at the sengū* open ground near the building. The shrine itself seems to be a device that brings in energy from heaven and to emanate all around. I sense the energy that runs through the open ground is directed towards the North Star. Every time I have visited this Shrine of Ise, I have always been able to witness this line of ki. It cannot be seen later in the afternoon. When I am in a very good physical condition, I am able to see the Big Dipper as well.

Gegū* (outer shrine) is truly beyond logic. It is absolutely a miracle that this exists. Why this place out of all the places on earth? Well just visit and enjoy the place.

I don't’ mean to be secretive about it. It is true the Naigū (inner shrine) is a very honorable place where the Imperial family spirits reside, but when I first visited the Gegū, I was stunned. A champagne gold pillar of light was rising from the ground towards heaven. And the light was beaming toward the North Star. I don’t think there is anything like this any where in the world. If a truly gifted religionist came to this place, Christian or Jewish or any other religion, that person should be able to understand what I mean. I know we would feel very close to each other.

I want all religionist in the world to visit Gegū. The Jewish rabbi will definitely feel Jehovah. A devoted Christian will feel Jesus Christ. A devoted Muslim will feel the breath of Allah. This place is on the level of planet earth not on the level of human, thus it is beyond one religion.

I feel this Gegū is Kongen-shin, the Root God. I sense that all the gods were created from this existence that has no name. This place will connect you to the highest conscious that you believe in. If you have the qualification, you will know.

On the tip of the pyramid, there is one root energy source. This energy divides unlimitedly and spreads down. Whichever side you climb from, the top is the same tip. One will reach the same source. In all religions, when you reach attainment, you reach the same place. I sense that this Grand Shrine of Ise Gegū is directly linked to the Root source.

Ikashite-itadaite Arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live

*Sengū 遷宮: The transfer of the deity to a newly constructed shrine. The whole shrine structures are renewed every 20 years since 690 AD.

*Gegū 外宮: The outer shrine is written as “Geku” at Ise-Jingu official site and other road marks. Also Naigū (inner shrine) is written as Naiku. However the author insists that it should be pronounced in “g” instead of the “k”.

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

Monday, August 25, 2008

Twenty years of visiting Ise - Part 5

We took the bus to go to Naigū. It has been years since I have taken a public bus. My wife and I were getting some change ready. It was 200 yen until the last stop all of the sudden, it went up to 410 yen! I would recommend you to get off at Okage-yokocho and walk. It will be cheaper.

We got to Naigū around 1:30 pm. The heat was intense. For older people and people with health problems, I would recommend to visit early in the morning. Spiritually, it is always better before 9:30 am. I have heard that many of the African tribes who worship the sun believe that the sun god only appears at sunrise and sunset. During the day, the sun god is not present.

When I sent my gratitude at the honden, main shrine, of Naigū, I sensed the seventh rank of Amaterasu-Ohomikami. I could see one Light Pillar standing toward heaven on the left side of the ground of sengu. The path behind the main shrine toward Aramatsuri-no-miya, the scenery is quite spectacular. However, this time, a fence was made and was no longer able to see the view. This time I didn’t sense anything at Aramatsuri-no-miya. I bought a Ken-barai-fuda*(charm) at the Naigū shrine office.

After leaving the shrine, we went to Okage-yokocho to have some ice shaves. When I looked at my shoes, it was covered with white dust from the gravel walk. I was going to clean it when we got back to the hotel, but ended up wearing it all the way back home. I felt this could be a souvenir for my house. Instead of taking the bus, we took a taxi back to the parking lot. If you are more than a party of four, it will be cheaper to take a taxi. During the taxi ride, the taxi driver told us an interesting story. He said that due to the exposure to the sunray, skin diseases are occurring within the taxi drivers. They had requested UV protection sheets to be applied on the car windows but was rejected. He said, “Even in Ise, we might need sun glasses like the one they wear at the South Pole,” kind of half joking and laughing.

After saying goodbye to my sister’s family, we went to a Shinto goods store near the entrance of Gegū and bought a hemp bark. I apply this bark to the tip of the core bar on my eight-legged altar. The god spirits reside on tree barks.

The next day, we went all the way to Sakamoto, Shiga Prefecture to a special soba restaurant. This Tsuruki-soba is a purveyor to the Imperial Household. The restaurant built 120 years ago had a nice atmosphere. I sensed that this area is a patrol course for the monkey ogres, who are the kenzoku spirits of Susanoo in the lower rank. Maybe it has to do with being close to the shrine, Hiyoshi-Taisha*. Such as this soba restaurant, when the local spirits are worshipped, they would receive protection and last long. The trip has come to an end. We drove back home looking at Lake Biwa on the way.

Ikashite-itadaite Arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live

Ken-barai-fuda 剣祓札:A rare charm sold specially at The Grand Shrine of Ise (or Ise-jingu). It is rare because it has a special kind of tree bark wrapped on the top of the wooden piece inside the charm which is the old traditional way of making a proper charm.

Hiyoshi-Taisha 日吉大社:Located in Sakamoto, Shiga. The shrine was first built in the 8th century but was burnt when Oda Nobunaga destroyed the shrine along with Enrayku-ji temple. Hideyoshi Toyotomi constructed the existing buildings in the last quarter of the16th century. His name during childhood was “Hiyoshi-maru” and his nickname was “Saru” which means monkey.