Saturday, October 24, 2009
The news was talking about a man who was released from prison after 20 years. He was accused of murderer but was discovered as false charge. There was a TV show about his life after the release.
He was going into a Ramen shop. I was touched by the way he was eating the noodles. You can see that he was really enjoying the moment. He was not acting. It was coming from inside and I could tell even from the TV screen. Inside the prison, they probably wont’ be serving such good hot ramen. Being away for 20 years from tasty food can really make a man look so happy with one bowl of ramen. It was beautiful to look at.
In Shinto, a “naorai” (直会) is held after a *shinji, Shinto ritual. At a naorai, the participants gather to enjoy the offerings (food and sake) after the ritual. Many people think it’s just a party to celebrate the ending of the ritual. But it is actually a part of the ritual. It is an important ending for god and human to merge as they share the offerings.
So if you only attended the ritual and skip the naorai, it means that you didn’t complete the whole. The offerings will be filled with divine energy from the god during the ritual. Thus by eating the offerings after the ritual, you become one with god.
I am suggesting that the woman in the house should be taking care of the home altar. She should be the priestess of the house. The reason for this comes from the same concept as the naorai.
When the woman of the house who takes care of the altar cooks meals for the family, the same thing as the naorai is happening. If you live alone and take care of the altar by yourself and cook for yourself, that would be the same as well.
Naorai is nao=直 and rai=会. 直 means directly. 会 means to meet. So the meaning of naorai is to meet directly with the god.
The meals should be taken as a *shinji. One should eat slowly to appreciate it. Laughter is another good thing to have during a meal.
Even in the mythology, it talks about the importance of laughter. When the sun goddess Amaterasu-ohomikami hide herself in the cave after knowing there are so many crimes in the world, the laughter of the party outside made her come out.
Going back to the story about the man who was false charged, he went to the park after eating ramen. The children came around him probably because of the camera shooting. Surrounded by children, he looked very happy with an innocent smile. In the interview, he told about being lonely living alone that he didn’t have anyone to talk to. In prison, at least he had others to talk to. In any case life is hard. But if you could come to a realization for what you have, rather than what you don’t have, you will be able find peace.
Thank you for letting us live
*Shinji <神事>: Shinto ritual, divine service