Monday, March 11, 2019

Carpe Diem #1624 Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage ... Shinbutsu-shugo

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful Kai. This month we are on a pilgrimage straight through Kii peninsula, we are walking the Kumano Kodo or "ancient road". And it's a joy to walk this path. This path is once started by a new religion ... Shinbutso-shugo.

Kumano Sanzan combined the Shinto and Buddhist faiths into one, known as Shinbutsu-shugo (literally the convergence of Buddhism and Shinto). The notion that deities (kami) are present in all things on the earth is deeply embedded into Japanese culture from ancient times. White paper folded into the shape of lightning and hung at shrines delineate areas where kami are believed to preside.

When Buddhism arrived in Japan in the 6th century, Shinto deities were identified with the different forms of the Buddha, to create Shinbutsu-shugo.

Shinbutsu shūgō, in Japan, amalgamation of Buddhism with the indigenous religion Shintō. The precedents for this amalgamation were laid down almost as soon as Buddhism entered Japan in the mid-6th century, and the process of blending Buddhism with Shintō has dominated the religious life of the people up to the present. Even today Japanese frequently retain in their homes both Shintō god shelves (kamidana) and Buddhist altars (butsudan) and observe Shintō rites for marriage and Buddhist rites for funerals.

The pattern of coexistence first began to emerge in the Nara period (AD 710–784). Before construction of the Daibutsu (“Great Buddha”) at Nara in AD 741, the proposal to build the statue was first reported to Amaterasu Ōmikami, the Shintō sun goddess, at the Ise Shrine, the chief shrine of Japan. Aid was also requested of the kami (god) Hachiman, and a branch of the (Shintō) Usa Hachiman Shrine on the island of Kyushu was built in the compound of the (Buddhist) Tōdai Temple to protect it. From that time a practice developed of building Shintō shrines in Buddhist temple compounds and temples or pagodas near Shintō shrines, and also of reciting Buddhist scriptures at Shintō shrines.

Daibutsu no Nara (Great Buddha at Nara)

In the Heian period (9th–12th century), Shintō kami came to be identified as incarnations of the Buddha, and for a time Shintō priests were dominated by Buddhist ecclesiastics and were relegated to a secondary role even in Shintō rites. During the general spiritual awakening of the Kamakura period (AD 1192–1333), however, Shintō attempted to emancipate itself from Buddhist domination, and the Ise Shintō (q.v.) movement claimed that Shintō divinities were not incarnations of the Buddha but that buddhas and bodhisattvas (buddhas-to-be) were rather manifestations of Shintō kami.

sunlight plays with naked bodies

entwined limbs

(C) Chèvrefeuille

I hope you have enjoyed this episode it's more about the spiritual background of Kumano Kodo pilgrimage. It will not be an easy task to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form inspired on this episode, but ... well no problem at all ...

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until March 18th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!

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