Monday, November 26, 2007

Applied Shinto: An Introduction

Part of the reason I started this webpage was to give me an outlet for some essays centered around a certain concept that I've become fairly obsessed with. I've been collecting notes for these essays, expanding outward from this central concept, but I've been increasingly hindered by one problem: I couldn't think of a word for it.

This has irritated me to no end for two reasons.  First, that the English language, which I'm kind of a fan of, hasn't seen fit to develop a word for this concept that I believe to be very important; and second, that it's damn hard to write about something you don't have a word for. So to solve the latter problem, I decided to pick a more-or-less arbitrary word, "umami", for a while simply because it was a word in Japanese for a concept (a fifth taste sensation) that apparently the English language also hasn't seen fit to develop a single word for. I even started to justify the choice by likening the "meaty" umami flavor to the "meatiness" of topic of my essays, but that just made me more frustrated not less.

Otorii at Itskushima Shrine

I think I've found my word however, and in discovering it I learned that I (unsurprisingly) am not the first person to become obsessed with this concept. I was on the right track though because the word is at least in Japanese, and the concept seems to underlie much of Japan's native religion, Shinto.

I will make this clear up front: I am not a Shinto scholar, and I probably can't even be rightfully called a Shinto student. Like most religions, Shinto has many interpretations and meanings to different people. But that very fact combined with the seeming open-mindedness of Shinto's followers makes me feel a little bit better about taking hold of it and building my own philosophy atop.

I also want to make clear that I do not feel Shinto lends any sort of theological or supernatural weight to my arguments. My belief is that most religions arose from man attempting to make sense of the universe, intuiting explanations for the world around him and laws to create harmony between people in the absense of enough data. To a greater or lesser extent, I think most major religions do a good job of making sense of what's important in life and how people should relate to one another, although most seem to accumulate parasitic dogma that distracts from the central truths that make the faith useful.

Shinto has its share of spirituality and mythology and I believe these stories are best taken as parable rather than literal truth. I am certain that there was a time when people believed them to be literal, but as we have pushed back mythology with science, I think the philosophical thinking behind the myth can still be relevant as a framework for looking at the world. I find this to be particularly true with Shinto, but the important thing is the useful framework itself, not any inherent mystical truth in the faith.

Okay, all that out of the way, I'll define my new word (and a second bonus word!) and begin describing this concept that has taken hold of me.

Continue reading here.

4 comments:

yian said...

heh. "meaty" is an awesome word.

dada24 Xu said...

ugg australia outlet
reebok shoes
vans store
cheap oakley sunglasses
polo ralph lauren outlet
micahel kors
michael kors purses
ralph lauren uk
reebok
valentino bags
ray ban outlet store
designer handbags wholesale
nmd adidas
nike free run flyknit
rolex watches for sale
ray ban outlet store online
cartier love ring
fitflop uk
michael kors outlet online
kobe 11
nike air max 90
coach outlet online
stan smith adidas
ferragamo
true religion uk
louis vuitton handbags
cheap ray bans
air max 90
prada sunglasses wholesale
polo ralph lauren outlet
converse sale
chi flat iron
pandora charms
rolex submariner
discount oakley sunglasses
20160714caiyan

dada24 Xu said...

rolex submariner
discount oakley sunglasses
ugg outlet
yeezy boost 750
cheap ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet stores
canada goose uk
ferragamo outlet
michael kors outlet online
yeezy boost 350 balck
adidas shoes
moncler uk
pandora jewelry outlet
nike trainers
nike flyknit racer
discount nike air max
louis vuitton purse
white converse
nike store uk
mlb jerseys wholesale
nike cortez shoes
coach outlet online
coach factory outlet online
coach factory outlet
michael kors outlet online
true religion outlet
fitflops
louis vuitton purse
moncler jackets
louis vuitton outlet online
dior sunglasses 2016
ray bans
20160713caiyan

shengda xu said...

coach outlet store online clearance
ralph lauren sale clearance uk
broncos jerseys
jordan shoes
giants jerseys
adidas yeezy boost
michael kors outlet store
hollister clothing store
kate spade bags
ray ban sunglasses sale
xushengda0325

Post a Comment