Syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism
In ancient Japan, the Shinto religion and Buddhism used to coexisted and amalgamated for a long time in the form of a synchronization of Shinto and Buddhism.
Therefore, it is important to know about Shinto as well as ZEN Buddhism to understand Japanese culture.
If our life is on the good balance of “Being” and “Doing”, as Eckhart Tolle says, ZEN Buddhism is for “Being”, then what brings us for “Doing”?
I personally think that Shinto takes that role, “doing”.
神道 SHINTO kanji means “The Way of the Gods”.
People pray at shrines to manifest something.
An encounter concept of Buddhism’s “being” or “emptiness”, Shinto’s “manifestation” or ”creation” could be “doing”.
Every one of us has prayed at least once and there must be many many prayers we have made, however, some prayers come true and some don’t. Why is that?
The secret was hidden in words.
The important key is 鏡 KAGAMI (Mirror).
Let’s take a look at the word.
Before we take into the word, 鏡 KAGAMI, we can ask ourselves a ZEN question, “Who are we?”, “Who are you?”, “Who am I?”…
It must be hard to believe that for Christians or Muslims because for them there is only one God in the universe.
Also, even for Asians who believe in multiple Gods like Japan, India, China, it would be difficult to see themselves as Gods, since religious people are dependent on Gods.
If you study several spiritual methods, ultimately, all the teachings lead us to the same truth.
Buddha says we all are “no-thing”, “empty”, and “infinity”, that is 空 KUU (SUNYATA). At the same time, we all have “the Buddha Nature” within.
Actually, Jesus says that “You are God”, too.
“Is it not written in your law, I said, You are Gods?” (John 10:34).
In Shinto, it may be easier to see the concept, as the name itself already implies the meaning, “The Way of Gods” 神道 SHINTO.
It has a word, 分け御霊 WAKEMITAMA, which means our spirits are separated from the Source.
Or it can also say that the energy from Gods can be shared with things or spirits.
OK, I know, it is hard to believe, but when we have miracles in our lives (you may have experienced one or two or more), we felt something incredible, right?
I have some miracle experiences, at those times, I was “ego-less”, and true faith that I was able to do it without logical reasons.
One of the ancient wisdom is hidden in the word, 鏡 KAGAMI “Mirror”. It explains the manifestation process in one word. Let’s play with the words 🙂 .
鏡 KAGAMI means Mirror, which is a “substitute for God” in Shinto (The way of the Gods).
Many shrines put a mirror as a replacement of Gods to pray to.
Mirror reflects you.
You are praying to yourself to manifest something, which means that YOU ARE GOD.
Also, if we look at the words:
- 鏡 KA GA MI（mirror) – 我 GA （ego) = 神 KA MI (God)
- KA GA MI – (minus) “GA” = (equals to) KA MI
- かがみ ー が ＝ かみ
- Mirror – Ego = God
Mirror reflects yourself, so it can be:
YOU – EGO = GOD
You are God / I am God
If you diminish your ego, then you are God (or it could say that authentic-self has the same essence of God).
When you realize that you are God/Spaciousness/Divine/Universe/Love etc,
You have the ability to manifest things.
自分 JIBUN ”I” = Separated-self / Know Thyself
Also, the Japanese have many expressions of English “I”.
自分、私、我…and some more.
Interestingly, the subject is usually omitted in Japanese sentences.
One reason is it’s obvious who is speaking, but another reason, I think, is that the ancient people knew that there is no-subject or no-self.
自分 JIBUN means “self/I”.
- 自 self/own will
- 分 separation/knowing
So the deeper meaning of it is “I” = “separated-self”, who is separated from the Universe/Source/God…
Furthermore, we separated ourselves by our own will, it is maybe to learn something on the Earth to better ourselves or to join and experience this “human transformation” all together. I don’t know, but I feel excited, although it is sometimes painful and struggling to let go of my ego and painbody.
In addition, if you take the meaning of 分 BUN/WAKARU (knowing), 自分 JIBUN “I” can be “Know Thyself”.
So, the Japanese “I” 自分 JIBUN implies the deeper meaning of “Knowing that I am the separated-self from the Universe/Essence/God”.
You are Me, We are all ONE
Interestingly, 自分JIBUN can be “You” in Kansai region.
You are Me.
You are a reflection of my inner world.
I am God, also You are God, too.
We are all ONE.
Here are some more words can mean both “I” and “You” in Japanese.
- TEMAE 手前 TEMEE
- WARE 我 WARE
- JIBUN 自分 JIBUN
八百万の神 “Eight Millions of Gods”
One more thing to add, it is said that there are 八百万の神 YAOYOROZU no KAMI “Eight Millions of Gods” in Shrine Shinto (The way of the Gods). Eight means infinity, so it means the essence of God is in all the things and human-beings. We are all Gods including nature, artificial things, and mankind.
Sometimes, or most of the times for me, it is difficult to stay in the concept with the unconscious people around, and seeing the damaged earth. But I try to remember that we all have the same essence, and challenging situations and suffering can be a chance to awake. Plus, all those negative thoughts and pains are in me too, as ET says that the outer world is a reflection of my inner statement, “Mirror”. But we can choose to stay awaken by our own will, so that we can affect others with our lights and the essence of God to others to make the earth a better place.
人間 NINGEN = Human-being / Human-spaciousness
One last thing I want to share here about the secret in languages.
As Eckhart Tolle says our essence is “Spaciousness” or “Being”,
Human-being in English is the same as 人間 NINGEN “Human-spaciousness” in Japanese.
- 人 human
- 間 space in between/spaciousness
We have two aspects, one is human and the other is “being-ness” or “spaciousness”.
“doing” : “being”
I love learning languages and universal intelligence hidden in words.
Eckhart Tolle – Conscious Manifestation
You can deepen ZEN philosophy from Eckhart Tolle‘s teaching.