71-hour Ahmed was not superstitious. He was substitious, which put him in a minority among humans. He didn’t believe in the things everyone believed in but which nevertheless weren’t true. He believed instead in the things that were true in which no one else believed.With Richard Feynman, a situation he faced is that there were theories of light vs the reality of how light really occurs. There are practically outright statements that light is either a particle or a wave, and Feynman basically stated that well, no, so far, those are just stories. Speculation regarding light being a wave or particle is making up metaphors to try and explain light, even as light just goes and does what it does regardless of what is claimed by some official story.
Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn’t believing. It’s where belief stops, because it isn’t needed anymore.One issue very much involved in What Everyone Knows is actual religious practice vs mere faith. What Everyone Knows is that faith is religion and religion is faith. The two aren't just synonymous, they are utterly identical and everyone believes that.
A URI Cooperation Circle is a self-governing group of at least seven members from at least three religions, spiritual expressions, or Indigenous traditions—including atheists and agnostics.With a Cooperation Circle, someone who is religious can carry out some realization or intent that is inspired by that genuinely personal occurrence of religion. At the same time, when working in a Cooperation Circle, that religious practice has the advantage of filtering out anyone who has only faith and is required by that faith to have nothing to do with anyone outside of that mere faith.
Cooperation Circles work on two levels: by tackling important community issues their members care about, and by giving people of different backgrounds a chance to work together. As members work side-by-side on projects that benefit everybody, the resulting interpersonal connections transcend harmful stereotypes and lay the foundation for peaceful coexistence and appreciation of diversity.
12: After the earthquake fire, not in the fire was the Lord, and after the fire a still small sound.In the Christian testament, there is Matthew 6:5-6:
13: And as Elijah heard, he wrapped his face in his mantle, and he went out and stood at the entrance to the cave, and behold a voice came to him and said: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
5: And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6: But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It's seeing through the facade of pretense. It's the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.In the meantime, regardless of being a subtle concept, what is involved is a form of religious practice rather than mere faith. The point of what Gautama practiced and taught, the point of the Buddha-Dharma, is for the practitioner to also become a buddha, and then continue on through whatever may occur while being and remaining a buddha. What definitely does not occur in Buddhism is the worshipping of a buddha. What also does not happen is a hope that some deity or other entity is going to be on hand to do something helpful---if that does actually happen, great, but that's not the practice. Just as seeing is not merely believing, in the practice of the Buddha-Dharma, there is only that ongoing personal direct awareness and experience.
I woke up in the middle of the night. The fear, anxiety, and heaviness of depression were becoming so intense, it was almost unbearable. . . . Every thing was totally alien and almost hostile. . . . And the thought came into my head, “I can’t live with my self any longer.” That thought kept repeating itself again and again.Quoting from a 2003 Telegraph Magazine interview with Tolle, what one should do is
And then suddenly there was a “standing back” from the thought and looking at that thought, at the structure of that thought, “If I cannot live with my self, who is that self that I cannot live with? Who am I? Am I one—or two?” And I saw that I was “two.” There was an “I” and here was a self. And the self was deeply unhappy, the miserable self. And the burden of that I could not live with. At that moment, a disidentification happened. “I” consciousness withdrew from its identification with the self, the mind-made fictitious entity, the unhappy “little me” and its story. And the fictitious entity collapsed completely in that moment, just as if a plug had been pulled out of an inflatable toy. What remained was a single sense of presence or “Beingness” which is pure consciousness prior to identification with form—the eternal I AM. I didn’t know all of that at the time, of course. It just happened, and for a long time there was no understanding of what had happened.
. . . “not to stop thinking, but to step out of being completely entangled in the stream of thinking”. This, he believes, “is the the real meaning of spirituality. People still think spirituality is having certain belief systems — in God or angels — but ‘spiritual’ means to be able to step beyond the conceptual reality in your head. In other words, accessing the dimension of stillness within yourself.”As a somewhat simplified overview, Eckhart Tolle's commentary is Bankei's UBM, 400 years later and written by Tolle in English, instead of having someone taking notes in the Japanese of the 1600s.
There is no relation between him and the body. If you want, you can ask the body . . . When one loses his individuality, through action and wisdom, he becomes free. . . .After a bit, Safran comes up with a nice and direct question of What is the meaning of life? The guru seems stumped, and finally just walks out without an answer, where by that point one of the followers has already stated Whatever has to be said, it will take time. It cannot come in a hurry. . . . It takes time. Noting Tolle, noting Bankei, and going back to Gautama, there was and is still that bit about subtle, deep, and hard to grasp. And, as that guru was reminded, also, subtle, deep, and hard to explain.
Tolle’s story is an example of sudden, unintentional awakening. For me and for many others, the same process happened more gradually, through a series of shifts.Of that fellow from several paragraphs back who points out that enlightenment isn't simply some entertaining amusement ride, his name is Adyashanti, and he is another instructor who teaches in parallel with and is an associate of Kelly.
While the idea of sudden awakening may hold a strong appeal, we need to remember that Eckhart says that it took him ten years to integrate his awakening. I know many people who’ve had similar experiences of awakening but were never able to integrate them. This kind of identity transition does not fit into our conventional cultural understanding of human growth, and so these individuals who experienced sudden awakenings had no context in which to place them. Their experiences were too foreign for them to categorize and make sense of. Many did not have the resources (books and people) that described the process of going through this kind of consciousness shift. Most of these people didn’t know how to familiarize themselves with and stabilize in their new sense of Being.
One day Subhuti was resting underneath a tree when flowers began to fall about him. As he looked around to see where the flowers were coming from, he saw that the gods were the ones throwing the flowers, and so he asked why. We are giving praise for your discourse on nothingness, the gods whispered to Subhuti. But I have given no such discourse, replied Subhuti. Exactly, said the gods. The blossoms continued to shower upon Subhuti as rain.Overall, the point isn't oblivion: Seeking or doing nothingness is much more an observation that if there is no gain in adding to a situation, then don't add anything, and then practice that on all scales and levels of what one does and is . . . as needed, in what situation. And, at times when there is something to do, an email, the groceries, thinking about some logistical issue, going for a walk, then while still doing the practice of awareness/nothingness, just go and do that email, the shopping, the thinking, the walk.
When I try to briefly describe Shinto, I say that it is “the native religious tradition of Japan”. . .And from a bit later in the same text:
First, every word of the definition is controversial. Some people object to “the” on the grounds that there are other traditions that are not Shinto. Some object to “native” on the grounds of external influence, or even origin. Some object to “religious”, and some of those people are Shinto priests. Some object to “tradition”, either because they think there is no single tradition, or because they do not think it has enough history to claim that title. And some object to “of Japan” because they think it is more localised than that, or, in other cases, because they think it is part of a broader tradition that can be found in other countries.
I read, somewhere, a story about a Shinto priest at an international conference of religions who was asked “But what is your theology?”. He is said to have paused, and then replied, “We have no theology. We dance”. I have no idea whether the story is true, but it captures the reality well.With no theology, no scripture, and dancing done by a priest, what about some average practitioner? What does some quite totally random person do that is the practice of Shinto?
. . . here I want to describe the basic rites involved in visiting a jinja to pay your respects to the kami.At the very least, for the most basic practice, all one needs to do is that single person visit to a jinja, purify, bell and coin, bow and clap, and leave. And one only does that when one is so inclined, be that a couple of times a month at some time of one's choosing, be that every day, whatever the individual wishes. Looking online at websites for what are probably rather small jinja, one can see specific reminder notices that the first of the month is coming up, so the jinja is doing some special program because it's the first of the month. And of course, while attending the event, one can do one's monthly or so practice.
First, you stop just outside the torii, and bow very slightly before going through. Once you have passed through the first torii you are within the sacred precincts of the jinja. . . . .
At the purification font, bow very slightly, and then take one of the ladles with your right hand and fill it with water from the font. . . . .
Walk along the sacred path until you reach the prayer hall. . . .
Bow very slightly, then ring the bell and throw a small amount of money into the collection box. . . .
Next, bow deeply twice. . . . After bowing, clap loudly twice, . . . . Finally, bow deeply once more.
You then leave the jinja along the sacred path. When you reach a torii, you should turn back to face the prayer hall, and bow slightly.
Expressing many central ideas in Shinto in English is hard, because of the problems with translation.Of Kami, the following is pulled from Chart's book An Introduction To Shinto.
There are two kinds of problem. One is relatively straightforward: things that are used in Shinto that simply did not exist in English speaking countries, at least until very recently, and thus have no established English name. The other is rather harder. There are quite a few important concepts in Shinto that do not match up well with any concept in English.
The best definition of “kami” may be “what you venerate when practising Shinto”, because Shinto places much more emphasis on what you do than on what you believe. One widely accepted explanation is that “kami” refers to anything that has an outstanding impact on people’s lives, including the kami that appear in the ancient legends of Japan, spectacular natural phenomena such as mountains, oceans, and waterfalls, ancient trees and woodlands, and exceptional human beings.From later in the book:
The nature of kami is also very ambiguous. On the one hand, they are generally thought of as invisible spirits. On the other hand, Mount Fuji is literally a kami according to some traditions, not just the home of an invisible spirit who is the kami of Mount Fuji. (Of course, some other traditions do say that Mount Fuji is the home of the spirit.) Similarly, some kami are human beings, and there are a number of kami venerated today of whom there are many surviving photographs, while other kami have no traditional form at all. . . . .
Although kami are powerful, they are not all-powerful. A number of ceremonies are intended to increase the power of the kami, and many kami are known for being particularly powerful in certain areas, such as scholarship, healing, or farming. Even so, it is not right to think of a kami as being the kami “of” scholarship, for example, because any request can be taken to any kami. Similarly, kami are not all-knowing. One standard form of Shinto ceremony is an announcement ceremony, to tell a kami that something has happened, and a number of important festivals take the kami round an area, in part to show it what is happening and how the area is doing.
Nor are kami necessarily good. There is a very old tradition in Shinto of venerating kami because they are frightening and dangerous, in the hope that the veneration will persuade them to refrain from causing disasters. . . . Thus, the fact that someone or something is venerated as a kami does not necessarily mean that Shinto practitioners think that the kami is admirable, or should be imitated. . . .
By now, it should be clear that “god” is a very bad English translation of “kami”. “Spirit” is better, but still not good, because it decides the ambiguity between the mountain and the spirit in favour of the spirit. This is why I do not translate the word at all. It is also why I talk about “venerating” kami, rather than “worshipping” them. “Worship” is very strongly associated with the idea of an all-powerful creator god, the source and standard of good and evil. “Venerate” is less common, but it is sometimes used for people who have done something that is very impressive. It is, therefore, a better match to the attitude of many fervent Shinto practitioners to the kami. The kami are powerful and important, and must be treated with respect, but they are not the centre of the universe, and did not create it.
Furthermore, the kami are believed to enjoy the offerings of food, sake, and kagura (sacred dance) made during matsuri, and to listen to the norito (prayers). Often, they are believed to answer those prayers.And also:
Looking at Shinto practice, then, we can say that kami are treated as if they are invisible spirits that exist at a particular place, and that are consciously aware of what happens there. They also treated as having the power to answer prayers, by healing illnesses and ensuring success in business, for example. It is difficult to say how many adherents of Shinto actually believe this, but they behave as if they do. . . . .
. . . . there are two categories that are particularly commonly taken to have spirits that serve as kami. These are natural phenomena, and ancestors. Natural phenomena include mountains, rivers, springs, waterfalls, wells, and trees. Animals are not commonly venerated as kami, although they are often venerated as the servants of the kami, and it is not uncommon for kami to take animal form in the myths. Ancestors are exactly what they sound like; many of the kami mentioned in the myths are the notional ancestors of clans that were important at the time, and your ancestors become protecting kami of your family a few months after their death. . . . . .
. . . . There are some ancient kami who appear to be the spirits of artefacts, such as houses or boats. Even more unexpected is the kami of Tamakazura Jinja in Nara Prefecture, who is a fictional character in The Tale of Genji. Tamakazura is not legendary, but fictional: The Tale of Genji is a novel, and was always known to be a novel. The setting is contemporary with the author, but none of the characters existed. While the Catholic Church would never canonise Father Brown (from G. K. Chesterton’s short stories), as saints are, at least officially, not fictional characters, fictionality appears to be no bar to being a kami. Whatever her origins, Tamakazura is a kami now.
In 1956, to mark the tenth anniversary of the establishment of Jinja Honcho, the organisation created and adopted a text that laid out the fundamentals of Jinja Shinto as a religion. My translation is as follows.---Of that reference to the Tenno, the Tenno is the Emperor of Japan, but then, while the Emperor is certainly very involved in Shinto, he is in no way the or a central focus of Shinto.Principles of a Life Honouring the KamiDifferences between Japanese and English make this translation, as with any other, difficult, and so you should not closely analyse the nuances of the translation; they almost certainly differ, in important ways, from those of the original. . . .
The way of the kami (Shinto) is the great way of the eternal heavens and earth, cultivating a noble spirit and serving as the foundation for the creation of peace and harmony. We fulfil our duties by revering the will of the kami and continuing the teachings of our ancestors, bringing the heart of the way ever more into practice, to increase the welfare of the human race. Here, we state these principles to make our goals clear, and aim to promote the great way through their practical application.
We carry out matsuri in bright and pure sincerity, offering thanks for the blessings of the kami and the gifts of our ancestors.
We serve others and the world, establishing the world as the bearers of the words of the kami.
United in harmonious fellowship under the will of the Tenno, we pray for the prosperity of Japan and for the peaceful coexistence and flourishing of the world.
One important ambiguity that does not translate is in the final principle. The word I have translated “the will of the Tenno” is “Omikokoro”, which literally means something like “Great Honourable Heart”. I have translated it this way because that is how it is normally used by the Shinto establishment, but the Japanese is ambiguous. It does not, for example, have a close association with direct orders, and it can also be used to refer to kami in general, not to the Tenno. Thus, it would, linguistically, be legitimate to remove all direct reference to the Tenno from the principles, although that would be misleading at present.So for a variety of summary: There is Shinto, where there are kami, but sometimes kami means That Big Tree Over There and definitely does not mean god. Also, there are priests in Shinto, and sometimes a priest will say that there is no religion involved.
They also don't think of a lot of things they do at jinja as religious activities. In fact, last year, an area in Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu did a survey of all the priests there, and only half of them thought that Shinto was a religion. So if something has to be consciously religious, in order to be Shinto, about half of all Shinto priests aren't doing Shinto.There is another comment that rather fits in with all the careful sorting out of meanings. From the wiki page on Shinto;
Determining the proportions of the country's population who engage in Shinto activity is hindered by the fact that, if asked, Japanese people will often say "I have no religion". Many Japanese avoid the term "religion", in part because they dislike the connotations of the word which most closely matches it in the Japanese language, shukyo. The latter term derives from shu ('sect') and kyo ('doctrine').Noting that faith leads in one direction, where personal religion leads in a different one, for these two comments, there is a very handy different phrasing that is available. Instead of exactly what was just quoted, let us consider slightly different wording:
Official statistics show Shinto to be Japan's largest religion, with over 80 percent of the country's population identified as engaging in Shinto activities. Conversely, in questionnaires only a small minority of Japanese describe themselves as "Shintoists."
In fact, last year, an area in Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu did a survey of all the priests there, and only half of them thought that Shinto was a large scale organized faith . . . .And regarding kami again, noting Chart again:
. . . . if asked, Japanese people will often say "I have no faith" . . .
. . . . Official statistics show Shinto to be Japan's largest personal religious practice, with over 80 percent of the country's population identified as engaging in Shinto activities . . . .
. . . . One widely accepted explanation is that “kami” refers to anything that has an outstanding impact on people’s lives, including the kami that appear in the ancient legends of Japan, spectacular natural phenomena such as mountains, oceans, and waterfalls, ancient trees and woodlands, and exceptional human beings.Therefore, in Shinto, there are the kami, and the kami are all around, but definitely aren't declared by Shinto practitioners to Be The God(ess)((e)s). In turn, the expectation is that one should regularly do something involving kami, just the same.
. . . On the one hand, they are generally thought of as invisible spirits. On the other hand, . . . .
. . . And some object to “of Japan” because they think it is more localised than that, or, in other cases, because they think it is part of a broader tradition that can be found in other countries.Variations happen and research by reading has shortcomings. Granting that, when digging around in print and online, there are those assorted non-Japanese locations noted above with rather a good deal of Keeping In Touch With The Cousins. What about actual Shinto? One non-Japanese location is Amsterdam, in The Netherlands. Amsterdam comes up due to Paul de Leeuw, a Dutch Shinto priest who trained with the Yamakage Shinto School and who has done Shinto ceremonies and corporate ground breaking in Europe since around 1981. In turn, there is Saipan, where the Saipan Katori Shrine is in the Northern Marianas United States Commonwealth. Saipan may be a bit obscure, so how about Hawaii? For Hawaii, there is the Wakamiya Inari Shrine, the Izumo Taishakyo Mission, Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha – Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu, and also the Hawaii Daijingu Kyodan, and apparently some others. In Granite Falls, Washington, on the US mainland, there is the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. In Los Angeles there is Shinto Shrine of Shusse Inari in America, where the website states that there isn't yet a formal jinja location, but there is a YouTube channel.
The kami enshrined in the Hawaii Daijingu Temple are many; The Sun Goddess Amaterasu Omikami, the myriads of kami who flank Amaterasu Omikami, the national father George Washington, the nation’s restorer Abraham Lincoln and other men and women of distinguished services, King Kamehameha, King Kalakaua, and other men and women of great services to the state of Hawaii.---Yes, while noting that kami are sometimes documented, notable, historic figures, the kami at that jinja do include the American presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, along with Hawaii's King Kamehameha and King Kalakaua.