Saturday, July 12, 2014

528: Shinto..

In the previous lecture I stated that one of the characteristics of Shinto was ancestor worship. Someone in the audience claimed that this is not the case.

Of course I have to rely on sources and I always wish to be accurate. So I did some extra research on the subject. 

Thus I learnt, that in ‘Kami, Death and Ancestral Kami’, published in the Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Shinto Studies (1955), 

professor Delmer Brown of the Institute of East Asian Studies of the University of California, examined how exactly the worship of ancestral kami might have been conjoined to the animism of old,

which means that my source, in this case professor Graham Parkes stated correctly that that Shinto also means ancestor worship today. 

It might well be the case that some specific branch of Shinto today does not believe in “kami” (the spirits) of ancestors present in the great Shrines.

I can add, that ,indeed, in the very beginning, before Chinese influences entered Japan in Shinto the “spirit”  of the mountain had no independent corporeal existence. It was just the mountain itself.

Another important idea in Shinto is that the Japanese nation is one large, extended family, with the emperor-as high priest and "father"-at the head. 

This notion began to be literalized in the so-called nativist philosophies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, 

which held that the Japanese imperial family was directly descended from the gods of the primeval period.

In the 1930s this even stimulated the idea of superiority over all other races among ultra-nationalist groups.Also Yukio Mishima cherished such ideas.

And there it begins to become philosophical for me: the way we answer the question “Who Am I?”

For some reason homo sapiens is inclined or willing to believe, that some individuals will answer this question different from us.

I mean, for instance, the Arab califs after 632 CE all tried to “prove” that they were direct descendants of Muhammad, which justified their right to rule over others.

And here in Japanese thinking we see the same phenomenon. According to Brown, it was during the sixth century that some of the leading clans began to foster belief that their putative founders should be worshipped as kami.   

It was a time of instability when clans sought legitimacy, and the idea was stimulated by the introduction from China of more advanced forms of ancestor worship. 

Again we see that assuming that some humans are more special than others, is used to legitimize an alleged right to rule over others.

In the Netherlands we too have such a peculiar situation, where someone is head of the State by birth and is said to have royal blood.

Fortunately in our case this head of State has little political meaning, but yet a great influence on how people think about how a country should be organized.

Like in Japan where there is still an emperor like we have a king, our political organization is based on free vote and parliamentary democracy.

And yet, when people are interviewed, for instance, many say how good it is to have a king, completely forgetting the weird way, how he got his job and how his “power” is justified.

Sometimes that scares me…..Thank you … ^_^

The Discussion

[13:17] herman Bergson: .
[13:17] Chantal:
[13:17] herman Bergson: If you like.....the floor is yours :-)
[13:18] Bejiita Imako:
[13:18] herman Bergson: Well Gemma has an elected president , so she wont bother about this issue I guess ^_^
[13:18] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:18] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:18] Bejiita Imako: its an interesting subject indeed
[13:19] Paolo Rousselot: look at the extremes though
[13:19] Areyn Laurasia: sorry for being late, I'm still catching up reading the text :)
[13:19] herman Bergson: What do you mean Paolo?
[13:19] Chantal: Areyn
[13:19] Paolo Rousselot: one could say the Dalai Lama "inherited" his "position"
[13:20] Gemma Allen: well
[13:20] herman Bergson: yes....applies to him too.....
[13:20] Gemma Allen: oone way of putting it
[13:20] herman Bergson: very weird way to get that job.....
[13:20] Paolo Rousselot: with the same arrogance as past kings & emperors today's Putin rules with impunity
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: strange it is
[13:20] Paolo Rousselot: the same could be said for the Koch Brothers in the U.S.
[13:20] herman Bergson: That is the privilege of the dictator, Paolo
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: its typical dictator statements indeed that they are sent from god ect
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: so people will not object him
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: and he can then do what he want
[13:21] herman Bergson: can be said of all persons who think they have a special right to something
[13:21] Chantal: thinks about North Korea...
[13:22] Paolo Rousselot: yes Chan
[13:22] Paolo Rousselot: and Assad in Syria
[13:22] herman Bergson: Most horrible example, I think....
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:22] Paolo Rousselot: but the same position, when exercised with grace and humility....
[13:22] herman Bergson: But the question is "why is this idea produced by the human mind"
[13:23] Paolo Rousselot: can produce a truly exceptional leader, one worth respecting
[13:23] herman Bergson: and besides that...even believed by large crowds
[13:23] Paolo Rousselot: seems a 2 fold question
[13:23] herman Bergson: yes.....
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: hmm, seems to do more harm and suffering then good though
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: esp in north korea’s case
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: also look what hitler did
[13:24] Chantal: Itsme
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: brainwashing and then mass murder
[13:24] herman Bergson: Hello Itsme :-)
[13:24] itsme Frederix: Hi all
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: kimm jong does the same
[13:24] Areyn Laurasia: hi itsme
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hi Itsme
[13:24] Paolo Rousselot: was thinking about this a bit before logging in
[13:24] bergfrau Apfelbaum: hey:-) Itsme
[13:24] itsme Frederix: bergfrau Hi Hi
[13:24] Gemma Allen: hihi
[13:25] Paolo Rousselot: going to as close to the source as possible
[13:25] itsme Frederix: Gemma and all other oldies
[13:25] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:25] Paolo Rousselot: Hi Itsme
[13:25] Paolo Rousselot: we view the world through 2 lenses
[13:25] herman Bergson: is a nice problem to think about....
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:25] Paolo Rousselot: indeed
[13:26] herman Bergson: the metaphysical justification of power
[13:26] Areyn Laurasia: I'm confused by tonight's topic
[13:26] herman Bergson: What is confusing you Areyn?
[13:27] Areyn Laurasia: How are the three tied together? Shinto, ancestor worship and royalty?
[13:27] herman Bergson: By the idea that some human beings are more special than other human beings....
[13:28] Paolo Rousselot: perceptions of superiority?
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: i gues so
[13:28] Areyn Laurasia: viewed from a different lens
[13:28] herman Bergson: which in the case of Shinto is justified by saying that these human beings are of divine descendance....
[13:28] herman Bergson: in other cases  because they are born from royal blood...
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: these 2 use to be the main ideas
[13:29] herman Bergson: and again in other cases because they claim to have received a message from Allah or who ever...
[13:29] Chantal:
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:29] herman Bergson: In all cases they are more than jsut biological organisms like we are....
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: half man half god
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: at least they think so
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: states that
[13:30] herman Bergson: They have some special link....or quality who nobody can see
[13:30] Areyn Laurasia: I don't know much about Shinto, I thought it's about the essence of the elements. As for ancestor worship, is that not paying respect to the memory of past loved ones? Visiting a cemetery and lighting a candle or bringing some flowers... how is that related to royalty and superiority?
[13:31] Chantal: I doubt all of them think so Bejiita... as Herman said we have a king, but I doubt he believes he is half god... sentenced is more like it
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: there i guess its more of a descendant system
[13:31] herman Bergson: It is because the epmeror is said to be of divine descendancy.....
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: like here in sweden we also have a royal family
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: works somewhat same way
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: but he also have no power
[13:32] Areyn Laurasia: no royal family in Finland :)
[13:32] Chantal:
[13:32] herman Bergson: But Shinto is indeed also a belief which cherish the respect of past generations
[13:33] Paolo Rousselot: there you go Herman
[13:33] Paolo Rousselot: arrogance vs. humility
[13:33] Paolo Rousselot: is the position seized or inherited?
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: japans system seems to be more 'nice' at least in general then some other cultures and religions
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: even if there was rough times
[13:34] Paolo Rousselot: except when you take into account what they did prior to WWII
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: and also these rough stuff is not to be seen today as with islam where its still going on, wars wars more wars all in the name of god
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes I would not say that  Bejiita...
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: Japan is nothing like that
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: but i have not all details either, very complex stuff
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: but 2 complete different cultures indeed
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes indeed....especially when you look at its religions
[13:36] Paolo Rousselot: both Japan & Germany had a heavy dose of humility & humanity shoved down their throats after WWII
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:36] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: hehehee
[13:36] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:36] Paolo Rousselot: Middle East countries haven't experience that nor has the U.S.
[13:36] herman Bergson: In japan after the sith century when Buddhisn e came to Japan they just built buddhist temples next to the Shinto shrines
[13:36] Gemma Allen: now japan is looking for closer relations with us here
[13:37] Gemma Allen: for protection
[13:37] herman Bergson: We're moving now into politics :-)
[13:37] Gemma Allen: yep
[13:37] Bejiita Imako:
[13:37] Paolo Rousselot: yup - sorry
[13:38] Areyn Laurasia: back to plato's version of an ideal state ruled by that of a philosopher and king?
[13:38] herman Bergson: I guess you'd better study on the cultural phenomenon that on e the one hand soem humans mean that they are more human than others and on the other hand the masses that cheer a leader :-)
[13:39] herman Bergson: That was the Islamic idea too Areyn.....the state ruled by the imams
[13:39] herman Bergson: They literally adopted that idea from Plato
[13:39] Paolo Rousselot: Areyn, I'd like to know more about that
[13:40] herman Bergson: the Politeia of Plato, Paolo....
[13:40] herman Bergson: where the philosophers should rule because only they had the real knowledge
[13:40] Paolo Rousselot: thanks, I'll look it up
[13:41] herman Bergson: Before you all get extra homework :-))
[13:41] Areyn Laurasia: so it's a natural tendency to stray from philosophical ideas to politics? :)
[13:41] herman Bergson: May I thank you for your participation again
[13:41] Bejiita Imako:
[13:41] Paolo Rousselot: culture always mixes it up, don't you think?
[13:41] herman Bergson: They are really close of course Areyn....
[13:41] Chantal: Thank you Herman
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: well some things ar closely mixed together in some way
[13:42] Paolo Rousselot: yes, thanks Herman
[13:42] herman Bergson: As soon as you talk about ethics and putting them in to practise you talk about how to organize your about politics
[13:42] Dawn Rhiannyr: yes thank you Herman, interesting again
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:43] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman & Class :-)
[13:43] Paolo Rousselot: it all stems from human psychology so invariably its going to be messy!
[13:43] Bejiita Imako:
[13:43] Areyn Laurasia: Thanks for having us.
[13:43] herman Bergson: Unless anyone still has a question.....???
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:43] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:43] herman Bergson: Thank you all......class dismissed :-)
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: ok cu soon again
[13:43] Gemma Allen: Bye, Bye   
[13:43] Chantal: Shall log off to read her book, enjoy everyone
[13:43] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:43] Paolo Rousselot: be safe!
[13:43] Areyn Laurasia: have a good night
[13:44] Chantal: waves
[13:44] Dawn Rhiannyr: bye everyone :)
[13:44] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye class:o)

[13:44] Bejiita Imako: bye

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