Ways of Christ

Part 4, additional topics, contributions to the dialogue with other religions

Informations about the relation between Christianity and Shintoism (Kami no michi)
- With general viewpoints concerning natural religions -.

Our additional pages concerning the other Religions are a contribution to the inter-religious dialogue. On the part of Christianity, the basis is independent research, including the old spiritual depth and modern investigations of consciousness. The old Japanese Shinto Religion (Kami no michi) is not described comprehensively, but some viewpoints are given which are important for this purpose.

Shinto is originally one of the Natural Religions, which are related to one another all around the world and which are older than the well known World Religions like Buddhism and Christianity.

Natural Religions.
The origin of the Natural Religions is a time when human beings mainly had a consciousness different from the intellect dominating today. Jean Gebser, author of the book "Ursprung und Gegenwart" (German) would name this level of awareness the "mythical consciousness". The investigator into consciousness Julian Jaynes, author of "The origin of consciousness..." (English, German) would name it a "bicameral mind", with a more direct communication between both hemispheres of the brain.*) The right hemisphere allowed a holistic perception of appearances of all kinds, for example of nature, as "beings". The left hemisphere translated it, that people heard their "voices". European myths with elemental spirits and fairy-tale figures originate in that consciousness too and are not simply fantasy. This old kind of perception disappeared with the spread of writing and reading that replaced oral tradition. In the European and middle east antiquity around 500 BC it had almost disappeared as a phenomenon of social relevance.** Since the forefathers of the mythical age often also adored local or tribal spirits, ancestors or Gods, the early mingling of cultures was another reason for the fact that the older awareness no longer worked without mistakes. The mistakes themselves - making this kind of perception less useful - accelerated this process.
It would be not correct to evaluate these steps of consciousness, as if the newer intellect would be more valuable and that products of the older way of perceiving things were useless today. Indeed, new abilities came up by this process, but other capabilities were lost, which cannot be replaced by the mere intellect. Nevertheless, it is possible to keep the new analytical mind and renew the older, lost abilities of imaginative synthesis consciously; for instance by meditating. So an integrated consciousness can emerge which harmonizes both hemispheres of the brain. Today many problems go to the limits of the intellect's capacity. Obviously it is impossible to understand and resolve the real complexity of ecological problems on the mere intellectual level: Dörner (Germany) spoke of a "multifactorial consciousness", necessary for understanding and resolving ecological problems in time; but the students he tested were almost entirely lacking that consciousness. Today's mankind can indeed get impulses from such pre-intellectual traditions too - without being able to simply take up the old type of that mythical consciousness. So fairy-tales are still valuable for children today: this is helpful in stopping the early atrophy of the right hemisphere's functions.

In Early Christianity the "gifts of the Holy Spirit" played an important role (among others John 16; Cor. 12, 7-11; Acts 2, 17-20. See also the chapter "The first Whitsun event..." in the English main text and some other languages.) The Holy Spirit is a divine force which allows human creativity to expand beyond itself. Although the Spirit is not just a mere activity of the right brain hemisphere, it uses that too. However, the Holy Spirit is connected with Jesus Christ. Even though Jesus said to his disciples: "The wind (Spirit) blows, wherever he pleases" - if someone does not attune himself to Jesus Christ, how should he know that he is experiencing the Holy Spirit which Jesus announced?

Shinto or Kami-no-michi means "Way of the (heavenly and or venerable) spirits". Unlike our findings concerning other "polytheist" religions, which originally adored one God with manifold "qualities", later adored as separated Gods - here such an origin could not be found.
While the creation myths of some other peoples start with the creation of heaven and earth (and under-world), the Japanese creation myth takes this for granted. The Gods then emerge spontaneously in that image and dwell in all 3 worlds; on earth human beings dwell too, in the under-world there are also many of the dead and demons. Venerable ancestors were also added to the Japanese realm of the Gods. Even though the top of the kami = of the huge realm of the Gods is a Goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu. She is not looked upon as the origin of everything, but was created by the Gods Izanagi and Izanami as ordered by a council of Gods.
The veneration takes place at home or in "Shrines" (temples), through defined prayers (thanksgiving and requests) and by sacrificing rice, rice wine and symbols for animals, which are usually no longer sacrificed themselves.
Shinto was combined with a cult of the state and the emperor, which had to be given up officially after world war two.
In Natural Religions shamans with special knowledge and mediumistic abilities usually play a central role - but the Shinto cult is led by priests.
Ethical teachings: There was a list of sins; in contact with other religions ethical principles were developed, similar to those in all World religions.

In Japan, the various religions are not as separated from each other as is common, for instance, in Europe. In Japan many people are members of several religious communities simultaneously.

*) Jaynes himself gave the impression that the old, natural functions of the brain would be a sufficient explanation for the experiences with divine or natural forces. Our findings showed that this is not correct. His findings don't give an answer to the question of what the perceived beings "are". Neither "Gods" nor God can be found in the brain. It is a special level of reality and the brain can only interpret it one way or another. Especially the previously mentioned mythical way of perception was not capable of producing fantasies of such beings artificially as the modern consciousness can do. Likewise, spiritual dreams or meditation experiences sometimes mirror something much different to simple impressions of daily life.
**) In Europe, for instance, the time at which the epic of Homer was composed belonged to the mythical era and the later time of the Greek philosophers already shows the intellectual consciousness.


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