Ling qi Jing
Lingqijing (or Ling Ch’i Ching; 靈棋經 lit. “Classic of the Divine Chess”) is a Chinese book of divination. The first commented edition of the work appeared in the Jin Dynasty. Legend has it that the strategist Zhang Liang got it from Huang Shigong, a semi-mythological figure in Chinese history.
As the name of the work suggests, the work tells of how to divine with tokens like Chinese chess or xiangqi (象棋) pieces, instead of the traditional turtle shells or yarrow stalks [or coins] used in I Ching.
Twelve chess pieces are used; each is a disc with a character on one side, and unmarked on the other. Four have the character for “up” (上, pronounced shang), four have the character for “middle” (中, zhong), and four have the character for “down” (下, xia), representing the Three Realms: Heaven (天, tian), Humanity (人, ren), and Continue reading
Acalanatha, the wrathful manifestation of Mahavairocana, and the principal deity invoked during the goma ritual.
Shingon Buddhism (真言宗 Shingon-shū) is one of the mainstream major schools of Buddhism in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia, originally spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra. Known in Chinese as the Tangmi, these Esoteric teachings would later flourish in Japan under the auspices of a Buddhist monk named Kūkai (空海), who traveled to Tang China to acquire and request transmission of the esoteric teachings. For that reason, it is often called Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, or Orthodox Esoteric Buddhism.
The word “Shingon” is the Japanese reading of Chinese: 真言 Zhēnyán “True Words”, which in turn is the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit word “mantra” (मन्त्र). Continue reading
The famous torii at Itsukushima Shrine, a Ryōbu-style torii.
A torii (鳥居, lit. bird abode) is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred. The presence of a torii at the entrance is usually the simplest way to identify Shinto shrines, and a small torii icon represents them on Japanese road maps. They are a common sight at Japanese Buddhist temples too, where they stand at the entrance of the temple’s own shrine, called chinjusha (鎮守社, tutelary god shrine) and are usually very small.
Their first appearance in Japan can be reliably pinpointed to at least the mid-Heian period, because they are mentioned in a text written in 922. The oldest existing stone torii was built in the 12th century and belongs to a Hachiman Shrine in Yamagata prefecture. The oldest wooden torii is a ryōbu torii at Kubō Continue reading
Chapter 3 The Way of the Kami: Shinto Then and Now
Let us begin at the heart of Shinto. The Ise shrine, which has been called the National Cathedral of Japan, is not located in the center of a capital ancient or modern, like St. Peter’s in Rome. Its plain wooden buildings, rustic and unpretentious by most standards, dominate a lonely site near the Pacific Ocean some 225 miles south of Tokyo, 50 from Nagoya, and not much farther from Kyoto and Nara.
Like ancient Japanese dwellings and granaries, Ise’s edifices are set off the ground on posts, the roofs are thatched, and the timber unpainted, save for gold tips on the roof beams. They are surrounded by four wooden palisades, which block easy viewing and access. Once again, the sacred in Japan, Continue reading
Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion
Translated by JAMES C . DOBBINS and SUZANNE GAY
II. The Significance of Shinto Deities in the Ancient Period
In the previous section the word Shinto was analyzed to show how it was used and what it meant in ancient times. Now it is necessary to consider the institutional significance and place of kami in Japan during that period, especially as evidenced in the jingiryõ laws and in Shinto-Buddhist syncreticism.
The jingiryõ is a set of laws of ancient Japan which instituted ceremonies to the kami. Needless to say, these laws include only those rites which had state sponsorship, but they nonetheless represent a fair sampling of the ceremonies current at that time. In brief the jingiryõ laws cover the following topics: Continue reading