Religion in Canada

Shinto in Canada

Unlike most other religions, Shinto has no real founder, no written scriptures, no body of religious law, and only a very loosely-organized priesthood. It began around 500 B.C.E. in Japan

The heart of Shinto is a sensitivity to the mysterious powers of nature. The Kami are the Shinto deities. The word "Kami" is generally translated "god" or "gods." However, the Kami bear little resemblance to the gods of monotheistic religions. They are sacred spirits which take the form of things and concepts important to life, such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility. Shinto followers believe that humans become kami after they die and are revered by their families as ancestral kami. The Sun Goddess Amaterasu is considered Shinto's most important kami.

There are numerous other deities who are conceptualized in many forms:

Those related to natural objects and creatures, from "food to rivers to rocks'

Kami that are guardians of particular areas and clans

Exceptional people, including most emperors

Abstract creative forces

Shintos believe that all human life and nature is sacred. All of humanity is regarded as " Kami's child. " Further, ancestors are revered and worshiped. Believers revere "musuhi" , the Kamis' creative and harmonizing powers. They aspire to have "makoto" , sincerity or true heart. This is regarded as the way or will of Kami.

There are "Four Affirmations" in Shinto:

Tradition and the family: The family is seen as the main mechanism by which traditions are preserved. Their main celebrations relate to birth and marriage.

Love of nature: Nature is sacred; to be in contact with nature is to be close to the Gods. Natural objects are worshipped as sacred spirits.

Physical cleanliness: Followers of Shinto take baths, wash their hands, and rinse out their mouth often.

"Matsuri": The worship and honor given to the Kami and ancestral spirits.

There are no absolutes in Shinto. There is no absolute right and wrong and no-one is perfect. Shinto is an optimistic faith, humans are thought to be fundamentally good, and evil is believed to be caused by evil spirits. Consequently, the purpose of most Shinto rituals is to keep away evil spirits by purification, prayers and offerings to the kami.

Morality is based upon that which is of benefit to the group. Confusciouism is mostly followed as a way of modelling behaviour. Both men and women can become priests, and they are allowed to marry and have children.

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