“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another”: If Albert Einstein is correct, then it may follow that energy is the thread, if not the continuity, between the body and the external world. This possibility might allow for envisioning, if not merely thinking about, the inter-physical without making the metaphysical leap required by most religious belief systems. In this way, there might be some sort of non-physical sentience, if indeed energy is an aspect rather than a form of matter itself, that is backed by science rather than mythic, or merely narrative, knowledge.
Perhaps within this, there is the simple fact of something we do not yet know—or something we have not yet remembered. There seems to me to be a way for thinking about Shinto within this. This way of thinking is, of course, neither a new nor a radical thought. From ancient beliefs to philosophies old and new humankind has long suspected (or been suspect of) more similarity than difference between mind and matter. Yet, of course, the mind/body divide became the dominant discourse within this corner of Western Civilization as it generally feared the body overtaking the mind. This other point does not reduce mind to body. The mind may be physical, but its function may well exceed its form–much the way physical feeling traverses through or across the skin it relies upon but is not contained to. Shinto intrigues me as it bridges the gap dominant discourse often enforces between the concepts of the mind and matter.
Shinto is the indigenous faith of the Japanese people. Beyond the strange and exotic material façade of its symbols, ceremonies, and temples, which are perhaps indigenous—or otherwise local—expressions, there may well be the seed of something native to humanity. While many scholars of Shinto, including Sokyo Ono, have referred to the knowledge of Shinto as terra incognita, Shinto may actually be terra prima. And, this may go some way toward explaining the oft experienced allure and durable fascination that stems from the encounter with Shinto. Within Shinto, we may well glimpse the self beneath the unfamiliar clothing. In this way, the path of Shinto may be more a process of recognition than of education per se.
This thread within the larger blog will follow this impulse through an exploration of the aspects of Shinto. This topic category will be progressively populated as the larger blog becomes more developed.