Shinto and Ecology: Celebrating the Earth Through the Way of Kami

School of Consciousness and Transformation EWP 6377 3.00

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” — Gary Snyder (The Practice of the Wild) A worldview that sees matter as inert and without intrinsic value enables numerous forms of destruction and ecological devastation. Conversely, a worldview that advocates for the sacred nature of matter ignites in the human mind reverence, awe, and wonder for all of existence. Such a worldview promotes a desire to cherish all of being. This course will introduce Shinto as a way of celebrating the Earth and our intimate connection with it. The ancient Japanese felt sacred and awe-inspiring presences all around them. They called these presences Kami. Kami can come in the form of a rock, a tree, a waterfall, a storm, or a human. Japanese myths depict that Kami gave birth to nature and to humans, and that there is a kinship among Kami, nature, and human beings. Shinto has no founder and no scripture. Instead, Shinto uses beautiful and elaborate ritual ceremonies to pray to and commune with Kami. Learning from these Japanese myths and Shinto practices, we will reflect on a new concept of nature and discuss how we can create a mutually enhancing relationship, spiritually and ecologically, with nature and the Earth.

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