Contemplation of the Ancient Gods

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The Kami and Guardian of the Ise-Jingu Mai Shrine
(Inner shrine, Ise, Japan)

I am the force of life of the Ise-Jingu Mai Shrine
The shrine was dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu Omi-Kami

I was her guardian, for she is shy and modest
And now I am the guardian of this place
It was a place of blessing when the goddess was here,
and it still can be for those able to be aware of its power
All Shinto shrines are gateways

The woods here after a rain can be seen to shine with light
Each drop of water a rainbow
The forest breathes with life and shines with light
It is a brilliant mass of white and golden light to those who can see its depths

The world of the Kami is intertwined with the world of mankind
We represent its life and its light,
What you might call its spiritual dimension
We have been part of the waves of golden brilliance
that brought life to this land and this world
We are not only awareness but form as well
While the priests try to lock us up into elaborate shrines,
and pretend that we need their food to live,
in reality, we are the source of that food
and cannot be bound by heavy doors, and brass locks
The life of the Kami is everywhere

While human beings claim that people they respect become Kami,
usually they are wrong
It is not military prowess or political shrewdness that makes a Kami
It is awareness of the origin of all things in flowing light
Water begins the process of purifying the outer layers,
and light continues the process within the soul
Only by water and light can a person gain the awareness of the Kami
Killing only gains a fraction of the Kami's power
but never true knowledge

Kami are often described as nature spirits
This is true if by spirit you mean the animating force of a place,
the vital life that sparkles in light and water,
the force behind the tiniest atoms
It is an incorrect description
if spirits are understood as ghosts
as remnants of the dead,
or as imaginary cartoon-like beings
As spirits, we give inspiration,
we link together worlds
We make places sacred

There are many stories and myths about the Kami
These are ways of picturing processes
that are difficult to describe like creation and emanation
We do not give birth,
Or make war, as people know it
We have conflicts of darkness and light,
matter and spirit,
things fully formed and things partially formed
Over time, these have been made into stories of the gods

We live harmoniously with the Buddhas and other deities
Their worlds are not our worlds but we respect them
They have little to do with the physical world
except to help souls seek freedom
We like them because they are beings of light,
but consider them generally uncreative

While we support the realms of matter as places of beauty
There are also worlds of death and ugliness,
the places of destruction
which we recognize but do not support
Amaterasu is a Kami of light and wonder
But some Kami preside over darkness and death
Like the Buddhas,
these are part of a world different from ours,
an alien world
The universe is a big place,
and there are many deities and many worlds

People usually ask for physical blessings,
but our gift is harmony of the material worlds,
and the worlds of light
As guardian of Ise,
I am the Kami emanation of the sun,
The Kami of life and breath
I offer you the dew-stars of Ise.

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