pt 3. Gateways to God, Sumo wrestling and the way of Tea
In his video God's Fingerprints in Japan, Kikawa presents a number of Shrines (Buddhist) that he claims are built to Amenominakanushi.
Video-“the high towers that were built with huge logs and are placed to exact specifications.” “Izamo shrine shows an artist conception of the former high tower inner shrine. At one time this shrine was the tallest wooden structure in all of Japan at over 50 meters.” “At the very top of Mount kurusan the located just outside Kyoto stands this monument with the name Amenominakanushi the God in the glorious center of heaven at the top center”
The Bible does address the high places where people worshipped their gods, again none of this has any significance to the Bible. God gave Israel a tabernacle to build that was to be the exact replica of what was in heaven, he never sanctioned high towers.
Video-“In Kyoto city is a shrine… a unique 3 legged --- “The spring represents the center of the universe and the place where Amenominakanushi dwells. And the 3 legged gate the gateway to the center of heaven. a stream and pond is formed by the spring this signboard outside of the shrine says within the precincts of this shrine is a holy pond…” (the number three seems to imply some relevance to the 3 gods or the trinity)
There are about 90,000 shrines in Japan --All the shrines have Torii, sacred gates, and often contain water for symbolic purification of hands and mouth. The classic Shinto shrine is the world-renowned Ise Shrine, the primary site for Amaterasu, the most important of the kami.
The Kami-the sacred spirits which are objects of worship in Shinto- shrines are places of worship and the dwellings of the kami, “goddesses and gods.” Sacred objects of worship that represent the Kami are stored in the innermost chamber of the shrine where they cannot be seen by anybody.
“Shinto gods” are called kami. They are sacred spirits which take the form of things and concepts important to life, such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility. Humans become kami after they die and are revered by their families as ancestral kami. Any high object (Mt. Fuji) can be worshipped as an embodiment of Kami” (Encyclopedia of American Religions by Gordon Melton)
like the high places in the Bible- is not surprising to see a rock with the name of the 3 gods placed on a mountain top.
how can a three legged gate even represent a pathway to heaven? The fact that god gave the Hebrews the tabernacle to be the earthly sanctuary in reference to the heavenly one should dismiss this.
Each shrine is dedicated to a specific Kami who has a divine personality. When entering a shrine, one passes through a Tori a special gateway for the Gods. This distinguishes between the finite world and the infinite world of the Gods. Shrine ceremonies, which include cleansing,
The video also states “this spring is where guilty people purify their body and soul in an act very similar to baptism.”
Baptism does not, nor cannot purify our soul. In fact it is something we do to show that we have been saved from our sins by believing the gospel. There is no correlation here to the Bible. Kikawa neglected to tell us of the other rituals that are just as important. Two aspects – fertility and purity are focused on. One of which is to take a piece of paper rub it over the body and send it out to the sea with ones impurities. Or cloths tied to trees to ward off evil spirits and offerings made to the good ones, requesting favor from the gods.
Video- shows Sumo wrestling “It is said the winning wrestler expresses his gratitude to the three gods of creation by making three swift hand movements representing Amenominakanushi and the other two gods of creation.”
He says the sumo wrestlers call the god[s] the uncreated creator, again the Kojiki says, they- the gods were born. The Christian teaching of God is not three gods. Can we really accept the acknowledgement of the Christian Trinity in sumo wrestling? I found no such mention of this in sumo wrestling (it may or may not be there). What Kikawa is saying is that this culture had a specific revelation of God’s nature only given by the apostles through the Bible, which they did not have. How is the Trinity is revealed to Gentiles who do not have the Bible nor believe in the God of the Bible when it involves God’s son. The Trinity includes God’s only begotten Son who became man- which Shintoism, the Kojiki has absolutely nothing to say about!
Kikawa is mixing the holy and the profane. The commencement of the game is preceded by a ring-purifying ceremony. Salt and sake (rice wine) are placed at the center, after which the priest blesses the ring. Salt is meant to purify the ring and rid it of evil spirits. Just before the bout, the wrestler rinses his mouth with water to symbolically cleanse his mind and body.
The video asks “could he be the same creator God the Bible speaks of? He keeps repeating the name Amenoninakamushi to convince us of him being the same God. He is NOT.
“if the Bible is true and over the thousands of years of Japanese history and culture God has been reaching out to the Japanese people and the Japanese people have been reaching out to him and surely there must be numerous things in the history and culture of Japan that must reflect this relationship.”
The Bible is indeed true but Daniel Kikawa’s assumption is not. Did God teach the Japanese people any of the 613 commandments given to Moses? By whom? How? When? The Japanese culture is not from God, (it is from Buddhism, Shinto) God gave mankind no culture except forming the nation of Israel as a theocracy under him. The kami are neither omnipotent nor omniscient. Shintoism believes all humans are intrinsically good and that evil is caused by evil spirits. In Shinto everything is spiritual there is no separation between the material and spiritual. In Shinto mythology, the kamiah that gave birth to the land of Japan failed at first and had to ask for help from other kami in heaven who told them to search for the answers through the practice of divination. There are no absolutes or perfect kami. Seems to me that if one is going to quote the religion they need to not ignore its basic teachings.
The fact is God said the opposite- Deut 18:14: “you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.” God did not put anything in these nations, they were on their own, Paul writes in Acts 14:16: “who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.”
The main cultures of the world were in the Middle East. God warned Israel of all these cultures religious ways (Ex.43:10-11; Deut 31:3) so Israel would not be ensnared with their pagan practices. Kikawa purposely ignores this fact because it goes contrary to his syncretism.
Jeremiah 14:22 Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Jeremiah asks, is there is any god of all the nations that can do what the God of Israel can? The answer is none. Therefore our answer to the gods of these nations that Kikawa upholds as the supreme is that they are not the God presented in the Bible.
In these cultures there is no one God (that is Triune) that is separate from all other gods, or did not create other gods. A God that created all things, controls all things, and previously existed before all things. That is infinite, eternal having all knowledge, knowing the future in advance and is able to give specific detail of it to the people. And most importantly (which is intentionally overlooked) formed the Hebrew people entrusting them with what he wants mankind to know about themselves.
How can these Gods be God, when God at this time period revealed himself to Israel and was calling them not gods?
The tea ceremony -Sen ju jitsu Rikyu, grand tea master And is a direct descendent of Sen no Rikyu the great tea master he is referred to the “best know proponent of Chado in the world.” (pronounced sado).
Dr. Sen Jitsu is not a Christian. Video-“his wife was a Christian and he attended” a “Christian University.” Because he attended a Christian university the Narrator says- “he had good knowledge of Christianity and the Bible.” This does not guarantee ones accuracy. In fact, the Bible says without the spirit one cannot understand spiritual things of the Scripture (1 Cor.2:10-16). Furthermore, this knowledge did not bring him to know the savior, so what use is all this? He teaches this tea Ceremony to everybody regardless of their religion. The Bible says that if you are not a believer you are not to participate in communion.
Video-“Dr. Sen and many scholars have noticed a similarity between the tea ceremony and Christian communion.” “To gain clues to why they are so similar we must again look into the past. Francis Xavier began the Catholic mission to Japan”…He “encouraged priests to learn Chado for the purpose of evangelism and priests studied tea under his ancestor Sen no Rikyu.”
Francis Xavier was a Jesuit priest (Martin Repp, “Introduction” Japanese Religions, Vol. 19 No. 1&2, Jan. 1994, p.1).
The Video uses the phrase followers of Jesus numerous times. “Some of these became followers of sen no Rikyu’s way of tea” Did they became followers of Jesus as the video claims or joined the catholic church?
“Ukon Takayama was converted to Catholicism and was baptized with a catholic name (Dom Justo) in 1564 (Answers.com).
In the video it says Catholic priests- “learn Chado for the purpose of evangelism”, which can mean they used this as a way to sit with the people and befriend them. Even if the Catholics used chado, it does not carry the same meaning the Bible does. Roman Catholics make use of many things in other cultures, merging it into their own religious practices. But I have a very hard time accepting they would do this when they believe the priest turns the bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ in their sacramental worship, it’s too sacred to them. I don’t think green tea and sweet cake would be acceptable.
The only similarity between the tea ceremony and Christian communion is that one drinks from a cup.
Whose death does the tea ceremony present? No ones! Tea symbolizes- TEA, not the life in Christ that was shed for our sins. This is a message from Sen Soshitsu, Ura Senke Grand Tea Master XV: “Chado, the Way Of Tea, is based upon the simple act of boiling water, making tea, offering it to others, and drinking of it ourselves. Served with a respectful heart and received with gratitude, a bowl of tea satisfies both physical and spiritual thirst.”
In fact this tea ceremony is founded in Zen Buddhism- Drinking of tea was introduced to Japan in the 9th century CE by a Chinese Buddhist monk where it had already been practiced for thousands of years. The ritual was instituted by the Zen monks who drank tea out of a bowl before the image of Bodhi Dharma. This laid the foundations of the tea-ceremony. After the contact with Zen, The Way of Tea was strengthened because the spirit of Tea and Zen were seen as one and the same (Peace, respect, purity, and tranquility - four precepts of Chanoyu.) see http://www.teamuse.com/article_001001.html
In the tea ceremony, water represents yin. The fire in the hearth represents yang. A stoneware jar (called the mizusashi) holds fresh water and symbolizes purity and only the host touches it. The host passes the tea bowl to the main guest first who bows and accepts it. The main guest admires the bowl by raising and rotating it. He then drinks some of the tea, wipes the rim of the bowl, and passes it to the next guest who does the same thing. Practitioners of Tea are to rid their minds of attachment and worldly concern, of every unnecessary thing. The host focuses entirely on serving a cup of tea; the guest, entirely on receiving it with gratitude. They are focusing on the present moment which is another fundamental practice of Buddhism.
What does this have to do with focusing on what Christ did for ones sins? Nothing! Kikawa like a liberal pluralist is blending the two religions for his goal of having common ground which changes Christian teaching.
Who is Sen no Rikyu
Rikyu, who accomplished Wabi-cha, was born in Sakai in 1522. His first name was Yoshiro when he began his study of tea at an early age. “ Sen no Rikyu was a pious faithful Buddhist who underwent Zen training at Daitoku-ji as a Zen Buddhist. Sen no Rikyu perfected the ritual, His style of tea is thus called wabi-cha. The central essense of Rikyu's tea ceremony was the concept of wabi. Wabi literally means “desolation.” Zen philosophy says that the greatest wealth is found in desolation and poverty, because we look inside ourselves and find true spiritual wealth there when we have no attachments to things material. (reference http://www.sg.emb-japan.go.jp/JapanAccess/sado.htm)
Rikyu became more interested in the way priests approached the tea ritual as an embodiment of Zen principles to value the sacred in our everyday. He synthesized a unique way of life combining the everyday aspects of living with the highest spiritual and philosophical tenets. Rikyu stripped everything non-essential from the tearoom and the style of preparation, and developed a tea ritual in which there was no wasted movement and no object that was redundant.
It was then that Rikyu who composed the poem which dates from that time: “Though many people drink tea, if you do not know the Way of Tea, tea will drink you up.” Without any spiritual training, you think you are drinking tea, but actually tea drinks you up.