Shinto thinking about the role of mother

On mother’s day 2011, the following was written by Rev. Koichi Barrish who is my Shinto teacher. I thought everyone would enjoy this perspective. Note that the line he refers to as the first line of “Oharahi no Kotoba” is also chanted in front of the shrine before the Goma. Oharahi no Kotoba refers to the most important Shinto prayer and it tells the story of how Okamisama (the Divine) interact with Mankind.

Please enjoy Barrish Sensei’s article.

Hello everyone,


The 1st words of Oharahi-no-Kotoba: Takamanoharani…………….

Taka means the big-bang and the energy source for the entire Universe

Mano is the place from which all life energy radiates from the breath of Okami

Hara is the Mother’s womb and the place where the infinite is created out of the finite.

The Basic of Shinto is the relationship between Mother and Child is the foundation for life and prosperity

Today is Satsuki Hatsuka/ the 8th day of May….may I say HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to everyone…..In Shinto thinking AMATERASUOMIKAMI (Kami of the Sun) ultimately relates to Mother of us all………(meaning all things in Nature, created within the Ki of the Kami)…from Amaterasu Omikami then to other Kami, then ancestors and finally through the hard work and love of our direct Mothers we could receive the precious gift of our lives. How can we repay this great gift— only by doing our utmost in the present moment to pass the healthiest world and society to future generations.

Kototama meaning of HAHA (Mother) is Origin of the Universe, the Mother’s womb, the Mother of Substance, the Mother of Heart. The relationship of Mother and Child is the Foundation of Prosperity. The Child born to Mother takes over the Mission of the Kami and passes it down to successive generations — keishin suso.

Within divine Nature all things are based on the relationship of Mother and Child. this would include Human Beings as Children of the Sun, Kami and ancestors, this also includes fields and valleys as children of the mountain and of course children…..

Oharahi-no-Kotoba: Haha to ko to Okaseru tsumi=

if one willfully ignores the relationship between Mother and Child as the foundation for prosperity one will loose everything in the resulting impurity. There is a tie between Mother and Child. Mountains in the position of Mother stand guard over the great land, growing trees and plants and adjusting the weather patterns and air currents and protecting the sacred field as a Mother protects her Children. Fields prosper, life prospers and flourishes in peace and harmony. However if Mountains are destroyed and trees cut down indiscriminately the balanced role of Mother/Child will perish. The result is rainstorms and floods as coordination of weather and air currents are broken. The balance of Mother Nature will become broken, harvests will fail and Mother and Child will ultimately perish. If humans destroy the mysterious and precious balanced relationships of Divine Nature they will be destroyed as well.

At first we are sensitive to impurity/ tsumi and reluctant to violate Nature.. however over time people become motivated by greed and unconscious of impurity. This leads to aggressive destruction of the environment without any guilt or remorse. When humans become accustomed to committing evil deeds they create a process that spreads horizontally and vertically accumulating tsumi/kegare and damaging the foundation and meaning of Life.

Alternatively we must as caring Children of Mother Nature we must do our utmost each day to honor the generative forces of Nature and all Divine Creation. Also, shall we do our utmost each day in every way to straighten the current situation and also pray Oharahi-no-Kotoba before the Ofuda of Sarutahiko Okami and Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, the Main Kamis of Tsubaki Grand Shrine and it’s bunshya/branch shrine: Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America.

Sarutahiko Okami is the ancestor of all Earthly Kami and Great Kami of Ki and positive movement in harmony with Divine Nature.

His wife AmenoUzumenoMikoto is kami of divine female power, arts and entertainment, meditation and joy.

We should realize that the time of childhood is of pivotal. Yamamoto Yukiyasu Guuji teaches us that parents should teach very well 3 things before children enter school ..
1) Seire Seiton= importance of cleaning everything and making everything tidy (straightened).
2) Rei-gi saho= good manners– for example: sincere cheerful greetings, leading to ..
3) good communication with people….. really caring for the comfort of others and healthy communication……thank you, hello etc…..
this is a great example of the profound simplicity of Shinto thinking.
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to everyone.

Rev. K. Barrish
America Tsubaki Okami Yashiro Kannushi

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