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Saturday Morning Worship: Shinto Service

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General Assembly 2003 Event 3002

Presented by the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America

The leader of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America, Rev. Koichi Barrish, led a fascinating worship service of purification for the current and past leaders of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and honored guests as well as the approximately 1,000 people gathered to witness the remarkable service. This service began another busy day for the more than 7,400 individuals gathered for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 42nd General Assembly in Boston.

On stage as observers was the president of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine in America; Chairman Katsunori Yamanoi of the Rhisso Kosei-kai; former UUA Moderator and President of the USA branch of the International Association for Religious Freedom, Natalie Gulbrandson; Former UUA Moderator Denny Davidoff; UUA Executive Vice President Kay Montgomery; UUA First Vice Moderator Elizabeth McGregor; and UUA President William G. Sinkford.

Presenting the ceremony were Rev. Barrish, who is Shrine Director and Senior Shinto Priest of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America; Rev. Naomichi Sato, Shinto Priest, of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine; and Sacred Dancer Mrs. Donni Barrish, Shrine Assistant, Tsubaki Grand Shrine in America. The Rev. Olivia Holmes, Director of the UUA International Relations Office, acted as Tengi, or announcer for the service. The Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America is located in western WA state and is a liberal faith partner of the UUA.

The Worship Service consisted of a number of phases:

Preliminary purification of food offerings; purification of Rev. Barrish and all in attendance; invitation of the Kami (divine spirit) to the temporary shrine, offerings made to the kami, and recitation of the “Misogi-no-Oharai” and the “Goshu-no-Shinka” in Japanese. Rev. Barrish recited a prayer on everyone’s behalf, and followed this by drumming in offering to the Kami. Mrs. Barrish offered a Sacred Dance to the Kami. The leaders on stage then moved to the shrine by two’s and three’s to offer a sacred evergreen branch to the Kami. The offerings were removed by Rev. Sato, in tessen-no-gi, and finally, in soushin-no-gi, the kami was bid farewell.

The chalice was extinguished, and this act concluded the fascinating Shinto ceremony of purification.

Reported by Deborah Weiner.

Order of Service

CHYOUHAI

Shinto Morning Worship
TSUBAKI GRAND SHRINE OF AMERICA

Order of Ceremony

SHYUBATSU-NO-GI 
(Preliminary Purification) Rev. Sato purifies the food offerings. He also purifies Rev. Barrish and all in attendance.

KOUSHIN-NO-GI
(Inviting the Kami) Rev. Barrish invites the Kami (Divine Spirit) to the “himorog,” the temporary shrine.

KENSEN-NO-GI
Offerings are made to the Kami.

MISOGI-NO-OHARAI-NO-KOTOBA
Everyone together recites the “Misogi-no-Oharai” and the “Goshu-no-Shinka,” in Japanese. (see insert)

NORITO-SOJO-NO-GI
Rev. Barrish recites a short prayer on everyone’s behalf.

URAYASAU-NO-MAI
Mrs. Barrish offers the Sacred Dance to the Kami

TAMAGUSHI-HAREI-NO-GI
The sacred branch of evergreen is offered to the Kami.

TESSEN-NO-GI
Removal of the offerings.

SOUSHIN-NO-GI
Seeing off of the Kami.

MISOGI-NO-OHARAI:

TAKAMA-NO-HARA NI KAMUZUMARIMASU*
*when recited in a group this line is read only by the saishyu, the head priest.

KAMUROGI KAMUROMI NO MIKOTO MOCHITE
SUME MI OYA KAMU IZANAGI NO MIKOTO

TSUKUSHI NO HIMUKA NO TACHIBANA NO ODO NO AHAGIHARA NI

MISOGI HARAE TAMAISHI TOKI NI ARE MASERU
HARAEDO NO O KAMITACHI

MOROMORO NO MAGAGOTO TSUMI KEGARE O
HARAI TAMAE KIYOME TAMAE TO

MOSU KOTO NO YOSHI O
AMATSU KAMI KUNITSU KAMI

YAOYOROZU NO KAMITACHI TOMO NI
KIKOSHIMESE TO 
KASHIKOMI KASHIKOMI MO MAOSU

GOSHU NO SHINKA:

MIYAGAWA YA KIYOKI NAGARE NO MISOGI NITE*
*when recited in a group this line is read only by the saishyu, the head priest.

INORAN KOTO NO KANAWANU WA NASHI

TACHIBANA NO ISE NO MISOGI NITE
IMA MO KIYOMURU WAGA MI NARIKERI

TSUMI TOGA YA ONBE NO KAWA NI HARORAN
SEORITSU HIME NO KAMI NO MIITSU NI

KAKENAGASU OMOTO MIYA NO SUZUKA GAWA
CHIYO YOROZU NO TSUMI WA NOKOSAZU

FURI NARASU SUZU NI HIBIKI NI TAMA MICHITE
MITAMA NO FUYU O IYA KIKOSHIMESE

Translation of GOSHU-NO-SHINKA:

The sacred waters of Misogi flow pure,
Bringing fulfillment to sincere prayer.

Now my body, heart, and spirit will again be made pure
Through misogi of Tsubaki, ancient land of Ise, Tachibana.

In the river impurities are swept from me as if purified by gohei
Amidst the shining light of Seoritsu Hime no Kami.

The shining light flows from this Kami’s original palace, the river Suzuka.
The tsumi, the impurities will be removed for a thousand—even a myriad—of generations.

My spirit overflows with resounding and shaking of bells ringing;
The beautiful sound and vibration invigorate my soul.
In awe I speak; hear these reverent words.

Translation of MISOGI-NO-O-HARAI:

Upon the will of the Great Spirit, by which the Universe is initiated in the cosmic force of creation by the Kamis (Divine Spirit) of birth and growth, and through which the solar system is united in the force of harmony by the Kamis of Yin and Yang, the Kamis of purification came to exist from the impurities which Izanagi-no-Mikoto (Divine creator of the solar system) cleansed from his body in the divine river of heaven.

We will be able to recognize (see) the Kami (truth), only after we purify ourselves of all negativity, impurities, faults and restore ourselves to what we are meant to be (natural brightness).

Shinto is the "way" of living in harmony with "Great Nature" and therefore it is bright, pure, positive and simple. Shinto's emphasis is happiness within life and within the world. Shinto is concerned with human life within nature and under heaven and the relationship between human and Kami (Divine Spirit).

Shinto is a "natural spirituality” with natural meaning in contrast to a Revealed Religion (or a path with a historical founder). Shinto focuses on "practice" and is meant to lead us to live in harmony with Dai Shizen (Great Nature) and to come into accord with our own "Life Missions".

In Shinto thinking all things in Nature including Human Beings are "Children of the Kami" we have Kami Nature inside us and we are innately capable of creating bright peaceful lives for our selves and others.

As Children of the Kami we have the ability to become closer and to be able to feel the heartbeat and breath of Kami although we may also become more distant through our own actions and the actions of others in such a case through Harae (purification) we can experience renewal and a return to our original Kami nature.

SAIIN (ceremony presenters):

  • Saishyu (Chief priest): Rev. Koichi Barrish, Shrine Director and Senior  Shinto Priest of Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America
  • Priest: Rev. Naomichi Sato, Shinto Priest of Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America
  • Sacred dance: Mrs. Donni Barrish, Shrine Assistant of Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America
  • Tengi (announcer): Rev. Olivia Holmes, Director Office of International Relations, UUA

Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America, located on a pristine 25 acre site in western Washington State, is the U.S. Branch of Japan’s oldest Shinto Shrine: TSUBAKI GRAND SHRINE. To experience Shinto, the way of harmony with great nature please visit Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

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