Water is Sacred – Miyajima

January 10, 2007 at 5:02 am Leave a comment

From Sacres Sites by Martin Gray on the website the Oneness Commitment:

Located near Hiroshima in southern Japan, the sacred island of Miyajima is a holy place for both Shinto and Buddhist pilgrims. To come by early morning boat across a mist-enshrouded sea, slowly approaching the small island and its holy mountain of Misen San, is to enter a fairy tale realm.

There are few places so sublimely beautiful in all the world. Miyajima‘s mother temple, Itsukushima, is perched on wooden stilts anchored deep in tidal shallows, thereby giving the appearance of a mystic shrine floating on the ceaselessly moving waters of the primeval sea. The magnificent temple, dating from 1168 and built entirely from wood, is dedicated to three Shinto goddesses of the sea, each of whom is believed to frequently visit the inner sanctum. Long before Buddhism came to Japan in the 5th century AD, Shinto sages lived as hermits along Miyajima‘s forested shores, sensing place-energies that gave rise to tales of three sea goddesses. If we conceive of sacred site myths as having metaphorical meaning, then the three goddesses indicate that Miyajima Island is a power place of yin or female qualities and, furthermore, that there are three different ‘frequencies‘ of that genderspecific energy. Associated with the Itsukushima temple, and actually a part of its sacred geography, are seven other waterside shrines positioned at specific geomantic intervals around the 19-mile circumference of the island.

There are no roads to most of these shrines. In order to visit them, pilgrims must use small boats to approach the rocky shores where the temples are located. In esoteric Shingon and Shugendo Buddhism, pilgrimages to the holy island of Miyajima with its sacred mountain and oceanside shrines were conceived as metaphorical journeys through the world of enlightenment, with each stage in the pilgrimage representing a stage in the process through the realms of existence conceived of by Buddhism. Pilgrimage is exterior mysticism, while mysticism is interior pilgrimage.

Water is sacred in many religions. The beauty and mystery of the water surrounding Miyajima defines it as a sacred place. When we understand and respect the power water has, we can begin to see the things we need to do to preserve it.


Entry filed under: Buddhism, Japan, religion, water.

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Save the World

Save the World in Three Easy Steps.

1. Learn. Read this blog to learn more about our global water crisis and how it impacts billions of people.

2. Make a Scarf. Follow our easy instructions to make a beautiful and unique scarf. Wear one to show your support for those in need, and sell a few to your family and friends.

3. Donate. Give the money you raised from your scarf to a worthy charity (See our list of Resources). Even a little bit will change the lives of those who have no access to clean water.

Repeat until everyone has access to safe, clean water.
January 2007
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