Basic Terms of Shinto 神道基本用語集

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Kami,Jingi,Tenshin chigi
Text An appellation for the objects of worship in Shinto. An honorific term extolling the sacred authority and sublime virtue of spiritual beings. Numerous etymological theories exist regarding the origins of the word, but none are entirely satisfactory. Motoori Norinaga interpreted the word as an appellation for all beings which possessed extraordinary and surpassing ability or virtue, and which were awesome and worthy of revererence. He pointed out that the word was used not only for good beings, but also for evil. The deities (kami) in Shinto are numerous, and constantly increasing in numbers. This fact is expressed in the laudatory term yao-yorozu no kami (ever-increasing myriad deities). These deities make up a single whole, united in peace and harmony. Beings which are called kami may include everything from the divine spirits who realized the production of heaven and earth, the great ancestors of men, to all things in the universe, even plants, rocks, birds, beasts, and fish. These beings are divided into heavenly and earthly gods (tenshin chigi); heavenly deities (amatsukami) have their home in heaven (Takama no Hara), while earthly deities (kunitsukami) live on the earth. In ancient times the heavenly deities were thought to be noble and the earthly deities base, but this distinction is not so clear today.