Basic Terms of Shinto 神道基本用語集
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|In ordinary usage, essentially the same meaning as the English "sin." In old Shinto, however, sickness, disaster, and error were also called tsumi, which thus formed a most comprehensive concept. In antiquity a distinction was made between amatsu-tsumi (heavenly sins) and kunitsu-tsumi (terrestrial sins). Amatsu-tsumi were those committed by the god Susanoo no mikoto in heaven, and included such destructive acts as harming agriculture. Kunitsu-tsumi included the inflicting of injury or death, immodest actions, killing of domestic animals, using magic, leprosy, the falling of lightning, and damage done by harmful birds. From this list, one notes that the occurence of evil was often understood as being caused by something beyond man's control; evil, including even moral and criminal offenses committed by men, was considered to be caused by evil spirits (magatsuhi no kami) which intruded from the land of Yomi. As a result, salvation from tsumi was considered possible by harae, namely, by purification, the removal of impediments, and the expulsion of the evil spirits. Harae, as the return to a normal condition, was repeated day and night as a premise to divine worship. There is no concept of original sin in Shinto. On the contrary, it is believed that all sin and pollution can be removed by harae. This does not mean, however, that there is no acceptance of responsibility for restitution for sin. The sinner is regarded, not as naturally sinful, but as having been a member of a world of good and happiness; it is believed that by reminding him of this fact, the first step is taken to conquer evil and to restore him to his position as child of the gods. While great historical differences separate the ideas of sin in the ancient and modern periods, the emphasis on harae is a constant religious attitude.