Shintoism, to me, is best described as the religion of Hayao Miyasaki’s animé — of ancient forest, of swift river, and of plump purple friend or yellow-red fanged foe walking through forest, swimming across river.
Shintoism, to me, is the candied knowledge that the natural world is synonymous with the spiritual world and should be revered as such. Mountains deserve contemplation, a contemplation that will manifest into fullness and spiritual growth.
Ancestors make appearances in many world religions, but Shintoism, to me, does it best, because ancestor spirits and nature spirits commingle in convenient, colorful shrines. Practical, meaningful, widely practiced rituals sanctify this interaction. Shintoism is, after all, the religion of Japan, land of spatial optimization and tasteful compartmentalization.
Shintoism recognizes that a spiritual quest is incomplete without a deferential connection to nature. To honor nature, it proffers, is to honor the divine, that same divinity of which we, too, form part.
*This post is part of a series of explorations on the teachings I most admire from the world’s major religions. So far, I’ve written on Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism and Islam as well.