Kojiki, Part 1

Yesterday’s post in the Jin Shin Jyutsu Category was from an article written by Cynthia Lenssen Broshi (Jin Shin Jyutsu Journal – Israel) in which she mentions the word “kojiki”.  I thought many readers might be unfamiliar with the ancient Japanese chronicle so here is a brief introduction:

“If you are not feeling well, the most important thing you can do is breathe.”
— Master Jiro Murai

In the early 1900’s, a young philosopher from a prominent medical family rediscovered the profound Art, of what he later called Jin Shin Jyutsu, after he survived the threat of a terminal illness.

In the isolation of the wilderness, he utilized the techniques from his studies of ancient teachings about meditation, finger poses (mudras), and breathing. To his amazement, Jiro was able to reverse the disharmonies of his body and restore his own health. He then dedicated the remaining years of his life to the study of this Art.

Searching for answers, Murai studied the Bible, and ancient Chinese, Greek, and Indian texts. However, it was the Kojiki, the Japanese “Record of Ancient Things,” which describes creation in allegories that opened the door for him. Murai also studied the Chinese acupressure points and ancient acupuncture writings. He compared the experience of what he felt to be much deeper than what he found in the writings. “There is an awareness in Jin Shin Jyutsu that is deeper than technique,” Burmeister says.

From his study of the Kojiki and his 50 years of personal experimentation, Murai concluded that Jin Shin Jyutsu was more than a philosophy of the body.

In the late 1940s, Master Murai met a Japanese American woman, Mary Burmeister. He asked her if she would like to study with him and take a gift from Japan to America. After many years of continued study, Master Murai’s request became a reality.

What is The Kojiki?

2012 marks the 1300th anniversary of the compilation of The Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters). Completed in the year 712, The Kojiki is the oldest existing record of Japanese history, and is a text that is vital to any discussion of ancient Japanese history.

Even if it were merely a historical record, the value of The Kojiki is unquestionable, as it also is a collection of a large amount of Japanese mythology. The Kojiki begins during the period known as Kamiyo (The Age of the Gods), starting with the Japanese creation myth. Other myths include: Izanagi and Izanami’s creation of the islands of Japan and the myriad deities that populated the heavens and this world, Izanagi’s journey to Yomi-no-kuni (the Underworld) in an attempt to bring back Izanami after her death, Susano-o’s battle against the eight-headed eight-tailed serpent Yamata-no-Orochi, the adventures of Okuninushi as he rose to become the deity charged with turning the land of Japan into a true nation, and the descent of Ninigi (grandson of the sun deity Amaterasu), who came from the heavens to rule Japan. These myths share similarities with mythology from around the world, particularly well-known tales from Greek mythology, and this provides an added layer of interest to them.

The exploits of the gods included in The Kojiki lead to a record of the lineage of the Imperial Family up to Empress Suiko (593 – 628 AD), and events that happened during each emperor’s reign. In doing this, The Kojiki traces a path from mythology into historical record, and while it is difficult to say at which point the stories pass from myth and legend into historical fact, this blend of stories gives the reader many different windows into Japanese history and culture.

The Kojiki is not the only collection of Japanese mythology. The Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan), compiled in the year 720, collects many similar versions of the myths featured in The Kojiki, although names of gods and other details of the myths change at times. Local myths and legends that flourish throughout eastern Shimane are contained in the Izumo-no-kuni Fudoki, a record of the geography, culture, and folklore of the area that was compiled in 733. Although all of the provinces in Japan compiled a Fudoki, Izumo’s is the only one that still exists in almost complete form, and the stories contained within provide a uniquely Izumo flavor to existing myths and introduce completely original Izumo mythology as well.

To be continued…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s