chapter  XV
14 Pages

The Purification Sects

An extraordinary regard for ceremonial purity runs through the entire range of Japanese history. Its importance in Old Shinto has already been pointed out.1 It strongly colours the rituals and doctrines of all the modern sects and is especially prominent in the two that we are now about to examine, Shinshu Kyo and Misogi Kyo. In its more traditional manifestations the motive of purification rests in a fear of pollution, both material and immaterial, and a dread of the frustration of happiness and prosperity caused by the malevolent spirits and evil fate that threaten to fasten their power on man whenever his uncleanness opens for them an easy entrance to the soul. In its higher reaches it becomes a passion to transcend the limitations of incomplete human selfhood and to open up an unobstructed avenue of intercommunication with the ecstatic world of spirit.