Shugendō

By Yossi Sheriff
(Redirected from Shugendo)

Shugendō (修験道), (שוגנדו)

Crow Tengu, the Yamabushi Ninja martial instructor
Crow Tengu, the Yamabushi Ninja martial instructor

is an old Japanese practice of being outside using special awareness. "Shugendo" literally means "the path of training and testing." It centers on an ascetic, mountain-dwelling lifestyle and incorporates teachings from other eastern philosophies.

In modern times, Shugendo is practiced by the Yoshino Yamabushi of Dewa Sanzan (Tendai sect), Kinpusenji and Ishiyama-dera Shingon sects, but it retains an influence on modern Japanese religion, Culture of Japan and many outdoor practices.

History

En-no-Gyōja is often considered the founder of shugendo. Shugendō evolved on the cultural background of state-sponsored Buddhism and other religious influences in Japan around the 7th century, including but not limited to Taoism and Shintō. During the Meiji restoration, Shugendō was banned as a superstition not fit for a new, enlightened Japan. The Shugendō temples were converted into imperial Shintō shrines.

Followers

Those who practice Shugendō are referred in two ways. One term, shugenja (修験者), is derived from the term "Shugendo".

The other term, yamabushi (山伏) means "one who sleeps in the mountains". Supernatural creatures often appeared as yamabushi in Japanese mythology, as is evident in the legendary monk warrior Saito Musashibo Benkei and the deity Sojobo, king of the tengu (mountain spirits).

Modern Shugenja in Japan and throughout the world are known to practice through challenging and rigorous ritualistic tests of courage and devotion known as shugyo. Walkabouts involving mountain treks (Mts Ominé, Dewa, Hakusan, etc in Japan) are embarked upon by the aspiring Yamabushi, and, through the experience of each trek, as well as years of study, experience and insights are gained.

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