During ritual and practice, the primary focus of our energy is vertical musubi—vertical connection—between amatsu (heavenly) kami, kunitsu (earthly) kami and ourselves.
How does one accomplish vertical musubi? By daily practice. By greeting each day with gratitude and with prayer. Create a sacred space in your home and chant prayers to the kamisama. At the end of each day, close your day with prayer again. In this way, you will begin to clear away the clouds of impurities and to realize the true brightness which you have inherited as a child/descendant of the kami.
Our mission beyond this, however, is the practice of horizontal musubi—to be able to realize the connection between all human beings. This begins with one’s self an immediate family, expanding outward to our extended family, our community, our nation, and to the world community. To practice Shinto with all one’s heart is to understand, to be empathetic of all human beings in this line of horizontal musubi—horizontal connection.
When we enter a sacred area, we enter through a tori gate. This gate reaches up towards the heavens, connecting the energy of heaven and earth. This is vertical musubi. When you enter through the tori, pause for a moment. Not only to pay respect the the kami of that place, but also to experience the awe of this vertical connection.
But notice, also, the strong horizontal crossbeams. These are horizontal musubi; our horizontal connection that binds us to all other human beings. This connection exists whether or not we realize or acknowledge it. But in order to fulfill our mission given to us by Sarutahiko no O Kami, head of all earthly kami, we must take horizontal action by extending empathy and support to those in need.
The first duality in the kandakara, the ten kami treasures, is okitsu kagami, hetsu kagami. Distant mirror, close personal mirror. We must clearly and honestly see ourselves not only from a distance, but from up close—from the inside out. Sendai Guji Yukitaka Yamamoto taught that in order to clearly see ourselves we must have a dual reference. That our “self” is located in between okitasu kagami and hetsu kagami. This duality creates a frame of reference in that we may see ourselves as we truly are. We must have this authentic view in order to effectively connect horizontally to others. Only with this understanding will we have the full energy of the kamisama as we extend musubi horizontally.
How will you practice horizontally musubi today?