Shin Mei Spiritual Centre

Immanent Spirit Within

I recently had an interesting discussion about spirituality being immanent or transcendent.

Immanent is defined as something that exists within—inherent. Transcendent ant refers to something that is beyond, separate. Many theologians would argue that all religions have some aspects of both. However, certain religions emphasize immanence and others transcendence.

In Shinto, the emphasis is clearly on immanence—that the divine or sacred is found within Nature and within humans. There is no separation. Kami is within Nature. Humans are part of Nature. Kami are within us and around us.

The everyday world is filled with spiritual significance. Experience an awe-invoking sunrise. Feel the sturdy tree in your yard or nearby park. Connect to a neighbor or offer assistance to a stranger on the bus. These are all ways of experiencing kami, just as you would offer morning or evening prayers.

Defining kami is, indeed, very difficult because of this immanence. Kami are not just spiritual beings to whom we express gratitude and reverence. Kami are pervasive—they are the tree. They are the mountain. They are the spiritual presence in ourselves or in another person.

This idea of immanence leads us to take care and be attentive towards all aspects of our life—no matter how small or mundane.

Shinto practice asks us not only to live a life of gratitude, but also to see the sacred in ourselves and in everything around us.