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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And this air must be infinite or finite in extent


"The

nature of this 'way' is to be learned by studying the Kojiki and ancient writings, but mankind has been turned aside from it, by the spirits of crookedness, to Buddhism and Chinese philosophy. The various doctrines taught under the name of Shinto are without authority, Human beings, having been produced by the spirit of the two creative deities, are naturally endowed with the knowledge of what they ought to do, and what they ought to refrain from doing. It is unnecessary for them to trouble their heads with systems of morality. If a system of morals were necessary, men would be inferior to animals, all of whom are endowed with the knowledge of what they ought to do, only in an inferior degree to man. If what the Chinese call benevolence, modesty, filial piety, propriety, love, fidelity, and truth really constituted the duty of man, they would be so recognized and practised without any teaching; but since they were invented by the so-called 'holy men' as instruments for ruling a viciously inclined population, it became necessary to insist on more than the actual duty of man. Consequently, although plenty of men profess these doctrines, the number of those that practise them is very small. Violations of this teaching were attributed to human lusts. As human lusts are a part of man's nature, they must be a part of the harmony of the universe, and cannot be wrong according to the Chinese theory. It was the vicious nature of the Chinese that necessitated such strict rules, as, for
instance, that persons descended from a common ancestor, no matter how distantly related, should not intermarry. These rules, not being founded on the harmony of the universe, were not in accordance with human feelings and were therefore seldom obeyed.

"In ancient times, Japanese refrained from intermarriage among children of the same mother, but the distance between the noble and the mean was duly preserved. Thus, the country was spontaneously well governed, in accordance with the 'way' established by the gods. Just as the Mikado worshipped the gods in heaven and earth, so his people pray to the good gods in order to obtain blessings, and perform rites in honour of the bad gods in order to avert their displeasure. If they committed crimes or denied themselves, they employed the usual methods of purification taught them by their own hearts. Since there are bad as well as good gods, it is necessary to propitiate them with offerings of agreeable food, playing the lute, blowing the flute, singing and dancing, and whatever else is likely to put them in good humour.

"It has been asked whether the Kami no michi is not the same as the Taoism of Laotzu. Laotzu hated the vain conceits of the Chinese scholars, and honoured naturalness, from which a resemblance may be argued; but as he was born in a dirty country not under special protection of the Sun goddess, he had heard only the theories of the succession of so-called 'holy men,' and what he believed to be naturalness was simply what they called natural. He did not know that the gods are the authors of every human action, and this ignorance constituted a cause of radical difference. To have acquired the knowledge that there is no michi (ethics) to be learned and practised is really to have learned to practise the 'way of the gods.' . . . Many miracles occurred in the Age of the Gods, the truth of which was not disputed until men were taught by the Chinese philosophy to analyse the acts of the gods by the aid of their own feeble intelligence. The reason assigned for disbelieving in miracles is that they cannot be explained; but in fact, although the Age of the Gods has passed away, wondrous miracles surround us on all sides. For instance, is the earth suspended in space or does it rest upon something else? If it be said that the earth rests upon something else, then what is it that supports that something else? According to one Chinese theory, the earth is a globe suspended in space with the heavens revolving round it. But even if we suppose the heavens to be full of air, no ordinary principles will account for the land and sea being suspended in space without moving. The explanation offered is as miraculous as the supposition previously made. It seems plausible enough to say that the heavens are merely air and are without any definite form. If this be true, there is nothing but air outside the earth, and this air must be infinite or finite in extent. If it is infinite in extent, we cannot fix any point as its centre, so that it is impossible to understand why the earth should be at rest; for if it be not in the centre it cannot be at rest. If it be finite, what causes the air to condense in one particular spot, and what position shall we assign to it?


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