We Dance by
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Prompted By Meditation

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We Dance

Shintoism has more followers in Japan than any other religion including Buddhism.   A polytheistic and animistic religion,  Shintoism,  like other Eastern faiths,  includes the practice of meditation and prayer,  and Japan boasts 100,000 Shinto shines.   But Shintoism has no central authority and its practices vary greatly among it adherents.

Although possibly apocryphal,  it is said that Joseph Campbell,  the famous academic who wrote The Power of Myth,  reported the following conversation at an international conference on religion.

An American philosopher told a Shinto priest,   “We’ve been to a good many ceremonies,  and have seen quite a few of your shrines.  But I don’t get your ideology.  I don’t get your theology.”

The Japanese paused as though in deep thought and then slowly shook his head.

”I think we don’t have ideology,”  he said,  ”we don’t have theology.  We dance.”

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Shintoism
Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Khati Hendry says:

    That sounds lovely. Makes me realize I know nothing about Shintoism. It reminds me of the Sufis and the Shakers. “To turn, turn will be our delight, ‘til by turning, turning we come round right.”

  2. Zeque says:

    Yow! That’s the ticket. For years I’ve thought of myself as a backsliding Taoist. No longer. I’m a shimmying Shinto.

    “and he was immediately enlightened”

    Thanks. The day just got sunnier.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Excellent! And I love Khati’s comment also, having sung Copland’s “Simple Gifts” many times, based on that phrase by the Shakers – I will send the song to both of you (I’m sure I can find it on YouTube, it is very popular; I used it as the title of Retro story once. Suzy had wanted to use it, but let me have it, after previewing my story).

  4. Suzy says:

    Great story, Dana, even if apocryphal. And fun to read the comments, especially Betsy’s recollection of the time she and I both wanted to use the Simple Gifts title, and I let her have it after reading her story. Btw, you will note that the URL for your “Both Sides Now” story has a “2” in it, because you were the 2nd person to use that title (I think Risa was the first).

    • Thanx Suzy, I did notice the 2 and had an inkling there were two stories with the same title!

      In late June we’ll be visiting cousins in Berkeley for a few days, is that too far from Sacramento for a meet-in-the-middle lunch with you and Mr Ed, and any other Retrospecters in the vicinity?

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