Showing the Way Home: Self, Environment and Transformative Attention through the lenses of Shinto and Japanese Buddhism
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The purpose of the religious studies thesis is to respond to the homelessness and self-isolation that the self may feel when living in an individualized technology-oriented society and offer ways through which one may find the home in one’s every-day life. The central purpose of the thesis is to explore how trained attention enables the self to become one with the environment and find the home within it through the lenses of Shinto and Japanese Buddhist thought. Regarding the research methodology, the thesis presents a literature review of religious and philosophical sources connected to the Shinto and Japanese Buddhist traditions. The key ideas are that the self is a combination of five ever-changing aggregates which may be balanced through body-mind cultivation practices. With continuous efforts to strengthen the connection between body and mind, one’s attention is trained and one is able to recognize that one is always embedded in one’s environment and the relationships with the objects within it. In this way the self becomes merged with the surrounding environment and is able perceive the spiritual-material nature of one’s reality. This also makes for one’s ability to perceive awe and wonder in one’s surroundings, which is defined as the state of being at home. In conclusion, attention aids in one to become one with the environment and find the home within it by enabling one to realize of one’s embeddedness in space and cultivating one’s capacity for perceiving awe and wonder in what is often deemed only ordinary and familiar.