Great Construction

Protestantism and Catholicism

     There are several points I would like to make about Christianity and these concern the differences in outlook between Protestantism which does not lay stress on the organized nature of the church and Catholicism for which the organized church is paramount. The Chinese ideograms chosen to represent in writing these two concepts, “no-church-ism” and “church-ism,” respectively, express the viewpoints well. Protestantism does not require a church; it need advance only with the Bible in hand while Catholicism holds the church important because it came about as a result of Christ’s ascension, the Bible only having been published much later. I would like to share my own ideas of the merits of each outlook. There are reasons why such an issue exists and I would like to explain them from the spiritual aspect.
     In the spiritual world, in accord with the law of the oneness of the spiritual and the physical, spirit and substance are unified. When the spirit seeks to accomplish some purpose, it must utilize substance. In order to summon divine beings or buddhas and seek to receive blessings or guidance, a church or a temple or a sanctuary is constructed on purified land, an altar or object of worship or buddha is installed, incense is lit, offerings are made, and prayers are respectfully conducted. In response to these actions, divine beings and buddhas of a high level descend or occupy the location, which is to say they are enshrined. Then, in times of emergency, no matter when or where prayers are offered, the divine beings or buddhas will come and provide protection. In the case of Protestants, for whom substance is not a medium but who pray to space, no doubt is there that their love and sincerity do reach the divine and they receive protection to a certain degree. But, in accordance with the law of spiritual affinity, those blessings are weaker. In this regard, allow me to write about the relationship between spirit and substance.
     In the spiritual world, the spirits of divine beings and buddhas, as well as the spirits of people and animals can attach themselves to or possess substance. For example, Christ to the cross; divine beings and buddhas to graphs, mirrors, pictures, sculptures; living individual’s spirits most often to graphs; and animal spirits to people’s physical bodies or graphs. For example, inari can attach themselves to or posses an item of substance or a card that contains the shape of a fox; a dragon spirit to graphs, to a snake, or to a stone monument. If and to what degree high-level divine spirits of either Buddhism or other religions attach themselves to or possess objects such as a monument is influenced greatly by the character of the creator of the monument, and thus since antiquity pictures and sculptures created by well-known religious figures, intellectuals and other master artists have been held in high esteem.
     Then, there is the following. If a spirit in a foreign country wants to come to Japan, it is not able to merely travel through space. Spirits are limited by their spiritual level as to how far they may travel, so to move about, unavoidably they must possess an item of substance. Spirits concerned with communism possessing books written by Karl Marx will often come to Japan where they line the walls of Japanese university lecture rooms, and I have heard from those with spiritual vision that they have seen these spirits. I understand that spirits from China possess various kinds of objects and travel to Japan. In the same way, Japanese spirits possess objects and travel abroad, but the higher the level of the spirits of the divine beings and buddhas, the greater is their sphere of movement. Those who can go anywhere on the planet are divine beings and buddhas of the highest rank.
     Thus can be understood how much in error are opinions and doctrines about graven images.

Essays on Faith, page 75, January 25, 1948
    translated by cynndd