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Bathing the Spirit to Expel Evil



This book (which we keep at the entrance to the bath) was written for us in 1953 by Mr. Hara, a 78 year old customer of what was then the Kirishimaya. He also wrote lyrics to many of the Kusatsu songs.

"Not even doctors, or the water of Kusatsu,Can cure the sicknessOf falling in love"This was a song composed when he stayed for a while at Kirishimaya and fell in love with a geisha. Later, after he told her of his feelings and began a love affair, he penned another verse to create a pair: "But if you can cure lovesicknessThen by being with the one you loveYour sickness will also be cured"Unfortunately for him, his wife later found out about the affair!

During my grandfather's time (when the Kirishimaya group had just started up), my father lived at Mr. Hara's house from the late Taisho period till the Showa period. He received much kindness during his stay, and was able to attend a good school nearby.

My elder sister and I also had a similar experience - we lived in Kanda, Tokyo, in the house of a customer named Mr. Koraku, and attended school there whilst receiving much kindness. Both Mr. Koraku and his wife were born in the Meiji period, he was a scholar on Japan, and in fact was the 18th generation of a family of leaned scholars; his wife was the princess of a court noble family (a descendent of the famous warlord Oda Nobunaga), so both my sister and I learned a great deal from them. In this way you might say that we were on better terms with our customers than a relative might be.

Returning to the topic at hand - the Bath to Lift Evil Spirits - below is an extract from a Kirishimaya Group Bookmark.

The "spirit" is human life, cosmic energy and natural energy. It is the energy of the hot spring. It's what we know as the soul, as life energy; it's known as run in Tibet, prajna in India, ruach or nephesh in Hebrew, pneuma or psyuche in Greek - the same concept can be expressed in many ways. In the Bible the word spirit appears to represent a living soul that we can interpret as god. In Buddhism, the spirit is not considered to be god, but rather one's heart.Japanese people believe that while they are physically alive, they are simply borrowing a vessel to contain their spirit (i.e. for their life to inhabit). For this reason, we believe that we must treat our bodies with care.

"Bathing the Spirit" implies bathing in a high class hot spring, and receiving medical treatment through doing so, but the true meaning is rather that by bathing in strong natural energy (the power of life, the power of the spirit) such as the energy one can experience at a hot spring, one can receive the favor of having one's life energy recharged This is something one can do at any time, not only through bathing but by simply eating and taking walks etc. It also applies quite significantly to the performance of ablutions and ascetic training such as qigong and prajnayama. By Bathing the Spirit to Expel Evil, the mind, body and soul can be purified. In Japan it is like giving thanks to god for having a bath.

"Expelling Evil" refers to the strengthening of life power and the expelling of the causes of illness and diseases from the body which is achieved by bathing the spirit. When you have bathed your spirit, be it through taking a hot spring cure, taking a walk, eating a meal, practicing meditation etc, you attain a state where you "feel good" and food "tastes good". We call this the "attainment of balance between body, mind and soul, a time when we become healthy, well, peaceful and happy". Bathing the spirit to expel evil has two effects - it wards off evil spirits and has a baptismal function. And all this is attained through taking a hot spring cure.

Thinking of the proverb "patience is a virtue" may aid your understanding. In Japanese, our equivalent of this proverb is: "spending three years on top of a rock" (the idea being that if you sit on top of a cold rock for three years it will become warm, and similarly if you persevere with a difficult task it will eventually become easy). Following the same train of thought, consider the saying "3 months for 3 years". By bathing your spirit accordingly (for 110 days a year for three years), you will be able to gain an understanding of the causes of your illnesses through your environment, food and way of thinking etc. During this period you will rediscover yourself, and by taking careful note of the causes of your illnesses the evil will be expelled. It may help to consider this as being like Buddhism's "development of the heart".
@@@@@@@@@@@@Kusatsu Hot SpringKirishimaya RyokanDirector:
Ph.D.Yoshiaki Nakazawa
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