Our sister site, Okunomichi.Wordpress.com has a number of posts on the kototama (kotodama) of Wosite (Woshite). Here are some slightly edited excerpts. Please click on the heading links to read the full articles. They were written before this WoshiteWorld blogsite opened, and the terms used may vary from our current usage.
Omiya Shirou Sensei, Hachiman author, is discussing aspects of Hotsuma kototama.This is a dialogue between Omiya Shirou Sensei and the interviewer Takeda, reported on the website http://www.hachiman.com/inteview/intvhotuma.html.
Omiya: The most important point of Hotsuma is the poetry written in the 5-7 rhythm of the chyouka waka. The Hotsuma kototama is reported in『完訳秀真伝』Kanyaku Shuushin-den completed by Torii, and is equivalent to Omiya’s 『言霊玄修秘伝』 Kototama Genshu Hiden. There are lots of secret messages in the waka. This kototama comes down from Awamiya Shrine which is now the Taga Taisha in Shiga Prefecture.
Takeda’s closing remarks: The form of waka is kototama. Hotsuma covers a huge area and the meaning is deep. Omiya’s book in modern Japanese gives a nice explanation of Hotsuma.
According to Rei Torii in Kamigami no Nazo (Mystery of the Kami):
Kototama refers to the rhythms that bring forth the manifested world.
Mother rhythms are the five vowels あ い う え お which span the dimensions of infinite space. They are the processes of movement of: space, wind, fire, water, and earth. Moving space gives rise to moving wind, which gives rise to moving fire, and which in turn gives rise to the flowing down of moving water/liquid and earth/solid.
Father rhythms are the consonants which develop time. These are the processes of creating life and building the world.
Koji Ogasawara: “The world is perpetually beginning right here, right now!”
According to the ancient Takenouchi collection of documents, the Path of the ancient ones of the Japanese Islands is called Kototama. This term refers to the spiritual (tama) power of sound (koto). Its formal name is Kototama Futomani, Kototama Great (futo) Mana (energy). Kototama Futomani is a cosmology and a practice. It is based on the fundamental property of Universe to create, to manifest, by vibrations. Vibrations produced by the human voice form the sounds of speech. These vibrations of speech carry great spiritual energy. Kototama is based on the principle that the way sound patterns are organized determines the development of individual human consciousness and of human society. Civilizations evolve and fall on the basis of these sound systems.
Hotsuma Tsutae is one of the koshi-koden ancient literature (which includes Takenouchi and other documents). It is a legacy written in a beautiful script called Wosite. It was recorded two to three thousand years ago. It relates history and teachings of advanced humans thousands of years prior. We can well wonder how to fit the Hotsuma Tsutae and the Wosite documents into the overall scheme of the Takenouchi.
The main characters of the Hotsuma legends are known to readers of the conventionally accepted books: Kojiki (711 CE) and Nihon Shoki (720 CE). By the eighth century when these two documents were produced by royal order, there was already a formal ruling system and a stratified society. Elements considered not suitable for the court’s political purposes were eliminated or modified. It is very illuminating to compare the contents of the two mentioned koshi-koden documents with the eighth century versions.
Today’s scholars recognize a long period of peace and culture called the Jōmon period. The name Jōmon was given to describe the cord-marked earthenware said to be the oldest in the world. The Jōmon period lasted from about 14,000 BCE to 300 BCE, a remarkably long period of peace. It was followed by the Yayoi (300 BCE to 300 CE) with significant immigration from the Asian continent which greatly impacted society in the islands. Then came the Kofun period of burial mounds, and so on into historical times.
The sound order of the of human civilization has changed over time. The period of peace is the Sugaso, the material civilization is Kanagi, and the future is the Futonorito. In terms of Kototama sound order, the Jōmon would be Sugaso and the following periods beginning with the Yayoi the Kanagi.
Where does the Hotsuma /Wosite culture belong in this timeline? There are two seeming inconsistencies when dating it. From the spiritually guided nature of Hotsuma society, it would appear to belong to the Sugaso order, at least in the beginning. The early tales are full of compassion and resolution of conflicts by nonviolent means such as negotiation and Kototama. Society was guided to embody Heaven on Earth which means to live in harmony with nature and universe. In the teaching sections of the Hotsuma Tsutae, the lessons emphasized living the Way of Hotsuma which is the Amenaru Miti Way of Heaven.
… we may view the Hotsuma/Wosite culture as the last gasp of the Sugaso.
The Wosite literature is written in verse of 5 and 7 syllables. When a master poet is asked why, she replies because 7 and 5 are the rhythms of Heaven and Earth. Deep study of the Woshite syllabary has led to some understanding of the cosmology of the Hotsuma people.
As later tales unfold, especially the last 12 chapters which were added generations later, we view society moving more and more to materialistic worldviews and behavior, thus fully entering the Kanagi civilization. The sacred is declining and materiality is growing. There are battles of nation-building. While the building of a nation may seem grand and glorious, it comes at the cost of human blood and suffering. These stories mark the beginning of our Second Civilization. Hotsuma tales record the transition from the First to the Second Civilization.
Since Wosite times, we have continued down this path of separation and conflict, loss of connection with other people and our environment. We can go no further. We must stop and build the Third Civilization.
The documents mentioned here all include the common story of Ama no Iwato no Hiraki, the opening of the heavenly cave door. This is the prophecy that the door of darkness will be opened and light of truth will pour forth once more.
The door is opening.
And light is spreading all over the world.