Monday, September 20, 2004

Talking about Spirits Is Scientific

A blog friend of mine, who nicknamed herself obachan (a Japanese word to mean middle-aged woman), recently wrote on her web page as follows [1]:
[My grandma] strictly made me finish the rice, literally all -- without leaving any single grain in the bowl. According to her, there were gods (or spirits of nature) living in rice, so we should never throw them away.
My wife's and my own mother possibly belonged to the same generation as her grandma, and they also taught us to eat rice to the last grain. Regrettably, however, we did not tell our daughters about the spirits in rice. As a result, they do not share with us that good habit about eating rice. I thought that my wife and I were too scientific to talk about spirits. However, I happened to find the following passage in a book written by F. David Peat [2]:
Indigenous science also teaches that corn is the manifestation of something deeper, of something that transcends the particular individual plant and links all corn together -- in this case spirit.
Then Peat describes that the spirits of corn and Native American people had a form of mutually supportive relationship. Corn would grow in response to a request that it should feed the people; and in turn the people acknowledge the power of the plant and care for it in special ways. This represents indigenous science. It moves slowly. On the other hand, genetic engineering of Western science today is impressive, but, Peat criticizes, scientists don't really understand what they are doing to the general ecology.

Speaking of spirits might have been more scientific. I'm not joking here.
  1. "108 Gods in Salad" in "Obachan's Kitchen & Balcony Garden" (2004).
  2. F. David Peat, "Blackfoot Physics: A Journey into the Native American Universe" (Fourth Estate, London, 1995).
Related Site Added Later


  1. Thank you for citing my site. Talking about Native American people -- I stayed in Phoenix AZ for 2 months when I was in the States. There I got interested in their myths and legends, and felt that Japanese myths had something in common with theirs. Actually, it was their traditional designs that inspired my interest in Japanese traditional designs, and that?s why I keep changing the background of my blog header. My belief is that learning about a different world view can be often inspiring.

  2. Thanks, Obachan, for your intelligent comment.