"A few years ago, I went into the Shinto shrine of Fushimi-Inari in the lovely city of Kyoto for the first time. It was a warm and humid summer visit to this thousand-year-old shrine, and a few of us made the pilgrimage together. A lovely spiritual guide led us through the experience. We walked mostly in silence, as one should, on this journey. We walked under thousands of torii Japanese gates that marked the path.
After about an hour of walking, I kept wondering when we would get to the shrine itself. Eventually, a little bit tired and impatient, I turned to the guide and asked, "Where is the shrine?"
He stopped, paused, and smiled in that knowing way that some guides do. With the most graceful motion, his right hand turned heavenward, he motioned his hand from right to left, pointing to everything in sight, and said: "Friend, the whole mountain is the shrine."
The torii, the Japanese gate, is said to mark the threshold between the sacred and the profane. Yet the torii is famously open. Sacred on this side, sacred on that side. Sacred to the right, sacred to the left. And while the thousands of torii do mark the path that one is encouraged to stay on, there are also hundreds if not thousands of sideway paths into other shrines, other bamboo-filled forests to wander and reflect. Ultimately, all is sacred, all is illuminated.
For the ones who walk on the path, it is all sacred."
- Omid Safi
The On Being Project