What is 'en'?

The word 'en' appears often in the pilgrimage literature, and the pilgrimage itself is also referred to as 'en-no-michi' or the path of 'en'. The word 'en' is not easily translated into English, but we sometimes see it interpreted as a special connecting force or as the connection between people. It is also used with the word 'musubi', which means 'to tie', and en-musubi usually refers to the connections between man and woman, that is, marriage. However, 'en' is not that simple.

Nothing in this world can exist completely independently. Existence is dependent on a host of things or forces inseparably and intricately intertwined. Put simply, 'en' can be said to mean the logic of nature, the order of the universe or the connections between the forces that we cannot see.

Nothing can exist by itself. Everything is connected and dependent on other beings for existence. Nothing is fixed. Everything is constantly shifting and changing. This interdependent existence and constant shifting is the very truth of the universe. Satori, or the enlightenment of Buddha, realizes this 'en' intuitively. 'En' is not simply a human thought. It is the truth.

Human beings exist because of this 'en'. We are not living on our own volition, but because of the things we can and cannot see and everything that is intertwined in a past that we do not know, right up to the present. Therefore we should cherish the connections and relationships we have with all living beings and things, and show gratitude and kindness. This is what it means to cherish 'en'.

In the Japanese language, the Japanese concept of 'en' is very clearly expressed.

For example, the word okagesama means 'thanks to you', and we hear it very often in everyday exchanges such as 'How are you?' 'Thanks to you, I'm fine.' Also the word 'arigatai' means gratitude or appreciation and the Japanese characters that make up the word mean that something is rare or a rare occurrence. 'Mottainai' means 'what a waste' and expresses the thought that something is 'precious'. In the Japanese way of thinking, all is connected, and this interdependency is cherished.

In general it is common to refer to 'en' as the connection between a man and a woman. In particular in modern society it is becoming known as the forces of fulfillment and the hope of finding a good marriage partner.

In Izumo, it has been said that since ancient times the Gods meet here and discuss the workings of nature and the forces required to make people's lives proceed smoothly. Because of this Izumo is known as the land of en-musubi, and it has become known as a place where men and women can expect to meet and find a good marriage partner.

We hope that you are touched by 'en' and cherish the harmony it brings, as you make your spiritual journey here in the Land of the Gods.