Ichirei shikon (一霊四魂)

Ichirei shikon (one spirit, four souls) is an idea of Japanese Shintoism in which the mind consists of a spirit called 'naohi' that is connected with the heaven and four souls.

History of Ichirei shikon

The idea that the mind consists of a spirit called 'naohi' that is connected with the heaven and four souls is called Ichirei shikon.
Chikaatsu HONDA, a scholar of Japanese classical literature from the end of Edo period to Meiji period, described a definite idea of 'Ichirei shikon.'
His disciple's disciple, Onizaburo DEGUCHI taught that not only the human's mind but also all things in nature were composed of Ichirei shikon and wrote many books about it.

The 'Nihonshoki' (Chronicles of Japan) describes that Kushitama or Kushimitama (the wondrous, miraculous, or salubrious), and Sakitama, Sachimitama or Sakimitama (the propitious) are part of the elements that constitute Ichirei shikon, suggesting that there had been the idea in the eighth century.

The structure of Ichirei shikon

According to 'Ichirei shikon,' the human's mind is considered to consist of four souls, which a 'spirit' controls. Those souls have respective divine names: Aramitama (god's rough soul), Nigimitama (the tranquil), Sachimitama (the propitious), and Kushimitama (the wondrous, miraculous, or salubrious), all of which are controlled by a spirit called naohi. This is the 'structure of the human mind' of Ichirei shikon.

Aramitama, Nigimitama, Sachimitama, and Kushimitama have different functions of souls, courage, relation, love, and wisdom, respectively. Naohi controls them. To put them simply, courage is a force for going forward; relation is a force for closely communicating with others; love is a force for loving and bringing up others; and wisdom is a force for observing, analyzing and understanding things.

Naohi gives feedback of these four functions, acting like a conscience.
For example, when the function of wisdom works too much, the naohi calls for reflection by suggesting,: 'You may be hated with too much analysis and evaluations.'
In other words, this naohi has a function of 'reflection.'

Functions of four souls

Courage
Aramitama
"Courage," a function of Aramitama is a force for going forward. It means the force for going forward not only fearlessly but also patiently and steadily. This function is described as '勇,' in one Chinese character. Extroverted persons with power of action can be said to have Aramitama.

Relation
Nigimitama
The soul's second function is Nigimitama, a force for having close communications. This function is described as '親,' in one Chinese character. Persons who desire peace and go along with others can be said to have Nigimitama.

Love
Sachimitama (or sakimitama)
The soul's third function is Sachimitama, a force for loving and bringing up others. This function is described as '愛,' in one Chinese character. Persons who think kindness and feeling important and seek mutual understanding can be said to have Sachimitama.

Wisdom
Kushimitama
The soul's fourth function is Kushimitama, which is an intelligence comprising of observation ability, analytic ability, and understanding ability. Persons who seek the truth can be said to have Sachimitama.

Naohi's function

Naohi whose function is described as '省' with one Chinese character can polish the four souls by reflecting what was done is proper or not. Naohi can distinguish right from wrong to guide the human so that it will not make mistakes, and calls for reflection, self reproach and repentance when mistakes occurs.

Only this naohi can be connected with 'heaven' and has a function to polish the four souls by controlling them. It gives feedback to Aramitama through shame, to Nigimitama remorse, to Sakitama through awe, and to Kushimitama through notice.

These four kinds of feedbacks are based on the function of 'reflection.'
These four feelings plus reflection are called a discipline of five feelings.

Growth of souls

The four souls are polished by naohi to grow in four phases.

The first phase 'a virtue'
The condition in which only one out of the four souls has grown well is called having 'a virtue.'
It is believed that a person having only one virtue grown can go to heaven.

The second phase 'two virtues'
The condition in which two souls have grown well is called having "two virtues." There are six combinations of two souls: courage plus relation, love plus wisdom, courage plus love, courage plus wisdom, love plus relation, and relation plus wisdom. Strictly speaking, there are twelve combinations because the order of two Chinese characters can be opposite.

The third phase 'three virtues'
The condition in which the three souls have grown well is called having 'three virtues' with a total of four combinations: courage/wisdom/love, courage/relation/love, courage/relation/wisdom, and relation/wisdom/love.

The fourth phase 'four virtues'
The condition in which the all four spirits have grown well is called having 'all virtues.'
The souls having all these virtues are given a divine name of Izunome no mitama soul. A purpose of the human is believed to polish souls with an aim to achieving all virtues.

The function of magahi spirit

When naohi does not properly function, the four souls can be polished but can not sometimes work, turning into magahi spirits.

The magahi spirit makes Aramitama into a disputing soul, Nigimitama into an evil soul, Sachimitama into a reverse soul, and Kushimitama into a mad soul.