The three primary chants that Shumei’s members use in their observances are the Amatsunorito, the Zengensanji, and the Kamigoto. The power of these chants is based on the principle of kototama, the idea that every word has spiritual power inherent in its sound, regardless of its literal meaning. This concept is related to the traditional role chanting has played in all cultures. Chanting can align us with the purpose, power, and rhythm of nature. And can bring us into harmony with God’s Will.
The spiritual purity of the person reciting the chants affects the degree of power emitted by the words. Words spoken with virtuous intent are more effective.
Before chanting, it is customary to bow three times. The first bow is shallow and acknowledges one’s presence before God. The second and third bows are deep and express respect and gratitude. Bowing is followed by three handclaps. They honor the three realms: that of God; that of the spirits, in which our ancestors dwell; and that of nature, the world in which we live. They also signify the unity of body, mind, and spirit. Their sharp sounds clear the mind and bring our attention to the present moment, making us more receptive to God’s blessings. When chanting before one of Shumei’s Scrolls of Light, this bow is directed toward the Scroll.
The Amatsunorito and Zengensanji are chanted one after the other at Shumei’s Monthly Sampais and other special occasions. All Shumei chants end with the recitation of the Three Closing Refrains, and with one deep bow and three handclaps.