L5r: Legend of the Five Rings


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Shinseism , the philosophy of the Five Rings, [1] was the religion and philosophy devoted to the teachings of Shinsei. Its lessons came from the Tao of Shinsei, the written record of Shinsei's teachings across Rokugan. Though its most obvious practitioners were the monks of the Brotherhood of Shinsei, Shinseism was the state religion of Rokugan, so everyone within the Empire was considered a member.

Merged Edit

During the rule of Hantei Genji the religion or the Seven Fortunes, the Kami no michi, and the words of the Tao were merged by Imperial Edict. The two religions should be viewed as aspects of the same belief, thus unifying many or the primitive tribes of Rokugan with the body of the Emerald Empire. [2]

Teachings Edit

On the elements Edit

Shinseism taught that the perceived differences between the five elements were an illusion. Everything in the universe came from the Void, and eventually it would all return to the Void. In embracing the oneness of all the elements and by seeing beyond the illusions that seemed to separate the physical and the spiritual, a monk began his journey to enlightenment. [3]

On cosmology Edit

Shinsei introduced into the Rokugani psyche several concepts that were considered key. Shinsei was the one who said that, as chi came from the Void and returned again to it, the human soul did not linger in Yomi for eternity, but entered into a cycle of rebirth. Shinsei also explained that the kami were not simply random elemental forces, but that they were beings that belonged to courts of elemental powers. These were two of the cornerstones of Rokugani philosophy, and they were two of the things that Shinsei understood before any others. [3]

Monasticism Edit

In his Sermon on the Path of Purification, Shinsei laid out the rules that govern monastic life for the monks of the Brotherhood of Shinsei. It included instructions for abstinence, poverty, and the shunning of politics. He said for his followers to wander Rokugan and spread his philosophy, though they should meet frequently to consider communal issues. These teachings led directly to the establishment of the Great Convocations. [4]

At one of these Convocations, it was discovered that the monks of the Agasha family had been making incredible progress in their spiritual journeys. The Agasha monks regularly spent a great deal of time in their homes in the lands of the Dragon Clan; at one point, twenty years passed without an Agasha attending a Convocation. Because of their time spent cloistered int their mountains, the Agasha had more time and energy to devote to their studies of Shinsei's teachings. As a result of these incredible achievements, the rules of the Path of Purification were amended by the leaders of the Brotherhood to allow for the establishment of monasteries. [4]

Sects Edit

In the beginning, the Brotherhood attempted to enforce doctrinal uniformity among its adherents. The five Shinsei Sutra were stressed over any other teachings. Such a state never lasts forever, and nearly from the beginning, various monks had differing interpretations even of the Shinsei Sutra. [4]

Shingon Edit

The matter came to the forefront of monastic discussion at the tenth Great Convocation in 234 [5], when a monk named Basso came forward with what he called the "Diamond Sutra", which appears to be mainly a reinterpretation of the Lotus Sutra. Basso claimed the Diamond Sutra was a "lost" teaching of Shinsei's, though some believe Basso wrote it himself. [3] Basso believed and taught the the Shinsei Sutra and the Tao of Shinsei were "elementary" teachings of Shinsei's, and placed all emphasis instead on the Diamond Sutra. [4]

The leadership of the Brotherhood, at that time, decided to quietly drop their insistence on doctrinal uniformity and accepted Basso's followers as the Shingon sect of Shinseism. [4]

Shintao Edit

The Shintao sect was formed twenty years after the Shingon, at the twelfth Great Convocation in 254. [5] Shintao did not focus on any of Shinsei's teachings, and instead focused on attaining enlightenment through meditation. A popular saying among masters of the Shintao sect was, "Shinsei didn't have the benefit of the Tao of Shinsei to achieve enlightenment, so why should you?". [6]

Instead of the traditional study of Shinsei's teachings, lessons of the Shintao sect generally consisted of Shinsei as a character in parables. In the Rinzai sect, a sub-sect of Shintao, focused on the use of koan to adjust a student's perception. [6] They were known as the Questioners. [7]

Prayers Edit

Prayers and Blessings


Shintao prayers followed the same pattern: first, the supplicant purified himself by cleaning his hands and mouth with clean water. Then offerings were given to the ancestors; the supplicant bowed twice deeply, clapped his hands twice, bowed deeply once more and began prayers to the kami. [8]


  1. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 25
  2. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 28
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Way of the Phoenix, p. 118
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Way of the Phoenix, p. 119
  5. 5.0 5.1 Way of the Open Hand, p. 9
  6. 6.0 6.1 Way of the Phoenix, p. 120
  7. Way of Shinsei, p. 20
  8. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 29

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