Yutaka Yamada, Ph.D.



Symbolic Anthropology

Yutaka Yamada(Anthropology Ph.D.) has explored life history narratives or autobiographies of members of Japanese New Religions in which dreams and healing experiences are significant units of episodic symbols.




A Narrative (1) is a symbol (2), a medium which conveys a certain meaning and one that has its own symbolic structure. A symbolic anthropologist attempts to elucidate the major forms and meanings of the narratives and then to construct the underlying culture of the narratives. Anthropologists start with analysis of the narratives, moves inductively beyond to more general patterns. Often when these narratives are compared it is found that certain groups of narratives display common cultural patterns; from these narratives, the culture of the narrators can be generalized.

For Contacting Yutaka Yamada and ANTHJA via Email tamayu@aol.com Click Here

Symbolic Anthropology is a field of Cultural Anthropology which explores non-verbal and verbal symbols (e.g. narratives, dreams, myth, ritual, icons). Anthropologists examine the link between symbols and a society's cognitive structure, rules of moral conduct and patterns of social interactions. By studying the meaning and thestructure(the interrelationship of symbols), the anthropologist attempts to generalize the culture of global societies.

Religious leaders or individual members of religious groups are often said to go through religious experiences such as possession, trance, visions, dreams, miraculous healings, dramatic forms of conversion and various shamanic experiences. The forms of these experiences as well as the socio-cultural background in which these occur are diverse, but often they are in narrative form.

For Contacting ANTHJA via Email tamayu@aol.com Click Here

Examples of the description of a dream which is a segment of a life history (narrative of religious experience) follows:

Mrs. E's Dream Text

I had this strange dream. In the dream there was a hill and there was fire going down the hill. It looked to me like fire, waving light, and the light was red. I looked everywhere, and everywhere there was this light. I couldn't stand it; being in a dream, in a spiritual body, it knocked me out. It was just like little flames. Have you seen a fireplace, how the little logs burn in little flames? It was just like that. In the middle of the fire, the Master was standing, and the light was sort of pouring out of him. The light was radiating from him, his face and his robe. I remember thinking that if he didn't stop smiling, he would kill me. Then suddenly, the light softened and I was able to look at him. I would say that the light was extending from him for a couple of hundred yards. Many, many yards around him, it was so brilliant, this light, and it knocked me out. He finally turned and said, "Can you see who is coming around the curve?" Now, he wasn't speaking verbally, but mentally. I looked, and there came the reverend around this curve, and she was carrying a burden. She was carrying this tremendous heavy load. She looked so tired I felt sorry. It was sort of too much for me. But I realized that this must be her burden to bring the light to America, and I ran to her to help her. I turned to the Master, and I woke up.

Then I had this second dream. It was about the Master. In the dream he was sitting on the floor of my apartment. He was giving me Purification, and I was wondering why he came. And he said to me that he came because of my appreciation of his teachings. As soon as he finished giving me the Purification he bowed, smiled and began to fade. He said, "Remember to call on us always; we are never far away."

I had another dream. In the dream, I was flying over the church. It was dawn. From the church, the light was pouring out in all directions and it covered the entire world. As I continued to fly, I saw miracles happening. It was the light's power. The earth looked like it was totally reborn. Faces were turning up and becoming transformed and illuminated--everything everywhere became glorious, and I woke up with joy.

(1)Narrative is a story comprised of symbols such as episodes and events.

(2)Examples of Symbols are verbal and non-verbal medium that conveys "meanings" such as narratives, dreams, myth, ritual and icons.

Anthja Index Anthja Main Anthropology

Yutaka Site IndexBackground Publication Excerpts Bruckner

For Contacting Yutaka Yamada and ANTHJA via Email tamayu@aol.com Click Here

Free Copy
"Japanese Religions in America: Selected English Bibliography"
Send Email to tamayu@aol.com

Thank you for Visiting Our Site!!