This article is a translation of the first part of the Shihō shinsho no maki 私法神書巻 (“Volume on Shintō as Private Law”) from Andō Shōeki’s Shizen
shin’eidō (“The True Way of the Functioning of Nature”). The fragments selected here contain a critique of three texts that Shōeki sees as fundamental in the shaping of Shintō as an ideology: Kujiki, Kojiki, and Nihongi. Shōeki criticizes Shintō alongside Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism as a preamble to proposing his own vision of the universe, a “World of Nature” unmarred by social hierarchies. His tenet is that any kind of ideology is part of the “Law” as a self-serving contraption created to alienate human society from the true way of Nature. In my notes preceding the translation, I make a brief overview of Shōeki’s philosophical ideas, emphasizing his understanding of the notion of kami, and I discuss the way in which he constructs and develops his argument. I also point to some of the discrepancies and contradictions that are found in his text.