Free Essay On Shinto And Its Relationship With China And With Buddhism
Shinto is an ancient ethnic-based Japanese religion that is prevalent among the people of the country. It allows the practice of social activities that people are able to identify with and being an ethnic religion, it incorporates cultural activities and beliefs in shaping the lives of its followers and as a result command an enormous following. The religion is known to permit and incorporate other foreign cultures and people’s way of life in its own practices. Generally, the beliefs that are mostly propagated by Shinto makes it an animistic religion that believes in the existence of unique beings, as well as sacred animals, deities, plants and things. There were individual rocks that were taken and continues to be regarded as holy and sacred. This traditional Japanese religion has excellent links with the Chinese and Buddhism as it borrows a lot from them as portrayed in the name. This paper explains Shinto and identifies the relationship with China and Buddhism.
The world Shinto is coined from a Chinese word that is sometimes pronounced as shin do. It is made of a combination of two words, ‘shin’ and ‘do’ or ‘to’ that are combined together to give meaning and doctrines of the religion. ‘Shin’ means God and ‘to’ means the way or following. There is a close relationship between the Japanese and the Chinese with Japan borrowing many things on religion and language from the Chinese. For instance, Shin is a character that is shared by the two communities, and it almost means the same in the two languages. To the Chinese, the character means God while on the Japanese side the same character represents Kami, that is a holy and respectable religious being or thing. Therefore, the word Shinto is taken to mean the way of God or the way of the kami.
Shinto is the oldest religion in Japan dating from the ancient times. It was the dominant one where the people believed in the way of the kami. However, the influence of China on the Japanese in terms of lifestyle and religion led to the introduction of Buddhism in Japan. The nature of Shinto, which did not have a recognizable name at the time, was welcoming, and it allowed the infusion of other cultures and beliefs into its own practices. Buddhism therefore had a place in Japan and in order to distinguish it from the older religion, Shinto got the name that described it. At the time, Buddhism was referred to as Butsudo that meant the way of Buddha. Adopting the name Shinto prevented confusion as it allowed people to choose either between the way of Buddha and the way of the kami.
Shinto as a religion has a close link with China and Buddhism. Currently, many Japanese believe and follow the doctrines of both faiths. However, Shinto is taken as the norm and the way of life while the latter is practiced as the religion. The Japanese frequent both the Shinto shrines and the Buddha temples during various ceremonies and celebrations such as welcoming of the New Year, marriage, and funerals. Other than the meaning and practices, they also borrow a lot from the Chinese architecture making the shrines and Buddhist temples similar. It is, therefore, difficult to separate the two religions from the lives of the Japanese.
Kasulis, Thomas. Shinto. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004. Print.
Reader, Ian. Religion in Contemporary Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1991. Print.
Suzuki, Hikaru. Death and Dying in Contemporary Japan. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.
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