Course Work On Religious Studies

Published: 2021-06-22 00:16:28
essay essay

Category: China, Religion, Theology, Nature, Japan

Type of paper: Essay

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Introduction

Human behaviour is motivated by a large number of factors and religious beliefs are one of them. Religious beliefs always exert a powerful influence on the culture and are universal in terms of presence. Almost all the religions taught us to respect others and to live in harmony with our nature. In this regard, the Chinese and Japanese religion deserves special mention as Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Shinto offer so much to the world in respect of teaching the need of human to live not in a conflicting situation with his surrounding nature. All the religions mentioned here except the Confucianism is believed to have ecological dimension. However, Confucianism also in a way echoes about harmony.

Body

If Chinese religion is to be discussed, then the one thing that we came across first is the concept of yin and yang. These two are central its religion as well as philosophy. Many people who are not familiar with the Chinese religion are also familiar with this concept as this represents the original interplay of opposites in our life. By opposite, Chinese religion means up and down, male and female, hot and cold, interior and exterior, joy and sadness etc. However, good and evil is not included in Yin And Yang. Another major indigenous religion of China is Daoism which carries the popular belief that learning and practicing Dao are the ultimate universal truths. Another name of Daoism is Taoism and this religion dates back to the 6th century. The religion spread quickly during 200-700 AD but after this it faces some competition from Buddhism. Around that time period, Buddhism also arrives in China from India and gain prominence over Daoism. In China, many ethnic minorities still practice Daoism.

The Analects are related to the Japanese religion propagated by Confucius. These are records of the great philosopher and continue to exert a powerful impact on East Asian values. The Analects also contain the discussions and was written somewhere between 479 BCE to 221 BCE. Shinto is one of the oldest religions of Japan and is believed to be yet prevalent today. In the pre-historic age, Japanese used to worship Kami and this gradually developed into a religion called Shinto. The characters which are used by Japanese people to write “Shinto” were considered to be supernatural and mysterious by Chinese. Karmi can be understood as “deity” in pure layman term, but here it is not like other religions.
There are many differences between Daoist and Confucian perspectives. If we took a first glance it is evident that both the philosophies are contradictory to each other like Confucian perspective is earthier in its approach. Here the main concentration is in the everyday life of man and his environment. However Daoist insists on embracing Tao and concentrate on one’s relationship with him so that inner harmony can be achieved. Thus, we can say that Confucian perspective is to lead man towards his surrounding environment or nature to improve self while Daoist believe in looking deep inside. There is another difference in terms of how lessons are passed to the followers. While Daoism spread through direct writings, Confucianism spread through dialogues.

Whether Confucianism is a religion or not is still shrouded by many views posed by different eminent scholars and thinkers. According to some, Confucianism is indeed a religion because it is all about morals but for some it is not at all as it lacks the supernatural element which one can find in Hinduism, Christianity and other popular religions. In Chinese language, the word ‘religion’ is synonymous to superstitions so it is very hard to define Confucianism as a religion. Hence for even Asian philosophers, it is quite hard to establish it as a religion.

Japan is the land of Kami, and this is evident in the form that till today Japanese used to bow their head before the rising sun each day and clap together as a mark of “the coming of Kami.” Kami is not “god” as western scholars used to interpret the term, instead it is broader in its sense. Kami (spirits) are both good and bad ones i.e. there is no demarcation line. According to Shinto religion, from heaven a couple of kami appeared on earth and that they give birth to various other kamis. They also give birth to the land of Japan and the nature it boasts. Kai can also be understood as the spirits that lies within human, birds, beasts and many other living and non living things like mountain, rain, thunder etc. Japanese used to worship ‘kami of rain’, ‘kami of wind’ and ‘kami of thunders’ till today. Shinto does not have any distinct founder and the concept of sin is also not defined. The central features of Shinto reinforce this concept as they include being likable for natural beauty, to live in harmony with the kami and rituals of purification. Celebrations and rituals are also an important aspect of Shinto religion and the followers of Shinto used to celebrate after 33 days of childbirth, during marriage and also during New Year.

Conclusion

It can be concluded safely that all the religions taught us to be in sync with our nature and thus guides the civilization. Spiritual prosperity can only be achieved if we follow the respective religions with full devotion and maintain a good behaviour towards others. Here by the word ‘others’ we mean all i.e. nature, your elders, and your teachers all. Chinese and Japanese religions teach that nature is important to live and we should all love it for what it bestows on us unconditionally. Japanese when visit a temple or shrine before doing any important work, they actually try to clean their minds and ask the spiritual world surrounding them to help in accomplishing their work in a rightful manner. Countries strongly influenced by these two religions are China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, etc. Many western philosophers also now acknowledge the importance of these religions in shaping the traditional beliefs of the people residing in these countries who does not considered themselves as independent individuals like the west and believe in maintaining certain environmental ethics.

Works Cited

- Tucker, Evelyn. Mary. Confucianism and Ecology, September, 2009 Retrieved from
- Barnhill, Landis. David; Gottlieb, S. Roger. Deep Ecology and World Religions: New Essays on Sacred Grounds, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2001.Print
- Philips, Jr. Stevens. Anthropology of Religion, Routledge, 2010. Print
- Kasulis, P. Thomas, Shinto:The way home, University of Hawai Press, 2004. Print

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