Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Forum for discussion of East Asian Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Coëmgenu » Thu Nov 17, 2016 11:51 am

I just did a bit more background reading, and yeah, the first gagaku-transmission (along with the transmission of Confucian and Buddhist discourse) into Japan was actually in the 700s, but the specific repertoire that is played today comes from a transmission in the 1100s. So, as expected, your date was more on-the-money, lol.
"My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere."
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra XVI)

All these dharmāḥ are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.(SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶(Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasya Mantra)

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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Fortyeightvows » Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:11 am

For what it's worth:
Jianzhen lived 688–763.

Also in the book 'Folk religion in japan' Ichiro Hori says that
"after the first century AD the current of chinese civilization seems to have flowed mainly into northern Kyushu through the Korean peninsula and on a rather large scale" (page 9)

"Philosophical and religious Taoism is thought to have been introduced before the Nara period"

"The yin yang magic and techniques (Japanese, on myo do) had been controlled and monopolized by the Kami and Abe families since the Heian period" (page 14)

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dark radiance
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby dark radiance » Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:13 am

There's an old joke in Religious Studies Departments that goes, "70% of the Japanese are atheist, 70% are Shintoist, 70% are Buddhist."

The meaning of this is - that if you were to ask the average Japanese whether or not they were religious, they most likely say no (account for the "atheism"), but when exams or other important events come up, you will probably find them at the Shinto temple, praying for blessings; and when relatives die, they will go to the Buddhist temple to chant and for funeral rites.

In East Asia religion is often not seen as an exclusive commitment the way that it is in the West, but as a set of tools or practices that are taken up when needed. Some tools are better suited for some situations than others - generally speaking in Japan Shinto covers weddings and Buddhism gets funerals. While some people may choose to commit to a particular religion, many people happily take what they need when they needed from all of the traditions that are there.

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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Matylda » Sat Dec 03, 2016 9:04 am

dark radiance wrote:There's an old joke in Religious Studies Departments that goes, "70% of the Japanese are atheist, 70% are Shintoist, 70% are Buddhist."

I would not call it a joke.. it is fact :)

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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby rory » Sun Dec 18, 2016 5:41 am

One of the most helpful books for me was Reader and Tanabe's: "Practically Religious:Worldly Benefits in the Common Religion of Japan" University of Hawai'i Press it really shows the lively activity going on at shrines. Westerner's really don't have this transactional notion of worship today, though the ancient Romans with their 'do ut des' (I give to the gods so that you may give me a benefit) attitude did.

The other book that helped me a lot is Smyer's "The Fox and the Jewel" University of Hawaii Press all about Inari worship and you can find popular shrines even in Nichiren temples! I'm a very devoted Pure Lander and carry an omamori from the major Fushimi Inari shrine in which I have a lot of faith. It's not one vs the other it's more "and".

The closest example I'm familiar with to Japanese animism is ancient Roman religion which was 'numinous' meaning the Romans felt everything; streams, trees, rocks, even the door in your house had a numen - a divinity/spirit/power etc.
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:29 pm

Thanks, Rory - and everyone else, too, of course.
I will continue to learn about this topic when opportunities arise but I now feel as though I can make sense of what I saw, which is the main reason I began the thread.


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