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Syncretism - Essay Example

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In china the followers of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism actively borrowed from each other in a mutual fashion to achieve syncretism commonly known as "sanjiao heyi” meaning the “Unity of the three teachings”…
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Download file to see previous pages In china the followers of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism actively borrowed from each other in a mutual fashion to achieve syncretism commonly known as "sanjiao heyi” meaning the “Unity of the three teachings”. Ancient Chinese believed that the three religions merged into one creed and that all the three religions should be believed and followed (Gallager 105). Through syncretism the major differences between the different religions disappears or the adherents choose to adapt the differences into their way of religion avoiding contradictions in the sencretised worship.
Syncretism is unique in that it differs from the major doctrines that explain interaction of different religions; syncretism is not ecumenism which employs the belief that truth is universal. In syncretism every religion retains its fundamental beliefs and perceptions that define it. Syncretism does not seek to accommodate the religious practices of another religion but rather fully integrates the religion completely. Neither does syncretism involve integrating the other religions into one to reinforce the deficiencies and weaknesses of the individual religions (D'Costa 19). Before the Tang dynasty, the three distinct schools of thought tried successfully to remain distinct and pure from the influences of the other religions. Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism developed distinctively different and independent schools of thought, organization and ritual practices that was logical. Each religion had a different and a unique message to communicate to the society about the conduct of life. Syncretism of the three religions purposed to teach people to be good .They were mainly practiced by the elite’s intellectuals of the Chinese people who could be able to read, understand and translate the texts of the three doctrines. In the shengxue Zonglun text (Basic treatises on learning of the sages), the author states that the three teachings are one teaching and that the teaching of the three halls have changed because of false transmission. The author had an issue that the work was largely of Confucian doctrine aimed at destabilizing Buddhist and Taoist fundamental doctrines. This illustrates that syncretism indeed incorporated various aspects of the three religions as seen in this text which did not auger well with strong adherents of the religions who did not assent to syncretism. The unity of the three teaching was demonstrated by a practice of joint worship that incorporated cults and symbols from the other religious deities. The ‘chongful’ monastery had both Confucian and Buddhist traditions and religious practices. Worshippers would follow the state sanctioned cults and seek divination from the Confucian religion in a Buddhist monastery. In the sixteenth and seventieth century, the monks in the upper Tianzhu monastery constructed more than five halls of worship to non Buddhist deities. They constructed the shrine to the lingering beneficence of master Lei for the Taoist adherents. They also constructed the shrine of the three officials who protect the sage in 1574, which honored the Taoist deities of heaven, earth, and water that oversaw human actions from the underground. Many other Taoist shrines were constructed in the Buddhist monastery and they were fully functional without any disagreements, they coexisted peacefully and hence this suggests that the two religions had a functional syncretised way of worship that fully integrated Taoist and Buddhism. Joint worship of Buddha, Lao Zi and Confucius was commonly practiced in the mid -Ming period. Though the state did not ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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