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The Far east - Essay Example

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Title: THE FAR EAST RELIGION Name: Professor: Institution: Course: Date: 1. What are the main features of Daoism? Daoism which is also referred to as Taoism derives its name from the word ‘Tao’ which means ‘the Way’. The elements held dear in Taoism are inwardness, non-action and naturalness…
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THE FAR EAST RELIGION What are the main features of Daoism? Daoism which is also referred to as Taoism derives its name from the word ‘Tao’ which means ‘the Way’. The elements held dear in Taoism are inwardness, non-action and naturalness. Taoism has various key features. The core feature of Taoism is that there exist sacred powers in form of spirits and gods who direct humanity. Another feature is that Taoism is based on the belief that, if honored and respected, the gods will accord deliverance, protection and blessings to humanity. Commitment and devotion are therefore fundamental to the practice of Taoism. The other feature is that it is believed that there is an interaction between the devotee and sacred powers that is two-way in nature. There are various ceremonies carried out in order to renew and also strengthen the bond that is between the gods and humanity. This is in order to bring harmony to every realm of existence through a cooperative effort. The final feature is that devotion is shown when ceremonies of sacred festivals are carried out; they are characterized by reading of sacred scriptures, chanting of rites, offerings and rituals (Kohn, 2001). 2. What are the main features of Shintoism? Shintoism is a Japanese religion based on reverence for the spirits of the unseen world and nature. Unlike many other religions, it does not have a known founder nor does it have a clear ethical code, concept of sin or a sacred scripture. It seems to have come from farming communities. Purification rituals are an important feature of Shintoism. Shintoism has no concept of sin but rather instructs that evil actions contaminate people by making them accrue impurities which offend the kami and poison innocence. Shintoism therefore dictates ritual washings in natural phenomena like the ocean or waterfall to free oneself of the impurities. Another key feature is honoring the spirits (kami) since it is believed they keep the stars, moon and son moving and invoke reverence in humans. Different households have meaningful yet simple daily rituals to honor the kami. Others are likely to have a shrine at home. One has to follow kami for their life to be lived in harmony with nature. The other feature is affinity with natural beauty where natural symmetry and beauty have always been important in Japan. The agricultural life of the country historically centered on planting and harvesting and the functions of elements and the sun in sustaining the productivity of the land (Yamakage, 2012). 3. Nature is prominent in both Chinese and Japanese religions. How is nature different in each religion? The formation of the Eastern Chou Dynasty in 600 BC marked a change in ancient China religion. The people of ancient China believed in the concept of Tao which are the forces of nature. In ancient times, people of China had the belief that all things in nature had two forces that were contrasting each other. These were known as the ‘yin’ and the ‘yang’ where the Yin represented the female force whereas the Yang was the male force. Objects in nature that had yin forces were dark while those with yang were full of light, hot and aggressive. It is believed that one ought to utilize natural forces as well as compromise to get things done favorably. On the other hand, in Japanese religion Shinto is predominant and it is a nature-based ‘tradition’. The core of Shintoism focused on the kami which are spirits that are said to animate all of nature. The spirits are linked to all components of nature which include waterfalls, mountains, oceans, rivers and trees (Am, 1969). The kami must therefore be treated with honor and respect as they rule the cycles of nature and are found in all things. 4. Why are religions in China so inter-related? Religion is a crucial aspect of a Chinese person’s life no matter what religion she/he practices. The three main religions in China are Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. However, there are many other religions being practiced as minor religions in China. One of the most popular among these is Chinese folk religion which could be arguably regarded a major religion. One thing that leads to Chinese religions being interrelated is that none of them conflict with each other. They work together in that they tend to complement and embrace each other’s beliefs. Many Chinese individuals exercise folk religions that are familiar alongside other major Chinese religions. All of the major Chinese religions also seem to have a common ground which is the fact that they are grounded on the belief that the universe was not created by only one ‘being’. They believe in the existence of many higher powers and gods who carried out this task. Another fundamental notion that dominates the Chinese religions is the concept that ancestors ought to be revered and there are several rituals based on helping ancestors have a comfortable afterlife (Am, 1969). 5. Read an article on one of the Shinto rituals. Why is that ritual important? Shinto rituals are a key constituent of a majority of the national festivals carried out in Japan and also of the more specialized events held at special shrines and other sites that are sacred in nature. The most common of all the rituals involve purification. This is the symbolic purification of an object or individual before interaction with the Shinto gods (kami). Impurity and the purification that ensues are necessary components of Shintoism. The purification acts are done by priests acting as mediators after being purified. They converse with the kami on behalf of those they will in turn purify. Given that much of Shintoism pertains to water spirits and demons, it is only suitable that most of the purification rituals take place in water. By washing away the evil done, the purpose of this ritual is to restore harmony in nature. This ritual is important as it in part permits for the recognition of the wonders of great nature (BBC, 2011). References Am, F. (1969). Chinese and Japanese Religions. London: Westminster John Knox Press. BBC. (2011). A brief overview of Shinto, a traditional folk religion of Japan. Accessed on 7th February 2013 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/shinto/ Kohn, L. (2001). Daoism and Chinese Culture. Cambridge, Mass.: Three Pines Press Yamakage, M. (2012). The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spiritual Heart (2nd Ed.). New York: Kodansha USA. Read More
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