Essay on Shintoism and Buddhism

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Shintoism and Buddhism

The Japanese religions, including Shintosim and Buddhism, are rich and complex, and it contains many condradictory trends which may puzzle a Westerner. In the center of the tradition is Shinto, the "natural" religion of Japan. Also in the center is Buddhism, the Indian religion that was brought to Japan in the sixth century from Korea and China. Throughout the history of Japan, it has been these two religions that have contributed most to the Japanese understanding of themselves and their surroundings, and also to many important events.
Shinto, meaning "the way of the gods", is the indigenous faith of the Japanese people. It began around 2,500-3,000 years ago. It has thirteen sects, each with a
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These shrines are usually simple buildings surrounded by trees. Here is an example of one:
Before they would arrive at the shrines, the Shintoists would "purify" themselves by washing their hands and rinsing their mouth. They will bow twice deeply, clap their hands twice, bow once more and then, they would offer gifts, such as food, to the Kami. Then, they say a short prayer. The prayer usually urges the Kami to withhold bad weather. The people did not want bad weather, because it would destroy their crop. Shintoists also pray for good fortune and to avoid evil spirits, especially before a special event, such as the opening of a business, a test or exam in school, or something else that is important. They will then offer the Kami a choice offering if the crop is spared. But the Japanese do not fear the Kami.
The Buddhist rituals are performed by Shinto priests, private people who can marry and have children. There are even female priests. The priests are supported by the Miko, young ladies in white kimonos. They must be unmarried, and are often the preist's daughters. Also, in contrast to the Western religions, there are no absolutes, although there is a goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, the Sun goddess. An absolute is an object of worship that is always present, such as a God. But, a certain kind of weather is not an absolute, because the weather can change at any moment.
Shinto is a very optimistic faith. It is thought by it's followers that all

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