Dr. Justin Lewis
March 11, 2011
Far East Religions
In the study of comparative religion, the East Asian religions form a subset of the Eastern religions. This group includes, Chen Tao, Chondogyo, Confucianism, Jeungism, Shinto, Taoism, and elements of Mahayana Buddhism. These traditions or religious philosophies focus on the East Asian concept of Tao. The place of East Asian religions among major religious groups is comparable to the Abrahamic religions and Indian religions. Early Chinese philosophies defined Tao and advocated cultivating De in that Tao. Many asian religions have fallen to the wayside while some such as Taoism persist to the modern day. East Asian religion is usually polytheistic or nontheistic, but henotheistic, monotheistic, pantheistic, panentheistic and agnostic varieties exist, inside and outside of Asia. East Asian religions have many Western adherents, though their interpretations may differ significantly from traditional East Asian thought and culture. The three major East Asian traditions are Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. Buddhism, although it may be classified as a Dharmic tradition, has significant "Taoic" features in East Asia. Mahayana Buddhism is often considered as having joint heritage in Dharma and Tao traditions. The tentative larger classification of Eastern religions avoids this overlap and cross-pollination of "Indian" and "Far Eastern" religious thought, but loses the importance of the distinct unifying doctrines of Tao and Dharma. Shinto is an animistic folk religion from Japan. Shinto literally means "the way of the gods". Shinto and Asian Buddhism are inextricably linked in Japan. Many Japanese Shintoists also identify themselves as Buddhists. Japanese Pure Land Buddhism is deeply tied with the Shinto faith. Shinto practitioners commonly affirm tradition, family, nature, cleanliness and ritual observation as core values. Taoist influence is significant in their beliefs about nature and self-mastery....
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