Shinto and Buddhism, and Japanese People No.3

Vincent A. @ ELC Research International
The difference between Shintoism and Buddhism

In the first and second installments of this series, I outlined the history of a magnificent and sophisticated rhetoric called “syncretic fusion of Buddhism and Shintoism” which was devised by the type of Buddhism introduced into Japan in an attempt to swallow whole ancient Japanese Shinto (Old Shinto or The Faith of Deities of Heaven and Earth). The first scenario of the above schema was comprised of a divine message sent from a Kami (god), asking for Shinshin Ridatsu (secession from being a Kami) as the Kami had been completely exhausted by the state and function of being a Kami for quite a long time and wished to convert to Buddhism and be relieved thereby……

The second scenario used was an incarnation theory called Honji Suijaku theory, wherein Honji Suijaku means manifestation of the prime noumenon, asserting that Kami is an incarnation of Buddha…..

However, despite the use of such sophisticated rhetoric, Buddhist priests were not able to turn Japan into a completely Buddhist country. There were at least two factors at play…

Shinto and Buddhism, and Japanese people No.4

Vincent A. @ ELC Research International
Existence of Buddhha

In the last issue, I wrote about the differences between Shintoism and Buddhism, and explained that Buddhism is a religion wherein logic is valued greatly, whereas Shinto is a religion purely based on intuitive and spiritual cognition, and furthermore that the Kami (gods) of Shinto exist in reality, whereas the Buddhas of Buddhism are present in the world of ideas and do not exist in physical reality. However, I added, at the end, that, on the contrary, Buddhas which do not exist solely in theory might actually be real and existing. The issue of whether Buddhas exist in reality, or not, is a useful key to understanding both Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan. So, I would like to discuss it in this issue.

Shinto and Buddhism, and Japanese people No.5

Vincent A. @ ELC Research International
Buddhism on the Decline: Dislike to Priests and Aversion to Temples
Decrease of Temples

In terms of number of adherents, Japan is one of the world’s major Buddhist countries. The number of Buddhism believers in Japan has been reported either as 84 million or as 46 million, which figure is second to China or third, following China and Thailand….

However, Japanese Buddhism, as such, is now clearly developing symptoms of decline. One is a drastic decrease in the number of temples, and it results from the increase in the number of abandoned temples and uninhabited temples (temples without a resident priest.) This is particularly notable in low uplands (low mountainous areas) in provinces of Japan. One factor in the decline of active temples is the shortage of successors….

Another factor in the decrease of Buddhist temples in Japan is the decrease of Danka families, wherein Danka (檀家) means a Buddhist parishioner who supports a Buddhist temple. Actually, Japanese Buddhist temples can be distinguished in various ways….

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