Chinese Religion and Culture on Essay

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It upheld, rather than tore down, the existing order. The search for salvation could be seen to be connected to performance of one's duty here in the material world. Confucianism was indeed an important philosophy in the Tokugawa Period, but Japanese forms of Buddhism, together with native Shinto practice always remained central to the Japanese religious experience. As in Korea, Confucian ideals found support because of their emphasis on order. The military classes of the samurai and daimyo, especially, saw a strong linkage between Confucian practice and military ideals, many even criticizing Buddhist doctrines of rebirth as irrational, especially in regard to the idea of the punishment in hell of supposedly incorporeal bodies.

Japanese Neo-Confucianists even criticized Buddhism as an antisocial religion.

Confucianism was seen as supremely rational, while Buddhist doctrines were often questioned by those in authority.

On yet other levels, Chinese ideas were adapted to fit Korean and Japanese circumstances. As stated above, Confucianism in Korea was a religion of people seeking advancement within the social structure, a social structure that was tightly controlled by the Imperial government. Women; however, typically preserved Shamanist traditions, and many of the ordinary people looked to Buddhism as a source of comfort. Buddhist monasteries could offer escape from poverty and homelessness, its doctrines holding out the promise of ultimate enlightenment and perfection. Buddhism could also contribute to warrior ideals in Japan. The disciplining of the mind that was so central to achieving Buddhist enlightenment could also be used to perfect martial skill. The warriors of Japan found in Zen, and other schools of Buddhism, a way of thinking that could be molded to suit their own needs. The feats of endurance that were performed by Buddhist monks were clearly admired by the Samurai, as was the whole idea of the control of mind over body.

Thus, Korean and Japanese society found ways to make Chinese religious and social ideals conform to the needs of their own societies. The Chinese emphasis on order and hierarchy produced in traditional Korea a social structure that assigned different religions to different spheres of life. The home could easily accommodate Shamanism, more public facets of life might seem suited to Buddhism, while the state, for its own ends, preferred Confucianism. To a far greater extent than in Japan, the Korean government was patterned directly after that of China. Korea was also under the indirect rule of its larger and more powerful neighbor. In a sense, Korea functioned as small, self-contained part of the overall Chinese system. Order was at a premium if it was to protect itself from excessive Chinese interference. In contrast, in Japan, Chinese religion and customs served to bolster native institutions and ways of thought. For centuries, Japan was a military society that emphasized the following of rigid rules. Confucianism, too, emphasized this point. Warriors needed to be oblivious to pain and to the cries of hunger and thirst. Buddhism offered opportunities to accomplish this. Shinto placed the entire Japanese system into intimate contact with the natural world. From the emperor who was descended form the sun goddess Amaterasu, to the peasants who served local village shrines, Shinto gave to all a sense of universal belonging and a sense of following timeless traditions. Korea and Japan took Chinese religion and culture and made it their own.

Works Cited

Goodwin, Janet R. Alms and Vagabonds: Buddhist Temples and Popular Patronage in Medieval Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994.

Lancaster, Lewis R., Richard K. Payne, and Karen M. Andrews, eds. Religion and Society in Contemporary Korea. Berkeley, CA: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1997.

Leggett, Trevor. Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Nosco, Peter, ed. Confucianism and Tokugawa Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997.

Lewis R. Lancaster, Richard K. Payne, and Karen M. Andrews, eds., Religion and Society in Contemporary Korea (Berkeley, CA: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1997) 95. R. Goodwin, Alms and Vagabonds: Buddhist Temples and Popular Patronage in Medieval Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994) 109.

Peter Nosco, ed., Confucianism and Tokugawa Culture (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997) 197.

Peter Nosco, 197.

Trevor Leggett, Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans…[continue]

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