Religions Religion Has Always Been Essay
- Length: 12 pages
- Sources: 5
- Subject: Mythology - Religion
- Type: Essay
- Paper: #51717899
Excerpt from Essay :
The Japanese myth partly resembles that of Adam and Eve present in the Bible and in the Quran. However, the first beings in Japan are considered to hold much more power than their equivalents in the west. Another resemblance between the Japanese legends and those in the west is the fact that the kami are considered to live in the high planes of Takamagahara, somewhat resembling mount Olympus, from Greek mythology. Japanese mythology is different from other mythologies through the fact that all of the deities involved in it are good in their character.
In the sixteenth century, when Buddhism entered Japan, the locals had a hard time keeping Shinto as their main religion, since it had not been an organized religion. Even with the fact that Buddhism had been spreading quickly around the country, the presence of Shinto could be felt everywhere, in people's lifestyles and in their culture.
Shintoists consider shrines to be of great importance when considering their own well-being. There are a great number of shrines in Japan, each dedicated to a single deity. Right and wrong have a lesser importance for the Shintoists when compared to purity and immorality. Shinto shrines are intended for people to come and pray for purity or to pay respects to the kami. Shinto is a rather relaxed religion, where people do not have to subject themselves to inhumane activities in order to achieve greatness.
In the early ages, and, even in the present, the Shinto Japanese have owed great respects to nature, since they considered the surrounding environment to have been sacred because of the deities which inhabit the land. Kami and people believing in kami have had a profound influence on the Shinto Japanese, since practically all subjects had been affected by the Shinto deities.
Because of the fact that Zen Buddhism has become very popular in Japan, most people tend to believe that the simplicity and the sincerity in Japan's culture are mostly owed to this religion. This is partly owed to the fact that individuals are most likely to be more interested in Zen Buddhism than in Shinto, given that the former is much more complex than the latter. Also, when going to the book store, one can easily find that there is a lot more literature written on Zen Buddhism than there is written on Shinto. Perhaps that this is also because Buddhism brings along a larger number of arts which have virtually become hallmarks for the Land of the Rising Sun.
The tea ceremony is one of the performances most often associated with Japan, with the Japanese being more than obsessed with the art of drinking tea. Apparently, even though Shinto has had a small influence on the ceremony, it is largely a result of Buddhism coming into contact with Japan. Shinto influences can be found in various customs from the tea ceremony, ranging from the drinking bowls to flower arrangements. The tea ceremony does not just introduce the art of drinking tea, as it is also responsible for the presence of other arts in Japan, each more intriguing than the other.
Calligraphy plays a major role in the tea ceremony, as hanging scrolls are hung in the tea room or in the waiting room. Various characters or paintings can be drawn on these scrolls, with the intention of sending a message which is most frequently related to the tea ceremony, or to a certain season or animal. It is not only in tea ceremonies that calligraphy is used, as it is very often that Japanese exchange the pen in favor of the art brush. A large number of Japanese are actually accustomed to different styles of writing with the art brush.
In order to have tea drinkers having the impression that they are enjoying their tea in nature, tea ceremonies also involve flower arrangements known as ikebana. Even though it has been perfected by Buddhists with time, the style used in the ikebana is believed to have both Zen and Shinto influences, as it is older than Buddhism in Japan. Only natural materials are used in making flower arrangements, and, the final product inspires simplicity and naturalness.
Japan has come to be known as a land of contrasts, as it is unbelievable how such a great deal of influences can be seen in the country. It should be at least surprising that one can find the world's most advanced technology so close to Japanese traditional art. Even inside the impressive skyscrapers people can observe that the decor has a strong touch of Japanese conventionality. Shrines and tatami mats can be found in Japanese houses next to sophisticated plasma TVs and laptops.
People from around the world are inclined to put their cultural values and traditions behind as they welcome the future. In contrast, the Japanese are highly conservative, even though they possess a great amount of technology. It is possible that the Japanese have developed their conservative character during the time when shoguns forbade any connection with the outside world.
From India, Buddhism had gradually spread into China, where it came across Taoism. The Chinese appreciated Buddhism for the fact that it to some extent resembled Taoism, even with the fact that it had been much more complex. Even with its complexity, Buddhism had also experienced certain changes in China, with the Chinese having started a new school of religion called Mahayana Buddhism. As a result, a number of Buddhist concepts had been made easier to understand by the general public.
A combination of Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism later formed Ch'an Buddhism, which has been adopted by the Japanese. This branch of Buddhism came to be known as Zen Buddhism among them. Considering the fact that the Japanese had been accustomed to the simplicity in Shinto, it had been rather difficult for them to accept Buddhism as it had been. Consequently, Buddhism has been adapted into the Japanese society to the point where it came to have no predetermined doctrines and words played a small role in the religion. Consequent to studying Zen Buddhism, most people will certainly regard life differently, involving much more objectivity in it.
When relating to Jesus Christ and to his life, most Christians inspire themselves from the four canonical gospels. Apostles Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John are believed to have written the documents at a certain point during the second half of the first century A.D. Even if they were recognized as having been written by the Apostles more than a century after they had presumably been written, the gospels are presently praised for displaying important elements from the life of Jesus Christ.
A great number of more or less controversial gospels have been written during Antiquity, and, only four of the have been eventually elected worthy of being part of the New Testament. A series of conflicts had emerged as a result of certain people being unwilling to accept the veridicality presented by a number of documents claiming to present matters of gospel genuineness. There are various reasons for which the Christian community has accepted only four documents as presenting authentic facts from the life of Jesus. Irenaeus of Lyons is the first person to admit the canonical value of the four gospels presently known as the canonical gospels. He motivated his belief through the fact that the earth presumably had four corners, as people believed at the time. Of course, he also gave several other reasons, such as linking the four gospels to the Book of Ezekiel and to other significant documents.
The first documents relating to the Gospel of Thomas had been found in the nineteenth century and were dated from approximately 200 A.D. The complete Gospel of Thomas was found by an Egyptian farmer along with several other documents, in 1945. Even though the author claims that his name is Didymus Judas Thomas, most experts doubt that the document is actually written by Apostle Thomas. Until this day, the true author of the Gospel of Thomas has remained identified and researchers assume that he or she had been located somewhere in Syria where Apostle Thomas has had rock-hard supporters at the time.
A good reason for someone to believe that the Gospel of Thomas is not actually written by the Apostle is that it differs from all the other gospels, both canonical and non-canonical. While most gospels are written relating to Jesus and his life, the Gospel of Thomas refers to different matters, such as theories. Also, these theories rarely relate to Jesus, and, do not speak about how Jesus is a heavenly being, nor do they speak about anything associated to some of the most significant events in the life of Jesus.
Even with all the differences which exist between the Gospel of Thomas and the canonical gospels, there still are great similarities between the documents. A number of academics have reported the Gospel of Thomas as having been inspired from the canonical gospels. In spite of…