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Contemporary Issues in Eastern Religions Paper
Serrita Daniels, Bismarck Perez, Jonathan Keyworth, Dennis Morales, Matthew Weed
REL/ 133
May 3rd, 2014
Stephen Allen

Contemporary Issues in Eastern Religions Paper Shinto began in a time when the religion had no name and it was just a way of life. Long ago, people lived close with nature and so the religion began in worshiping the spirits of nature as a reality of the world (Molly, 2010). Shintoism is one of the oldest religions in Japan and to keep its teaching alive Japan gave it its name when Buddhism came to Japan in the sixth century. Although, this did not stop people from coming to Japan to compare their religions, how this religion interacts with the modern world, and how Shintoism would influence other religions in the modern world (Molly, 2010). When comparing Shintoism to other religions such as, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism many people may automatically say there are not comparisons between the religions. When researching comparisons between these religions, people can say they all believe in a higher power, but that is not where the similarities end. Shinto and Buddhism care two religions that taught and learned from each other by adopting beliefs from each other. The both believed in having a place of worship called shrines and temples. They also believed in more than one higher deity who were a loving and benign (Find the best, 2014). When China entered Japan, the Chinese introduced Buddhism, and the Shinto believed Buddhism was another deity to be worshiped. They also believed in salvation and for them this meant being delivered from evil spirits and accomplishing this they will be purified with water and prayer. The Shinto adopted art, writing, and philosophy to their beliefs that are the same Buddhism (Osborn, 2013). When comparing Shintoism and Confucianism many people say the can be considered the same religions just in different languages. These two religions have a belief in many deities as well in spirit and in the living world. They also have a belief that if people are good in health, body, and life in general so they can get to the afterlife. Experiencing rites of passage is another similarity they have. Going through these rites and a certain age from new born to adult will insure people good fortune, health, and a good person in life (Find the best, 2014). Shintoism and Taoism have the same meaning which is "The Way." For each religion, they pray several gods and worship nature. In worshiping the gods, it is believed they are spirits of the world as the wind, fire, wealth, fortune, and so forth. In worshiping these types of gods, they believe gods should have a place of worship that is called shrines. By praying and worshiping to the gods here, they are showing homage and respect to the deities asking for things like good health, wealth, advice, or things for their families (Find the best, 2014). Shinto and Hinduism are difficult to compare because these two religions are very different. They do believe in having many gods and goddess to worship and that their gods are loving and benign gods. Purification is another similarity they share, as well. Being purified by water is a way of cleansing away evil and being pure in the eyes of their gods. When looking at all of the religion that were compared it is easy to say they all have a common in worshiping many gods and how they have changed over time to modernize their religions (Molly, 2010). In regions of the world where Shintoism is the main practice of religion, Shintoism can influence the modern ways of living and the daily activities. The religion of Shinto originated in Japan, making Japan the place with the biggest concentration of Shinto followers in the world. Shintoism has such as significant devotion in some regions of the world, that for instance in Japan; Japanese must register as followers in local shrines. However it is not a requirement to practice the Shinto religion, it is a modern way to maintain the amount of followers on the rise. Even though many followers do not devote themselves to the Shinto devotion, although they do enjoy celebrating in local Matsuri or deity especially when the celebrations involve the younger generations, with the ultimate goal to pass the knowledge and devotion to the young ones. To mention one of the celebration methods is to carry a God image representation that is kept in local shrines, as part of the festivity is to bring this God image around to the festivals via a mikoshi. One of the main reasons of this type of festivity is to collect funds to support locals’ in-town shrines, some of the prayers from the followers are for prosperity, good food, health and more. Even though several of the world oldest nature religions have slowly disappeared, Shintoism remains strong in the modern Japan, this fact can be easily be observed in modern architecture shrines structures such and skyscrapers. Shintoism has gone through two mayor changes in this present period. One of the mayor changes is known as the aftermath of political change, and another mayor change came from the effects from current beings created in the religious community. Two of the political changes came from the effects of the Meiji restoration of its governmental policies to separate Shinto from its original roots of Buddhism for a more current Shinto way of living. Also, from the reforms that took place after World War II to restitute the country. After Japans conquer in World War II, this event brought back the disestablishment to the Shinto community by its own government of Japan. The Japanese government destroyed Shintoism, beginning at its foundation, disestablishment the chief and disavowing his divinity. On the same year, the Japanese government illegalized public funding to sustain of any Shintoism relation, to the present day still no strict system codes or morals. Nowadays, the practices of Shintoism can be easily located wherever there is a considerable number of Japanese, from North America to South America. Nowadays, Shintoism has impacted the way of living in many cultures; one way it is to practice personal hygiene and cleanness, as is an imperative factor of the religion. Shinto is described as a religion of tsunagari ("continuity or community"). This would allow many interactions between the modern world and the Shinto religion. This religion is very interactive with the community in Japan. Shintoism is the largest religion in Japan and continues to grow. There are numerous shrines were people can go and pay their respects to the gods of Shintoism. Throughout the day in modern Japan people will go to these shrines and perform many of their practices. First, the practice of Omairi and any person who visits the shrine will perform this ritual. The people will poor the sacred water into their right hand and then their left. From there they will put the water from their hand into their mouth and while doing this you must not swallow the water. Once this is done, they will spit the water into a cup the put the scoop up vertically so the water drains back into the pool. Another practice is the Harae, is the right of ritual purification and is done daily at the shrines. People will bring many things from fruit, fish, vegetables, tree branches, salt, rice, rice paste and rice wine. Finally, the practice of amulets and talismans, this it is where a small wooden plaque that have dreams and wishes written on them and are left in the shrine. By doing this, people hope to one day have these wishes and dreams granted. Looking at just these three practices one may see that there could be many ways that one could want to use these practices today. With Shinto starting in the very early centuries of the Japanese existence and knowing how strict they are with traditions. It is no wonder that people in Japan will work hard to find time to pay their respects to their gods. Shintoism had an influence on Japan by introducing the idea of worship. The idea was to worship all of the creations. Shintoism was a gradual process and was formed through readings, stories, and myths. It challenges the beliefs of other religious cultures throughout the world. Shintoism will not frown on anyone person if the individual practices other religions. It makes up the body of the country of Japan and does not classify anybody into one particular group. People fit together within their understanding and appreciation without conflicting with other religions. Kami is a form of Shintoism that helps with love and respect of each other. Staying helpful by showing complete care in the environment is an important aspect of Japanese Culture. Shinto gives the idea of optimism with their teachings. The practice of Shintoism within the Japanese culture provides peace along with a cheerful attitude. All of these characteristics and traditions in Japanese culture are still in use today. Shintoism has been around for centuries, for containing the holiest of relics. Legends say that a mirror led a sun goddess into a cave that brought light to the heavens. Millions of people crowd around shrines in New York City. The peaceful disputes nowadays are watered down and got more liberal. Shinto is not popular in Japan, but it provides a strong influence on religion. Being open as Shinto is, it provides Buddhist to be able to practice Shintoism. This openness ties people back to society more, by making it a more national religion. Shinto is not like other religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Since it first began, it adapted the lives of the Japanese people. The religion is unique compared to western religion, where you have to practice one religion. Shinto being such an old religion is not in touch with technology today. Shintoism has a short history in the western world with an estimated one thousand believers living in North America. On the islands of Hawaii, the first shrine was built in 1986. Others see the shrine as a focus for defining power through nature and healing powers of worship. Today in modern day Shintoism still stands as a religion that stands on its own and does not discriminate against other religions. They live a lifestyle of peace and prosperity towards others outside their religious culture. Because of the religious openness, they are able to practice more than one religion. Many incorporate both Shinto and Buddhism because of their similarities. Shintoism has been influenced by other religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Shinto it is big on cleanliness and purification of the body and home. For example in Shintoism today they celebrate the New Year by performing a thorough cleaning of their home, in doing so it pleases the ancestors who have passed away before inviting them inside and rejoice with their family members. When it comes respecting nature Shinto followers see any harm towards nature as a sign of disrespect. Their shrines serve as an altar that it is a sacred place for them to worship and bring offerings. In Shinto households are small shrines that serve as a place of worship called Kamidana where offerings are made such as rice and water. To this day Ise Jingu is the most spiritual shrine that Japan has to offer which still stands, it contain 120 shrines in the sanctuary. Their focus and worship beauty and the simplicity of nature. Music and dance known as Gagaku is played throughout Shinto festivals where they dance Noh dramas. To this day they believe in ghosts and exorcisms. Shintoism is different from most religions because that they lack an organizational structure and are not institutionalized belief and without particular commandments that they must follow this makes it difficult to spread the religion and convert others to their beliefs. On the other hand makes it convenient to incorporate the traditions in lives of the modern Japanese people. In today’s society many can benefit from the beliefs of the ancient ancestors which are to live and care for nature, to live in harmony and peace with other people and to embrace optimism and live a life style of positivity. In closing, Shintoism offers a positive impact overall by implementing its ideas of purity, naturalness, and coexistence among people today. Shintoism is still thriving in today’s world having preserved its values and respect towards nature. Shinto is still relevant and is found being taught and practiced in states such as California, Washington, Hawaii, Brazil, and many more parts of the world. Shintoism, has been around for many centuries, it has survived through many societies, and survived the implications that war, and political reforms that have been put through its way. As long as the elder continue passing the teachings of Shintoism to the newer generations, society will not see the end of Shintoism anytime soon. Also, it is a proven fact that society it is not ready to see the end of Shintoism as well, and the benefits that its followers get from practicing this religion.

References
Osborn, R. C. (2013). Shinto, the "Way of the Gods". Retrieved from https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1949/03/shinto,-the-way-of-the-gods
Find the best. (2014). Retrieved from http://religions.findthebest.com/compare/4-40/Confucianism-vs-Shinto
Molloy, M., & Hilders, T. (2010). Experiencing the World’s Religions. Tradition, Challenge, and Change Fifth Edition (5th ed.) Ch 7. Retrieved from. https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content/eReader.aspx?assetMetaId=f9d1ca89-97e9-4bc2-a371-b0bc0b895c36&assetDataId=cc40e4ff-01aa-436b-bd97-7cc618215c5d&assetpdfdataid=8e02414c-e662-4013-9384-54aae44fce49
Nobutaka, Inoue. (2006). Modern and Contemporary Shinto. Retrieved from http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.php?entryID=738 Shinto. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~QM9T-KNDU/shintoism.htm
CURTIS H. MARTIN (2004). The Sinking of the Ehime Maru: The Interaction of Culture, Security Interests and Domestic Politics in an Alliance Crisis. Japanese Journal of Political Science, 5, pp 287-310.
Kunihiro,M.(1997). The decline and fall of pacifism. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 53(1), 35-39.
Shinto and it’s Impact on the World. (2002). Retrieved from http://school.phippy.com/shinto/society.html
Shinto Beliefs & the Modern Western World. (2013). Retrieved from http://people.opposingviews.com/shinto-beliefs-modern-western-world-2652.html

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