Shinto (World Religions) by Paula R. Hartz

By Paula R. Hartz

Discusses the background of the Shinto faith in Japan, describing its origins, simple ideals, rituals, and gala's, and its position in jap society.

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Its simplicity and discipline, its refinement, and particularly the belief in the Buddha nature of all things appealed to the Japanese, who found in it echoes of the Shinto belief in the kami nature of all things. By now Shinto and Buddhist priests, temples, and festivals had become almost interchangeable, and it was difficult to tell the difference between Buddhism and Shinto. Like Shinto, Zen celebrated the beauties of nature and held people to standards of purity and goodness. The art and culture that grew out of this period—stylized gardens; ikebana, or flower arranging; sumi-e, ink-brush drawings with delicate shading and simplicity of line; Japanese Religion in Medieval Times 5 Rocks and raked gravel in the garden of a Zen monastery symbolizing a natural landscape of mountains and water to encourage calm meditation and clarity of mind.

ThE bEginningS of ThE ShinTo rELigion The uji turned to the spirits of nature to be given the blessings of children and crops. They paid respect to natural forces—sun, wind, rain, and tides. Shinto grew out of this tradition, and echoes of it continue to survive in folk practices such as the prayers that greet the rising sun. Shinto festivals still follow the agricultural calendar of spring rice planting and fall harvest. Each village and clan had its own local kami, mostly related to the region’s natural phenomena.

The treasure was often swords; archery equipment, such as a bow and arrows, arm guards, and quiver; ceremonial clothing; and harps and bells made by the finest artisans. Every 20 years the shrine was rebuilt with new materials and the divine treasure renewed. The old treasures and materials were ceremoniously buried on shrine grounds. Early Shinto and its Chinese Influences 49 CHAPTER 4 JAPANESE RELIGION IN MEDIEVAL TIMES F rom its earliest beginnings Shinto had always been concerned with earthly life.

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