Mahyna Buddhism

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Question 1: Mahāyāna Buddhism
Mahayana Buddhism is the main traditional religion practiced in China. This section
exclusively used course material to briefly discuss the origin and common themes of Mahayana
Buddhism, and the central teaching that promotes diverse teaching and techniques. It also
describes, compares, and contrasts three different Mahayana paths that are believed to lead to
salvation in the Chinese Buddhism. Finally, the section discusses why Mahayana Buddhism
quickly started to thrive in China.
The origin of Mahāyāna is yet to be clearly established. The earliest views of Mahāyāna
make assumptions that it was an original separate school that competed with the "Hīnayāna"
schools (Poceski .n.p.). Additionally, texts obtained regarding Mahāyāna show that it had a strict
adherence to the path of a bodhisattva. They also show that Mahāyāna was characterized by the
practice of a monastic life as they lived in the wilderness, and followed the principles outlined in
Rhinoceros Sūtra. Such early textual evidence of "Mahāyāna" are obtained from sūtras dating
back to the start of the common era (Poceski .n.p.). Researchers have also shown that some texts
from Mahāyāna like Ugraparipṛccha Sūtra make frequent reference to the word "Mahāyāna"
despite the lack of any doctrinal differences between "Mahāyāna" and the early schools in this
context (Poceski .n.p.). Additionally, "Mayāna" was used in reference to rigorous emulation of
Gautama Buddha among bodhisattva who sought to be fully enlightened Buddhas.
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Notably, there are three primary concepts and themes found within the Mahayana
Buddhism. These themes include faith and determination, loving kindness, and compassion.
These themes make the philosophy that Buddha expounds to be very broad and profound (Robert
n.p.). However, the application of these themes makes Buddha’s teachings to be well-reasoned,
logical, and contain practical principles. Such teachings were taught by the wise men in the past
with the aim of leading people to Buddhahood.
The theme of wisdom was also used to encourage diverse teachings and techniques. For
instance, the principle of Five Vehicles was used to encourage to leave evil ways and to adopt
ways that would lead them to the right aspirations (Robert n.p.). Wisdom was also applied in
explaining the various ways through which individuals would benefit from the paths to
enlightenment as outlined by Buddhism.
The Buddhists believed that there are three paths that would lead people to salvation.
This was done through principles that explained how salvation would be achieved. The first was
the Five Vehicles. This aimed at directing people against evil ways and adopting the right
aspirations (Robert n.p.). The second was the Three Vehicles that was believed to lead people to
disentanglement from worldly pleasures and enable them achieve freedom. The final path was
the One Vehicle; this was believed to convert people from practicing Sravaka and Pratyeka-
buddhas and then redirecting them the Mahayana thought.
Studies have also shown that Mahayana Buddhism spread quickly in China. One of the
contributing factors was the rising to power of the Tang Dynasty during the 7
Century (Robert
n.p.). More and more people got to learn about Buddhism, later on making it a crucial component
of the Chinese culture. It also influenced Sculpture, Literature, Chinese Art, and Philosophy.
Additionally, the number of individuals translating the Buddhist texts had increased
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significantly, making the culture reach out to more and more people (Robert n.p.). Several
schools were also established to help in practicing the Buddhist teaching. Such schools taught
different concepts and theme that promoted the principles taught by Buddhism. This attracted
more believers as the practice continued spreading within the Chinese culture.
Mahayana Buddhism remains the main traditional religion in China. The concepts and
teachings that it contains are taught and taught in the community. However, its origin has not yet
been established. Researchers continue to identify possible origins of the religion.
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Works Cited
Poceski, Mario. Introducing Chinese Religions. Routledge, 2009.
Robert, Ellwood. Introducing Japanese Religion. Routledge. 2016.
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Question 2: Shinto Tradition
Shinto tradition is very common in Japan. It is a form of traditional religion with rituals,
beliefs, and practices that are believed to be from the underworld. Researchers have also
developed interest in the concepts of the tradition. In this regard, this section describes some of
the specific central myths, rituals, symbols, and practices found within the Shinto tradition. It
also explains the understanding that such information could be used to draw on how the Shinto
understanding of cosmos, nature, and reality. The relationship between human beings, the divine,
and nature is also discussed. Additionally, how this knowledge could be applied in other
agencies or the government is discussed.
Shinto is centrally based on kami, the sacred spirits and gods in the Shinto tradition.
These gods take the form of various things like plants, animals, rivers, and lakes; thus, Shinto
can be considered a form of animism (Robert n.p.). It is believed that when people die, they
become kami and shrines are preserved for them as they are celebrated as ancestral kami. The
most famous kami in the Shinto tradition is the Goddess Amaterasu.
It is also notable that everything is almost grey in Shinto as there are no real absolutes in
the tradition. It is believed that there is no absolute wrong or right, and none is perfect (Robert
n.p.). Humans are viewed as fundamentally good, and evils are associated with devilish and
troublesome kami.
There are also several rituals that are conducted to keep away spirits considered evil. This
is done through offerings, purification, and prayers. Purification makes a crucial component of
the tradition (Poceski .n.p.). A Shinto priest is normally invited to bless new buildings
constructed in Japan; the same is done during car assembly and Japanese buildings that are built
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elsewhere other than Japan. Additionally, both men and women are permitted to become priests,
marry, and have children.
It is also notable that there are various symbols used within the Shinto community. One
such is the tori gate found at the entry to Shinto shrine, sword, and mirror; these are both related
to the myth of Amaterasu (Poceski .n.p.). Another crucial symbol within the Shinto tradition is
the pair of foxes that is found at the entry to the shrines, associated with the deity Inari. All the
symbols that placed on Shinto altars are always covered so that they are hidden.
The tradition is also associated with several practices. One of these practices in the Shinto
tradition is Omairi. In this case, all people are allowed to access the shrine and they need not be
‘Shinto’ to perform this practice (Poceski .n.p.). However, visiting a shrine requires one to follow
a few fundamental steps. The most fundamental is that they must bow respectfully when they
approach the Torii before they enter the shrine.
Another practice is Misogi. This refers to the practice performed for purification. It is
done by immersing one in cold water as prayers are recited; it is done very day in the morning
(Poceski .n.p.). It is preferably conducted by regular practitioners. Additionally, people also
practice Harae. This involves performing ritual prayers and offering them to Kami.
This shows the importance that the Shinto is an organized and logical. There are defined
rituals and practices that guide the practice. Additionally, Shinto attaches a great significance to
nature, cosmos, and reality. It also shows that they appreciate the Supreme Being who created
the nature. This is why they use animals and other nature to represent their god. There is also a
clear relationship linking the divine, humans, and nature. Humans have the task of respecting and
serving the nature. On the other hand, nature is viewed as a representation of the divine. Thus,
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the teachings advise people to live in harmony with their environment. This would help other
bodies such as the environmental conservation agencies.
This idea will be achieved by attaching more value to the nature. For instance, animals
and more plants will be used as symbols for kami. This will ensure that people respect them for
religious purposes. Eventually, environmental conservation will be promoted.
This shows the importance of Shinto tradition. On top of promoting morals in the society,
it also aids other segments and departments in enhancing their efficiency. In this case, it has been
illustrated how it promotes environmental conservation.
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Works Cited
Poceski, Mario. Introducing Chinese Religions. Routledge, 2009.
Robert, Ellwood. Introducing Japanese Religion. Routledge. 2016.
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Question 3
There is no specific definition of ‘religion’ that has been established and agreed upon as
the standard definition. As such, researchers continue with studies in an attempt to identify the
most suitable definition. In this section, some of the challenges that a researcher could face in
China and Japan are discussed. This is achieved through a comparison of the Japanese and
Chinese religious systems. Some of the definitions of religion are also identified, as well as the
things that one needs to keep in mind when differentiating the Chinese religion from Japanese
religion. Finally, the section explains the idea of referring to Chinese and Japanese religion as an
invention or construct.
The primary similarity between modern-day Chinese and Japanese religions is that most
citizens in the two countries are no longer as religious as they used to be in the past (Robert n.p.).
The Communist government in China has attempted to eliminate traditional religion. This
happened especially during the Cultural Revolution (Robert n.p.). However, Buddhism and
traditional mythology remain significant within the country. In Japan, most aspects of culture in
the country reflect traditional religion. However, there are various differences between the
religious practices in both cases.
The native religion in Japan is called Shinto and is characterized by many symbols and
gods; it is similar to the Ancient Greek mythology (Robert n.p.). Shinto was hybridized with
Buddhism that was borrowed from India. In China, there is no collective name for the native
religion practiced in the country. Every region has its own traditional god. The religious beliefs
in the country were hybridized with Buddhism (Robert n.p.). Additionally, religion has been
hybridized with philosophies such as Confucianism and Daoism. This hybridization has led to
various influences in the ideas of morality.
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Researchers have also established that the religion of China has been multi-religion.
Studies also claim that Confucianism is the most popular religion and it is the source of Chinese
culture. It is also the most popular in the country (Poceski .n.p.). As such, this religion has made
the Chinese culture more tolerant to the others. This means that there are hardly any challenges
that need be taken when studying the Chinese religion (Poceski .n.p.). Additionally, there is
freedom of religious practices and belief in the country. As such, researchers are also entitled to
believe in and study any religion they wish.
On the other hand, researchers have come up with Japanese religion as a collective term
referring to the various religious traditions found in Japan (Poceski .n.p.). Some of the challenges
faced in the study of Japanese religion are identification of the various religions found in the
country. As such, a researcher should be keen to ensure that they consider all the religious groups
in the country when study the religion of Japan.
This also shows that the religion in China and Japan is an ‘invention’ or ‘construct’. The
religion in Japan is a construct because it was formed from the combination of Shinto and
Buddhism (Poceski .n.p.). This led to various practices such as the presence of many gods,
rituals, and practices. As such, it contains beliefs from both religions. On the other hand, the
religion in China is said to be a construct because there are various traditional religions in the
country (Poceski .n.p.). Every region in the country has its own unique religion. Additionally,
beliefs in the country were hybridized with Buddhism. Notably, religion has also been
hybridized with philosophies such as Confucianism and Daoism (Poceski .n.p.). This
hybridization has led to various influences in the ideas of morality. This means that the religious
rituals, practices, and beliefs are a combination of different beliefs, making the Chinese religion
a construct.
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This section shows that there is no standard definition of ‘religion’. However, it shows
that there are various aspects that must be considered when defining religion such as that of
China or Japan. Additionally, the difference between the Chinese and Japanese religions is
shown. The section also explains why the religion in China and Japan could be termed an
invention or construct.
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Works Cited
Poceski, Mario. Introducing Chinese Religions. Routledge, 2009.
Robert, Ellwood. Introducing Japanese Religion. Routledge. 2016.

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