History of Shinto and Buddhism in Japan

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Zachary Bennett INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIGIONS AP/HUMA 2800 9.0 AP/ SOSCI 2600 2013-03-20 Shinto Kami and Buddhism The Japanese people integrated Buddhism into their indigenous Shinto and had they not been willing to do so Buddhism would have been rejected. The Japanese decided what aspects of Buddhism they wished to adopt into Shinto and based these decisions on what Shinto provided and could not provide for them even when under political pressure. This becomes most apparent when studying the amalgamation of Buddhism and the Kami in Japan from the Nara period beginning in 710 to the end of the Edo period in 1867 (Nobutaka 1). In early definitions of Shinto it is defined as a "synonym for Japan's native deities, in Japanese called the Kami" (Nobutaka 1). The central elements of Shinto will "have to be systems of Kami worship and shrine ritual that date back to classical times" because Shinto was not associated with specific theological and ritual systems until after the four phases of Buddhist amalgamation (Nobutaka 1). This is a very important distinction to make as this paper is only measuring the effect "Japan's traditional" Shinto had on Buddhism (Nobutaka 1). This historical process is commonly divided into four phases. During the first phase of Japanese Buddhism the Buddhist gods were thought of as foreign Kami (Teeuwen and Rambelli 7). The second phase is associated with the Japanese acceptance of both their own Kami and the newly accepted foreign Kami as sentient beings (Teeuwen and Rambelli 9). The third phase is characterised by the appearance of temple shrines to coincide with shrine temples (Teeuwen and Rambelli 13). The fourth and last phase began when the Kami were believed by the Japanese to derive their powers from Buddhist divinities (Teeuwen and Rambelli 15). The four phases within the historical amalgamation of Buddhism and the Shinto Kami
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