Comparative Religions Chapter 7 Response–Shinto

Living Religions portrays the Shinto religious practices, that is to say the practices that fall under the Western born term Shinto, as very similar in basis to the Indigenous Religious practices of the Native Americans. Shinto religious practices center around the acknowledgement and reverence of a wide variety of kami, akin to nature spirits, that are thought to dwell in sacred location, such as mountains, animals, unusual rock formations, etc.; great care is given towards maintaining a good relationship with the kami, shrines are often created to mark the location deemed chosen by a kami so that offerings may be given and prayers may be spoken in a more concentrated sacred atmosphere. The text states that local kami are especially revered with special shrines dedicated to kami of special significance to the locale. Shinto practices fall in line with the practices of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism due to the lack of emphasis on devoting oneself to a single set religion. Shinto, Buddhist, Confucian, and Dao practices typically coexist with one another and are often practiced in various combinations throughout Asia; however, Shinto religion does have a major difference that sets it apart from the former three in that for centuries the Shinto religion was used as a basis to justify the emperor’s lineage as a divine descendent thus putting the political control of Japan in line with that of the typical European monarchies.

Luckily after the devastation of World War II the Imperial ties to Shintoism were severed to prevent the forced disbanding of the monarchy powers, thus turning the god-tier reverence for the Emperor back to mortal levels. Aside from the political manipulation for centuries the Shinto faith is incredibly similar to that of the Indigenous Religions, particularly the continued reverence of nature spirits and an appreciation for nature itself; perhaps if colonization from Europe had not disrupted the natural flow of things then the Indigenous practices would have evolved to a parallel of the Shinto beliefs? Shinto beliefs, due to their conjunction with other religious practices, are an excellent example of how a religious practice can survive over the centuries; despite being the “blemished” of the four major religions that began in that specific circle of influence, due to the abuse by political power holders, the Shinto belief system managed to pull through and recompose itself once the snare had been broken.

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