The Profound Teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism & Shintoism In A Nutshell
Buddhism is the origin of Taoism, Confucianism and Shintoism. Read all about it
Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shintoism are the oldest religions of East Asia, while Buddhism and Confucianism are among the greatest religions of the world.
The widespread influence of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism on the people of China has resulted in the three religions being regarded as “The three religions of China,” with the largest population in the world, although opinions have differed as to whether Confucianism is a religion.
However, the three religions have so merged into one stream in China that they cannot well be separated. The same household will burn incense before the shrine of Buddha, call in the Taoist priest to fix an auspicious date for an impending marriage or funeral, and reverence the ancestral tablets according to the teachings of Confucius.
Speaking generally, Confucianism has influenced the intellectual side of Chinese life, Buddhism its philosophical side, and Taoism its mystical side.
Confucianism is the most honoured, Buddhism the most loved, and Taoism the most feared.
The Japanese borrowed the two great religions in China, Confucianism and Buddhism, adapting only what they borrowed or only borrowing the parts that suited them, though they had a purely Japanese religion of their own called “Shinto”. “Shinto” means “The way of the Gods”, and there were thousands of gods.
Buddhism, however, rejects the idea of gods such as these. By the subtle compromise, the Japanese declared that the “Shinto” gods could be regarded as Buddha representing himself to men in different ways. Indeed many Japanese today are married to “Shinto” rites, and when they die, have a Buddhist burial.
Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism are religions that focus more on sets of abstract ideals than on supernatural powers vested in gods, objects or animals. They are concerned with how man can achieve a better life on earth.
Taoist, Confucians and Buddhists meditate in order to establish an inner sense of harmony between themselves and the ethical principles they believe tie all the parts of the universe into a single, integrated whole.
Buddha was a sixth-century B.C. Indian Hindu who believed that men could escape suffering by freeing themselves of all desire, an ideal state called “Nirvana”.
Confucius was a Chinese contemporary of Buddha who believed that salvation depended on behaving according to correct manners and respecting those of higher social rank.
Taoism is still more abstract and focuses on harmonious living and personal ethics that conform to concepts of the universe held together by ethical principles.
In both Confucianism and Taoism, supernatural power lies in the universe itself and the harmonious relationships among the things and creatures in it.
The task of believers in these “Ethical Religions” is to behave in ways that enable them to fit into the scheme of things in a harmonious way.
However, one of the most important goals in any religion is salvation, which each religion defines in its own way.
In Buddhism, ‘salvation’ is the achievement of a mystical state of “Oneness” with the Divine. In Taoism and Confucianism, salvation is orientated to the present life.
In Taoism, it takes the form of withdrawing from all earthly pleasures and ending all desire and, therefore, all feelings of deprivation and suffering.
In Confucianism, it is harmonious living by the principles of a unified universe.
Confucianism in particular stresses respect for the family and those in higher classes. Confucianism demands support for the existing social system as the means for achieving religious values.
The ethics of Shinto, on the other hand, have often been decried or even described as nonexistent, but the statement is an exaggeration of the old-time Japanese claim to moral superiority to their neighbours.
In preparing this book, however, I have had recourse for my facts and interpretations to a great quantity of scholarly literature on the religions discussed in this book. My debt is too widespread to be acknowledged in detail; but I can confess its nature in sincere humility and gratitude.
Though brief and introductory, the book is, I believe, coherent. It does tell a running story of the origin and development of each of the religions dealt with, and its influence on humanity.
About the author
Milon Nandy has written in access of 250 books in his lifetime. He is popular for the many English language books that he has written over the centuries. He had also written a series of books on the four main religions. This book on Buddha and Buddhism has been reprinted twice since its first publication in the 90’s. There is so much to say about this great author that a simple search on Google can reveal lots about his other works.
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