Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto are three religions located within the East Asian part of the world. These religions have impacted and influenced one another in many ways. Both Daoism and Confucianism share numerous ethical, spiritual, and educational aspects with the Shinto religion. Today we see these similarities through the means of modern-day festivities, teachings, and environmental improvements/advancements.
Although there is a presence of an abundant array of similarities between the three religions, there are also many differences. Through this paper, we will explore and analyze the contemporary similarities and differences that Daoism/Confucianism share with Shinto.
Daoism and Shinto are similar in terms of their strive and attempt to restrain and improve environmental and social damage that has resulted from industrialization. Both Daoist and Shinto practicing countries have experienced great levels of environmental pollution and natural disasters. As a result, they have initiated a multitude of associations and governmental programs to help aid and reverse these harmful effects. Other similarities between Daoism and Shinto include expansion and integration to the western world, the ever-growing popularity of traditional practices, and the incorporation of religious teachings in their everyday lives.
In Daoism, there are now hundreds of thousands of masters, centers, organized religious institutions, societies for self-cultivation, and practitioners of techniques for spiritual development in the West. Similarly, in Shinto, there are now shrines (like the Tsubaki Shrine) in the United States to help people ritually prepare themselves for purification. Acupuncture therapy, traditional Chinese medicines, and qigong are all traditional practices that are still done to this day and are practiced by all people (not just Taoists).
Some Shinto traditional practices that are still observed include: kagura, shrine festivals, misogi, and kami shelves. Both Daoism and Shinto hold on to traditions and incorporate modern twists to them. In Daoism, taiji quan is a kind of martial art that is practiced by Chinese folks. It is a type of martial art, that has influenced other forms of martial arts and is observed by people all over the world. In Shinto, they practice a form of wrestling called Sumo wrestling. Sumo wrestling has become very popular in not just Japan, but all over the world. Taiji quan and Sumo are two different forms of athletics that have adapted to modern ways. Although Daoism and Shinto are very similar, they also many differences.
In Daoism, it is believed that Daoist and Buddhists continue to be recipients of new revelations called the ‘precious scrolls.’ These precious scrolls are emanated from deities such as the Golden Mother of the Celestial Pool. In the Shinto religion, there is no God, but rather one communicates with kami (Kami being the invisible spirits throughout nature that are born of this essence). Another difference is that in Daoism, on Chinese New Year, Hong Kong temples are filled with worshippers who burn incense sticks to pay homage to the spirits. Whereas, in Shinto on New Year, people watch the first sunrise, and will try to visit a shrine and all of their relatives. In Daoism, the expansion to the West is very evident. However, in the Shinto religion in it practiced only in Japan, Brazil, and Hawaii. Confucianism and Shinto also share a few similarities. Both the Confucianism and Shinto religions have a clear and focused goal of attaining harmony. Modern day Confucian culture stresses stable lives for families and clans, respect for wisdom of elders, respect for education, interest in common good, hard work, and long-term sustainable growth. Similarly, Shinto culture stresses respect and love for your family and social structure, artistic life and sporting life (Sumo wrestling), and your spiritual life (communicating with kami).
Both religions emphasize the importance of living in harmony with nature and one’s self. Confucian ideals have always had a major impact on Japanese (Shinto) ethics for many years. The Shinto religion shares ethical and moral similarities with Confucianism today. Both religions share the same ideals in reference to human relationships. The politeness, respectfulness, and helpfulness of modern-day Japanese people is directly linked to that of Confucian behavioral teachings. In contrast, Confucianism and Shinto has many differences. One difference between Confucianism and Shinto is that in although visits to shrines should be purely for spirituality. In Shinto contemporary life, visits to shrines often resemble tourism more than spirituality. On the other hand, in Confucianism, rites are strictly observed for spiritual purposes. Daoism, Confucianism, and Shintoism are three of the worlds most popular East Asian religions.
Although they all share many similar aspects and teachings, they are all very unique and different. Each religion has its own amazing cultural features, significant codes, and distinctive rites and rituals. No one religion is the same, and that is evident after reviewing the three religions: Daoism, Confucianism, and Shintoism. Today, the Western world has influenced these religions in many ways. The modernism of Shinto, Confucianism, and Daoism is transparent through the religions’ cultural, political, and ethical values.
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