Religious Syncretism in Chinese and Japanese Religion

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Write a response to the following task in 6 full pages plus endnotes and bibliography of sources in extra pages. Your response requires review, synthesis, reflection, and critical appraisal of the material on Indian religions we will have covered through the last session.
Cite sources in your endnotes (and not footnotes) using Chicago Style (see separate doc. uploaded) and NOT in the main body of your essay; your own commentaries and citation of passages for illustration, including translated original textual passages, are highly recommended but should be in endnotes as well. Note that an essay consisting of a series of long direct citations does not show as much evidence of engagement as those written succinctly in author’s own words. You are required to draw material from the lectures, assigned readings, and the documentary films. Use of sources other than course material is acceptable only when the said conditions are met.
Your essay should be in font size 12, double-spaced, page number inserted and stapled. Your name, course number, date should be on a separate cover page. However, do not use website sources unless they are electronic publications of legitimate academic books and articles. “Legitimate” here refers to sources that have been reviewed by experts in the field before publication. Wikipedia is an example of a source that you cannot rely on for the purpose of this assignment (or any other academic writing) and is a sure way to lose some points.

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The essay topic is religious syncretism in Chinese and Japanese religion. For China, we have discussed in class Confucianism, Daoism, and 2 forms of Buddhism, Huayan and Chan; for Japan we will have discussed indigenous religion, Shinto and its relationship with Buddhism and syncretic religion of Shugendo. Your task is to discuss the following topics in 2 parts: 1) Chinese Buddhism as both continuity of Indian Buddhism and change due to the influence of pre-existing indigenous traditions, especially philosophical Daoism; 2) the phenomena of religious syncretism in Japan between indigenous traditions and Buddhism that was mainly transmitted from China.

Suggested questions for part 1): What Indian Buddhist elements (philosophy and/or practice) did Huayan and Chan Buddhism adopt or reject? What were the contributions from indigenous religious-philosophical traditions and how did they (Huayan and Chan) develop into forms of Buddhism that had no Indian analogue? What role did the Awakening of Faith in Mahayana play in the development of Chinese Buddhism? For part 2): What is religious syncretism? What are indigenous and foreign components of Japanese religious syncretism? What role did nature play in the formation of indigenous religion and what is its worldviews like? Is it appropriate to regard Shugendo as an example of religious syncretism?

  • Film:”Taoism, A Question of Balance” – available on YouTube
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