Edited by Eric H. Kessler and Diana J. Wong-MingJi
Tomoatsu Shibata and Mitsuru Kodama INTRODUCTION Certain conditions which characterized Japan as a nation as well as its climate contributed to the formation of an inherent Japanese culture and consciousness. There are views and analyses from two research streams used to explain the backbone of Japanese consciousness. The first is Shinto as described in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki. Prior to its establishment as a nation state (predating the period of Shotoku Taishi), Japan had hardly ever been exposed to outside influences due to its geographical isolation as an island nation. In that environment, a localized religion which celebrated the worship of ancestral gods and which eventually developed into Shinto was establishing solid foundations. The second stream was Buddhism which was officially introduced to Japan in 538. Shotoku Taishi (574–622) embraced Buddhism at a young age and after becoming regent, incorporated the teachings of Buddha into a constitution (Seventeen Article Constitution) as a framework for governing the state, thereby establishing for the first time a basic foundation for a Japanese state. This milestone had a significant influence in the establishment of the inherent consciousness and culture of the Japanese people thereafter. This initiative was interpreted by some as an effort by Shotoku Taishi to integrate Shinto and Buddhism (the syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism) to maintain the stability of the Japanese state. In the next section, the authors will present general observations on the relevance of Shinto and Buddhism and the Japanese consciousness. SHINTO AND BUDDHIST TEACHINGS In his examination...
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