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(1,405 words)

Author(s): Pye, Michael
1. Term Shinto is Japan’s native, national religion. The word means “way [ tō; cf. Chin. tao] of the gods [ shin],” though the sign for shin, when alone, reads kami. Kami are the many mythological or legendary figures that occur in the oldest Japanese written sources (i.e., Kojiki [Records of ancient matters] and Nihon shoki, or Nihon-gi [Chronicles of Japan]). Prominent kami are Izanagi and Izanami, who created the islands of Japan, the sun goddess Amaterasu, and the storm god Susanoo, who destroyed the rice fields and thus had to be banished. Kami…


(392 words)

Author(s): Pye, Michael
Zen Buddhism is an orientation in Japanese Buddhism that stresses meditation (Jpn. zen). The word zen comes from Chin. chʾan, from Skt. dhyāna (meditation). The chʾan, or zen, school did not exist in India, the home of Buddhism. Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk who came from India to China at the beginning of the sixth century a.d., triggered a Chinese development that reveals an antiformalistic, Taoist influence (Taoism). The teaching work of Hui-neng (638–713) was a high point in China. He advocated a principle of sudden illumination. A radical discon…


(379 words)

Author(s): Pye, Michael
In general the term “fatalism” denotes the idea that whatever happens is determined and caused by an irresistible, supernatural power that leaves no room for human decision. What is ordained for individuals cannot be foreseen in advance. The Romans gave the name fatum to the power that overrules birth and death (Roman Religion). The Greeks called it Heimarmenē or Moira (Greek Religion). The incalculable aspect of destiny was also known to the Greeks as tychē and to the Romans as fortuna. The Stoics made fate the dominant principle of the universe. Yet the question of freed…