Chinese and Japanese religions (Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto)
WRAm East Asian Religions in Today’s America
1. What five vows does a Jain monk/nun take? How are these similar to and/or dissimilar from the Ten Commandments of the Judeo-Christian tradition? Jains practice “ahimsa,” which is absolute reverence for all life. How would that concept translate into everyday life for a Jain? What would they eat, what kinds of employment could they NOT be involved in, etc.
2. Why is the gurdwara so cherished by Sikhs? What is the history and significance of the Guru Granth Sahib? Is its development similar or dissimilar to other Scriptures you know or have learned about so far in this course? Why is the Golden Temple treasured by Sikhs, and why do you think violence surrounds its history?
3. Define the Tao (or its alternate spelling, the Dao). How do Confucians and Taoists differ in their interpretation of it? How is the Tao related to the fundamental Chinese concepts of YIN and YANG?
4. Confucianism is not a “religion” in the sense of having a divinity. It is essentially a way of living, a philosophy concerned with making the best of family life and our larger society. How do Confucius’ 5 main principles (jen, chun-tzu, li, te, wen) but especially, within “li”, the notion of right relationships, inform modern Chinese society?
5. Shinto is a fascinating religion. It is the way of the KAMI, with no specific historical founder, no collection of sacred texts, and no commonly agreed upon system of doctrine. In Japan, the myths of Shinto and the religious practices/festivals connected with it are the cord which binds Japanese society. Many Japanese may be Zen Buddhists, but they also may participate in Shinto rituals. From your reading about Shinto in the WR textbook or other sources, tell me three things that you find interesting, confusing, practical, or unrealistic about Shinto.
The two texts for this course are: World Religions: The Great Faiths Explained and Explored by John Bowker (ISBN 978-0756617721 OR 0756617723) and World Religions in America edited by Jacob Neusner – fourth edition (ISBN 978-0664233204 OR 0664233201)