Why people from Eastern culture are comfortable with belonging to multiple religions?

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by Samuel, Sep 1, 2018.

  1. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

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    Hello, I have heard that in the East, people are comfortable with belonging to more than one religion.

    Can you confirm that this is indeed so in Eastern culture?

    If so - what do you think enables this attitude?

    What is it about a culture's mentality that makes the people in that culture comfortable belonging to two different religions?
     
  2. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Which country are you referring to? Japan?
     
  3. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

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    I know that the Nepalese celebrate both Hindu and Buddhist festivals. At least the community of Nepalese foreign workers in Israel (where I live) does...
    I thought this to be true about the Indian subcontinent.

    But I am interested in this phenomena wherever it occurs.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Possibly an underlying attitude of inclusivity rather than exclusivity?

    I wonder if the general tenor of cultural relations also plays into this?

    As a Christian I am inclusive of all religions in that I see the answer the desire to seek a common end, as a Christian I am exclusive in the fact that I believe my tradition is the most comprehensive and, for me, the most complete and comprehensible answer to the questions.

    India I only know generally, where seemingly the Hindu religion has rubbed along quite happily incorporating 'alien gods' — but I think it's generally understood that those Gods are interpreted in a very Hindu context — so you may see a statue of Christ on a Hindu altar, but the understanding of Christ is within a Hindu rather than Christian or even multi-faith context.

    Japan's history I am more conversant with. Shinto and Buddhism got along quite happily, with shrines and temples changing hands etc.

    But there has always been conflict. In Japan, the history of militant Buddhist monasteries are legendary, and the history of swordsmanship is closely linked to Shinto roots.

    Today it seems the fluid shoulders are hardening. There's been disputes between Moslems and Hindus in India since the partition of India in '48 (a bloodbath), and more recent cases of Hindu and Buddhist conflicts. Politics, so cultural attitudes, play into this.

    The niqab "face veil", and all styles of veiling worn by some Muslim women is seen as founded in Moslem hijab ("modesty"). Such veiling actually pre-dates Islam and was in use by some pre-Islamic Arabic communities. The particular styles are usually associated with a particular region — so we can see that the veil is actually a cultural practice incorporated into Islam, rather than determined by it.

    In your own case for example, I wonder whether the celebration of festivals says more about Nepalese cultural heritage/homesickness than particular religious beliefs?

    A good question, and the East is a big place!

    +++

    In my own heritage, early Irish Christianity ('Celtic Christianity' so called, although the term is somewhat ill-applied), simply incorporated pre-Christian Irish mythology into the Christian canon, so there are stories of Brigid, an ancient Irish goddess of sorts, being present as midwife at the birth of Christ!
     
  5. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Hi Samuel,

    If you dig down deep enough, you will find that true Buddhism and true Hinduism are very similar.

    What is it about this phenomena that fascinates you?
     
  6. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

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    Hello Nick,

    I am from Israel. In Israel, At least from what I get from the mainstream news, in Israeli "public life" it is almost unheard of. In Israeli "public life" (about which I hear about from the mainstream news), religion is treated like a group to which you belong. And unfortunately, those groups are usually mutually exlcusive.

    One could argue that this is a modern phenomena which is related to politics. But even in the history of the three western monotheistic religions, I have not heard of exemplary figures belonging to more than one religion.

    One could argue that people do not always manage to act according to the moral standards of their religions, and perhaps this exists as an ideal which is not implemented in practice. But , even if you go to the tenets of the religions themselves - as far as I understand, the tenets of religions are mutually exclusive. At least at first glance, each religion claims that its' holy books are the definitive ones. (Christianity accepts the Old Testament, but classifies it is as "old"; Islam takes the Quran to be the definitive and final God's word).

    Even in own my mind, this attitude makes sense! It makes sense to me to declare the revealed book of one's own religion to be true, and the revealed books of other religions to be false.

    ------

    But having said all that, I do realise that the attitude of mutually exlcusive religions, and mutually exlcusive truths is less virtuous. At the very least, it leads to intellectual intolerance.

    So, I see exlusive religiosity around me; to some extent at least, I justify this intellectually. But, I am aware that this is lacking in virtue.

    So, naturally, I am seeking people who practice religion in other ways, hoping to hear their perspective.
    To some extent, I could even say that I am "trapped" in an intolerant worldview, justifying it on an intellectual level, but seeing its harms on the emotional\spiritual level.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  7. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

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    Hello Thomas,

    Thank you for an interesting and an informative answer.

    Do you consider this to be your cultural heritage, or your religion?

    It might well be. The communications I have had, has not been sufficient to determine this point. Nevertheless, even if this is a cultural heritage, it is a remarkable one! I have not heard of such a cultural heritage existing in the Western world (perhaps this only reflects my ignorance though).
    Your example of early Irish Christianity is the first example of such practice that I became aware of.

    As to your example as of the niqab and the hijab as predating Islam, it might well be so. However, I wonder if the awareness of this practice as something which was incorporated into Islam is something accepted by the Islamic worldview. Does the Islamic worldview accept that it was influenced by pre-Islamic values?
     
  8. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Hi Samuel,

    In Japan, most people follow both Shinto and Buddhist practices. And most Japanese people do not see any problem in this. But it must be said that, in Japan, most people do not get their morals from religion, they get them from society.
     
  9. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

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    Very interesting. Could you elaborate on that?

    What do you mean by "getting morals from religion" versus "getting morals from society" ?
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  10. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Samuel,

    In Japan, people learn right and wrong from just living in Japanese society. The ideas of what is right and wrong is “just something everyone knows” in Japan. There are strong influences from Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan, as well as some influences from Confucianism. The form of social control in Japan is not, “If you do a bad thing, you will go to hell”, it is “If you do a bad thing, everyone will laugh at you.”

    It must be said that Japanese people are very concerned about what other people think of them, and the philosophy of keeping social peace and harmony is an important part of Japanese society. Western culture is very different, so perhaps these methods would not work in a western society which highly values individuality.
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I think it's been clearly proven e're all products of our cultures, much as we might like to tell ourselves otherwise.

    My blood heritage is Gaelic, my cultural heritage is British.

    I don't think it's ignorance, more a way of looking?

    Britain is famous for its expatriate communities recreating 'little England' abroad. I had a friend who emigrated to Australia and became very quickly bored of ex-pat Brits trying to 'englandise' Australia, rather than becoming Australian!

    And we have colonised parts of Spain and Portugal with retired Brits who are served by Brit restaurants, Brit theme pubs, Brit this, and Brit that...

    I think it's more popular in the US, but really it's more fantasy than history-based.

    I doubt it even asks the question. Theologians ask those kinds of questions, not the average believer.

    One point to make clear though, the idea of practicing two or more religions is quite modern, and quite western. As I said above, you'll see Christian statues on a Hindu altar, but that's not because they practice Hindu-Christianity or Christian Hinduism, but rather they interpret 'other' religious symbols, icons, etc., according to their own understanding.

    As Nick points out, the Japanese have Shinto and Buddhism, but throughout their history the different Buddhists sects have gone to war with each other, usually for political reasons. And in India today, and the East generally, there religions are becoming more exclusive.
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Oh, I think it' no laughing matter.

    If you do wrong, you'll get hit. It was not uncommon for a traffic cop to slap a driver for a minor misdemeanour, and the Japanese acceptance of authority has been ingrained by a history shaped on violent retribution and the inculcation of Confucian principles of moral and social obligation.

    In Japan you raise your kids Shinto for the festivals, get married in a Christian Church for the wedding, then turn to Buddhism in your older years... :D
     
  13. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

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    Even if so, I consider this to be remarkable. At the very least, it shows that they do not treat religions as mutually-exclusive social clubs, to which you must show exclusive loyalty.

    Also, I agree that the Indians according to your description are not practicing two theologies. However, I believe religion to be wider than mere theology. So in a certain sense, I think they can be said to practice two religions (even if not in a very strict sense of the word).
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
  14. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

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    I got your point, and I agree. According to your description, religion simply plays a different role in Japan...
     
  15. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    It is said that, in Japan, you are born a Shinto, married a Christian, and die a Buddhist. Rites for a newborn are usually done in a Shinto shrine, Christian-style weddings are very popular, and funerals are usually handled by a Buddhist temple. And no one sees anything wrong with this.
     
    Samuel likes this.
  16. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai

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    The alter in our Mandir here in the US

    Diwali2015b.JPG
    I'm Christian and my wife is a Hindu from the Fiji Islands. Now, there are many different belief structures within Hinduism, but in her tradition, Hinduism is viewed as all encompassing. As such, they tend to be very accepting of Christianity and see it as differing from Hinduism only in practice. Whereas, most Christians consider Hinduism to be something completely different. Even diametrically apposed to their own faith. As for myself, I tend to go against the grain on most things and view Hinduism in much the same way my wife's tradition views Christianity. I have no problem participating in or even conducting certain Hindi ceremonies. Because of this, I've often been described as a Hindu devotee of Christ in Fiji. Just not something they're use to seeing, as the Christians there tend to be rather rigid in their beliefs.
     
  17. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

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    I am very interested in such a view...

    Would you mind telling what is your view of Hinduism?​
     
  18. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

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    It has come to my mind, that your view on Hinduism is probably influenced by your view of Christianity. Probably the reason that you diverge from many Christians is because you view Christianity in a different way...

    So perhaps, I should ask you first how you view Christianity.
     
  19. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Samuel, I am not sure if you are speaking to me or someone else.
     
  20. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai

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    Well as I've said, there are many different belief structures within Hinduism and I certainly can't speak for them all, but in my wife's Hindu tradition Christianity is seen as just another aspect of faith. Another chapter as it were, told from a different perspective and practiced in a different way and as a Christian, that's exactly how I see Hinduism. For me, one doesn't negate the other.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018

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