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Buddhism

Buddhism reached Japan in the sixth century through China and Korea. At the beginning of the seventh century, the then crown prince called Shotoku who was in charge of affairs of state made a deep study of Buddhism, and this served to spread the belief. Up till the twelfth century Buddhism was the religion of the aristocracy only, but from about the thirteenth century it became popular among the common people. At about this time Zen became spread among the samurai class. Since those times and up to the present day, Buddhism has been the principal religion of the Japanese people.

Buddhism holds that the ultimate state is one of self-enlightment attained by awaking to the truth. It is an objective, too, to rid yourself of the tenacious idea that everything is everlasting, although, all is transitory, that everything has substance, although all is insubstantial.

There is no God in Buddhism; the emphasis is on ridding yourself of hate and jelousy through infinite love. Fanaticism is rejected; you should try to attain tolerance and equality.

Buddhism is a major presence in the life of the Japanese people. Even if they are non-believers, they go to temples, they are buried according to Buddhist rites and after death, they are given posthumous Buddhist names. Buddhism has exerted a tremendous influence on every aspect of Japanese culture including art, literature and architecture and on the morals and way of thought of the people.



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