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Educate yourself- Shintoism and japanese buddhism

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Tatsuka Ito
Posted: Dec 25, 2006 11:47 pm Reply with quote
フレンジャー フレンジャー
Joined: 28 Nov 2006 Posts: 918 Location: Surrey,Canada
Kami generally translated "gods" differs from the gods of other religions. The concept of kami is generally the great diviness that makes this cosmos go round. The great number of kami represents that kami is everywhere, the genders of kami represent how kami does not diffrientiate between man and women, and the fact that there is even a kami that has been charged with the task of regulating evil shows the fact that god godself has made evil, for it continues the spinning of the cosmos.
Shintoism has always stressed peace and cleasiness. also the concept of "sin" is very loose, there are some things with consititue as an unpurifiying act, such as killing, but depending the situation, this perticular killing can be pardones (ex. a robber breaks into your house and is about to slaughter your children, the only choice you have is to kill him first),but it is still not a sin, but it is a bad thing, which will lead to disruption of community.In the end, it iwll still come back to you. .It is a historical fact that, since the secular laws were established, Shinto has performed as a religion which believes in the rites of purification in order to pacify negative forces both man and nature have, and to strengthen positive forces for constructing a better community.
Shinto also believes that the will of the kami is unpredictable, the will punish or reward you if they wish to or not. Kami are also viewed as being close to humans, like life parents. except not exactly. Shinto without buiddhism, mainly focuses on living.Ancestor worship is laso important, because when your ancestors die they to become kami(well, more like kami slash ghosts, good ghosts, *best explanation i can make*). Nature should also be respected, as it is a kami, and is the giver of all life.

The code of ethics shinto did have, are those from Confucism.(except, it should be noted, some of the harsher parts of confucism was taken out)

ORIGINALLY< the concept of deaht wasnt so grand, but this has been changed becuase of buddhism, but here was people ORIGINALLY belived:
The most well known other world is the other world of Ama, where the most venerable deities live, and then it comes to 'the other world of Yomi where Izanami who gave birth to the land of Japan lives.Yomi is also the hell where people end up when they die. The third other world is called Tokoyo; which is believed to exist somewhere beyond the sea.

NEXT POST: Japanese-buddhism
 
davedim
Posted: Dec 25, 2006 11:51 pm Reply with quote
フレンジャー フレンジャー
Joined: 24 Oct 2006 Posts: 935
Hey, is there any chance that eyn could merge our "Educate yourself" threads into one huge Japanese history and culture thread?

I think that would be more appropriate than various threads about that subject.
 
Tatsuka Ito
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 12:36 am Reply with quote
フレンジャー フレンジャー
Joined: 28 Nov 2006 Posts: 918 Location: Surrey,Canada
I guess so. But wiat, i still have a few posts to do, after this one on japanese buddhism, i ll go on to the stuff about japanese belief of supernaturality (part of shintoism) and there were a few things about shintoism i want mention too。

Japanese Buddhism:

At one point in time, japanese buddhism had all the beliefs of orignal buddhism, and though it still does, most people arent "as buddhist" as they were back in heian times. you oculd say that a regular japanese person is "65% shinto and the remaining % buddhist" though most of the japanese population is both shinto and buddhist, the number of people who claim to be only Shinto, are higher than those who claim to be only Buddhist (buddhism has never remianed overly popular ex: buddhism was founded in india. At a time when almost everyone was hindu, The hindu emperor, Asoka, became buddhist. for a time it becames indias main religion, but the next emperor forced all the buddhists to flee to china ie tibet, and now once again hinduism is the main)

WHAT BUDDHIST BELIEFS EFFECT MODERN SHINTOISM?

Today, it is buddhist beliefs that have been excepted into shintoism, not the other way around.

KARMA: Called 業 In japanese、It is the belief that all bad things you have done will come back to haunt you, and that all good things you have done will come back to reward you.
DHARMA: in hinduism and sikhism, this is the word for "religion" and "law". In buddhism, it means that your next life is determined on how good you were in this life. (ex: good= human bad= pig). this is called 法 in japanese.
Buddhism also believes that killing is forbidden.
Buddhism also states that heaven and hell are temporary, but Amida(阿弥陀) buddha can same you from hell.

Buddhism has a lot more beliefs, but these are the ones best known to the not-so-religious public (which is fact, most of japan)

Zen, is the great buddhist sect that almost every american knows about. It is the practice of trying to become so peaceful in meditation, that one can achieve nirvana (breaking the cycle of death and rebirth, again, not all japanese may know of nirvana)

WHY ISNT BUDDHOISM AS POPULAR AS IT COULD BE?

A lot of chinese document, that when they introduced buddhism to Fusang (chinese for japan, or old chinese anyway) it changed it ways. many times over the years, people tried to keep buddhism from becoming succesful. They succeded, of ocurse they couldnt full thwort it. But that was all right, it did improve japanese religion.

Finally, i end with the difference between shinto-buddhism and buddhist-shintoism:
Shinto-buddhismm, believes that buddha and boddhistavas are kami(this is what most japanese believe)
Buddhist-shintoism, is that belief that kami are reincarnations of buddha (because buddhism believes in no gods)

NEXT POST: A few more shinto beliefs (please post in this thread so i can post my next post)
 
+Fumi
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 1:01 am Reply with quote
上塩タン焼680円 上塩タン焼680円
Joined: 12 Nov 2006 Posts: 339 Location: southern California
I will insert some things here since I am Buddhist and Shinto as most Japanese people are. I am member of one type Buddhist called Jodo which is also called "Pure Land" type of Buddism. Jodo priest says that individuals are able to become much better people through our own actions, and sometimes we are able to use our actions to help others become better people too. We have many other beliefs too, but most important is typical Buddhist belief that life is filled with suffering because we want everything to be our way, yes? but when it is not our way we feel bad! We will be much better if we stop wanting everything our way and if we begin to live our lives in proper actions for other people and community, and in proper thinking that helps our minds relax. Some kinds of Buddists have very strict training for thinking properly, such as meditation and sitting quietly for many hours, but we do not always do this in Jodo.

You should know that Japanese people use Buddhism as religion for sad activities in life such as related to death, funeral, etc. Hard parts of life are best for Buddhism.

Shinto is very different as Ito explains, kami are everywhere in all natural elements such as forest, lake, ocean, mountain, and sometimes even things made by humans such as freeways and under houses. In addition to kami there are other supernatural creatures that bring bad luck but these can be avoided by actions to get rid of them. I will tell you all that I know these things from personal experience, I have seen certain supernatural creatures myself and I have personal experience of protection by kami, so I do not doubt! Leader of Shinto religion is Japanese Emperor, many people think he is descendant from kami but I do not believe this and I think he does not believe this either.

Shinto is used by Japanese people for much more positive and happy activities such as wedding, dedication of new house or new business or children, etc.

If you are interested more in Pure Land Buddism you may learn some here:
http://www.jsri.jp/English/Main.html

If you are interested in Shinto you may learn more here:
http://www.religioustolerance.org/shinto.htm
 
Tatsuka Ito
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 1:14 am Reply with quote
フレンジャー フレンジャー
Joined: 28 Nov 2006 Posts: 918 Location: Surrey,Canada
These are the odder bits to shinto, the belief the supernatural and in ghosts:

妖怪
yokai, are odd demon spirit. they can be very odd. some like to scare people and other, like to have fun (scary fun).
付喪神(tsukumogami) are youkai that are spirit of lantern/umbrella/etc. after 100 years, they become youkai.
変化(henge) are youkai in these form:

tanuki ,kitsune(fox),boars
hebi(snake), mujina ,bakeneko(ghost cat) ,nekomata(supernatural cat), ookami(wolf),tsuchigumo(giant spider, those things you see in inuyasha)

幽霊(Yuurei)
Traditionally, they are female and dress in white kimono, typical burial clothing in ancient Japan. They typically lack legs and feet (respresented in theatre by the use of very long kimono), and are frequently depicted as being accompanied by a pair of floating flames or will o' the wisps (hi-no-tama in Japanese) in eerie colors such as blue, green, or purple. These ghostly flames are separate parts of the ghost rather than independent spirits. Yūrei also often have a triangular piece of paper or cloth known as a hitaikakushi (額隠, hitaikakushi) on their forehead. Some are depicted as possessing long black hair. Like many monsters of Japanese folklore, malicious yūrei are repelled by ofuda (御札, ofuda), holy Shinto writings.
Vengeful ghosts, on the other hand, called onryō (怨霊 おんりょう), traditionally haunt a person or a location as an act of revenge for a wrong done to them during their lifetime. Thus, saying "I will haunt you" is thus a threatening statement made in anger to someone. This is one example of the Japanese idea of urami (怨み, urami hatred, grudge). Yūrei will also appear to punish the descendents or relatives of the dead when proper ancestor-worship rituals are not conducted (tatari or tataru).

tengu:
Patrons of Japanese restaurants often encounter fierce red masks depicting the sausage-nosed face of the tengu, a strange and unpredictable creature said to make its home deep in the mountains. Many believe that this bizarre combination of man and bird still haunts remote forests, its unreal wings conveying it great distances in a heartbeat, and its fearsome eyes shining with the mischief it still perpetrates upon unwary humans. They are said to enjoy spreading chaos and confusion in the human world, punishing the vain, annoying the powerful and rewarding the humble folk who can join in their nocturnal merrymaking without fear. Sometimes they kidnap people and leave them wandering through the woods in a state of dementia called tengu-kakushi, but sometimes they are called upon to help lost children find their way home.

Being shape-shifters, tengu are capable of assuming a variety of forms or casting various illusions to deceive humans, but their primoridal nature is definitely avian. They hatch from enormous eggs (despite almost always being male), and make their homes in the sugi trees that make up much of Japan's forests. Although today they are often associated with crows, ravens, and the like , the first bird they were identified with was apparently the black-eared kite In traditional art tengu are portrayed as human-like creatures with a bird's beak or a long and beak-like nose, wings and tailfeathers on their backs, and claws on their fingers and toes. Some of the more monstrous depictions give them scaled digits or lips, pointed ears, mouths full of sharp teeth, three-toed bird's feet, or somewhat bat-like webbed flight feathers. Like many demons, they are often associated with the color red.

Tanuki:
Among the most recognizable and ribald images in Japanese folk art is a rotund, jolly little bear-like animal, wearing a large straw hat and carrying a bottle of sake, and most unabashedly propped on top of his own enormous, dragging scrotum. This is the famous and beloved tanuki, sometimes called the "raccoon" of Japan.

The tanuki is in fact not a raccoon at all, but rather an odd member of the dog family that resembles that exclusively North American animal. Commonly called a "raccoon dog" in English, Nyctereuctes procyonoides is easily distinguished by lacking its look- alike's tail rings, and walking on its toes like a dog.

In folklore the tanuki is a bit like the plump, comical brother of the fox, equally prone to mischief and shape-changing and the deception of humans. Often considered the same animal as the mujina, it is blamed for all sorts of ghostly occurences. It seems to have a hedonistic bent, constantly on the prowl for saké, food, and women, and is known to disguise worthless leaves as money to obtain those things. It also seems quite good at turning itself into inanimate objects, such as the tea-kettle in the famous story of the Bunbukuchagama.

Of course the most infamous aspect of the tanuki's shapeshifting involves its testicles. By blowing air and pulling, the male raccoon dog can stretch his scrotum into a vast sheet exceeding eight tatami mats in size. Sometimes only exceptionally clever tanuki called mamedanuki are said to be able to do this. The tanuki in comic art is portrayed employing his expanded testicles in numerous ways - he may use them as a raincoat or a blanket, a boat or a blunt weapon, he may disguise them as another yōkai such as a rokuro-kubi or a tengu in order to frighten his fellow raccoon dogs, or he may even traipse through a landscape made up entirely of hairy, wrinkled scrotal skin. The mame-danuki in particular is said to transform its testicular expanse into rooms and invite humans in to do business, but often a lit cigarette dropped on the "floor" will break the illusion and send the revealed animal fleeing and yelping in pain.

The tanuki is also said to be fond of coming out at dusk and drumming on its plump belly and distended kin-tama ("golden balls"), filling the night air with the deep hollow sound of pon-poko-pon.

It is worth noting the raccoon dog's testicles are a motif unrelated to sexuality or fertility, and instead are merely a symbol of good luck and an element of silly, earthy, risqué humor.

And while it is often seen as comical, the tanuki has a brash, violent, even morbid side as well. The popular tale Kachi-kachi-yama, or "Click Clack Mountain" features a wicked raccoon dog who kills an old woman, tricks her husband into eating her flesh, and is tormented and finally vanguished by a rabbit seeking vengeance for her human friend.

Kitsune:
The fox refines its talents over the years and acquires wisdom with age, and it was thought that a fox lucky enough to survive fifty or a hundred years would then be sufficiently skilled in magic to transform into a person. As a sign of its seniority, a long-lived fox would develop an extra tail with each passing century, until it possessed nine and had become impossibly powerful and clever.

Foxes were thought to live lives much like people, and in art they often interact with each other in a partially anthropomorphic form, standing on two legs and wearing clothes. But to enter the world of humans they had to look completely like them, as foxes caught trying to trick people with disguises would be severely punished, and often wound up in soup. A fox wishing to transform itsself had many special techniques at its disposal, such as placing a human skull on top of its head and praying to the Big Dipper. A careless fox might still leave elements of its anatomy unchanged beneath its clothes, usually a tail but sometimes fur and paws as well, and sometimes it was thus discovered.

The most famous kitsune stories involve foxes that transform themselves into beautiful women, usually for devious purposes but sometimes out of love. Foxes in human form would even sometimes marry human men and have children, who would manifest their supernatural vulpine heritage in unusual strength, charisma, or spiritual power. Famous men such as the great onmyouji Abe no Seimei were often said to be the sons of fox wives.
Kitsune were believed to transform by putting a leaf on their head. the were also believed to throw "kitsune bi" or fox fire.
 
.::carlito::.
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 1:17 am Reply with quote
クラゲ, 流れ星 クラゲ, 流れ星
Joined: 14 Oct 2006 Posts: 3609 Location: Melbourne, Australia
Hey Tatsuka, wouldn't it be a better idea to put an "Education Thread of Japan" thing because your threads seem to fall down everytime. Make it similar to my get to know our members thread which is coming back next year! Tongue
 
+Fumi
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 1:33 am Reply with quote
上塩タン焼680円 上塩タン焼680円
Joined: 12 Nov 2006 Posts: 339 Location: southern California
You should know that I have personal experience with some supernaturel creatures, fox and kappa.

When I was little girl, I saw kappa walking near the stream in hills close to my town, but it did not see me and I hid very carefully! Kappa is like frog and person combined, strange creature. I did not see bowl on its head but I did not see clearly anyway. Many parents frighten children saying "If you are misbehave, kappa will catch you!"

Also, I have one cousin who is a few years younger than I am now, she is about age 22. She is cute and pretty and captures minds of everyone! she is very well known model for photography including nude model which is my shame, and she insists to be center of attention always! I am certain she is fox rather than human person.
 
.::carlito::.
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 1:55 am Reply with quote
クラゲ, 流れ星 クラゲ, 流れ星
Joined: 14 Oct 2006 Posts: 3609 Location: Melbourne, Australia
So Kappa is similiar to the Boogyman? Giggle I've always been told about the Boogyman ever since I was 6. Well you saw the Kappa, but I've never seen the Boogyman. Laughing
 
KerushiiAi
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 2:05 am Reply with quote
ポケット ポケット
Joined: 09 Oct 2006 Posts: 2497 Location: USA
is Katchan like a kappa? an adorable one, but yeah! Tongue
haha, it's from marmalade boy
yeah, it's like as old as i am, but who cares?!
ok, i'm done now. Giggle

are you writing all this, or are you getting it from somewhere? Confused
it's a lot...i'm gonna pace myself when reading it Shocked

carlito wrote:
but I've never seen the Boogyman
ever seen the movie "nightmare before christmas"? Laughing
 
zyzzyva
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 6:12 am Reply with quote
クムリウタ クムリウタ
Joined: 07 Aug 2005 Posts: 635 Location: California
Yes, my mother always said that most Japanese follow Shinto in life, but are Buddhist in death. The concept of reincarnation as a form of afterlife is to some much more appealing than just being absorbed into the great collection of kami. Nod Giggle
There's even the term 葬式仏教(そうしきぶっきょう、soushiki bukkyou), or 'Funeral Buddhism,' to describe this unique 'lifestyle.'

The tanuki and kitsune stories were always my favorites growing up. Giggle
For a dense dose, Studio Ghibli's Pom Poko is all about the struggle between tanuki and humans, the old Japan vs. the modern development. It was recently released (finally) in the US--long delayed due to the massive cultural divide/barrier (film's absolutely thick with cultural references) and the whole testicle thing. Tongue

On a greatly more depressing note, it was recently revealed that fur included in Sean 'Diddy' Combs's new clothing line was not imitation/faux, but actually of the dog family, specifically, raccoon-dog fur. <--Meaning tanuki fur. Crying Mad Crying Mad Crying
Here is the article, plus update, from the Humane Society.
*Caution*: Do not watch the video if you are partial to furry creatures and are faint of heart (I didn't, as I've been scarred by PETA videos in the past).
This news literally made me cry.
Some Westeners may be horrified at the news at first, but mollified when they learn it wasn't 'dog' as in 'Lassie.' However, for a person who never believed in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy as a child, but who still can't completely rule out the possible truths surrounding the tanuki and kitsune, this is an unforgivable crime. I may not be Christian, but 'sin' seems the appropriate term, as well as Dante's special circles of hell...

It's nice that you're posting this information (as well as that in your other threads), Tatsuka Ito, but as always, don't forget to credit your sources where necessary. I recognize much of the text from sites I've used for my own research in the past, particularly that from The Obakemono Project.
Links are always helpful when readers wish to explore more on their own. Nod Love
 
LightDay
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 11:07 am Reply with quote
大好きだよ。 大好きだよ。
Joined: 11 Nov 2006 Posts: 254 Location: Water Seven
+Fumi wrote:
You should know that I have personal experience with some supernaturel creatures, fox and kappa.

When I was little girl, I saw kappa walking near the stream in hills close to my town, but it did not see me and I hid very carefully! Kappa is like frog and person combined, strange creature. I did not see bowl on its head but I did not see clearly anyway. Many parents frighten children saying "If you are misbehave, kappa will catch you!"

Also, I have one cousin who is a few years younger than I am now, she is about age 22. She is cute and pretty and captures minds of everyone! she is very well known model for photography including nude model which is my shame, and she insists to be center of attention always! I am certain she is fox rather than human person.


I am surprised that kappa is actually real! I seriously thought that was just a myth. How sure were u when u saw it? Does it appear often? At what time? And is there anything special if someone actually saw a kappa? This is very interesting, Fumi.

About ur cousin, i thought u meant fox spirit in her? She is still a human nonetheless.
 
Tatsuka Ito
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 1:39 pm Reply with quote
フレンジャー フレンジャー
Joined: 28 Nov 2006 Posts: 918 Location: Surrey,Canada
Kappa:

The kappa's most notable feature, however, is the water-filled depressions atop their heads. These cavities are surrounded by scraggly hair, and this type of bobbed hair style is named okappa atama for the creatures. The kappa derive their incredible strength from these liquid-filled holes, and anyone confronted with one may exploit this weakness by simply getting the kappa to spill the water from its head. One trusted method to do this is to appeal to the kappa's deep sense of etiquette, for a kappa cannot help but return a deep bow, even if it means losing its head-water in the process. Once depleted, the kappa is seriously weakened and may even die. Other tales say that this water allows kappa to move about on land, and once emptied, the creatures are immobilized. Stubborn children are encouraged to follow the custom of bowing on the grounds that it is a defense against kappa.Kappa are mischievous troublemakers. Their pranks range from the relatively innocent, such as loudly passing gas or looking up women's kimonos, to the more troublesome, such as stealing crops, kidnapping children, or raping women. In fact, small children comprise one of the gluttonous kappa's favorite meals, though they will eat adults as well. They feed on these hapless victims by sucking out the entrails (or blood, liver, or "life force", depending on the legend) through the anus. Even today, signs warning about kappa appear by bodies of water in some Japanese towns and villages. Kappa are also said to be afraid of fire, and some villages hold fireworks festivals each year to scare the spirits away.
Kappa are not entirely antagonistic to mankind, however. They are curious of human civilization, and they can understand and speak Japanese. They thus sometimes challenge those they encounter to various tests of skill, such as shogi (a chess-like game popular in Japan) or sumo wrestling. They may even befriend human beings in exchange for gifts and offerings, especially cucumbers, the only food kappa are known to enjoy more than human children. Japanese parents sometimes write the names of their children (or themselves) on cucumbers and toss them into kappa-infested waters in order to mollify the creatures and allow the family to bathe. There is even a kind of cucumber-filled sushi roll named for the kappa, the kappamaki.
Once befriended, kappa have been known to perform any number of tasks for human beings, such as helping farmers irrigate their land. They are also highly knowledgeable of medicine, and legend states that they taught the art of bone setting to mankind. Due to these benevolent aspects, some shrines are dedicated to the worship of particularly helpful kappa. Kappa may also be tricked into helping people. Their deep sense of decorum will not allow them to break an oath, for example, so if a human being can dupe a kappa into promising to help him, the kappa has no choice but to follow through.

Rokurokubi:

Particularly beautiful but extremely hedonistic, rokurokubi are known for their tendencies to excess. They indulge in everything they can to make their existence more pleasureable. Everything they do tends to be in an endeavour to heighten the pleasure of existence for themselves, whether it is eating their favorite foods, making themselves up to look more beautiful, or listening to their favorite music.
Often impulsive, rokurokubi tend to lavish gifts on those who prove themselves to be trustworthy friends, to help them enjoy their existences as well. They usually dislike people who are too responsible and try to talk them out of their excessive ways.
Many rokurokubi are unable to keep secrets, and so they feel they must reveal their true nature from time to time. Usually they will reveal their snakelike neck to people who are drunk or asleep, or who otherwise might not remember the occasion or would pass it off as an intoxicated hallucination.
Some people do not actively live as rokurokubi and may not even know that they are one. These people extend their necks in their sleep, while their heads will go around exploring. They wake up to remember their dream of looking around the vicinity in ways they never had before.
 
KerushiiAi
Posted: Dec 27, 2006 1:44 am Reply with quote
ポケット ポケット
Joined: 09 Oct 2006 Posts: 2497 Location: USA
zyzzyva wrote:
On a greatly more depressing note, it was recently revealed that fur included in Sean 'Diddy' Combs's new clothing line was not imitation/faux, but actually of the dog family, specifically, raccoon-dog fur. <--Meaning tanuki fur
my god, that's disgusting! i'm glad they stopped making them! that's jsut plain horrible No
and i'm too afraid to watch the video Crying skinned alive? oh my god...Crying
 
Tatsuka Ito
Posted: Dec 27, 2006 4:11 pm Reply with quote
フレンジャー フレンジャー
Joined: 28 Nov 2006 Posts: 918 Location: Surrey,Canada
Heres a good site on Japanese-buddhism:
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/buddhism.shtml

Please, dont let it confuse you into thinking that the japanese are mainly budhist now.
You could say the site is a littele "biased" the small article it has on shinto even has some buddhist influences, not mention it portrays shinto as a small part of japanese life, while in truth shinto is the main part of japanese life, and buddhism not so much.

But looking at the site you see their are alot of temples. OF COURSE, its not like people just stopped going to temples (shinto=shrine buddhist=temple) , buddhist temples are now a place to go when in search of salvation, when some one dies or something like the previous 2 mentioned.

As you can also see, there are many buddhist statues all around japan, but not very many shinto statues. Why you ask? Shinto kami usually arent given form in statues. Yes, there are some giant shinto statues for festivals, but they are put away. I have mostly seen Kami in traditional art ex: the famous pic of Amaterasu Oomikami, Susanoo, Fujin and raijin, another one of Raijin (in a book), Female Inari (also in a book), and Izanami and Izanagi. There probably a lot ,ore, but i cannot find any on the internet, and shinto books are very limited in North america.

Here is a good encycolopedia of shinto:
http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/
 
Mansley
Posted: Dec 27, 2006 7:54 pm Reply with quote
フレンジャー フレンジャー
Joined: 14 Nov 2006 Posts: 868 Location: Los Angeles, California
i finally got around to reading this thread.
kerushiiai asked if you were typing this all up or copying and pasting. to me, i must agree with her question as this is a pretty impressive amount of material to read and would be more impressive if you were taking the time to type all this up.
also this is an impressive amount of knowledge on religion. i myself was more interested in reading what you had to say about shinto because i have never studied shinto at all, whereas i've spent some time studying buddhism, as well as christianity, islam, and juddhism. however i got sort of sidetracked from the religious knowledge by your fairly lengthy post on the ghosts and supernaturl aspect of shinto, which was very interesting. particularly now i know why there are so many references to nine-tailed demon foxes. (such a creature sounds truly fascinating...)
it is a good thing to see that sometimes not all these supernatural beings are always bad. i think humans have a bias against such creatures and always think they must be harmful. but it is good to have beliefs showing they can be good too.
 
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