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2.4.3 Shinto and Confucianism

Shinto and Confucianism cannot be called religions. They are closer to what we normally understand as religious philosophical movements

Shinto is the religious beliefs and practices of Japan. The word Shinto means “the way of kami” (kami means “mystical,” “superior,” “divine,” generally sacred or divine power, specifically the various gods or deities). Shinto serves to distinguish the indigenous Japanese beliefs from Buddhism, which had been introduced into Japan in the 6th century AD. Shinto has no founder, no official sacred scriptures in the strict sense, and no fixed dogmas, but it has preserved its guiding beliefs throughout the ages.

Confucianism is the way of life propagated by Confucius in the 6th–5th century BC and followed by the Chinese people for more than two millennia. It has traditionally been the base of learning, the source of values, and the social code of the Chinese. Confucianism is a worldview, a social ethic, a political ideology, a scholarly tradition, and a way of life. Sometimes viewed as a philosophy and sometimes as a religion, Confucianism may be understood as an all-encompassing humanism that neither denies nor slights Heaven. Confucianism differs from ordinary religions by not being organized. It spread to other East Asian countries under the influence of Chinese culture and exerted a profound influence on spiritual and political life. Both the theory and practice of Confucianism have marked the patterns of government, society, education, and family of East Asia. Although it is an exaggeration to characterize traditional Chinese life and culture as Confucian, Confucian ethical values have for well over 2,000 years served as the source of inspiration as well as the court of appeal for human interaction between individuals, communities, and nations.