Religions of the East

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Last updated: November 30, 2019

Amaterasu
Sun God, ancestress of the Japanese emperors, Ruler of the Plain of High Heaven

Amita
Buddha of infinite light(Amitabha) presiding over the pure land buddha realm

Bushido
Way of the warrior – the japanese code of self-discipline for warriors based on Zen, Shinto and Neo-Confucian ideals

Butsudan
Buddhist altar inside a home, in Japan

Chado/Chanoyu
The way of the Tea, the art of the Japanese tea ceremony

Daimoku
Used in Nichiren Buddhist worship – Praise to the wonderful law of the Lotus Sutra

Dogen
Founder of Soto-Zen in Japan

Eisai
Founder of Rinsai-Zen in Japan

Giri
Japanese sense of social obligation and duty

Hidden Christians
Japanese christians who continued to practice the religion after it was banished in the 17th century

Honen
Founder of Pure Land buddhism in Japan

Ise Shrine
Shrine for Amaterasu in Ise, Japan

Izanagi/Izanami
Pair of gods that created the world(Japanese mythology)

Jizo
Buddhist divinity known as savior of the dead and helper of dead children

Kami
Shinto religion, powerful, respected and worshipped humans – gods

Kamidana
Altar for the Kami inside homes in Japan

Kannon(Guanyin)
Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara, goddess of mercy

Koan(Gongan)
Zen riddle used in meditation

Kojiki
Records of Ancient Matters, earliest japanese writings, compilation of creation stories

Kukai
Founder of Shingon

Matsuri
Shinto shrine festival

Meiji Restoration
Restoration of Imperial rule in Japan in 1868

Motoori Norianaga
Leading advocate of the reestablishment of the Shinto religion as Japan’s official religion

Nembutsu(Nianfo)
Praise to the Amida Buddha, way of calling on him

Nichiren
Founded by the monk Nichiren, buddhist sect based only on the Lotus Sutra

Nihon Shoki(Nihongi)
Chronicles of Japan, stories about Kamis and Emperors

Ninigi
Amaterasu’s grandson, began Kami rule on earth – ancestor of the first legendary emperor

Norito
Ancient Shinto ritual prayers

Noh
Classical japanese theatre, linked to religion – Zen

Obon(Ullambana)
Japanese Festival of the seventh month welcoming the ancestors

Pollution
Shinto view – anything that hinders life and fertility, caused by separation from the Kami

Pure Land
Buddhist school focused on worshipping Amida Buddha and being reborn in the Pure Land paradise. Founded by Honen and Shinran

Purification
Shinto view – remove pollution and reinstate harmony within the Kami

Saicho
Founder of Tendai Buddhism

Samurai
Japanese class of warriors influenced by Zen and Neo-Confucianism

New Religions
term used for the coming of new religions, often combing buddhism, shinto and folk religion

School of National Learning
Shinto restoration movement during the Tokugawa period

Shingon
Tantric buddhism in Japan

Shinran
Disciple of Honen, founder of True Pure Land buddhism in Japan

Shinto
term designating the japanese way of the kami

Shotoku
Prince who advocated buddhism in Japan

Shrine(Jinja)
Shinto sacred place, focused on the presence of the Kami; worshippers can consult priests, appropriate buildings

Soka Gakkai
Largest new religion in Japan, based on Nichiren Buddhism

Susanoo
Storm Kami, unruly brother of Amaterasu

Tendai(Tiantai)
Important school of Buddhism in Japan

Tenrikyo
Oldest of the New Religions – 1838

Torii
Characteristic gateway to the Shinto Shrine

Way of Art
practice of an art as self-cultivation

Zazen
Central practice of Zen Buddhism, means sitting in meditation

Zen
School of Meditation Buddism in Japan

Analects
Compilation of sayings attributed to Confucius

Chan(Zen in Japan)
School of meditation buddhism in China, Kore, Vietnam and Japan

Confucianism
Western term for the learned scholars study of Confucius’ analects and Five Classics – traditional rituals involving the family and the ancestors

Confucius(Kongzi)
Teacher whose philosophy of life became dominant in Chinese culture

Cultural Revolution
1966-1976: attempt to destroy everything possible of the old culture

Dao(Tao)
Way; chinese term for spiritual path, the indefinable source of reality, the way of nature

Daode Jing(Tao Te Ching)
Earliest and very influential text of Daoism

Daoism
Chinese tradition based on Daode Jing and Zhuangzi – daoist principles involving rituals, scriptures and techniques for prolonging life

Daoist Canon(Daozang)
Library of sacred texts produced in Daoist religious movements – over 1000 volumes

Daoshi(tao shih)
Daoist Priest

Feng Shui
Chinese art of reading forces and determining the best places for graveyards and houses

Filial piety, Xiao(Hsiao)
Primary Confucian virtue of respecting ancestors and parents

Five Classics
Confucian scriptures: Shujing(History), Shijing(Poetry), Yijing(Changes), Lijing(Rites) and the Chunqiu(Spring and Autumn Annals)

Five Elements/Agents
Chinese idea – five modes of energy in the universe, that mutually influence one another: wood, fire, earth, metal and water

Guanyin
Boddhisattva Avalokitteshvara

Gui(Kuei)
Earthly Yin Spirits – malevolent

Han Dynasty
During this period, Confucianism was the official religion, Daoism began and Buddhism made its entry

Heavenly Masters
Early sect of Daiosm, continues until today as the Orthodox Unity sect

Huayan(Hua Yen)
Chinese school of buddhism based on the Garland Sutra

Jade Emperor
Supreme God in Chinese popular religion

Jiao(Chiao)
Rite of Cosmic Renewal, important Daoist ritual

Laozi(Lao Tzu)
Author of the Daode Jing, founder of Daoism

Legalists
School of thought in China that claimed for strict law and social order

Li
The confucian principle for rites, and ceremonial beahvior

Literati(ru,ju)
Confucian scholars

Mandate of Heaven
Tian’s moral will, granting prosperity to good rulers and cutting short bad ones

Mao Zedong(Mao Tse-Tung)
Leader of Communist party and Peoples Republic of China

Matteo Ricci
First Jesuit missionary in china

Mazu(Ma Tsu)
Goddess of Chinese seafarers – known as the Queen of Heaven

Mengzi(Meng Tzu, Mencius)
leading thinker whose writings shaped the confucian tradition

Neo-Confucianism
Revival of Confucian thought in the eleventh century, with emphasis on the underlying principles of things

No-action(wu wei)
Daoist principle of not doing anything to go against the flow of nature

Noble Person(junzi)
ideal Confucian goal, defined by moral character

Pangu(P’an Ku)
Mythic primordial person out of whom the whole universe developed

Principle(Li)
Neo-confucian thought that identifies principle as underlying everything

Qi(ch’i)
Material force, breath, flowing vital energy, in Chinese traditions

Qigong
Broad term for variety of chinese physical exercises to cultivate the qi

Qing Ming(Ch’ing Ming)
“Clear and Bright” festival – spring festival of visiting and renovating ancestors in China

Rectification of Names
Confucian ideal for developing a moral society by properly structuring social relationships

Religious Daoism
variety of Daoist practices to prolong life

Ren(Jen)
humaneness, important Confucian ideal

Shang Di(Shang Ti)
Supreme god worshipped during the Shang dynasty in China

Shen
Heavenly Yang spirits – benevolent

Son of Heaven
Title of the Chinese emperor

Spirit Writing
Writing on a tray of sand or paper by spirit who moves the pen

Taiji(T’ai-chi)
Popular chinese exercise, Great Ultimate the underlies and generates all things

Taiping Rebellion(T’ai P’ing)
abortive popular movement in 19th century china, attempting to change hierarchical structure of society

Three Ages of Dharma
Buddhist teaching of increasing decline and degeneracy in human’s ability to follow the buddhist path = Perfect dharma, Counterfeit Dharma and End of the Dharma

Tian(T’ien)
Heaven, ancient power that rules through moral order

Tiantai(Tien T’ai)
Mahayan Buddhism in China, based in the Lotus Sutra

Total Perfection
Daoist sect from the Song dynasty that practices monastic life – still exists today

Tudigong(T’u Ti Kung)
Local earth god in Chinese religion

Ullambana
Chinese festival of the welcoming of the ancestors

Xunzi(Hsun Tzu)
Thinker who advocated a realistic understanding of the human inclination towards evil

Yijing
Classic of Changes, an ancient chinese divination manual based on 64 hexagrams

Yin and Yang
Chinese idea of polarity forces in the Universe; Yin is a passive, earthly force – yang is an active, heavenly force

Zaojun(Tsao Chun)
God of the Cooking Stove

Zhou(Chou) Dynasty
Long dynasty during which Confucian classics and daoist traditions developed

Zhu Xi(Chu Hsi)
Leading thinker of the Neo-Confucian movement

Zhuangzi(Chuang Tzu)
Early teacher, has a book bearing his name, very important for the Daoist movement

Amitabha
heavenly Buddha who presides over the Pure Land Buddha realm

Arhat
worthy one – perfect being that will be released from samsara at death

Ashoka
second founder of Buddhism, king of sri lanka

Bhikku, Bhikkhuni
Buddhist Monks and Nuns

Birthday of the Buddha
Festival celebrated in May

Bodh Gaya
Place where Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment

Bodhisattva
Being who strives to become fully enlightened and/or is enlightened but comes back in samsara to help enlighten others

Buddha
Enlightened one, Siddhartha Gautama(563-483)

Chan/Zen
Buddhist school in china, korea, vietnam and japan

Dalai Lama
Head of the Geluk Tibetan Buddhist School, spiritual and political leader of the tibetans

Dependent co-arising
central buddhist teaching that everything is conditioned by something else, all reality is interdependent

Dharma
ultimate truth, teaching of the Buddha

Dukkha
Sorrow, first noble truth of buddhism

Eightfold Path
Fundamental path to nirvana taught by the buddha – right views, right speech, right resolve, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration

Emptiness/Shunyata
Mahayan Buddhist teaching that all things are devoid of all and any substantial reality

First Council of Buddhism
Held at Rajagriha shortly after the buddha’s parinirvana

Five Precepts
Basic moral precepts – refrain from destroying life, refrain from stealing, refrain from wrongful sexual behavior, refrain from wrongful speech and refrain from drugs and alcohol

Four Noble Truths
Buddha’s first sermon: truths of sorrow, of the cause of sorrow, of the overcoming of sorrow and of the path to follow

Four Sights
Old age, sickness, old age and death – all seen by gautama as he left the gates of his palace

Hinayana
Theravada, lesser vehicle of buddhism

Huayan
Chinese school of Mahayan Buddhism based on the Garland Sutra

Impernance
basic doctrine, change is characteristic of everything that arises

Karma
= Action, law that all actions have consequences, including rebirth

Karuna
Buddhist ideal of compassion

Lama
Spiritual leader in tibetan buddhism

Lotus Sutra
Important early structure of the Mahayana

Madhyamika
Early school of Mahayana that emphasized Shunyata

Mahavairocana
The great Sun Buddha

Mahayana
Great Vehicle, form of Buddhism that arose in India beginning in the second century BCE and eventually spread to East Asia

Mandala
painting of cosmic buddhas and or a symbolic cosmos, used in Tantric meditation

Mantra
Powerful sacred words or chant, helps focus for meditation

Mudra
hand gesture or pose with symbolic meaning

Nagarjuna
Important philosopher of the Madhyamika school – nirvana is samsara

Nirvana
Blowing out the fires, liberation from suffering and growth, spiritual goal go buddhism

An-antman
No permanent absolute self

Upasampada/Ordination
Important buddhist ritual marking the beginning of the life of a monk or a nun

Parinirvana
full nirvana; complete liberation, attained at death by the Buddha

Pure Land Buddhism
Mahayana school, focuses on Amitabha buddha, with hope of rebirth in the pure land realm

Rain Retreat(Vassa)
three-month period for Theravadian monks and nuns, laypeople make offerings and perform for monastics

Rebirth
accumulated karma will cause another birth to take place

Samsara
Rebirth cycle of existence

Sangha
Communities of monks and nuns

Shakyamuni
A title of Siddhartha Gautama – wise one of the Shakya clan

Skandhas
Heaps or aggregates, a person is really a changing process of five aggregates: physical matter, sensations, perceptual activities, impulses to action and bits of consciousness

Stupa
memorial buddhist shrine

Tantrism/Vajrayana
Diamond Vehicle, practice using sexual symbolism toward liberations

Tathagata
Title for the buddha – Thus Come One(perfected one)

Theravada
Lesser vehicle, referred to as “teaching of the elders”

Three Body Teaching
Mahayana teaching of the three dimensions of Buddha: Dharma Body(universal buddha essence), Bliss Body(heavenly buddhas), and Transformation Body(human manifestations of the buddha)

Three refuges
i take refuge in the buddha, i take refuge in the dharma, i take refuge i the sangha

Tiantai
School of Mahayanas based on the Lotus Sutra – located in china and japan

Tripitaka
Scriptures of the Pali Canon of Buddhism

Uposatha
fortnightly buddhist holy day when temple meetings are held

Vesakha
Grand Festival in May celebrating Buddha and Parinirvana – only for Theravada

Vinaya
texts containing rules for buddhist monastic life and discipline

Vipassana
central buddhist meditation practice focused on calming the mind and seeing the true reality

Advaita
dualism, Shankara’s school of Vedanta, emphasizing Brahman

Agni
Vedic God of fire

Aryans
Related to the into-europeans, migrated to India in ancient times

Ashramas
Four stages of life for males in Hinduism: student, householder, forest-dweller and renouncer – could also mean a place for meditation

Atman
Soul or self, considered eternal

Avatara
Incarnation of a god, as Krishna are avatars of Vishnu

Ayurveda
Traditional medicinal system in India

Bhagavad Gita
Important scripture from Mahabharata, contains Krishna’s teaching to Arjuna and sums Hinduism

Bhakti
Devotion, surrender to one’s god

Brahma
Creator God

Brahman
Ultimate reality, divine source and essence of the universe

Brahmanas
ritual commentaries, part of the Vedas

Brahmans
Highest ranked priest class in Hindu society

Darshana
Ritual act of being granted the power to see a sacred image, person or place – also, six traditional schools of philosophy, or viewpoints

Devi
Term for goddess

Dharma
Cosmic order, social duty and proper behavior

Divali
Autumn festival of lights and good fortune in India

Durga
Fierce Hindu goddess, a form of Devi

Gandhi
leader of Hindu independence movement, non-violence non-cooperation principles

Ganesha
Elephant headed divinity, brings good fortune – son of Shiva

Guru
Spiritual guide and leader

Holi
Popular festival in northern India

Indra
Vedic Storm-warrior God

Indus Valley Civilization
Urban-agricultural civilization, flourished in 3000 BCE, influenced Hinduism

International Society for Krishna Consciousness
new Hindu movement, had attracted many Westerners as devotees

Jati
= Birth. caste or social group determined by birth in India

Kali
Goddess of Death and destruction, a form of Devi

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