Departmental Bulletin Paper Considering Japanese Spirituality in Matters of Life and Death

Miyajima, Shunichi

11pp.1 - 8 , 2016-03 , 北海道大学文学研究科
The term “spiritual”can be taken to mean “religious”―that is, something universal and comprehensive―rather than relating to a specific or traditional religion. Indeed, in the present day,we tend more and more not to follow or rely on notions of life and death as approved by a particular religion but, rather, are influenced in our views by contemporary thinking,mass media and the like. Such apparent diversity and modernism, however, is unlikely to lead to an immediate or radical change in the general attitude to life and death. In particular,people will not suddenly alter key life practices and ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals. In Japan, for example,while there is a growing trend towards more varied burial practices,such as adopting a Western style, the long-established, orthodox Japanese form of funeral still predominates. Further,spirituality in Japan is often considered to be rooted in a particular Japanese perception or consciousness, but such a limited outlook can be dangerous if it leads to the worst kind of nationalism. Accordingly, without dismissing tradition and custom out of hand, we should encourage and welcome the growing diversity of views and practices in Japan and elsewhere,even on such major issues as matters of life or death.

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