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Basic Worldview:
104 Why Christianity?

Propositional Religions 8 - Mysticism (Part 2)

Propositional Religions 1 - Deism, Pantheism, and Naturalism
Propositional Religions 2 - Intro, Hinduism, Buddhism
Propositional Religions 3 - Jainism, Taoism
Propositional Religions 4 - Shintoism, Confucianism
Propositional Religions 5 - Sikhism
Propositional Religions 6 - Babism and Baha'ism, Zoroastrianism
Propositional Religions 7 - Neopaganism, Mysticism (Syncretism)
Propositional Religions 8 - Mysticism
Propositional Religions 9 - Mysticism, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism

| Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3


Like other 6th century Asian contenders, Taoism is also heavily mystical and syncretistic in origination and development.

"Taoism - 1: a Chinese mystical philosophy traditionally founded by Lao-tzu in the 6th century B.C. that teaches conformity to the Tao by unassertive action and simplicity 2: a religion developed from Taoist philosophy and folk and Buddhist religion and concerned with obtaining long life and good fortune often by magical means." - Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

"Tao - 1a: the unconditional and unknowable source and guiding principle of all reality as conceived by Taoists b: the process of nature by which all things change and which is to be followed for a life of harmony 2 often not capitalized: the path of virtuous conduct as conceived by Confucians." - Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

"Taoism - Taoism is also characterized by a positive, active attitude toward the occult and the metaphysical (theories on the nature of reality), whereas the agnostic, pragmatic Confucian tradition considers these issues of only marginal importance, although the reality of such issues is, by most Confucians, not denied." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - In Chinese religion, the Taoist tradition—often serving as a link between the Confucian tradition and folk tradition—has generally been more popular and spontaneous than the official (Confucian) state cult and less diffuse and shapeless than folk religion." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Both Western Sinologists and Chinese scholars themselves have distinguished—since Han times (206 BC-AD 220)—between a Taoist philosophy of the great mystics and their commentators (Tao-chia) and a later Taoist religion (Tao-chiao). This theory—no longer considered valid—was based on the view that the 'ancient Taoism' of the mystics antedated the 'later Neo-Taoist superstitions' that were misinterpretations of the mystics' metaphorical images. The mystics, however, should be viewed against the background of the religious practices existing in their own times. Their ecstasies, for example, were closely related to the trances and spirit journeys of the early magicians and shamans (religious personages with healing and psychic transformation powers). Not only are the authors of the Tao-te Ching, the Chuang-tzu (book of 'Master Chuang'), and the Lieh-tzu (book of 'Master Lieh') not the actual and central founders of an earlier 'pure' Taoism later degraded into superstitious practices but they can even be considered somewhat on the margin of older Taoist traditions. Therefore, because there has been a nearly continuous mutual influence between Taoists of different social classes—philosophers, ascetics, alchemists, and the priests of popular cults—the distinction between philosophical and religious Taoism in this article is made simply for the sake of descriptive convenience." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - There is also a tendency among scholars today to draw a less rigid line between what is called Taoist and what is called Confucian. The two traditions share many of the same ideas about man, society, the ruler, Heaven, and the universe—ideas that were not created by either school but that stem from a tradition prior to either Confucius or Lao-tzu." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Viewed from this common tradition, orthodox Confucianism limited its field of interest to the creation of a moral and political system that fashioned society and the Chinese empire; whereas Taoism, inside the same world view, represented more personal and metaphysical preoccupations." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - In the case of Buddhism—a third tradition that influenced China—fundamental concepts such as the nonexistence of the individual ego and the illusory nature of the physical world are diametrically opposed to Taoism. In terms of overt individual and collective practices, however, competition between these two religions for influence among the people—a competition in which Confucianism had no need to participate because it had state patronage—resulted in mutual borrowings, numerous superficial similarities, and essentially Chinese developments inside Buddhism, such as the Ch'an (Japanese Zen) sect. In folk religion, since Sung times (960-1279), Taoist and Buddhist elements have coexisted without clear distinctions in the minds of the worshippers." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - From a literary point of view, the Tao-te Ching is distinguished for its highly compressed style. Unlike the dialectic or anecdotal composition of other contemporary treatises, it articulates its cryptic subject matter in short, concise statements. More than half of these are in rhyme, and close parallelism recurs throughout the text. No proper name occurs anywhere. Although its historical enigmas are apparently insoluble, there is abundant testimony to the vast influence exercised by the book since the earliest times and in surprisingly varied social contexts. Among the classics of speculative Taoism, it alone holds the distinction of having become a scripture of the esoteric Taoist movements, which developed their own interpretations of its ambiguities and transmitted it as a sacred text." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - What Lao-tzu calls the 'permanent Tao' in reality is nameless. The name (ming) in ancient Chinese thought implied an evaluation assigning an object its place in a hierarchical universe. The Tao is outside these categories. It is something formlessly fashioned, that existed before Heaven and Earth;...Its name (ming) we do not know; Tao is the byname that we give it. Were I forced to say to what class of things it belongs I should call it Immense." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Tao is the 'imperceptible, indiscernible,' about which nothing can be predicated but that latently contains the forms, entities, and forces of all particular phenomena: 'It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang; the Named is the mother that rears the Ten Thousand Beings, each after its kind.' The Nameless (wu-ming) and the Named (yu-ming), Not-Being (wu) and Being (yu), are interdependent and 'grow out of one another.'" - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Not-Being (wu) and Tao are not identical; wu and yu are two aspects of the permanent Tao: 'in its mode of being Unseen, we will see its mysteries; in the mode of the Seen, we will see its boundaries.'" - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Not-Being does not mean Nothingness but rather the absence of perceptible qualities; in Lao-tzu's view it is superior to Being. It is the Void (that is, empty incipience) that harbours in itself all potentialities and without which even Being lacks its efficacy." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Emptiness realized in the mind of the Taoist who has freed himself from all obstructing notions and distracting passions makes the Tao act through him without obstacle. An essential characteristic that governs the Tao is spontaneity (tzu-jan), the what-is-so-of-itself, the self-so, the unconditioned. The Tao, in turn, governs the universe: 'The ways of Heaven are conditioned by those of the Tao, and the ways of Tao by the Self-so.'" - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The law of the Tao as natural order refers to the continuous reversion of everything to its starting point. Anything that develops extreme qualities will invariably revert to the opposite qualities: 'Reversion is the movement of the Tao' (Lao-tzu). All being issues from the Tao and ineluctably returns to it; Undifferentiated Unity becomes multiplicity in the movement of the Tao. Life and death are contained in this eternal transformation from Non-Being into Being and back to Non-Being, but the underlying primordial unity is never lost." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - For the individual, wisdom is to conform to the rhythm of the universe. The Taoist mystic, however, not only adapts himself ritually and physiologically to the alternations of nature but creates a void inside himself that permits him to return to nature's origin. Lao-tzu, in trance, 'wandered freely in the origin of all beings.' Thus, in ecstasy he escaped the rhythm of life and death by contemplating the universal return. 'Having attained perfect emptiness, holding fast to stillness, I can watch the return of the ever active Ten Thousand Beings.'" The number 10,000 symbolizes totality." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Chuang-tzu's image for creation was that of the activity of the potter and the bronze caster: "to shape and to transform" (tsao hua). These are two phases of the same process: the imperceptible Tao shapes the universe continuously out of primordial chaos; the perpetual transformation of the universe by the alternations of Yin and Yang, or complementary energies (seen as night and day or as winter and summer), is nothing but the external aspect of the same Tao. The shaping of the Ten Thousand Beings by the Supreme Unity and their transformation by Yin and Yang are both simultaneous and perpetual. Thus, the saint's ecstatic union is a "moving together with the Tao; dispersing and concentrating, his appearance has no consistency." United with the permanent Tao, the saint's outer aspect becomes one of ungraspable change. Because the gods can become perceptible only by adapting to the mode of this changing world, their apparitions are "transformations" (pien-hua); and the magician (hua-jen) is believed to be one who transforms rather than one who conjures out of nothing." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Because, in the Taoist view, all beings and everything are fundamentally one, opposing opinions can arise only when people lose sight of the Whole and regard their partial truths as absolute. They are then like the frog at the bottom of the well who takes the bit of brightness he sees for the whole sky. The closed systems—i.e., the passions and prejudices into which petty minds shut themselves—hide the Tao, the 'Supreme Master' who resides inside themselves and is superior to all distinctions." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Thus, Chuang-tzu's holy man fully recognizes the relativity of notions like good and evil and true and false. He is neutral and open to the extent that he offers no active resistance to any would-be opponent, whether it be a person or an idea. 'When you argue, there are some things you are failing to see. In the greatest Tao nothing is named; in the greatest disputation, nothing is said.'" - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The person who wants to know the Tao is told: 'Don't meditate, don't cogitate...Follow no school, follow no way, and then you will attain the Tao'; discard knowledge, forget distinctions, reach no-knowledge. 'Forget' indicates that distinctions had to be known first. The original ignorance of the child is distinguished from the no-knowledge of the sage who can 'sit in forgetfulness.'" - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The mystic does not speak because declaring unity, by creating the duality of the speaker and the affirmation, destroys it. Those who speak about the Tao (like Chuang-tzu himself) are 'wholly wrong. For he who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know.' Chuang-tzu was aware of the fact that, in speaking about it, he could do no more than hint at the way toward the all-embracing and intuitive knowledge." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Mystic realization does away with the distinction between the self and the world. This idea also governs Chuang-tzu's attitude toward death. Life and death are but one of the pairs of cyclical phases, such as day and night or summer and winter. 'Since life and death are each other's companions, why worry about them? All beings are one.' Life and death are not in opposition but merely two aspects of the same reality, arrested moments out of the flux of the universal mutations of everything into everything. Man is no exception; 'he goes back into the great weaving machine: thus all beings issue from the Loom and return to the Loom.'" - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Viewed from the single reality experienced in ecstasy, it is just as difficult to distinguish life from death as it is to distinguish the waking Chuang-tzu from the dreaming butterfly. Death is natural, and men ought neither to fear nor to desire it. Chuang-tzu's attitude thus is one of serene acceptance." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The Confucian saint (sheng) is viewed as a ruler of antiquity or a great sage who taught men how to return to the rites of antiquity. The Taoist sainthood, however, is internal (nei sheng), although it can become manifest in an external royalty (wai wang) that brings the world back to the Way by means of quietism: variously called 'non-intervention' (wu-wei), 'inner cultivation' (nei yeh), or 'art of the heart and mind' (hsin-shu)." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Whereas worldly ambitions, riches, and (especially) discursive knowledge scatter the person and drain his energies, the saint 'embraces Unity' or 'holds fast to the One' (pao i); that is, he aspires to union with the Tao in a primordial undivided state underlying consciousness. 'Embracing Unity' also means that he maintains the balance of Yin and Yang within himself and the union of his spiritual (hun) and vegetative (p'o) souls, the dispersion of which spells death; Taoists usually believed there were three hun and seven p'o. The spiritual soul tends to wander (in dreams), and any passion or desire can result in loss of soul. To retain and harmonize one's souls is important for physical life as well as for the unification of the whole human entity. Cleansed of every distraction, the saint creates inside himself a void that in reality is plenitude. Empty of all impurity, he is full of the original energy (yüan ch'i), which is the principle of life that in the ordinary man decays from the moment of birth on." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The mystic insight of Chuang-tzu made him scorn those who strove for longevity and immortality through physiological practices. Nevertheless, physical immortality was a Taoist goal probably long before and alongside the unfolding of Taoist mysticism. The adept of immortality had a choice among many methods that were all intended to restore the pure energies possessed at birth by the infant whose perfect vital force Lao-tzu admired. Through these methods, the adept became an immortal (hsien) who lived 1,000 years in this world if he so chose and, once satiated with life, 'ascended to heaven in broad daylight.' This was the final apotheosis of the Taoist who had transformed his body into pure Yang energy." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Chuang-tzu's descriptions of the indescribable Tao, as well as of those who have attained union with the Tao, are invariably poetic. The perfect man has identified his life rhythm so completely with the rhythm of the forces of nature that he has become indistinguishable from them and shares their immortality and infinity, which is above the cycle of ordinary life and death." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - These wanderings are journeys within oneself; they are roamings through the Infinite in ecstasy. Transcending the ordinary distinctions of things and one with the Tao, 'the Perfect Man has no self, the Holy Man has no merit, the Sage has no fame.' He lives inconspicuously among men, and whatever applies to the Tao applies to him." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Yin and Yang literally mean 'dark side' and 'sunny side' of a hill. They are mentioned for the first time in the Hsi tz'u, or 'Appended Explanations' (c. 4th century BC), an appendix to the I Ching (Classic of Changes): 'One [time] Yin, one [time] Yang, this is the Tao.' Yin and Yang are two complementary, interdependent principles or phases alternating in space and time; they are emblems evoking the harmonious interplay of all pairs of opposites in the universe. First conceived by musicians, astronomers, or diviners and then propagated by a school that came to be named after them, Yin and Yang became the common stock of all Chinese philosophy. The Taoist treatise Huai-nan-tzu (book of "'Master Huai-nan') describes how the one 'Primordial Breath' (yüan ch'i) split into the light ethereal Yang breath, which formed Heaven; and the heavier, cruder Yin breath, which formed Earth. The diversifications and interactions of Yin and Yang produced the Ten Thousand Beings. The warm breath of Yang accumulated to produce fire, the essence of which formed the sun. The cold breath of Yin accumulated to produce water, the essence of which became the moon." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The first mention of Buddhism in China (AD 65) occurs in a Taoist context, at the court of a member of the Imperial family known for his devotion to the doctrines of Huang-Lao. The Indian religion was at first regarded as a foreign variety of Taoism; the particular Buddhist texts chosen to be translated during the Han period reveal the Taoist preoccupation of the earliest converts with rules of conduct and techniques of meditation. Early translators employed Taoist expressions as equivalents for Buddhist technical terms. Thus, the Buddha, in achieving enlightenment (bodhi), was described as having 'obtained the Tao'; the Buddhist saints (arhat) become perfected immortals (chen-jen); and 'non-action' (wu-wei) was used to render nirvana (the Buddhist state of bliss). A joint sacrifice to Lao-tzu and the Buddha was performed by the Han emperor in AD 166. During this period occurred the first reference to the notion that Lao-tzu, after vanishing into the west, became the Buddha. This theory enjoyed a long and varied history. It claimed that Buddhism was a debased form of Taoism, designed by Lao-tzu as a curb on the violent natures and vicious habits of the 'western barbarians,' and as such was entirely unsuitable for Chinese consumption. A variant theory even suggested that, by imposing celibacy on Buddhist monks, Lao-tzu intended the foreigners' extinction. In approximately AD 300, the Taoist scholar Wang Fou composed a 'Classic of the Conversion of the Barbarians' (Hua hu Ching), which was altered and expanded in subsequent centuries to encompass new developments in the continuing debate. Although there is no evidence that the earliest Taoist organization, literature, or ceremonies were in any way indebted to Buddhism, by the 4th century there was a distinct Buddhist influence upon the literary form of Taoist scriptures and the philosophical expression of the most eminent Taoist masters." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The process of interaction, however, was a mutual one, Taoism participating in the widening of thought because of the influence of a foreign religion and Buddhism undergoing a partial 'Taoicization' as part of its adaptation to Chinese conditions. The Buddhist contribution is particularly noticeable in the developing conceptions of the afterlife; Buddhist ideas of purgatory had a most striking effect not only on Taoism but especially on Chinese popular religion. On a more profound level the ultimate synthesis of Taoism and Buddhism was realized in the Ch'an (Japanese Zen) tradition (from the 7th century on), into which the paradoxes of the ancient Taoist mystics were integrated. Likewise, the goal of illumination in a single lifetime, rather than at the end of an indefinite succession of future existences, was analogous to the religious Taoist's objective of immortality as the culmination of his present life." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The affinities of Taoism with other Asian religions are numerous. If one distinguishes between universal religions of salvation, such as Buddhism and Islam, and the older, more culture-bound religions, such as Japanese Shinto and Hinduism, Taoism undoubtedly belongs to the second category." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The fact that no record of Shinto antedates the introduction of Chinese script makes it difficult to distinguish between Taoist affinities and influences on Shinto features, such as the cult of holy mountains, the representation of the human soul as a bird, bird dances, the representation of the world of the dead as a paradisiac country of immortality, and the concept of the vital force (tama, in objects as well as in man). Like Taoism, Shinto is the religion of the village community." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - The similarity of mysticism in all religions points to the fact that there is only one Inner Way, the experience of which is expressed differently in the respective cultural and religious environments. Lao-tzu's notion of 'the One,' which is not only primordial unity but the oneness underlying all phenomena, the point in which all contraries arereconciled, was spoken of by such Western mystics as Plotinus, a 3rd-century-AD Greek philosopher, and Nicholas of Cusa, a 15th-century French philosopher." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Taoism, like all other forms of Eastern mysticism, distinguishes itself from Western mysticism by its conscious techniques of mind and body designed to induce trance and to give access to mystical experience." - Britannica.com

"Taoism - Religious Taoism appropriated earlier interest and belief in alchemy and the search for the elixir of life and the philosopher's stone. By the 5th cent. A.D., Taoism was a fully developed religious system with many features adopted from Mahayana Buddhism, offering emotional religious satisfaction to those who found the largely ethical system of Confucianism inadequate. Taoism developed a large pantheon (probably incorporating many local gods), monastic orders, and lay masters. Heading the commonly worshiped deities is the Jade Emperor. Directly under him, ruling from Mt. Tai, is the Emperor of the Eastern Mountain, who weighs merits and faults and assigns reward and punishment in this and future existences. An ecclesiastical hierarchy was founded in the 8th cent., headed by the T'ien Shih [master of heaven]; he claimed succession from Chang Tao-lin, an alchemist of the 2d cent. who was reputed to have discovered the elixir of immortality after receiving magical power from Lao Tzu. Throughout its history Taoism has provided the basis for many Chinese secret societies; in the 1950s, after the establishment of the Communist regime, Taoism was officially proscribed. Taoism is still practiced to some degree in modern China, as well as in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao and in communities of Chinese who have emigrated." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Taoism - 1. In Taoism, the basic, eternal principle of the universe that transcends reality and is the source of being, non-being, and change. 2. In Confucianism, the right manner of human activity and virtuous conduct seen as stemming from universal criteria and ideals governing right, wrong, and other categories of existence." - The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

We apologize for the large amount of quotes. Of these quotes the most important is one from Britannica.com, which not only confirms the mysticism of Taoism, but the true nature of all mystical religions and why they tend to be so syncretistic and accepting of one another's teachings.

"Taoism - The similarity of mysticism in all religions points to the fact that there is only one Inner Way, the experience of which is expressed differently in the respective cultural and religious environments." - Britannica.com

This quote encapsulates the exact purpose of this section of our study, that all of these religions are, in fact, only parts of a larger overarching theological system, which we call Propositional Mysticism.


"Shinto - indigenous religious beliefs and practices of Japan. The word Shinto, which literally means "the way of kami" (kami means 'mystical,' 'superior,' or 'divine,' generally sacred or divine power, specifically the various gods or deities), came into use in order to distinguish 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." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - Much remains unknown about religion in Japan during the Paleolithic and Neolithic ages. It is unlikely, however, that the religion of these ages has any direct connection with Shinto. Yayoi culture, which originated in the northern area of the island of Kyushu in about the 3rd or 2nd century BC, is directly related to later Japanese culture and hence to Shinto. Among the primary Yayoi religious phenomena were agricultural rites and shamanism." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - Ise, or Watarai, Shinto was the first theoretical school of anti-Buddhistic Shinto in that it attempted to exclude Buddhist accretions and also tried to formulate a pure Japanese version. Watarai Shinto appeared in Ise during the 13th century as a reaction against the Shinto-Buddhist amalgamation. Konton (chaos), or Kizen (non-being), was the basic kami of the universe for Watarai Shinto and was regarded as the basis of all beings, including the buddhas and bodhisattvas. Purification, which had been practiced since the time of ancient Shinto, was given much deeper spiritual meanings. Shojiki (defined as uprightness or righteousness) and prayers were emphasized as the means by which to be united with kami." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - Yoshida Shinto, a school in Kyoto that emerged during the 15th century, inherited various aspects handed down from Watarai Shinto and also showed some Taoist influence. The school's doctrines were largely the work of Yoshida Kanetomo (1435-1511). Its fundamental kami (the source of all things and beings in the universe) was Taigen Sonjin (the Great Exalted One). According to its teaching, if one is truly purified, his heart can be the kami's abode. The ideal of inner purification was a mysterious state of mind in which one worshiped the kami that lived in one's own heart. Although the Watarai and Yoshida schools were thus free of Buddhistic theories, the influence of Chinese thought was still present." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - In 1603 the Tokugawa shogunate was founded in Edo (Tokyo), and contact between Shinto and Confucianism was resumed. Scholars tried to interpret Shinto from the standpoint of Neo-Confucianism, emphasizing the unity of Shinto and Confucian teachings. Schools emerged based on the teachings of the Chinese philosophers Chu Hsi and Wang Yang-ming, and Neo-Confucianism became an official subject of study for warriors. Yoshikawa Koretaru (1616-94) and Yamazaki Ansai (1619-82) were two representative scholars of Confucian Shinto. They added Neo-Confucian interpretations to the traditional theories handed down from Watarai Shinto, and each established a new school. The T'ai Chi (Supreme Ultimate) concept of Neo-Confucianism was regarded as identical with the first kami of the Nihon shoki, or Nihon-gi ('Chronicles of Japan'). One of the characteristics of Yoshikawa's theories was his emphasis on political philosophy. Imperial virtues (wisdom, benevolence, and courage), symbolized by the Sanshu no Shinki (Three Sacred Treasures), and national ethics, such as loyalty and filial piety, constituted the way to rule the state. Yamazaki Ansai further developed this tendency and advocated both mystic pietism and ardent emperor worship." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - Fukko (Restoration, or Revival) Shinto is one of the Kokugaku (National Learning) movements that started toward the end of the 17th century. Advocates of this school maintained that the norms of Shinto should not be sought in Buddhist or Confucian interpretations but in the beliefs and life-attitudes of their ancestors as clarified by philological study of the Japanese classics. Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) represented this school. His emphasis was on the belief in musubi (the mystical power of becoming or of creation), which had been popular in ancient Shinto, and on a this-worldly view of life, which anticipated the eternal progress of the world in ever-changing mutations. These beliefs, together with the inculcation of respect for the Imperial line and the teaching of absolute faith—according to which all problems beyond human capability were turned over to kami—exercised great influence on modern Shinto doctrines." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - During the latter part of the 19th century, new religious movements emerged out of the social confusion and unrest of the people. What these new movements taught differed widely: some were based on mountain-worship groups, which were half Buddhist and half Shinto; some placed emphasis on purification and ascetic practices; and some combined Confucian and Shinto teachings. New religious movements—such as Kurozumi-kyo (in this sense kyo means 'religion,' or 'religious body'), founded by Kurozumi Munetada (1780-1850); Konko-kyo (Konko is the religious name of the founder of this group and means, literally, 'golden light') by Kawate Bunjiro (1814-83); and Tenri-kyo (tenri means 'divine reason or wisdom') by Nakayama Miki (1798-1887)—were based mostly on individual religious experiences and aimed at healing diseases or spiritual salvation. These sectarian Shinto groups, numbering 13 during the Meiji period (1868-1912), were stimulated and influenced by Restoration Shinto. They can be classified as follows:
1. Revival Shinto sects: Izumo-oyashiro-kyo (or Taisha-kyo), Shinto-taikyo, Shinri-kyo
2. Confucian sects: Shinto Shusei-ha, Shinto Taisei-kyo
3. Purification sects: Shinshu-kyo, Misogi-kyo
4. Mountain worship sects: Jikko-kyo, Fuso-kyo, On take-kyo (or Mitake-kyo)
5. 'Faith-healing' sects: Kurozumi-kyo, Konko-kyo, Tenri-kyo" - Britannica.com

"Shinto - At the core of Shinto are beliefs in the mysterious creating and harmonizing power (musubi) of kami and in the truthful way or will (makoto) of kami. The nature of kami cannot be fully explained in words, because kami transcends the cognitive faculty of man. Devoted followers, however, are able to understand kami through faith and usually recognize various kami in polytheistic form." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - In Shinto all the deities are said to cooperate with one another, and life lived in accordance with a kami's will is believed to produce a mystical power that gains the protection, cooperation, and approval of all the particular kami." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - In ancient scriptures magokoro was interpreted as 'bright and pure mind' or 'bright, pure, upright, and sincere mind.' Purification, both physical and spiritual, is stressed even in contemporary Shinto to produce such a state of mind. The achievement of this state of mind is necessary in order to make communion between kami and man possible and to enable individuals to accept the blessings of kami." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - The concept of original sin is not found in Shinto. On the contrary, man is considered to have a primarily divine nature. In actuality, however, this sacred nature is seldom revealed in man. Purification is considered symbolically to remove the dust and impurities that cover one's inner mind." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - In its view of history, Shinto adheres to the cyclical approach, according to which there is a constant recurrence of historical patterns. Shinto does not have the concept of the 'last day': there is no end of the world or of history." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - ancient native religion of Japan still practiced in a form modified by the influence of Buddhism and Confucianism. In its present form Shinto is characterized less by religious doctrine or belief than by the observance of popular festivals and traditional ceremonies and customs, many involving pilgrimages to shrines. Shinto, a term created to distinguish the indigenous religion from Buddhism, is the equivalent of the Japanese kami-no-michi, 'the way of the gods' or 'the way of those above.' The word kami, meaning 'above' or 'superior,' is the name used to designate a great host of supernatural beings or deities." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Shinto - A Shinto shrine, unaffected by other religious influences, is a simple unpainted wooden building, having some object within it that is believed to be the dwelling place of the kami. After Buddhism entered Japan in the 6th cent. A.D., it had some influence on Shinto. In many shrines Buddhist priests serve, and worship under their direction is more elaborate than pure Shinto." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Shinto - Confucianism is believed to have reached Japan in the 5th century AD, and by the 7th century it had spread among the people, together with Chinese Taoism and yin-yang (harmony of two basic forces of nature) philosophy. All of these stimulated the development of Shinto ethical teachings. With the gradual centralization of political power, Shinto began to develop as a national cult as well. Myths of various clans were combined and reorganized into a pan-Japanese mythology with the Imperial Household as its centre. The kami of the Imperial Household and the tutelary kami of powerful clans became the kami of the whole nation and people, and offerings were made by the state every year. Such practices were systematized supposedly around the start of the Taika-era reforms in 645. By the beginning of the 10th century, about 3,000 shrines throughout Japan were receiving state offerings. As the power of the central government declined, however, the system ceased to be effective, and after the 13th century only a limited number of important shrines continued to receive the Imperial offerings. Later, after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the old system was revived." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - Buddhism was officially introduced into Japan in AD 552 and developed gradually. In the 8th century there emerged tendencies to interpret Shinto from a Buddhist viewpoint. Shinto kami were viewed as protectors of Buddhism; hence shrines for tutelary kami were built within the precincts of Buddhist temples. Kami were made equivalent to deva (the Buddhist Sanskrit term for 'gods') who rank highest in the Realm of Ignorance, according to Buddhist notions. Thus kami, like other creatures, were said to be suffering because they were unable to escape the endless cycle of transmigration; help was therefore offered to kami in the form of Buddhist discipline. Buddhist temples were even built within Shinto shrine precincts, and Buddhist sutras (scriptures) were read in front of kami. By the late 8th century kami were thought to be avatars, or incarnations, of buddhas and bodhisattvas. Bodhisattva names were given to kami, and Buddhist statues were placed even in the inner sanctuaries of Shinto shrines. In some cases, Buddhist priests were in charge of the management of Shinto shrines." - Britannica.com

"Shinto - From the beginning of the Kamakura period (1192-1333), theories of Shinto-Buddhist amalgamation were formulated. The most important of the syncretic schools to emerge were Ryobu (Dual Aspect) Shinto and Sanno ('King of the Mountain,' a common name of the guardian deity of Tendai Buddhism) Shinto. According to Ryobu Shinto—also called Shingon Shinto—the two realms of the universe in Shingon Buddhist teachings corresponded to the kami Amaterasu Omikami and Toyuke (Toyouke) Okami enshrined at the Ise-daijingu (Grand Shrine of Ise, commonly called Ise-jingu, or Ise Shrine) in Mie prefecture. The theorists of Sanno Shinto—also called Tendai Shinto—interpreted the Tendai belief in the central, or absolute, truth of the universe (i.e., the fundamental buddha nature) as being equivalent to the Shinto concept that the sun goddess Amaterasu was the source of the universe. These two sects brought certain esoteric Buddhist rituals into Shinto. Buddhistic Shinto was popular for several centuries and was influential until its extinction at the Meiji Restoration." - Britannica.com

From these quotes we can see that Shintoism is not only highly mystical, but also highly syncretistic borrowing heavily from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, which of course explains its mystical qualities. It is also worthy of note that certain aspects of Shinto's "kami" as "the source of all things and beings in the universe," which "cannot be fully explained in words," but manifests "in polytheistic form" bears an uncanny resemblance to Hinduism, Buddhist, Jainist, and Taoism, which all hold similar ideals under different names.


Though Confucianism may not properly be considered a religion, it does have mystical forms.

"Confucianism - According to Han-fei-tzu (d. 233 BC), shortly after Confucius' death his followers split into eight distinct schools, all claiming to be the legitimate heir to the Confucian legacy. Presumably each school was associated with or inspired by one or more of Confucius' disciples. Yet the Confucians did not exert much influence in the 5th century BC. Although the mystic Yen Yüan (or Yen Hui), the faithful Tseng-tzu, the talented Tzu Kung, the erudite Tzu-hsia, and others may have generated a great deal of enthusiasm among the second generation of Confucius' students, it was not at all clear at the time that the Confucian tradition was to emerge as the most powerful one in Chinese history." - Britannica.com

However, Confucianism is religious and mystical to the extent to which it syncretistically borrows from other Asian religious systems.

"Confucianism - Confucianism has often had to contend with other religious systems, notably Taoism and Buddhism, and has at times, especially from the 3d to the 7th cent., suffered marked declines. It enjoyed a renaissance in the late T'ang dynasty (618-906), but it was not until the Sung dynasty (960-1279) and the appearance of neo-Confucianism that Confucianism became the dominant philosophy among educated Chinese. Drawing on Taoist and Buddhist ideas, neo-Confucian thinkers formulated a system of metaphysics, which had not been a part of older Confucianism. They were particularly influenced by Ch'an or Zen Buddhism: nevertheless they rejected the Taoist search for immortality and Buddhist monasticism and ethical universalism, upholding instead the hierarchical political and social vision of the early Confucian teachings." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Confucianism - The neo-Confucian eclecticism was unified and established as an orthodoxy by Chu Hsi (1130-1200), and his system dominated subsequent Chinese intellectual life. His metaphysics is based on the concept of li, or principle of form in manifold things, and the totality of these, called the "supreme ultimate" (t'ai chi). During the Ming dynasty, the idealist school of Wang Yang-ming (1472-1529) stressed meditation and intuitive knowledge. The overthrow (1911-12) of the monarchy, with which Confucianism had been closely identified, led to the disintegration of Confucian institutions and a decline of Confucian traditions, a process accelerated after the Communist revolution (1949). Elements of Confucianism survived as a part of traditional Chinese religious practice in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao and among Chinese emigrants and have experienced a modest revival in China since the mid-1990s." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Confucianism - Confucianism, a Western term that has no counterpart in Chinese, is a world view, 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. East Asians may profess themselves to be Shintoists, Taoists, Buddhists, Muslims, or Christians, but, by announcing their religious affiliations, seldom do they cease to be Confucians." - Britannica.com

So, while Confucianism is not technically religious in and of itself, it falls into this larger theological system of Propositional Mysticism because it simply adopts the religious concepts of other religions in true syncretistic fashion and because it includes emphasis on meditation and intuitive knowledge concerning truth.


As a combination of Hindu and Islamic beliefs, we have already establishd Sikhism's syncretistic and mystical aspects to some extent. Here, now are some additional quotes, which attest to its mysticism and syncretism, not the least of which is its connection to Sufism, a mystical sect of Islam.

"Sikhism - Khalsa is a concept of a 'chosen' race of soldier-saints committed to a Spartan code of conduct (consisting of abstinence from liquor, tobacco, and narcotics and devotion to a life of prayer) and a crusade for dharmayudha—the battle for righteousness. The number five has always had mystic significance in the Punjab—'land of the five rivers.' 'Where there are five, there am I,' wrote Gobind Singh. The firstKhalsa were paĖj piyares—the five beloved ones. The ideal goal of all young Sikhs is to take pahul ('baptism') and thus become Khalsa. The sahajdhari ('slow-adopter') is assumed to be preparing himself gradually for the initiation." - Britannica.com

"Sikhism - Unity of the Godhead is emphasized in Sikhism. Nanak used the Hindu Vedantic concept of om, the mystic syllable, as a symbol of God. To this he added the qualifications of singleness and creativity and thus constructed the symbol ik ('one') om kar ('creator'), which was later given figurative representation as. The opening lines of his morning prayer, Japji, called the Mul Mantra ('Root Belief') of Sikhism, define God as the One, the Truth, the Creator, immortal and omnipresent. God is also formless (nirankar) and beyond human comprehension. Sikh scriptures use many names, both Hindu and Muslim, for God. Nanak's favourite names were Sat-Kartar ('True Creator') and Sat-Nam ('True Name'). Later the word Wah-Guru ('Hail Guru') was added and is now the Sikh synonym for God." - Britannica.com

"Sikhism - The guidance of the Guru toward the attainment of moksa —release—is absolutely essential. The Guru or the Satguru—true Guru—is accorded a status only a shade below that of God. His function is to point the way to the realization of the truth, to explain the nature of reality, and to give the disciple the gift of the divine word (nam-dan). Although the line of Gurus ended with Gobind Singh and Sikhs regard the Adi Granth as their 'living' Guru, the practice of attaching oneself to a sant ('saint') and elevating him to a status of a Guru has persisted and is widely practiced." - Britannica.com

"Sikhism - Sikhism is often described as nammarga ('the way of nama') because it emphasizes the constant repetition (jap) of the name of God and the gurbani (the divine hymns of the Gurus). Nama cleanses the soul of sin and conquers the source of evil, haumain ('I am')—the ego. Thus tamed, the ego becomes a weapon with which one overcomes lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride. Nama stills the wandering mind and induces a super-conscious stillness (divya dr s ti), opens the dasam duar ('10th gate'—the body has only nine natural orifices) through which enters divine light; and thus a person attains the state of absolute bliss." - Britannica.com

"Sikhism - religion centered in the Indian state of Punjab, numbering worldwide some 19 million. Some 300,000 Sikhs live in Britain, and there are smaller communities in North America, Australia, and Singapore. By the late 1990s Sikhism was the world's fifth largest faith and had some 175,000 U.S. adherents and 225,000 in Canada. Sikhism is heterodox, combining the teachings of Bhakti Hinduism and Islamic Sufism." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Sikhism - Speculation on the origin of the cosmos is largely derived from Hindu texts. Sikhs accept the cyclic Hindu theory of samsara —birth, death, and rebirth—and karma, whereby the nature of one's life is determined by his actions in a previous life. Humans are, therefore, equal to all other creatures, except insofar as they are sentient. Human birth is the one opportunity to escape samsara and attain salvation." - Britannica.com

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