cicerone imposter wrote:
Me too! Buddhism doesn't worry about others; it tries to improve the self. It's the best human religion on this planet, but I'm an atheist - at heart and mind.
I did follow my wife on the buddhist pilgrimage to Japan some years ago, and really enjoyed myself, because that's where the Japanese culture really shows itself. Most of the temples were built in the 7th and 8th centuries, and no two looks alike.
I fond the Shinto shrines to be very interesting. Quite educational as well. I'll share a piece of perspective I gained on religion as a whole from visiting them.
I went to the Shrine of the God of lamp oil.
. Not oil in general. Not lamps. Lamp oil. At first I thought about how silly it was to have a specific god for this. It seemed like the god of lamp oil is probably not nearly as powerful or impressive as a god of rain or (insert harvest here). Then I read up some more. The shrine was set in a village set on top of some caverns which produced natural gas. The land around was not well fit for harvest. So lamp oil (their harvest) was more than just what made lamps light up, it was what allowed them to buy and trade for food and supplies with other villages.
It was their life blood.
Without a real scientific understanding of where the gas came from, but a firm understanding of what would happen if it went away is the exact mentality of a person who might feel the same about rain if they were growing crops.
You worship what you value, and in shamanistic religions like Shinto, deitizing natural resources is perfectly understandable.
I think about this a lot. It was one of the more significant developments as I investigated religion. At the time, I was a Christian. I began wondering how this applied to other religions including my own.
It's not a coincidence that in the rich merchant cultures of Greece and Rome, their god's pantheon had a certain corporate boardroom theme going on.