Religion and spirituality arise from our human inclination to search for ultimate answers to our problems or, another possibility, because of humanity's search for wholeness, says a professor in a Catholic Research Institute. He went on to note that some scholars of religion, when discussing the origins of religion, believe that humans have a disposition for religion without religion. His comments were in an article in the Peace Weekly.
at the whole of Korean religious history, the professor details a
plurality of religious inclinations that have been transformed and
manifested in various ways. Religious
spirituality is basic to our mental life, he says, and is not the
result of our man-made cultures but is a primitive expression of
mankind's innate religious feelings.
religious sensitivity of Koreans has been influenced by shamanism,
which sees culture, art and religion as joined together harmoniously
with nature, resulting in a fusion with spirits from which blessings
and good fortune are received. This thinking, he believes, is at a
primitive level in a Korean's psyche, with one's good fortune considered
to be a safe, protected existence. This is like the "shalom" of Judaism
and Christianity, and not unlike the supernatural
salvation from above.
has fused together with the religions that have come in from outside
Korea, such as Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. Buddhism and
Confucianism have mostly accepted this fusion with Shamanism. In
Buddhist temples you can see the adaptations from Shamanism; in
Confucianism, it appears in the rice cake ceremonies. Christianity,
though, has looked upon shamanism as something primitive and to be
abolished, but there are those that see shamanism as the womb from which
religion has grown in Korea.
is unique as a country where religions can co-exist with respect for
each other. This receptivity, the professor says, has a great deal to
contribute to establishing peace among the religions of the world. The
basic religious sensitivity Koreans have for religion can be the reason,
he speculates, for this ability to accept each other.
should not condemn shamanism unconditionally, as being out of step with
modern thinking because it was the matrix of religious life in Korea.
But neither is it proper, he warns, to extol it. It's necessary to see
shamanism's limits and areas of dysfunction and have a proper balance
in our criticism. When we look closely at the other religions,
discounting their cultural expressions, seeing their common elements of
truth, we will be able to see, the professor says, our own beliefs more
clearly and live them more deeply.