Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby Confuzius » 10 Feb 2012, 00:06

Just curious, I see a lot of contempt (not in this thread, just sprinkled throughout a lot of threads here) for Taiwanese religion, even people blaming poor driving habits on Taiwanese religious beliefs.

So I wonder, are there any other people here who are truly interested in studying, do study, have studied Taiwanese religion (primarily Daoism and Buddhism), or expats who have married Taiwanese people and adopted their religion.

I (which may be obvious from some of my posts) study Buddhism and a bit of Daoism here, as well as folk religion, though East Asian Tantric/Esoteric Buddhism is my thing.
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Re: Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby Super Hans » 10 Feb 2012, 03:02

I don't see contempt for the religion as such, only contempt for how religion seems to control vast aspects of the Taiwanese way of life to the extent where any mistake or misdemeanor can be easily attributed to, or the blame placed, on religion. Often religion is used as a way to get out of taking any personal responsibility. So I think the contempt lies in the the Taiwanese' apparent contempt for their own religion, if that makes any sense.
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Re: Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby Zla'od » 10 Feb 2012, 06:54

I have married into the folk religion, and done baibai on occasion. (I taught my wife the saying, "France is worth a mass.")
“If a bodhisattva resides as a householder and there appears a woman who is clearly unbound to anyone, habituated to sexual indulgence, attracted to the bodhisattva and seeking sexual activities, the bodhisattva having seen this thinks, 'Do not make her mind upset, producing much misfortune. If she pursues her desire, she will obtain freedom. As expedient means [upaya] I will take her in and have her plant the roots for virtue, also having her abandon unwholesome karma. I will engage in impure activities [abrahma-carya] with a compassionate mind.' Even practising such defiled activities like this, there is nothing that is violated [precepts], and much merit will be produced." -- from the Yogācārabhūmi Śāstra

For even more saucy Buddhist scripture, see http://sdhammika.blogspot.tw/2010/08/st ... m-all.html
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Re: Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby Steviebike » 10 Feb 2012, 08:47

Want Hans said really.

But the other day me and the wife were riding on the moped when, another moped almost t-boned us. He did this because there was a temple on the other side of the road.

I grunted, he didn't say sorry, just repeated bia-bia a few times whilst looking across the road.

I don't know how that excuses him from his actions, which nearly caused an accident.

There are a lot of selfish actions by people, but religion teaches us not to be selfish. I find that the hardest.
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Re: Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby finley » 10 Feb 2012, 09:02

There are a lot of selfish actions by people, but religion teaches us not to be selfish. I find that the hardest.


OP, I doubt you'll find any foreigners here who are really into the Taiwanese version of religion (which I don't think has anything to do with Buddhism or Daoism), for that reason. It's what I'd call casino religion: if you put in enough quarters and spend enough time pulling the handle, you'll (supposedly) get a payout. Crops up all over the world, but it seems to be in a highly distilled form here. Nothing to do with brotherhood, enlightenment, or any of the usual higher aspirations associated with religion.
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Re: Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby Mucha Man » 10 Feb 2012, 11:42

finley wrote:
There are a lot of selfish actions by people, but religion teaches us not to be selfish. I find that the hardest.


OP, I doubt you'll find any foreigners here who are really into the Taiwanese version of religion (which I don't think has anything to do with Buddhism or Daoism), for that reason. It's what I'd call casino religion: if you put in enough quarters and spend enough time pulling the handle, you'll (supposedly) get a payout. Crops up all over the world, but it seems to be in a highly distilled form here. Nothing to do with brotherhood, enlightenment, or any of the usual higher aspirations associated with religion.


That's pure ignorance. None of what you say applies to the larger Buddhist groups, whose members number in the millions and who do extensive charity work all over Taiwan and the world. Nor does it apply to many of the older worshippers, largely women, of the various folk faiths for whom religion is just as much a source of comfort, spiritual connection with something deeper than themselves, and also an outlet for charity and social work.

There is most certainly a heavy quid pro quo in Taiwanese folk religion but it's not everything.
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Re: Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby finley » 10 Feb 2012, 12:16

Muzha Man wrote:That's pure ignorance. None of what you say applies to the larger Buddhist groups, whose members number in the millions and who do extensive charity work all over Taiwan and the world. Nor does it apply to many of the older worshippers, largely women, of the various folk faiths for whom religion is just as much a source of comfort, spiritual connection with something deeper than themselves, and also an outlet for charity and social work.
There is most certainly a heavy quid pro quo in Taiwanese folk religion but it's not everything.


I wasn't referring to them. I have no doubt several of them do a great deal of good, both on a personal level and in public. OTOH some of the organised groups are what westerners would call cults, again with a large component of giving money in order to secure celestial favours, and it's hard to know how much of the money that these (extremely rich) organisations collect from members are using for public good and how much is disappearing into private pockets. I admit I dislike organised religion in general, so you can take that bias into consideration.

I was talking about the jumble of disjointed superstitions that constitute "folk religion". It seems people here like to mix'n'match their religious beliefs to suit their personal requirements - there doesn't appear to be much in the way of established dogma. Far from being a "source of comfort", I've observed these to be a source of unfounded fears, a sense of misplaced obligation to forces that people do not understand, and a convenient psychic dumping-ground for personal responsibility, all mixed in with an unhealthy obsession with "fortune" that might drop out of the sky if enough supplications are offered. Not to mention yet another excuse for setting fire to stuff.
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Re: Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby Mucha Man » 10 Feb 2012, 12:23

finley wrote:
Muzha Man wrote:That's pure ignorance. None of what you say applies to the larger Buddhist groups, whose members number in the millions and who do extensive charity work all over Taiwan and the world. Nor does it apply to many of the older worshippers, largely women, of the various folk faiths for whom religion is just as much a source of comfort, spiritual connection with something deeper than themselves, and also an outlet for charity and social work.
There is most certainly a heavy quid pro quo in Taiwanese folk religion but it's not everything.


I wasn't referring to them. I have no doubt several of them do a great deal of good, both on a personal level and in public. OTOH some of the organised groups are what westerners would call cults, again with a large component of giving money in order to secure celestial favours, and it's hard to know how much of the money that these (extremely rich) organisations collect from members are using for public good and how much is disappearing into private pockets. I admit I dislike organised religion in general, so you can take that bias into consideration.

I was talking about the jumble of disjointed superstitions that constitute "folk religion". It seems people here like to mix'n'match their religious beliefs to suit their personal requirements - there doesn't appear to be much in the way of established dogma. Far from being a "source of comfort", I've observed these to be a source of unfounded fears, a sense of misplaced obligation to forces that people do not understand, and a convenient psychic dumping-ground for personal responsibility, all mixed in with an unhealthy obsession with "fortune" that might drop out of the sky if enough supplications are offered. Not to mention yet another excuse for setting fire to stuff.


Sure. It's all that. But if you look at from the perspective of a curious observer we have one of the most fascinating religious cultures on earth before us. The politics of temple rivalry alone is worthy of a multi-series documentary.
“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu, a renowned historian at Beijing University. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”

http://hikingintaiwan.blogspot.com/
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Re: Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby Chris » 10 Feb 2012, 12:28

By "into", I assume you mean "interested in", rather than "believe in"?

I find local folk religion interesting, and I enjoy attending festivals (the Wang Yeh Boat Burning Festival being a favorite), exploring temples and shrines, and witnessing ceremonies.
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Re: Anyone Here "into" Taiwanese Religion?

Postby Zla'od » 10 Feb 2012, 13:43

Okay, there are home / family rituals, which I see as basically harmless, though I chafe at the superstitious elements. Oh, you could argue that they serve to reinforce Confucian values, and are therefore evil, but it could just as easily be said to reflect those values--or more likely, both of them evolved in a kind of symbiotic relationship.

On top of that, you have a whole range of religious professionals (fortune tellers, funeral wailers, daoist masters, Chinese medical doctors, qigong teachers, monks and nuns) whose existence is basically parasitic--they take from society, while providing nothing worthwhile in return (unless you believe their metaphysical claims).

And then there are religious institutions, small and large. Some temples originally had a neighborhood or clan based identity. As people became more mobile, they lost a lot of these connections, and either declined, or became run in more of an entrepreneurial spirit. Religious specialists who would formerly have worked for an institution, now run them for their own benefit. At the extreme end of this we see the truly large religious networks (both "Buddhist" and "Daoist," and some difficult to classify, like Yiguandao or Master Qinghai) which are sufficiently gung-ho to go out and recruit people. Most of these are taking advantage of a fundamental weakness of local religious identity, which makes folk religionists easy prey for other, better organized groups intent on poaching adherents. Lest we suffer from an elevated notion of religion, I note that many such groups have connections with organized crime and/or local political parties.

A fourth level would be that of society itself, as reflected in such things as holidays and political customs (notice how nobody objects to children being forced to study Confucius--try THAT in Alabama!).
“If a bodhisattva resides as a householder and there appears a woman who is clearly unbound to anyone, habituated to sexual indulgence, attracted to the bodhisattva and seeking sexual activities, the bodhisattva having seen this thinks, 'Do not make her mind upset, producing much misfortune. If she pursues her desire, she will obtain freedom. As expedient means [upaya] I will take her in and have her plant the roots for virtue, also having her abandon unwholesome karma. I will engage in impure activities [abrahma-carya] with a compassionate mind.' Even practising such defiled activities like this, there is nothing that is violated [precepts], and much merit will be produced." -- from the Yogācārabhūmi Śāstra

For even more saucy Buddhist scripture, see http://sdhammika.blogspot.tw/2010/08/st ... m-all.html
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