Counting the Cost of Buddhist Syncretism

Brian Victoria


This article explores the changes that occurred in Buddhism, both doctrinally and ethically, as a direct or indirect result of its tolerance of other faiths, particularly the indigenous animistic faiths it encountered in the course of spreading to various Asian countries. While the history of Buddhism’s relationship to indigenous animistic religions differs in its particulars in each Asian country, this article suggests that the relationship between Buddhism and the animistic faith of Shintō in Japan is broadly representative of this larger, transnational phenomenon. Thus, a study of this interfaith relationship in Japan will facilitate a better understanding of the impact that Buddhism’s tolerance of other faiths had on Buddhism itself.

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Copyright (c) 2018 Brian Victoria