Shugendō and Ecology
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When thinking about religion and ecology, or ecology alone, we need to develop theories which are based on real assessments and propose workable solutions. One of the most serious problems we face is how religions are responsible for the current state and how can they contribute to solving ecological problems. In this short article we try to show that Shugendo, an over 1300 year-old Japanese religious movement, because of its unique fusion of various teachings and practice, may offer a missing element that could make ecological theories applicable and workable to the real life. The essential part of Shugendō’s practices are mountain pilgrimages that offer an original and sound opportunity of rethinking man’s relation to the environment and help to realize the intrinsic interdependence of man and all other beings that constitute and share the same environment. This experience though religious in its character has consequences to ecological attitudes that exceed the limits of any particular religion and may have great influence on how we behave and treat the environment in everyday life, beyond the sphere of applicability of religious teachings. And finally,Shugendō can also help us to close the gap between the development of ecological theories and revision and modification of daily choices and behaviors of individuals, to bear positive consequences on the environments that sustain their existence.
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