B. Asian Belief Systems

    Ethnic and religious groups are everywhere, but they are two very different things. Ethnic groups are a group of people that share common customs, language, race, etc. Religious groups are people that share a common belief system.
    Religions in Southern/Eastern Asia are very diverse. The major religions are: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Shinto, and the philosophy of Confucianism. Each of these religions has their own characteristics/ traits specific to their religion:
    Buddhism- This religion was founded by an Indian Prince named Siddartha Guatama around 530 BC. He wanted to find a way to end suffering. He went on many journeys and he meditated under a sacred Bodhi tree. He found that suffering is caused by selfish desires for things you do not own. They believe in karma and reincarnation like Hinduism. 

    Hinduism- This religion is the oldest religion in the world. They believe in a cycle life and death called reincarnation. The belief of consequences for your deeds is called karma (good and bad). Some Hindus believe that your karma can affect your next life and put you into a certain caste. A caste is a social class that some believe your karma can place you in. Those who believe in this believe that you stay in that caste until you die. Nirvana is another topic of Hinduism. This is when your soul has escaped the cycle of reincarnation.

    Islam- This is a religion prominent in many areas of the globe. It is monotheistic and believes that there is no other God but Allah. They have a sacred text name the Qur'an (also spelled Koran) There are two divisions: Sunni and Shia that follow the Five Pillars: Faith, Prayer, Charity, Fasting, and Pilgrimage.

    Shinto- This religion originated in Japan. They believe in nature worship. Kami are spirits: there are good and bad Kami. They follow practices of purity and cleansing. You can see examples of this religion in Sumo Wrestling and the making of Samurai swords.
Part of this article explains some shinto influences in Sumo wrestling:

    Confucianism- This is not technically a religion, but a philosophy. It was centered on the thought of "knowing your place and duty". If people behave society will be peaceful. The code of Li: respect, honesty, hard work, politeness and generosity. This is used as more of a way of life more than a belief system. You can be Christian and follow Confucianism or Hindu and also follow Confucianism, etc.
Quick Summary:
  • Ethnic Groups share common culture, language, and race.
  • Religious Groups share a common belief system.
  • Some religions in Asia are: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Shinto, and the philosophy of Confucianism.

Ethnic Groups- a group of people that share a common culture, language and race, etc.
Karma- the belief that there are consequences for you actions.
Reincarnation- a cycle of life and death.
Religious Groups- a group of people that share a common belief system. 
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