Chapter 11

Shin Buddhism in Modern Culture

Chapter 11 – The Symbolic Structure of Faith

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Multiple Choice Questions
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Thought Questions

1. Fundamentally, Buddhism is non-mythological. That is, in early Buddhism, the Buddha was regarded as an enlightened human being, and not as a divine figure. Yet, as Buddhism developed, many myths were created to exalt the Buddha and symbolically portray his compassion. Do you personally find these myths relevant to your life? Or are they problematic? In other words, do you find them hard to believe and accept? Why do you think this is so?

2. What kind of authority and credibility do you think religious myths have for contemporary culture? In an age in which science dominates, of what value are myths?

3. Do you think that the critical approach to religion hinders the development of religious faith? Why or why not? Is it possible for the two — a critical attitude and religious faith — to co-exist? To complement each other? What are the dangers of blind faith?

4. Why is it important to understand the symbol system (including myths) of one’s religion?

5. How can religious myth enable a person to discover his true self?

6. The author says that “the myth that frees may also subjugate.” What do you think he means by this?