Chapter 11

Shin Buddhism in Modern Culture

Chapter 11 – The Symbolic Structure of Faith

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Multiple Choice Questions

  • 1. Fundamentally, Buddhism is non-mythological. Over the centuries, however, myths and legends have evolved because:
  • 2. The writers of the Pure Land Sutras had as their focus the:
  • 3. Which of the following is FALSE?
  • 4. When 19th- and early 20th-century Japanese Buddhist scholars began challenging Buddhist myths, the institutions reacted by:
  • 5. According to D.T. Suzuki, “authority must come from within and not from without.” He goes on to say that, therefore, Pure Land teaching should be interpreted in terms of:
  • 6. Which of the following regarding the nature of myths is false?
  • 7. Religious myth is different from other types of myths in that it:
  • 8. In regard to myths, religion becomes the taskmaster and tyrant over the human spirit when:
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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?