posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 01:40 AM
There is an old Japanese saying to the effect of "The Japanese would worship a mackerel-head if you stuck it up on an altar." They are a nation with
so many intertwined religious and paranormal ideas. The most primative form of Shinto was a kind of pantheism or animism whereby any object -- a tree,
a rock, etc. -- could be seen as a kind of manifestaion of divine power. Then down through the ages, Shinto grew more complex, texts and secret
rituals devloped, and it split into at least half a dozen major different sects. Individual gods proliferated, perhaps beyond the ability to count
Then Buddhism entered the picture. Despite a bit of squabbling over the ages, the various sects of Buddhism managed to more-or-less coexist with one
another and with Shinto. Buddhism in Japan is also far from monolitic...most Westerners think of Zen when they think of Japanese buddhism, but there
are 3 different Zen sects alone and literally dozens of other forms of Buddhism; Jodo-shu, Jodo-shin-shu, Nihchiren-shu, Ji-shu, Tendai-shu,
Shingon-shu, the "five sects of Nara," etc etc....the list seems endless and even within these sects are different lineages, etc. Still later,
Confucianism and even Christian missionaries entered the picture, convoluting things still further.
Amidst this bewildering gaggle of divine beings and paths, anything seemed possible, and as long as they declared support for the Imperial line and
upheald general public morality, they were all allowed to coexist. The end result was a public that would potentially view anything and everything as
manifestations of the sacred...paradoxically, very similar to ancient Shinto animism.
So-called "State Shinto" and "Imperial-Way Buddhism" were very influential in motivating troops during WWII, and they were basically dismantled
after the war. After this period, the Japanese became very wary of religion in general, many connecting fanaticism and excess with war and
unpleasantness best quickly forgotten. Even now, a higher percentage of Japanese lists themselves as "athiests" than in any other nation...even
though many of these athiests have no problem stopping by the local shrine or Buddhist temple to pay respects or pray for good exam results, buy
charms for auto safety, etc.
The whole state of affairs has left a kind of "spiritual void," where there is simultaneously too much information and too many options, and not
enough. Into this void has stepped a number of unusual cults (such as the "Aum Supreme Truth" Cult that gassed the Tokyo subways in the 1990s) to
beliefs in UFOs and aliens. I think a lot of UFO-ology in Japan is connected with the vaccum created by a lack of a truly vibrant and focused
religious infrastructure...people naturally sense that there is more to the world than what they see and know, but at the same time they don't know
how to focus these instincts and forms of spirituality.
My two cents...
[edit on 9/3/09 by silent thunder]