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Essay / Research Paper Abstract
In six pages this paper examines how Korea’s development has historically been influenced by this trio of religions. Four sources are listed in the bibliography.
6 pages (~225 words per page)
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known as Korea is subdivided geographically and politically with Communism in the North and democracy flourishing South of the 38th parallel. Because of the constant upheaval and foreign intrusion
into their lives, Koreans gravitated towards religions that would provide them with spiritual centeredness and security during extremely stressful and uncertain times. A sacred trinity of religions - Buddhism,
Confucianism, and Shamanism - has become deeply rooted in Korean society, and profoundly shaped its development. Though different in terms of practices and emphasis, these religions have retained loyal
followers well into the twenty-first century because they define and perpetuate for them what it means to be Korean. Buddhism is the spiritual philosophy developed by Indian-born mystic Siddhartha Gautama
(563 BC-483 BC?), known by his followers as Buddha. Simply stated, Buddhism is the belief that the spirit can achieve liberation through dharma (a relationship with Buddha), which leads
to complete enlightenment or nirvana. Indian and Chinese monks brought Buddhism to Korea in 372 AD, and it quickly spread (Clark 38). Mahayana Buddhism ("the greater vehicle") flourished
for centuries within the three Korean kingdoms of Paekche, Koguryo, and Silla (Clark 37). However, a common religion could not maintain the peace within these kingdoms, which battled constantly
for regional dominance (Hawkins 57). In 668 AD, Silla emerged victorious, and thereafter a central Korean government sought to transform separate Buddhist disciplines into a singular state religion (Hawkins
57). Buddhism was endorsed by the Korean aristocracy, and its opulent influence is still evident in ornate art and in its temple architecture. With support from Silla leaders
and the elite class, Buddhism grew in importance until the thirteenth century with a version of Zen known as Son (or Seon) defining what is now described as Korean Buddhism