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主題:宗教與信仰


台灣的宗教信仰


台灣的大街小巷到處可見印象深刻的寺廟、教堂等。我們知道宗教與生活是密不可分的,特別是在廟宇總是人潮洶湧;有許多婦人在生產前、子女考試前、兒女結婚時、煩惱時、開業時、搬家時、運氣或身體不好的時候,都會到寺廟裡祈求平安。
根據台灣內政部二00九年的統計調查,台灣的寺廟大約有一萬五千間,信徒多達一五五萬人,教堂大約有三千間以上。以宗教類別作區分來看,擁有最多信眾的為道教,信徒約達五十七萬人。但是,由於這些數據都是由各廟宇及教會所提供,因此信徒也有重複的可能性。


台灣最多人信仰的宗教是道教,其次是佛教,再來是從西方傳來的基督教、新教,而天主教信仰人數較少。其中,道教與佛教融合在一起的情況不少,例如信徒眾多的「媽祖」以前算是一種道教的神明,不過現在在佛教的寺廟中也看得到。除此之外,不在數據中顯示的儒教,也在台灣漢人社會中扮演重要的角色。另外,原住民也有他們的宗教,各族都擁有不同的神明。台灣真是一個許多神明所共存的島嶼。


台灣的確匯集了很多宗教,中西兼有,而那些到處可見的廟寺、教堂就是最好的證明; 道教、佛教等寺廟供奉著各式各樣的神明,甚至無論什麼神明都被安奉在同一座廟裡,因此這些廟可說是一間「各路神明大會堂」。
以下是有關在台灣最多信徒的儒教、道教、佛教的簡單介紹。然而,這三個宗教在長時間的歷史融合下,在生活中卻無顯著的區別。

一、儒教
儒教是以孔子的論說為本的思想與信仰,以學問來說就是「儒學」,以思想與信仰來看就是「儒教」,也可稱為「禮教」。由於始祖是孔子,儒教的代表建築物當然就是孔廟。台灣的主要都市都有孔廟,但是歷史最悠久、最有名的應該算是台南的孔廟吧!每年的9月28日為教師節,當天在孔廟都會舉行祭孔大典。儒教深深影響了中國人,正如台灣生活中隨處可見的——除了對老年人的尊敬及重視禮儀方面外,在葬禮、祭禮方面也可明顯看出深受儒教的影響。

二、道教
台灣最多人信仰的是道教,在台灣人的生活中道教彷彿是不可或缺的一個宗教。道教是漢民族的本土的傳統宗教,中心概念為「道」,這是意味著宇宙與人生的根源不滅的真理。這個「道」,以為了成「道」而修行,以成仙為最終的理想。成仙,就是所謂的成道。
雖說,在實際的生活當中,並非所有的台灣人都在修道,當神明完成自己希望的心願時、希望祖先跟死者能從苦痛中被救贖時,就會借用道教的神力。這時,若要和道教的眾神溝通(因為道教是多神教,所以有眾多的神明),一般人必須透過「道士」作為靈媒。「道士」扮演著把神明的訊息傳達給人類,也把人類的願望與煩惱告知於神明的溝通角色。

三、佛教
佛教於西漢末時自印度傳入中國,據說明末時從福建省傳入台灣,因此台灣的佛教歷史相當悠久,後來經歷日本統治以及第二次世界大戰爆發而有所變化。


台灣社會中,佛教、儒教和道教不同的地方是,佛教各集團致力於多元的活動,最主要的有「社會奉獻」、「國際發展」、「學術推進」等三個重點活動,最具代表性的佛教團體有花蓮的慈濟功德會、高雄的佛光山、台北的法鼓山等。慈濟功德會對於社會奉獻的活動特別積極,在災難發生時,不僅在台灣國內,甚至在海外的災區也奮不顧身的參與義工活動。佛光山則舉辦許多國際活動,負責取得海外國際佛教組織的聯絡,提升國際地位。法鼓山的特色則在學術面,且經常舉辦學術活動與教育活動。


問題與討論

  1. 在台灣信徒較多的宗教有哪些?
  2. 「儒教」與「儒學」有何不同?
  3. 「道教」的核心概念是什麼?
  4. 最近在台灣「佛教」有何種發展?
  5. 你平常去寺廟或教堂還是在特別情況下才去呢?台灣跟日本的習慣有何不同?
  6. 在廟裡面供奉著很多神明,請說出有哪些神明呢?這些神明與日本的神明有何不同?
  7. 日本最近有新興宗教嗎?請介紹一兩個新興宗教。
  8. 世界上有許多宗教,請提出宗教帶來的正面影響與負面影響。
 
 

Chinese Culture through Foreign Languages: Religions


Religious Beliefs in Taiwan

Numerous temples and churches of various kinds on streets of all sizes and in neighborhood alleys attest to the strong influence of religion on Taiwan society. We all know that spiritual beliefs and ordinary human life are intimately bound together. The popularity of local temples is evident in the size of the crowds they attract at certain important periods of transition. Women glowing in the final months of pregnancy visit temples before giving birth. Students pay their respects to the deities of their choice before examinations. Prospective brides and grooms, entrepreneurs, people with troubled personal lives or those about to move into a new residence, people experiencing the highs and lows of prosperity all flock to temples to beg for heavenly blessings.

According to government statistics for the year 2009, Taiwan has approximately 15,000 temples with upwards 1,550,000 adherents. The number of churches is approximately 3,000. Considering various religious traditions, Taoists probably account for the largest single group of believers, and number about 790, 000.  The figures come from individual temples, however, and may be a bit inflated.

Taoists outnumber all other single groups of believers, closely followed by Buddhists. Christians from various Protestant denominations from the west and Roman Catholic faithful are comparatively fewer in number. An assimilation of elements important to both Taoist and Buddhist believers has also become common. The many devout believers of the goddess Mazu, for example, at one time regarded the Deity as part of the Taoist tradition. Yet nowadays we often find the presence of Mazu in full display in Buddhist temples. Aborigines also have their religious beliefs. Various tribes worship specific deities. Truly Taiwan is an island country that has opened her doors to a great variety of heavenly beings.

Taiwan has managed to accumulate a number of spiritual traditions from both China and the west. Taoist and Buddhist temples make themselves of service to a spate of divinities. Regardless of the original source of a divinity, it is likely to have found a place of honor in one temple here or the other. Some temples therefore have become loosely known as a “spiritual hall,” with channels to virtually every divine power in the universe.

A general introduction to Daoism and Buddhism follows. In the end, with the advantage of long years of history, it seems impossible to distinguish in our daily lives any significant differences between these religions.

  • Daoism

The most popular spiritual faith in Taiwan is Taoism. In the daily life of Taiwanese, however, Taoism cannot be completely severed from Buddhism. Taoism was the traditional religion of the Han Chinese. Here the spiritual tradition has centered on the tao or “way.” The term tao(dao) refers as well to a fundamental truth, a sense of the root and origin of all being, which unites the entire universe with human life itself. In the past, human beings strove to follow and cultivate tao in their lives. This spiritual achievement was considered the penultimate of all ideals.

Given practical realities and present day lifestyles, not everyone in Taiwan seeks self-cultivation but, for many, belief in the spiritual realm fulfills hopes and desires. Those who believe in the tao may turn to the divine power to spare their ancestors and deceased loved ones suffering in the afterlife and to bless them with redemption. To know the will of various Taoist deities (for there are many strains of Taoism and numerous deities in its tradition), believers must seek the assistance of Taoist priests or jitong. These priests are mediums with the supernatural world. They priests offer spiritual counsel and pass on messages to the faithful from above. They also transit the hopes and sufferings of people to the divinities.

  • Buddhism

 

Buddhism came to China during the Western Han dynasty. It is said that Buddhism moved from the Fujian province to Taiwan. The history of Buddhism in Taiwan is therefore fairly long. Later, Buddhism on the local scene assimilated Japanese characteristics during the period of the Japanese occupation. After World War II, the religion exploded with additional changes.

In Taiwanese society, Buddhism and Daoism are in some ways greatly different. With a particular emphasis on a sense of spiritual group or community, Buddhism is noted for its many activities. Among these activities, the most important are “social service,” “international development,” and “the advancement of knowledge.” Of the three movements, the most representative Buddhist organizations are Tzu Chi Foundation in Hualien, founded by Master Cheng Yen; the Light of Buddha Mountain in Kaohsiung, founded by Master Hsin Yun; and Dharma Drum Mountain (or the Zen Buddhist Fagu Shan) in Taipei, founded by master Sheng Yen. The contributions and various activities of Tzu Chi to serve local society have been especially numerous. In times of natural disasters, both within and outside the country, the organization has responded with volunteers and other types of robust assistance. Dharma Drum Mountain has been involved with a score of international activities, and has promoted a wide range of international contacts, thus raising its status around the world. The main characteristic of the Branch of the Mountain Society is its focus on knowledge. The Society devotes its many activities to the spread of learning and education.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the religions in Taiwan with the most followers? Why is this so?
  2. What is/are the core concept(s) of Taoism?
  3. What sort of developments has Buddhism gone though recently in Taiwan?
  4. Do you often go to a church or Buddhist temple, or do you only go under special circumstances?
  5. Many divinities are worshiped in the temple, please name these divinities.
  6. There are many religions in the world. Please state some good and bad effects that religion brings to the world.
 
 

     
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