Though there are significant Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean immigrant communities in Greater Boston, East Asian traditions such as ConfucianismThe Confucian tradition emphasizes the importance of following inherited rites (li) in a conscientious manner so that one can fully activate his or her humanity (ren) and thereby realize the Way (dao) of Heaven (tian). Major figures include Confucius (551..., Daoism, and Shintō are difficult to survey as there are very few religious centers. These traditions are deeply imbedded in the unique history, geography, and culture of their native countries and are often practiced in forms that are not limited to institutional or communal settings.
What Westerners label “Confucianism” is known by Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese followers as the “Scholarly Tradition.” Confucianism does not have a strong institutional presence in Greater Boston, mostly because of the deep connection the tradition has had with the social and political structures of East Asia. For some, however, the scholarly values and symbols of Confucianism serve as important reminders of the cultural and philosophical legacy of their ancestors, and as relevant touchstones for thinking about ethics and modern life in the United States.
The Shintō tradition is deeply linked with the Japanese land and people. Spiritual sensitivity to natural landmarks and the reverence for the spirits that reside in the natural world foster appreciation for ShintoShinto, the “way of the kami” refers to the indigenous Japanese religious traditions which focus on the worship of kami. Initially, rituals devoted to kami took place outdoors in natural surroundings. Later, wooden structures were constructed to house... practice in America. Shinto priestsA priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood.In the... make offerings to the local kamiKami, often translated as “god,” “deity,” or “spirit,” are manifestations of divine presence or awe-inspiring power. The kami rest upon or dwell in a particular place, especially in natural settings of unusual form or stunning beauty. They are... (deity), and are also called upon to perform purification ceremonies for groundbreakings and businesses. In Greater Boston, the Shintō tradition does not have a large presence, as there are no local shrines. However, many devotees have private shrines and maintain a dedicated Shintō practice in the privacy of their homes.
DaoismThe Daoist tradition incorporates a highly diverse range of philosophical, religious, and folk values and practices, all of which share a concern for realigning human life so that it is in better accord with the natural rhythms of the universe. Symbols of...
The ancient Chinese sage Lao-TzuIt is unknown whether a historical Laozi ever existed. The name “Laozi” simply means “Old Master.” According to Daoist legend, in the sixth century BCE this mysterious sage authored the Daodejing, a text which assumed great importance in both phil... from the sixth century BCE taught a way of living in harmony with the DaoThe term dao (or tao) literally the “path,” or “way,” has been employed in Chinese religious and philosophical traditions, including Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. In general usage, the Tao refers to the proper way to act... (“the Way”). TaoistThe Daoist tradition incorporates a highly diverse range of philosophical, religious, and folk values and practices, all of which share a concern for realigning human life so that it is in better accord with the natural rhythms of the universe. Symbols of... traditions and practices, such as T’ai Chi, have influenced generations in China and continue to extend their influence in America. The characteristics and clientele of contemporary associations differ significantly from the earlier folk Taoist establishments, in that they frequently have a large non-Chinese following. In many, such as the Center for Traditional Taoist Studies in Weston, Massachusetts, the students and teachers are Euro-American. Although there are only two Dao centers in Greater Boston, there are many T’ai Chi centers, which draw on DaoistThe Daoist tradition incorporates a highly diverse range of philosophical, religious, and folk values and practices, all of which share a concern for realigning human life so that it is in better accord with the natural rhythms of the universe. Symbols of... philosophy without focusing on the traditional religious aspects of the Dao.