Posted: Apr 13, 2019 5:15 pm
by Spearthrower
Mononoke wrote:Where as islam and more so Christianity was pretty much shoved down people's throat at sword point and gun point respectively. And local cultures had to drop everything else and accept them. This doesn't mean those religions didn't absorb any local values but they were few and far between. especially moral values. That's just me speaking from a very regionalised experience.



And that is also true and not true in the same way. Islam, for example, unarguably adapted to the cultures it encountered in S. E. Asia in exactly the same way Buddhism did before it amassed sufficient power to then effect deeper cultural changes. The Islam of S. E. Asia, for example, tends towards mysticism much more so than it does through the rest of Asia

When religion is spread by the sword, it is often stratified with the ruling classes practicing the religion while the ruled continue to practice their traditional beliefs. Over generations, the elite make rules privileging the believers of their preferred religion, and through normalization and economic/political incentive, the ruled subscribe to it for the benefit it offers them. The rulers then also benefit from the stability this produces, and aren't so inclined to enforce doctrinal homogeneity - it's acceptable just to be Muslim and you can still believe in the forest spirits so long as you perform all the requisite bits in the Koran and hadiths. For a Muslim of another culture, this can look nigh on heretical.

Back to Buddhism, I always find it intriguing here in Thailand to see non-Buddhist beliefs that clearly predate Buddhism's influence be pulled into the remit of Buddhist structures. For example, one of the main pseudo-religious holidays here is Loy Kratong (itself probably originating in Hindu Brahmanical tradition), where the river goddess is placated and apologized to by making small banana leaf rafts and floating them out while praying in a Buddhist sense. Buddhist temples are the centre points now for these traditional rites, just as they are for other not-actually-Buddhist holidays because it's just as easy for religion to assimilate cultural quanta as the reverse when it's the same group of people practicing both.