A Brief Guide to the Eastern Religions

A Brief Guide to the Eastern Religions

The Eastern religions are the religions which originated in East, South, and Southeast Asia and have great dissimilarities with the Western religions. The Eastern religions include the Indian religions Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, the East Asian religions Taoism, Shinto, Confucianism, and East Asian Buddhism, as well as animistic indigenous religions.

Indian Religions

The philosophies and theologies of the Indian religions have several concepts in common, such as dharma, karma, maya, and samsara.


Originating on the Indian subcontinent, Hinduism is considered by many to be the world’s oldest extant religion and contains a vast body of scripture detailing dharma or religious living. Hindus consider the Vedas and Upanishads to be the most important in authority, importance, and antiquity, and the Bhagavad Gita is often referred to as the summary of the spiritual teachings of the Vedas.


Founded around the 5th century BCE by Siddharta Gautama – the Buddha – with the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path as its central principles, Buddhism is a nontheistic Indian religion and philosophy. Schools of Buddhism are generally divided into Theravada and Mahayana and the primary goal of Buddhism is the liberation of the practitioner from samsara which is believed to be the solution to suffering.


Jainism is the religion of the followers of Mahavira, who is said to be the 24th Tirthankara – teachers who advocate Jain principles. Jainism rejects the Vedas, focusing rather on the practise of austerity and the faith states that the jiva, or soul, can escape the cycle of rebirth and death through strict ethical behaviours.


Beginning in Northern India, Sikhism is based on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and the nine human gurus that followed. While he may not know much about horse racing tips NZ, Dev is said to have received a vision in Sultanpur to preach the way to enlightenment and his reviews rejected the traditional teachings and caste of the Hindu faith. Sikhs believe that there is one universal God who is the creator, sustainer, and destroyer.

East Asian Religions

The East Asian religions share the concept of the Tao and the Taoic faith has at least 500 million members around the world.


Also known as Daoism, Taoism is a collection of complimentary religious and philosophical traditions. The Taoist ethics place an emphasis on the Three Jewels of the Tao – love, moderation, and humility – and the theology focuses on the doctrines of wu wei or non-action, spontaneity, humanism, relativism and emptiness.


An animistic folk religion from Japan, Shinto literally means ‘the way of the gods’. Practitioners commonly uphold tradition, family, nature, cleanliness, and ritual observations as the core values of Shintoism. A central part of Shinto lifestyle is ritual cleanliness and shrines have a significant place in the religion as they reflect the animistic veneration of the kami.


Confucianism is highly influential in the history of East Asia and is a complex system of social, moral, and political thought. Even though it is debatable as to whether Confucianism is a religion or simply a system of ethics, it rejects legalism for ritualism and also endorses meritocracy as the ideal of nobility, espousing familial duty, loyalty, and humanness.

East Asian Buddhism

East Asian Buddhism is a collective term for the schools of Mahayana Buddhism. East Asian Buddhism developed in the East Asian region, follows the Chinese Buddhist canon, and includes the bodies of Chinese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism, and Korean Buddhism. East Asian Buddhists constitute the largest body of Buddhist traditions in the world, making up over half of the world’s Buddhists.