Syncretism, Harmonization, and Mutual Appropriation between Buddhism and Confucianism in Pre-Joseon Korea
Unified Silla (668–935)
Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
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AbstractFollowing the introduction of Buddhism to China, various strategies of accommodation with Chinese culture were developed, all amounting to some form of syncretism with Chinese religions, mainly Confucianism. Buddhism in pre-modern Korea displayed similar forms of interaction with Confucianism. This article aims to critique the notion that such interactions were merely forms of “harmonization,” finding common ground between the traditions. If one religion borrows from another or adopts the message of another religion, it will be affected to some degree, which is why the concept of syncretism is a better tool of analysis. This article concludes that there was a strong official support in Goryeo Korea towards the genuine convergence of Confucianism and Buddhism. Since Buddhism, as a result, took on many of the tasks carried out by Confucianism in China, the reaction against Buddhism by a reinvigorated Confucianism from the late fourteenth century onward was much stronger than in China.