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Usami, Hirokuni (2004) Social crises and religious change in pre-medieval Japan. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis explores the dynamic interaction of social crises and early Japanese religion from the end of the Jomon period to the rise of Kamakura New Buddhism. It does this believing that no history of religion can be fully understood in isolation from the effects of social crises, and that existing studies have not thoroughly examined this mutual interaction. Both natural and social scientists have demonstrated that complex systems are abundant in most social phenomena. The methodology adopted in my research draws on this insight. In order to explore the autocatalytic growth of Japanese religion in the wake of social crises, I apply such new perspectives as the complexity paradigm, the natural lifecycle model, the impact of climate, and the psychological theory of altered states of consciousness (ASCs). In exploring these relationships, this thesis identifies four forms of religious system in the evolution of early Japanese religion. What I have called prototypical Japanese religion prepared the ground for the emergence of archaic religion in the Late Yayoi Archaic religion continued to develop in the form of a politico-religious system, as the so-called keyhole tomb system, but from the end of the Kofun period another new religious system, monastic religion, began to emerge. Monastic religion became the most dominant mode of Japanese religion from the Nara period until it was superseded by a new religious system, which I call confraternal religion, from the late Heian period. The natural lifecycle of each religious system led to the development of the subsequent one. Finally, this thesis presents a conceptual model called passage of consciousness. This suggests that nonequilibrium states of consciousness (NSCs), which are involuntary induced by social crises, created fluid states of consciousness and led not only to the evolution of religion, but also to the evolution of human thought.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:09

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