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Ryōbu Shintō

Ryōbu Shintō (Jap., ‘dual Shinto’). The pattern of Shinto-Buddhist coexistence which developed in Japan. As a general term, it refers to the various forms Shinto took in the course of Shinto-Buddhist syncretism. More specifically, Ryōbu Shintō refers to the Shingon Shinto tradition under the influence of Shingon Buddhism. The Tendai Buddhist amalgamation with Shinto is called Sannō Ichijitsu (‘Mountain-king one-truth’). In the early period of Buddhist influence on Shinto, the kami were considered to be protectors of the Buddha's law and were enshrined in Buddhist temples. Later, the kami were felt to be in need of salvation through the help of the Buddha, and Buddhist scriptures were chanted before altars of the kami. After the middle of the Heian period, the idea developed that the kami's original nature was really the Buddha essence, and thus the kami were regarded as worthy objects of worship and adoration as manifestations of the Buddhas. The Tendai Buddhist theory that all Buddhas are really only ‘one reality’ (ichi-jitsu) was used to support the view of Tendai Shinto that the various kami are Japanese historical appearances that correspond to Buddhas—all subsumed in the ‘one reality’.

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