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Contemporary Interpretations of Spirituality in Japan: A Comparison of Three Generations among Agnostics, Buddhists, and Christians

[Speaker] Takahashi, Masami:1
1:Northeastern Illinois University (United States of America)

The concept of spirituality is muddled and overlooked. Many Japanese psychologists are particularly hesitant to regard spirituality as a legitimate scientific construct partly because it carries a connotation of anachronistic militarism (“seishin-sei”) and occult/new age. In this study, we examined three concepts—meaning of life, karma, and incarnation of psychological images—that have been generated in a previous study as having close associations with contemporary understanding of spirituality. The participants are young (18-25), middle-aged (26-64), and older (65+) Japanese adults who claimed to be agnostics (n=1,513), Buddhists (n=653), and Christians (n=1,016). The overall results reveal that the older and middle-aged are more spiritual than the young, that the contemporary Japanese spirituality has a strong Buddhism undertone, and, perhaps as a result, that the agnostics and Christians are less likely to be spiritual than the Buddhists.
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