Great Construction

Religious Pragmatism

     Pragmatism, first articulated by the well-known American philosopher Charles Pierce and later popularized by William James, has become such a globally recognized philosophical thought that today James is believed to be its originator. If “pragmatism” were to be rendered into ideograms, it is often given as “utility + ism” or “performance + ism,” but I would prefer to render it as “action + ism.” Which is I believe most apt. Anyone who has an interest in philosophy knows about pragmatism, so there is no need for me to explain it in detail here, but what I wish to discuss is religious pragmatism. I have written on this topic before, but I would like to detail it more thoroughly, so I write again.
     Even were the idea of “religion + action + ism” to be introduced, all existing religions today appear to be conducting and practicing such. They do spread teachings through texts. They do feature sermons by word of mouth. They do perform religious events. And they do urge their followers to practice abstinence and other austerities. But it is regrettable as everyone knows that these aspects do not extend to the essential aspect which is actual daily life. Thus frankly speaking, existing religions may be called one form of spiritual training that is divorced from actual daily life. Philosophical pragmatism, however, puts philosophy into actual daily life in an effort to be of use, a point that is typically American.
     In that sense rather than saying that I want to put religion into actual daily life, what I seek to do is to blend into an inseparable relationship religion and actual daily life. Therefore, what I shun the most are the dogmatic, exclusive, ideological, other-worldly attitudes held by those of existing faiths. Instead an individual of faith aims to be as much as possible like an ordinary person. I do believe that the putrid aspects of an extreme “smelly faith” must be eradicated, and that one should strive to develop a faith that reflects common sense, and that that faith be not apparent to others. These aspects are what maintains a faith based on flexibility.
     I am sure the above has provided a good understanding of what I mean by “religious-action-ism.”

Eikō, Issue 106, page A1, May 30, 1951
translated by cynndd

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“Shūkyō Puragumachizumu,” published originally on the front page of Eikō, Issue 101, May 30, 1951, and reprinted while Meishu-sama still alive in the essays anthology for ministers Goshinsho: Shūkyō-hen (Divine Writings: Volume on Religion), page 64, March 25, 1954, has appeared in translation. Citation is given below for reference.

“Pragmatism,” Foundation of Paradise, 1984, page 324.

“Pragmatism in Religion,” Teachings of Meishu-sama, Volume Three, 2005, page 25.

“Internalization of Faith,” Reaching for Faith, 2010, page 9.