One of the most significant of these foreign exports that have influenced the era’s aesthetic values is the Buddhist philosophy.
The pre-Nara indigenous religions were markedly austere. But the imperial government was interested in staging elegant rituals for the protection and prosperity of the state and so this predilection was used by the Buddhists as the practical route to imperial patronage. (Reynolds & Tracy 1990, p. 134) Throughout the Nara period, Buddhism became the official state religion or philosophy and encroached every element of the Japanese society that at its height, Nara came to be known as the “Golden Age of Buddhism” in Japan as well.
Nara itself has had six different sects of Buddhism and that their priests participated in a number of different fields of the Japanese society, from government administration to social work. The upshot was that Buddhism shaped many works of excellent craftsmanship and contributed and indispensable aesthetic value to the culture of the period.
Buddhism, which originated in India in the sixth century B.C., was transmitted to China in at the time of the initial years of the European Christian era. Buddhism’s development was largely influenced by Taoism before its spread to Japan. The main feature of Buddhist thinking is expressed in what it calls the three characteristics of existence. Nancy Hume (1995) elaborates:
Most forms of Buddhism view existence being characterized by dukkha, frustration or unsatisfactoriness, impermanence, and anatman, which refers to the idea that nothing possesses an intrinsic “selfless”… Buddhist thought is particularly opposed to the view that there are independently existing things, claiming that everything is “itself” only in relation to a set of conditions that make it what it is. . .