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Orthopraxy

AsiaHinduism, Buddhism, Chinese Religion, Bibliography

The term orthopraxy means "right practice," and stands as a contrast term for orthodoxy "right belief." It is often said of Asian traditions generally that—in contrast to most Western traditions—right practice is of more importance that right belief, and to a certain extent this is true. For instance, Confucianism is primarily concerned with the rituals and practices that constitute a properly ordered society, while Buddhism is ultimately concerned with the practices that bring about enlightenment. This emphasis should not be overstated, however, as particular beliefs often undergird the practices of Asian traditions (as in Confucian beliefs about the nature of cosmic order) and the practices themselves sometimes vary so widely as to call into question the very notion of right practice (as in Buddhism). As the following accounts will indicate, orthopraxy plays an important role in Asian traditions, but the definition of this role is always strewn with the challenges of diversity, consistency, and regulation within each of these traditions.

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