Syncretism used to carry pejorative connotations such as incompatibility, ambiguity, alienation, superficiality, and adulteration. However, as it was found universal in world religions and particularly prominent in Eastern or Chinese religions, scholars have begun to reexamine its definition, content, and implications in the study of religion. Taking this as background, I explore how to view syncretism as a valid, analytical category and how to approach it by using appropriate research methods. I draw primarily on the data of the Religious Experience Survey in Taiwan (REST) which my research team conducted in 2009 and analyze the statistics on Taiwanese people’s religious identity, experience of extraordinary powers, and experience of understan- ding of life. I emphasize that these three areas of experience suitably make up a model that reflects an interrelated, flowing process. This finding should help us understand in what sense and to what extent Chinese religion can be regarded as syncretic. I hope it also could provide interested scholars with a heuristic case for comparative studies.
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