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himself, very much functions of the horizontal

web which gave security, but demanded self-effacing subservience. Merchants as well as other social groups were expected to live harmoniously and peacefully together. Yet business demands by its very nature that competition exists, one way or another. The city merchants thus followed the only reasonable way: they sacri­

Bellah has argued that for the Japanese, notably during the Tokugawa period, the continuity from the past which revealed itself as on received through the ancestors, somehow occupied the place which we assign to the divine itself.23 To put it sharply, we could say that the time-flow itself stood, in value terms, in the place occupied by eternity for Christians. The Japanese idea of ancestors, in the collective and diffused sense, took the place of the absolute god. The Japanese lacked the idea of an absolute god, their word kami would apply to diverse phenomena, and beings, but in the Shinto traditions and myths nature itself took divine dimensions; yet man was not the subjugator of nature but rather part of it, embedded in the endless flow of time, recipient of its infinite bounties as well as patiently submitting to its punishments.