Is Buddhism a Religion?

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Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:11 pm

Do you consider Buddhism to be a religion? Or is it a life philosophy for you? Or a way of living? Or something I haven't mentioned?

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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:55 pm

Yes, definitely a religion. For some it may just be a way of life or something they are dabbling in, but when they get deep into it and practice daily, study the texts, do rituals and / or meditation; then it becomes a religion.

If it were just a way of life, it would have been a fad and died a long time ago.

For some, they don't want to be labeled and go into long justifications to avoid labels, but life is full of labels (race, gender, nationality, etc.) and they don't have to have a value as good or bad. Of course, like any label or belief system or philosophy it can be corrupted or taken to an extreme, but that does not spoil the whole pot.
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby KeithBC » Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:58 pm

All of the above. It is a religion in the sense of its being a system of beliefs and practices that explain and guide the relationship between self and other. Any good religion should be a life philosophy, and any religion sincerely practiced should be a way of life.

I have never subscribed to the notion that the presence or absence of gods has any bearing on whether something is or isn't a religion. It is more a matter of whether or not it answers the question, "Where do I fit into the greater scheme of things?"

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:43 am

Greetings Keith,

KeithBC wrote:It is more a matter of whether or not it answers the question, "Where do I fit into the greater scheme of things?"


Could that not just be philosophy (love of knowledge), though?

I'm sure atheists ask themselves these questions too.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby hungryghost » Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:28 am

I also say "all of the above". I think religion has become a naughty word because of...lets call it 'mainstream christianity'? Not trying to be a jerk here...but I calls it as I sees it :shrug:
We have clergy, ritual, etc etc...yes definately a religion..
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby KeithBC » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:06 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Keith,

KeithBC wrote:It is more a matter of whether or not it answers the question, "Where do I fit into the greater scheme of things?"


Could that not just be philosophy (love of knowledge), though?

I'm sure atheists ask themselves these questions too.

Metta,
Retro. :)

If they ask the question, it might a philosophy. If it gives them an answer, it is a religion. :smile:

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby Dana » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:41 pm

Hi,

' I'm sure atheists ask themselves these questions too.'

My teacher of many years, herself taught by Geshes and lamas, often said that Buddhism is atheistic as there is no God, creator God, but rather that there are many gods.
That the life of any god is finite.
So, that made it atheistic for me or perhaps rather multi-theistic, without the idea of worship being attached to those gods. If they are creators of any thing it would be a temporary finite thing as the lives of the assuras (sp) themselves are.

Yet, definitely a religion tho one that teaches responsibility for oneself, I think and so, differs from most theistic ones.
I don't think it would be wrong to call it a philosophy either.
Depends on the person and how they wish to practice.
Buddhism is a great practical life guide no matter what it is called.

Keeping dry lately Keith?

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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby KeithBC » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:44 pm

Dana wrote:Hi,

Keeping dry lately Keith?

Dana

Yes, so far, but just barely. We've had 300mm of rain so far this month. More rain on some days than in most months of this year, not that that would be hard. I guess the drought is over! :smile:

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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Nov 21, 2009 3:53 am

Oh sweet... a new KeithBC hippy photo!

:thumbsup:

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Sat Nov 21, 2009 3:36 pm

Buddhism - not a religion.

Method.
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby Dana » Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:05 pm

"Oh sweet... a new KeithBC hippy photo!"
Yah!
I wondered but it is the same precise mind, no matter the incarnation. I had no idea of exactly just how wet we've been lately but as usual, Keith has all the facts!


*******************
and co-incidence, so funny -yes?

I picked up a book at the S.O.S, our local thrift shop yesterday , 'A Comparative Study of Buddhism and Christianity', Fumio Masutani. A book which keeps clear the distinctions of the two rather than try to make a blend, as so many seem to.

When I flipped it open randomly I found a passage to remind me of how fervently Amida Buddha is worshiped by Pureland devotees, similarly to how xtians worship and hold supreme faith in a god which makes it look more like religion in that school.

Don't all religions have their own methods?

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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby pink_trike » Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:52 am

Mind is the forerunner of all things. Imo, Buddhism is inaccurately perceived as a religion, and as such, has become a religion - because modern people have been trained to put certain things in the perceptual box designated as "religion", and this sorting mechanism goes unnoticed and unquestioned.

The mental construct/view/lens/window that modern people understand as "religion" is fairly young. It only emerged under Christian influence. Buddhism wasn't conceived as a religion because such a perception didn't exist when it was forming - it couldn't because the conditions of mind/world didn't yet exist to give rise to such an odd perception. The Dharma, The Law, The Way, The Truth were viewed only as what really is - nothing more, by all premodern advanced cultures, and not as something "separate" to be perceived through mind-generated lenses such as "religious" and "religion". The stories, rituals, practices, and institutions that protected and ensured a continued memory of a body of knowledge and way of perceiving existence known as The Dharma, The Way, The Truth, The Law weren't seen as "religion" - they were just practical methods of preservation of this knowledge and the perception of Wholeness.

To perceive The Dharma,The Law, The Way, The Truth - just what really is (and the stories/simulacra/practices/institutions that preserve our relationship with it) as a religion or religiously requires the overlay of a mind-generated template (obscuration) of religiosity...a mind-generated,unconscious dust-bunnied story-view called "religion" that's mixed up with unconscious longing for connection to parts of the whole that have been severed and forgotten. Its this frothy unconscious lens through which some severed parts of the phenomenal world are viewed that creates the conditions for "religion" to appear and thrive on top of The Law and Buddhism like a thick obscuring fungus.

This obscuring mind-generated template of religiosity has colored the translation of the sutras into English in significant ways, which in turn is coloring Buddhism significantly as it is increasingly viewed through English-comprehending minds that sort and box aspects of phenomena separately - a modern obsessive madness. Contemporary human thought, permeated by an unconscious sorting out of some aspects of the phenomenal world as "other" and "separate" and stuffing them into in the mind's "religion" box have created a "religious" Buddhism that didn't exist in pre-colonial times and earlier.
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby ground » Sat Dec 05, 2009 7:42 am

pink_trike

it seems as if your rejection of "buddhism being a religion" is based on what appears in your mind when you hear or read "religion" and the aversion that follows.
For me buddhism is a religion and that's okay for me. Also I would call other phenomena like e.g. some "views of science" religion too and perhaps others would not do so.

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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby pink_trike » Sat Dec 05, 2009 8:30 am

TMingyur wrote:pink_trike

it seems as if your rejection of "buddhism being a religion" is based on what appears in your mind when you hear or read "religion" and the aversion that follows.
For me buddhism is a religion and that's okay for me. Also I would call other phenomena like e.g. some "views of science" religion too and perhaps others would not do so.

kind regards

Where did you see "aversion" in what I wrote"? No "aversion"...just an absence of the "religious" filter that some people create and then look through without knowing that they created it. :smile:

Where does your lens of "religious" originate?
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby ground » Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:17 am

pink_trike wrote:
TMingyur wrote:pink_trike

it seems as if your rejection of "buddhism being a religion" is based on what appears in your mind when you hear or read "religion" and the aversion that follows.
For me buddhism is a religion and that's okay for me. Also I would call other phenomena like e.g. some "views of science" religion too and perhaps others would not do so.

kind regards

Where did you see "aversion" in what I wrote"?
No "aversion"...just an absence of the "religious" filter that some people create and then look through without knowing that they created it. :smile:

Where does your lens of "religious" originate?


Well since for me it seems utterly obvious that buddhsim is a religion I might have wrongly inferred aversion being the basis for denying the obvious ;)

Of course the basis is the understanding of "religion". Here we might disagree on the definition so that we might never be able to agree on whether buddhism is or is not a religion.
I do not refrain from arbitrarily taking a definition because I think that any serious definition will do. So why not Wiki?

A religion is a system of human thought which usually includes a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power, deity or deities, or ultimate truth.[1] Religion is commonly identified by the practitioner's prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things, and is often interwoven with society and politics. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience.

The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system,"[2] but it is more socially defined than personal convictions, and it entails specific behaviors, respectively.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion

So imo buddhism clearly falls into this category of "religion".

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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby Dexing » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:14 am

There is no "system of belief" in Buddhism, no dogma, no creed, etc.. Buddhism is not about beliefs, but about direct insight. Religions usually start with; "This is what we believe. This is what we profess as truth."

Buddhism never does that. There is just pointing.

The collection of Buddhist teachings should only help you to open your eyes and look, not tell you what you see.

However, if you attach to concepts and create a religious identity around the Buddhist teachings, then you've created a "Buddhist religion" or philosophical identity. But a religious identity is just an alternate definition of "me", a philosophical identity is just another theory of "me".

Don't make "me", don't make "you", don't make "Buddha", don't make religion or philosophy. Just use the teachings as a tool to point inward, and then go there.

"If you are attached to even one thought, one ability, one understanding, or one view, you cannot match the Buddha."
- Bodhidharma, Bloodstream Sermon

"If you use a trap to catch fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language."
- Bodhidharma, Breakthrough Sermon

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nopalabhyate...
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:07 am

There is nothing wrong with those that take Buddhism to be not a religion, to be philosophy, psychology, or whatever, if it relieves their suffering and brings them to compassionate action.

Quite often however we attribute personal bias to things that we personally consider to be attributes of religions which are not. Check a encyclopedia, or basically any source of reference, and you will find Buddhism listed as a religion and one of the great religions by membership on earth currently.

The idea it is not.......wishful thinking and quite perposterous. Make up ones own definition of religion perhaps and then state it does not meet that particular criteria and maybe it will not be. But that will be in your own eyes and not in the eyes of the world.

That aside, the Buddha setting up a system of teaching, relaying the teachings in certain manners, the useage of followers to establish a sanga, the establishment of orders of monks and nuns....all these are the characteristics of a leader who wanted to establish not a philosophy, a psychology but yes...

a religion.

Feel free to feel it is not if that bangs your bell, but to the world and the vast vast majority of Buddhists globally it is quite certainly a religion.

My personal conjecture is that many westerners attribute many negatives to religion. They do not know these negatives are characteristics of particular religions and not attributes of all religions. Nor do they know what qualifies things solely as religions. So they claim Buddhism is not religion. For them it is not.
For how many million more Buddhists it is. Prior to 1960 or so I can almost guarantee you any western encyclopedic definition of religion would include the first part of the Winki definition as sole criteria...belief in a other power god diety whatever. That fits for theism but not for nontheistic religions such as Buddhism and Jainism. But that is all that was known of then by the writers of the encyclopedia.

Go to Sri Lankia, Cambodia, Laos, Japan, Tibet and many other countries that have Buddhists as a large constituant belief and tell them Buddhism is not a religion....you I suspect will be laughed right out the door.

But if it makes you feel good to feel it is not....go for it. What does it really matter?

Did anyone anywhere on the entire earth ever pick up a book written upon the subject of the great religions and find Buddhism....not in it? I suspect not. There is a American show now on the subject of....Are you as smart as a fifth grader. I supect any fifth grader would probably list Buddhism as a religion if so quaried.

But on a personal level....it is fine to think it is not. It is not for you...that is fine and AOK.

Me on a personal level....I have stolen what I find to be true from many sources; almost exclusively Buddhist, But only very few Buddhists would consider my practice a Buddhist practice. And many holders of belief in Buddhism..... i find I do not hold their belief. So I won't qualify my practice as a Buddhist practice though I can attest to being able to identify almost all of what I find within areas of Buddhist practice and/or study. I simply do not care if it is Buddhist...not a fig. So on a personal level I do not even know if i am Buddhist. A religious spiritual practice(though one of great sloth and laziness) it is.
So what this is what I do; is religion. Someone else can qualify it as Buddhist or not. It is not my concern. My concern is understanding this thing.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby Dexing » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:32 am

ronnewmexico wrote:the Buddha setting up a system of teaching, relaying the teachings in certain manners, the useage of followers to establish a sanga, the establishment of orders of monks and nuns....all these are the characteristics of a leader who wanted to establish not a philosophy, a psychology but yes...

a religion.


What about a school with it's system of teaching, relaying the teachings in certain manners, the usage of learners to establish a student body, the establishment of a faculty of educators....

Simply having these characteristics doesn't decide the nature of the study content.

Religions, whether theistic or non-theistic, start off with a creed, a statement of belief, the truth as they profess it.

None of this is present in Buddhism, even though many use Buddhist concepts as beliefs and create their alternative religious identities around them. For the same reason we have Philosophical Daoism and Religious Daoism.

Go to Sri Lankia, Cambodia, Laos, Japan, Tibet and many other countries that have Buddhists as a large constituant belief and tell them Buddhism is not a religion....you I suspect will be laughed right out the door.....

....Did anyone anywhere on the entire earth ever pick up a book written upon the subject of the great religions and find Buddhism....not in it? I suspect not. There is a American show now on the subject of....Are you as smart as a fifth grader. I supect any fifth grader would probably list Buddhism as a religion if so quaried.


The understanding of the vast majority and the labels they ascribe to certain things does not make it so. Just take a look at how widespread the Samsaric view of life is and has been and will be.

So a fifth grader is taught that Buddhism is a religion, so of course they will say so.

A practitioner of Buddhism who was brought up in such a culture might see Buddhism as a religion and might hold certain concepts as their belief, because that's what they were raised to do in that culture. In such a case, it becomes a religion.

But from an objective point of view, where is the creed, the dogma, the ideology in Buddhism? What makes Buddhism a religion, besides a large number of people saying so? Why is Buddhism a religion?

What is a Buddhist belief that is not in fact just an observation of nature?

As I said in my previous post, the collection of Buddhist teachings should help you to open your eyes and look, it should not tell you what you see.

Those with "Buddhist beliefs" are letting Buddhism tell them something. They are being turned around by the Sutras, rather than turning the Sutras themselves. My Dharma master's master was a very highly venerated monk of the Chan school in China, and is quoted with saying; "Buddhism, strictly speaking, is not a religion, but an educational doorway established by earlier generations."

In other words, the Buddha never told people what to believe and what not to believe. In fact he said to his disciples, don't believe everything I've said just because I said it. You find out. If your experience shows that what I taught you was truth, then I taught you the truth. If your experience shows that what I taught you was a lie, then I taught you a lie. You find out.

What religion does that?

"Subhuti, I remember the infinitely remote past before Dipankara Buddha. There were 84,000 myriads of multimillions of Buddhas and to all these I made offerings; yes, all these I served without the least trace of fault. Nevertheless, if anyone is able to receive, retain, study and recite this Discourse at the end of the last [500-year] period, he will gain such a merit that mine in the service of all the Buddhas could not be reckoned as one-hundredth part of it, not even one thousand myriad multimillionth part of it - indeed, no such comparison is possible." - Shakyamuni Buddha, Diamond Sutra "Chapter 16" excerpt

What religion talks like that? Imagine...; "Better than serving God is.... understanding your true self."

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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby catmoon » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:43 am

LauraJ wrote:Do you consider Buddhism to be a religion? Or is it a life philosophy for you? Or a way of living? Or something I haven't mentioned?

:namaste:


I don't consider Buddhism a religion myself, but it might be worth asking some further questions about the question.

Does it matter matter whether or not we stick the label "religion" on it?

Does the label add any value to Buddhism?

If Buddhism is not a religion what would that mean? No tax breaks?

Are there certain qualities all religions have?
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Re: Is Buddhism a Religion?

Postby Dexing » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:56 am

catmoon wrote:If Buddhism is not a religion what would that mean? No tax breaks?


Is Buddhism a religion?

Yes..... for tax purposes. :rules:
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