Buddhism . . .

illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
Buddhism . . .

Is it a religion or not? I would argue that it is not. The main reason being is that, I feel, one way to determine if a certain beleif system can be called a religion is if, within the main doctrine itself, it makes the claim to ultimate truth that this ultimate truth can only be revealed through a deity. Such a claim is not made within the doctrine of Buddhism. The doctrine of Buddhism is concerned with suffering and how to end it for one's self (sidenote: what is also interesting about Buddhism is the notion of the non-self). The guide lines to achieving this are quite simple and logical since the doctrine argues that one should not desire since desire is what causes suffering (obviously I paraphrased quite a bit). The guidlines make no mention of a diety nor of a stipulation that one should not consult a deity, in fact, many Buddhists to concult various deities. Anyone agree, disagree? Feels my definitionf of religion is way off:p?

 

sidenote: This does not mean it is impossible to twist this beleif system into a justification for war and violence. Siamese (modern Day Thailand) Kings often envoked the notion of "merit" as justification to conquer other lands.

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
I suggest read more about

I suggest read more about Buddhism and then come back around to this question.  The direction I'd suggest looking at first is looking into all the different versions of the belief systems labeled "Buddhism" (there are probably more sects than there are of Christianity) and decide which one(s) you want to take on.  Also at some point you'll probably want to look at Tao.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
I am referring to the

I am referring to the Tripkata when I speak of Buddhism (just as one can refer to the Bible when speaking of Christianity ot the Koran when speaking of Islam).  If I have said something you beleive to be in error feel free to correct me.

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
illeatyourdog wrote: I am

illeatyourdog wrote:
I am referring to the Tripkata when I speak of Buddhism (just as one can refer to the Bible when speaking of Christianity ot the Koran when speaking of Islam). If I have said something you beleive to be in error feel free to correct me.

I wouldn't presume to correct anybody.  But I will point out that it's not analagous.  Buddhism is not a religion "of the book" like Christianity, Judaism or Islam.  The Tripkata only codifies one very specific subset of doctrines within what is a much larger and more diverse religion, much of it based in local traditions rather than a monumental scriptural edifice. 

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
Textom wrote: I wouldn't

Textom wrote:
I wouldn't presume to correct anybody.  But I will point out that it's not analagous.  Buddhism is not a religion "of the book" like Christianity, Judaism or Islam.  The Tripkata only codifies one very specific subset of doctrines within what is a much larger and more diverse religion, much of it based in local traditions rather than a monumental scriptural edifice. 

That is precisely why I am arguing it is not a religion.  The only reason why I single out the Tripkata is beucase it was the one text that is a recording of what the originator of Buddhism beleived.  As you pointed out, it was not meant to be the end all be all of doctrines but rather a starting point.  The exact opposite is true of the Christian Doctrine, the Judaism Doctrine, and the Islam Doctrine in which all three claim to be the end all be all of doctrines. 

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
I agree, but I'm not sure

I agree, but I'm not sure that a religion has to be intolerant or orthodox in order to be a religion.

The majority of people in the world follow religions  (Hinduism, traditional Chinese religion) that are more polymorphous and non-doctrinal.  If the numbers of people historically following a religion count for anything,  the intolerance and orthodoxy of Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion is the exception rather than the rule.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
Don't get me wrong, I am

Don't get me wrong, I am not claiming that for a system of beleif to be a religion it must have a written doctrine and that a huge population must follow this doctrine to the letter.  If this was the case, the majority of tribal religions would clearly make my statement false since many of them still rely soley on Oral Traditions and havn't written anything down.  Furthermore, tribal religions are specific for a specific tribe meaning that they do not neccessarily feel that everyone should follow their traditions, in fact, each native american tribe, for example, have their own specific creation story for their tribe (as opposed to a creation story for the entire universe).  However, these tribes still appeal to a deity of some sort which they attribute the creation of the earth to (as well as pray to various spirits).  Buddhism however (as well as Toaism) do not really attribute the creation of the world to a deity but rather to a more abstract idea (yes even more abstract than God), Nothingness or Nirvana.  So it is not like they pray to Nirvana or ask Nirvana for mercy or forgivness (or consider Nirvana distant like many Tribal Religions consider the First Father, as some of them call this deity, to be).   

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
I think the problem is that

I think the problem is that your argument implicitly depends on a notion of 'true' Buddhism. That is, there is a 'true Buddhism' that is the philosophy and all these religious versions are merely offshoots.

I'd go with Textom's answer, that some forms of Buddhism are more religious while others are more philosophical. Technically, the same can be said of all religions, even Islam, but there's a clear trend that an Eastern religion is more likely to be philosophical compared to a Western one that is more likely to be religious.


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
strafio wrote: I think the

strafio wrote:
I think the problem is that your argument implicitly depends on a notion of 'true' Buddhism. That is, there is a 'true Buddhism' that is the philosophy and all these religious versions are merely offshoots.

 

My arguement does not neccessarily depends on a notion of "true" buddhism per se.  It depends on the validity of the Tripkata representing the core or basis for all Buddhist systems of beleifs.  This does not entail that all Buddhists must follow the Tripkata to the letter in a dogmatic fashion.  It simply means if one want's to look at the beginnings of Buddhism, one should look to the Tripkata. 

 

 

strafio wrote:
I'd go with Textom's answer, that some forms of Buddhism are more religious while others are more philosophical. Technically, the same can be said of all religions, even Islam, but there's a clear trend that an Eastern religion is more likely to be philosophical compared to a Western one that is more likely to be religious.

 

Now a new question arises.  If a system of beleif can be followed in a religious manner, does that mean it is a religion?  For example, if someone read Plato's Republic as a Christian reads the Bible and, like a Christian bases decesions off the bible, bases his lifes decesions off the Republic.  Furthermore, he even performs a ceremony on Plato's birthday to pay the man respects.  He is following the masterwork of Plato religiously no doubt but that does that mean that Plato developed a religion as opposed to a philisophical treatise in diologue form? 

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
There is a religion based

There is a religion based on Plato's writings.  It's called Neoplatonism.  It had a big influence on the later canonical NT scriptures and the apocryphal Gnostic scriptures.  It's kind of like a pantheism, but the divine being is seen as a definite thing, although you don't necessarily pray to him for stuff.  So I'm not sure if that would qualify as a "religion" under your definition either.

Which suggests that maybe a better starting place than the question "is Buddhism a religion?" would be to define what the characteristics of a religion are.  Then you can easily decide which forms of which religion fit your definition.  

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
Textom wrote: There is a

Textom wrote:
There is a religion based on Plato's writings.  It's called Neoplatonism.  It had a big influence on the later canonical NT scriptures and the apocryphal Gnostic scriptures.  It's kind of like a pantheism, but the divine being is seen as a definite thing, although you don't necessarily pray to him for stuff.  So I'm not sure if that would qualify as a "religion" under your definition either.

Interesting.  The way these Neoplatonists view their divine being is the same way many native american tribes do.  One possible difference may be that many native american tribes do pray to various spirits depending on what is pertinant at the moment.   

textom wrote:
Which suggests that maybe a better starting place than the question "is Buddhism a religion?" would be to define what the characteristics of a religion are.  Then you can easily decide which forms of which religion fit your definition.

I did with the very first post of this thread.  I said if, within the core doctrine of a particualr system of beleif, the claim to ultimate truth is made and this truth is attributed to a deity, that system of beleif is a religion.  I suppose i should add a few clarifications in regards to polytheistic religions as well as tribal religions.

Clarification 1: Oral Tradition is a worthy substitute for a written doctrine

Clarification 2: The ultimate truth can be attributed to multiple deities and it is not neccessary for every followerer of a religion to pray to the same deity.

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


Sentinel
Sentinel's picture
Posts: 16
Joined: 2006-09-21
User is offlineOffline
Buddhism does not attribute

Buddhism does not attribute creation to the concept of Nirvana.  Nirvana is what one experiences when you have achieved enlightenment.  As for creation, Sid never postulated what was responsible for the creation of the universe.  Buddhism considers the cause of creation irrelevant, since whatever it is we still have to deal with sickness, old age, and death.  Knowing where we come from doesn't change that.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
Sentinel wrote: Buddhism

Sentinel wrote:
Buddhism does not attribute creation to the concept of Nirvana.

 

Thanks for the correction Sentinel Smiling.

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


Presuppositionalist
Theist
Presuppositionalist's picture
Posts: 344
Joined: 2007-05-21
User is offlineOffline
I personally do not care

I personally do not care whether Buddhism is a religion or not. It's stupid. Minds do not exist without bodies. End of discussion.

Q: Why didn't you address (post x) that I made in response to you nine minutes ago???

A: Because I have (a) a job, (b) familial obligations, (c) social obligations, and (d) probably a lot of other atheists responded to the same post you did, since I am practically the token Christian on this site now. Be patient, please.


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

I personally do not care whether Buddhism is a religion or not. It's stupid. Minds do not exist without bodies. End of discussion.

 

Seeing as you are a theist, that must mean your deity must be part of the physical world or is mindless.

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


dassercha
Superfan
Posts: 233
Joined: 2007-01-18
User is offlineOffline
Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

I personally do not care whether Buddhism is a religion or not. It's stupid. Minds do not exist without bodies. End of discussion.

Riiiiiiiiiiiight. And yet I'm sure you don't question the concept of hell eternal damnation, etc. Riiiiiiiiiight...

Sorry--who's stupid???

 

EDUCATION! EDUCATION! EDUCATION!


I AM GOD AS YOU
Superfan
Posts: 4793
Joined: 2007-09-29
User is offlineOffline
  .... Good Buddha , Bad

  .... Good Buddha , Bad Buddha ???

Don't follow, barrow and share , put a shine on it ,

add to knowledge, and pass it on ,

Buddhism is like Science, always open to new discovery

, Good science, Bad Science .... always re newing , as all changes ....

The East produce great scientists too .... ya know ?

Buddhism is a pretty damn cool, considering western Xainity God of Abe dogma shit .....

made me feel much better ..... just knowing a little about it, and so I passed it to you

MY GOOD LUCK , to pass on ....   


Espresso Kid
Espresso Kid's picture
Posts: 6
Joined: 2008-02-12
User is offlineOffline
illeatyourdog wrote: Is it

illeatyourdog wrote:

Is it a religion or not?  I would argue that it is not.  The main reason being is that, I feel, one way to determine if a certain beleif system can be called a religion is if, within the main doctrine itself, it makes the claim to ultimate truth that this ultimate truth can only be revealed through a deity.  Such a claim is not made within the doctrine of Buddhism.  The doctrine of Buddhism is concerned with suffering and how to end it for one's self (sidenote: what is also interesting about Buddhism is the notion of the non-self).  The guide lines to achieving this are quite simple and logical since the doctrine argues that one should not desire since desire is what causes suffering (obviously I paraphrased quite a bit).  The guidlines make no mention of a diety nor of a stipulation that one should not consult a deity, in fact, many Buddhists to concult various deities.  Anyone agree, disagree?  Feels my definitionf of religion is way off:p?

sidenote: This does not mean it is impossible to twist this beleif system into a justification for war and violence.  Siamese (modern Day Thailand) Kings often envoked the notion of "merit" as justification to conquer other lands.  



Buddhism is an atheist psychological practise. It is a "self-therapeutical" discipline, so to speak.

If we are going to talk buddhism, it is much easier to take one question at a time, because it is a rather large area. I can add that when the Theravada school went to Sri Lanka, two states from India conquered the island. Some 50 years later the Sri Lankan King retook his kingdom, but let the Hindus stay. The Hindus has used almost all monks and all nuns for tageting practise. The few that were left, the Hindu priests gave an ultimatum. Either the monks started teaching some hindu concepts or they would start killing the buddhist laypeople. The monks saw no choice, and this is the first time it was announced that women could no longer be nuns and that reincarnation appeared in buddhism. The Hindus has always (and still are) trying to corrupt the buddhist teachings, and even when the Buddha was still alive, they tried to assasinate him several times. Now also the Christians play their part in trying to twist buddhism into something it is not.

Once of the overlooked, but very important teachings in buddhism is the Kalama Sutta, which goes like this:


- Do not believe in anything (simply) because you have heard it.
- Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
- Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
- Do not believe in anything (simply) because it is found written in your religious books.
- Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.

But after observation and analysis when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conductive to the good and benefit of one and all then accept it and live up to it.

- The Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya Vol. 1, 188-193 P.T.S. Ed.)


Espresso Kid
Espresso Kid's picture
Posts: 6
Joined: 2008-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

I personally do not care whether Buddhism is a religion or not. It's stupid. Minds do not exist without bodies. End of discussion.


You speak ignorance, but that is not unusual from a theist.


jcgadfly
SuperfanBronze Member
Posts: 6789
Joined: 2006-07-18
User is offlineOffline
Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

I personally do not care whether Buddhism is a religion or not. It's stupid. Minds do not exist without bodies. End of discussion.

Of course God is an exception, right? 

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


I AM GOD AS YOU
Superfan
Posts: 4793
Joined: 2007-09-29
User is offlineOffline
  Geezz

  Geezz Presuppositionalist, I AM sending an angel to help you. Please listen.

 "Wisdom of the Buddha"  8 mins, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTsb-woP3jI

((( ..... your welcome, Smile (((

 


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
Espresso Kid

Espresso Kid wrote:
illeatyourdog wrote:

Is it a religion or not?  I would argue that it is not.  The main reason being is that, I feel, one way to determine if a certain beleif system can be called a religion is if, within the main doctrine itself, it makes the claim to ultimate truth that this ultimate truth can only be revealed through a deity.  Such a claim is not made within the doctrine of Buddhism.  The doctrine of Buddhism is concerned with suffering and how to end it for one's self (sidenote: what is also interesting about Buddhism is the notion of the non-self).  The guide lines to achieving this are quite simple and logical since the doctrine argues that one should not desire since desire is what causes suffering (obviously I paraphrased quite a bit).  The guidlines make no mention of a diety nor of a stipulation that one should not consult a deity, in fact, many Buddhists to concult various deities.  Anyone agree, disagree?  Feels my definitionf of religion is way off:p?

sidenote: This does not mean it is impossible to twist this beleif system into a justification for war and violence.  Siamese (modern Day Thailand) Kings often envoked the notion of "merit" as justification to conquer other lands.  



Buddhism is an atheist psychological practise. It is a "self-therapeutical" discipline, so to speak.

At the same time is is incrredibly praradoxical (i say this with amazment rather than as an objection) since its goal is, essentially, the erradication of the self or at least the idea of a "self".

 

Quote:
The few that were left, the Hindu priests gave an ultimatum. Either the monks started teaching some hindu concepts or they would start killing the buddhist laypeople. The monks saw no choice, and this is the first time it was announced  . . . that reincarnation appeared in buddhism.

 

Interesting.  Does this mean that the story of all of Goutama's revelation of all his past lives was probably a concoction made by the buddhists to not be killed off?

 

Quote:
The Hindus has always (and still are) trying to corrupt the buddhist teachings, and even when the Buddha was still alive, they tried to assasinate him several times. Now also the Christians play their part in trying to twist buddhism into something it is not.

 

This is probably due to the amazingly rigid logic that BUddhism works on and Logic itself is easy to twist for one's own purposes.



Quote:
Once of the overlooked, but very important teachings in buddhism is the Kalama Sutta . . .

INterestingly, those are, pretty much the maxims (for lack of better word at the moment) I live by now. 

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


I AM GOD AS YOU
Superfan
Posts: 4793
Joined: 2007-09-29
User is offlineOffline
  Whats to argue with

  Whats to argue with Progessive Buddhism ? Well buddhist crazys of course. The crazys come in all labels ....

Yes there is "NO SELF?, all is ONE. How can that be argued.


Cali_Athiest2
Cali_Athiest2's picture
Posts: 440
Joined: 2008-02-07
User is offlineOffline
This is probably not a

This is probably not a worth-while answer, but I had to take a couple religious classes for my BA and I chose to take a class in Eastern religions. My instructor was a baptist preacher and the budhhist was teaching a class on christian theology, go figure. Anyways, daoism, confuscionism and buddhism were all taught as philiosophies rather than religions. I think I remember Theravada buddhism was closer to an actual religion than the other 2 main sects.

"Always seek out the truth, but avoid at all costs those that claim to have found it" ANONYMOUS


I AM GOD AS YOU
Superfan
Posts: 4793
Joined: 2007-09-29
User is offlineOffline
  STOP bad Buddhaism ! STOP

  STOP bad Buddhaism ! STOP bad Scienceism ! Same difference.

When it comes to God of Abe there is nothing GOOD about it ..... except a lesson in fucked up  .......


Polaris
Posts: 14
Joined: 2006-10-04
User is offlineOffline
If you can resist freaking

If you can resist freaking out first, and continue to read, there are some interesting articles here. I certainly wasn't aware of some of the concepts or quotes presented. It contrasts most sects of buddhism for sure.

http://www.attan.com/start.html


HeyZeusCreaseToe
Superfan
HeyZeusCreaseToe's picture
Posts: 675
Joined: 2008-02-27
User is offlineOffline
Swastika

I always liked the swastika symbol. Too bad Hitler corrupted it for his own purposes.

As for a religion, I think the no true scotsman fallacy applies here. Some sects lean toward being religious and dogmatic, irrational beliefs. Other sects lean toward rational, philosophical inquiry about the nature of self.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Yoda


I AM GOD AS YOU
Superfan
Posts: 4793
Joined: 2007-09-29
User is offlineOffline
Yeah Polaris , that's a

Yeah Polaris , that's a massive site, which re-states the point I was making about Good - Bad. It's like a site titled "What is Science", with a bunch of ID science B.S. included, to then properly discredit. Buddhism has plenty of wacky folklore. Xainity is wacky period. The Jesus philosophy that makes common sense is not the Xain religion.

I'm not much familiar with ancient or even modern Buddhism. I would say Buddhism is an evolving philosophy, much like science evolves. I put the Occam's Razor to most every philosophy. The ABC 123, of it ...... max. I am a simpleton. Some call me dumb!

Words are tricky. Take the word "soul" for example of a thousand definitions. I often read it as simply meaning the conscious awareness in an individual. I read much ancient philosophy as simply breaking free of superstition, in a time of primitive science. We take so much for granted that was totally unknown then.

I'd say the main thing I got out of Buddhism, is as Alan Watts etc taught, "I am completely connected to the cosmos, as all is ONE. God and I are the same"  Good Jesus said that too, Bad Jesus is the Xain version of idol worship .......  

 

 


Paisley
Theist
Paisley's picture
Posts: 1933
Joined: 2008-03-13
User is offlineOffline
illeatyourdog wrote:Is it a

illeatyourdog wrote:
Is it a religion or not?  I would argue that it is not.  The main reason being is that, I feel, one way to determine if a certain beleif system can be called a religion is if, within the main doctrine itself, it makes the claim to ultimate truth that this ultimate truth can only be revealed through a deity.

Let me guess. You want to redefine Buddhism so it is compatible with atheism. Right?

 

 

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
Paisley wrote:illeatyourdog

Paisley wrote:

illeatyourdog wrote:
Is it a religion or not?  I would argue that it is not.  The main reason being is that, I feel, one way to determine if a certain beleif system can be called a religion is if, within the main doctrine itself, it makes the claim to ultimate truth that this ultimate truth can only be revealed through a deity.

Let me guess. You want to redefine Buddhism so it is compatible with atheism. Right?

 

Nope.  I think many atheists still consider it too, for lack of better word, spiritual since karma plays a major role in Buddhism and that idea makes little to no sense without reincarnation which is an unfalsifiable idea.  I simply maintain that this, in and of itself, is not enough to make it a religion since Plato adovcated a view similar to reincarnation in the Phaedo and no would consider him a religious man (especially when you read the Republic and find out that he has no problem with changing stories like the Illiad and the Oddyssey to suit his own purposes).

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff


Susac
Superfan
Posts: 132
Joined: 2007-09-30
User is offlineOffline
 I would like to weigh in

 

I would like to weigh in on this one. I am a graduate of the Naropa University, a small private school that is based on Buddhist teachings, or the Dharma (which is a word that translates as "truth) First off, let me make clear that there is no question that Buddhism is a religion. Buddhism indulges in supernaturalism (reincarnation), deities and so on. Many Buddhists worship the Buddha as a god and many believe in alternate planes of existence, invisible entities, etc. There are many people who project all their superstitions onto the iconography of Buddhism, just like they project their superstitions onto every other mythological system. However, Buddhism is the 5th largest religion in the world, and like any large group of people identifying with an ideology, there is a lot of variance in the group. There are MANY teachings in the faith that support a rationalistic, scientific view of the world, such as noted in the posting of Espresso Kid. At its best, Buddhism is a rationalistic approach to exploring experience. It is a mystical tradition, which is to say that it is a systematic approach to altering one’s state of mind. You can see right away from this that it is NOT empirical. It is entirely subjective. The findings of Buddhism rely heavily on anticdotal evidence, as in, “when I practice this form of meditation, I have this experience.” The goal of Buddhsm is similarly subjective: The cessation of suffering. At their best Buddhist practitioners are aware that they are as subject to the placebo effect as anyone else in their studies, however at some level this doesn’t matter. Buddism is a practical religion: If it works, do it. So if my meditation practice works the way it does because of the suggestions that I received from my teacher, then so what? It still is working – after all we are talking about experience here. Famously, the Dali Llama said that if science proves Buddhist dogma wrong, then science is right and the dogma is wrong. This statement is a reflection of this rationalistic approach to subjective experience. There are still supernatural ideas within the faith, but Buddhists don’t get too worked up about weather or not they are “true.” They are more concerned about how holding certain thoughts increases or decreases the suffering in your life. Here is how I like to think about some Buddhist ideas. Dharma : This means “the truth.”   It is also the teachings of the Buddha. Note that the Buddha is a title given to a mortal man, who is held up as a teacher and role model, NOT a supernatural entity to be worshiped (although in practice some do worship him as a supernatural entity ). Note that while the teachings are “the truth,” they are subject to new findings, so that “the truth” is not the teachings. Buddhism strives to avoid dogmatism. Karma: The law of cause and effect. Many people believe this is a sort of “cosmic justice,” and this is one of the places that superstition creeps into the faith. It also can simply mean that all actions have consequences, including moral consequences. For example, when you kill someone, you might get away with it, but the act of killing has a significant consequence on your own peace of mind, and therefore your suffering. Reincarnation: This is the cycle of death and rebirth. It is one of the most superstitious things about the religion. The Buddha said that we don’t know what happens when you die, but then there are still all sorts of teachings (such as the Tibetan Book of the Dead) that go on to tell you EXACTLY what the experience of being dead  is like. Like I said, it’s definitely is a religion. On the other hand, there is a process that we all go through where our sense of self has to transform radically from time to time.   This is often experienced as a  sort of “death and rebirth” experience: A painful and scary radical transformation of the self.   So you can see how the mythology applies to psychology as well. Realms of existence: These are states of mind that completely color your worldview. For example when you are in a state of habitual brain-dead, non-thought, you are said to be in the “animal realm.” When you are in the blissed-out state of being in love and feeling no pain, you are said to be in the “god realm.” There are 6 realms. While these realms are understood to be states of mind they are also believed to be actual plains of existence that exist somewhere in the multiverse. See? Religion. Gods: Gods are essentially icons that represent specific states of mind. Very useful in a semi-literate culture I would assume. Gods come in two flavors: Sane and neurotic. The sane gods generally look human and often are depicted as male and female couples in the act of copulation during meditation. This represents the union of male and female energy in manifesting that state of mind. The neurotic aspects generally look like demonic visages with their tongues sticking out. Note that both the sane and neurotic deities are there to help you. The idea is that while the neurotic deities represent the suffering inherent in your mind, the suffering itself is a guidepost that says “stop doing that.” So as you meditate you might experience suffering, but the pain is there to teach you, and once you learn from it you will stop suffering.  The nurotic manifestation of the deity is tranformed into the sane manifestation of the deity.  Again, many people think these entities really exist, but it is not necessary to believe this to practice Buddhism. Ok, so I hope this quick primer helps to explain some things. Note that because Buddhism is both a practice and a religion, you can be an “atheist Buddhist” a “Christian Buddhist” a or a “Jewish Buddhist” (aka a “Bu-Jew), or whatever. Hope that clears up more than it confuses.  You really have to think in a tottaly different way about your mind to "get" Bhuddsim.  It's not wat westerners think of when they think about religion.  In the west, we think that religion is a bunch of different stories that you either believe to be true or you don't believe them to be true.  In Buddhism, the story itself is just an idea that you are holding on to.  If you let go of the idea, then you get a chance to notice how your mind is working and what effect that story is having on your mind.  It's a very "outside the box" way of thinking. 

 


I AM GOD AS YOU
Superfan
Posts: 4793
Joined: 2007-09-29
User is offlineOffline
Susac, thanks very much for

Susac, thanks very much for that ....

The more the West and the East know of each other's ideas the better for all. The westerner Alan Watts, is an xlint simple communicator of the east. I really recommend everyone hear him. His videos are in Youtube etc.

  .... and please check out the 8 min vid I posted above ..... very cool and comforting .... "Wisdom of the Buddha" ....

                                     Love to you all .....       


Susac
Superfan
Posts: 132
Joined: 2007-09-30
User is offlineOffline
I think your definition of religion is off.

illeatyourdog wrote:

Is it a religion or not? I would argue that it is not. The main reason being is that, I feel, one way to determine if a certain beleif system can be called a religion is if, within the main doctrine itself, it makes the claim to ultimate truth that this ultimate truth can only be revealed through a deity. Such a claim is not made within the doctrine of Buddhism.

 

First off, I think that religion is a social institution formed around a mythalogical belief system.  Under this definition, Buddhism is a religion.  For example it is not clear what "non-self" means under any empirical operational definition.

 

Under your definition, Buddhism is still a religion.  As I pointed out repeatedly, many people worship the Buddha as a deity, and many people indulge in supernaturalism even thought they identify themselves as Buddhists.  I think if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, let's just call it a duck. 

 

You can argue that these people are not practicing Buddhism "correctly," but if they are identifying themselves as buddhists, who are we to say they are not?  To me such an arguement smacks too much of the christian dogma that says "if you don't believe the bible is the literal word of god, then you are not a true christian."  What a horrible thing to say!  I would never give another human being the right to define me in such a way, nor would I presume to define another as such.  People are who THEY identify themselves to be, even if they miss out on some of the more subtle or intillectual (or rediculously superstitious) aspects of their ideology.

 

Anyway that's just my 2 cents.


illeatyourdog
illeatyourdog's picture
Posts: 580
Joined: 2007-07-20
User is offlineOffline
Susac wrote:Note that

Susac wrote:

Note that because Buddhism is both a practice and a religion, you can be an “atheist Buddhist” a “Christian Buddhist” a or a “Jewish Buddhist” (aka a “Bu-Jew), or whatever.

This aspect right here is why I would not consider it a religion.  There is no such thing as a Hindu-Jew or Zorasterian-Christian since either one violates the each respective doctrine.

 

Quote:
Under your definition, Buddhism is still a religion.  As I pointed out repeatedly, many people worship the Buddha as a deity, and many people indulge in supernaturalism even thought they identify themselves as Buddhists.  I think if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, let's just call it a duck.
 

 Remember my definition specifically referred to claims made by the doctrine itself, meaning, that unless there is a claim to ultimate unchangeable truth within the Trpikikata (spelling?), under my definition at least, it is not a religion. 

Quote:
You can argue that these people are not practicing Buddhism "correctly," but if they are identifying themselves as buddhists, who are we to say they are not?

 I would not make such an argument nor do I think my initial argument obligates me to such a stance.  Again, one of my more subtle points is that belief systems that, without any doubt, religions commit themselves and try to commit others to a belief in, for Christianity, a God that, along with creating everything, also came down in human form to die to complete some cosmic narrative involving every one's souls.  There is no such NECESSARY commitment to such a deity in buddhism.   This does not mean that I would maintain that buddhists who worship deities, or worship Buddha as a deity are poor buddhists.  It simply means that individuals choosing to practice buddhism in such a way does not necessitate the need to call it a religion, at least with my definition. 

Of course, you define religion differently, in which case, belief systems such as Confucianism would also have to be a religion on this definition since Confucians do believe in ghosts and ancestor worship and still is a social institution in China and some southeastern countries.

" Why does God always got such wacky shit to say? . . . When was the last time you heard somebody say 'look God told me to get a muffin and a cup tea and cool out man'?" - Dov Davidoff