Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 3
Frank Merton

Is Buddhism a philosophy or a religion?

284 posts in this topic

A perfect summation Frank :tu:

Br Cornelius

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A perfect summation Frank :tu:

Br Cornelius

Well thanks, but not quite. I left out a whole bunch of things, in fact probably the more interesting things -- meditation and Buddhist teaching methods (fables, koans, etc.), Hindu/Buddhist cosmology, religious tolerance, and Buddhist psychology and the understanding of the essentially illusory nature of our world.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi PA, Your 'not inclined to experience Buddhism through meditation', well of course not your a christian, but then you're not alone most lay buddhists dont want to meditate either, for them it is a religion/philosophy not a path to enlightenment.

'One could even argue that prayer is a form of meditation' One could try but One would be wrong. take care

'Where ever you go, go with all your heart' Confucius

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Alan Watts' favorite 'religion' was Buddhism, the most respectable religion. I have read much of Alan Watts' work and greatly enjoyed it.

Herman Hesse with 'Siddharta' and others also glorified the Buddhist philosophy. I like it, and find it a good way to view life. :tu:

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Drive by Miyagi posting!!

I haven't read the whole thread so excuse me if this point of view has already been presented. in answer to the OP... Honestly, it depends on the Buddhist and what they believe. Buddhism adapts to the culture of it's practitioners. At it's core it is a philosophy. The 4 Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path. That's the core. Belief in Karma and Rebirth, Nirvana, etc, do not require belief in order for them to exist, if they exist at all. They are results of our actions and not rewards or punishments for them to be issued by a god or gods. Buddhism has adpated to certain cultures over time that include the existence of deities and heavens and hells etc... However they are viewed merely as another form of existence and NOT the end result. Not Nirvana. One can be a god in a heaven and still not be enightened.

Back to the core here. Now some may argue that this point of view would not fall into "Right View". I argue that it must. As a Buddhist one strives to understand Anatta which is sometimes referred to as "no self" but more accurately translated as "not self". The notion of the self is constantly in flux depending on a variety of factors. The point is that there is nothing to become attached to in regards to the "self". We have no choice but to live from moment to moment. We cannot live yesterday or tomorrow therefore we musn't become attached to these concepts. One should not believe in Nirvana but wait to experience it. It's existence or non existence is irrelevant if one continues to live in the moment and follow the Eightfold Path. It's not a goal to achieve. It just happens.

In short, if one wishes to approach it as a religion, they may and there's a strong argument to be made in that regard. However, because we are dealing with what would be natural reactions to our actions, a belief in any metaphysical aspects of Buddhism are not required and I'd argue should be discouraged as they lead to attachment. In that regard it's a philosophy. A point of view to help us get from day to day in what can be a pretty miserable existance for people at times.

Thanks for reading!

Edit- Spelling and what not lol

Edited by Mr. Miyagi
4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would urge you to spend a little time and go back and review the thread and comment on some of the posts; your input would help.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the funny things is that one can be a Buddhist without understanding Buddhism. I don't know how many times when I was young asking people about things and being told to ask a monk. I suppose young Christians are told to go ask a priest or minister.

Meditation in Asia is beginning to become more common, but when I was young that was something only monks did, because they were seeking Enlightenment. Everyone else just wanted to accumulate karmic merit by doing good things so as to improve their luck. I think meditation is central to Buddhism in spite of that. Very few achieve Enlightenment sitting like that; there is much more to it.

What meditation does for me, as a lay person, is many things; it helps deal with stress and even more with anger. It puts things into perspective. It helps me identify superstitions and childhood beliefs that need to be seen for the illusions they are. It fills me with peace and joy.

About non-self. What I remind myself is that I am not the same person I was ten years ago; then I realize that I am not what I was even a year ago. Indeed, I am reborn constantly, from moment to moment. I constatntly change, so how can I be "I?"

9 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the funny things is that one can be a Buddhist without understanding Buddhism. I don't know how many times when I was young asking people about things and being told to ask a monk. I suppose young Christians are told to go ask a priest or minister.

Meditation in Asia is beginning to become more common, but when I was young that was something only monks did, because they were seeking Enlightenment. Everyone else just wanted to accumulate karmic merit by doing good things so as to improve their luck. I think meditation is central to Buddhism in spite of that. Very few achieve Enlightenment sitting like that; there is much more to it.

What meditation does for me, as a lay person, is many things; it helps deal with stress and even more with anger. It puts things into perspective. It helps me identify superstitions and childhood beliefs that need to be seen for the illusions they are. It fills me with peace and joy.

About non-self. What I remind myself is that I am not the same person I was ten years ago; then I realize that I am not what I was even a year ago. Indeed, I am reborn constantly, from moment to moment. I constatntly change, so how can I be "I?"

This has been my route to Buddhism, I meditate the easy way-- I hike 8 miles it releases endorphins and I am in good shape (for the day.) I would swear that is why monks did Hawtha yoga before meditation. I wanted to understand/experience Ahimsa so I became a vegetarian. The point for me is there is no learning without experience BF Skinner said this. Sorry Buddha. The point is well taken, the ideas are there and it is in the using of them you figure out what works for you and what doesn't. Test everything it is our own experiences that we glean the wisdom or not from an idea(regardless of where it came from.) In summary-- this is what the Buddha taught. Big hug to Mr. Miagi, great to see you posting friend!

Edited by Sherapy
4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would urge you to spend a little time and go back and review the thread and comment on some of the posts; your input would help.

In regards to the quantum mechanics information, It's interesting to me but I'm not adequately educated on the subject to comment. As far as the negative cultural aspects and misunderstandings that L has brought up, In my experience he's just pushing buttons. He doesn't care what you think say or do as long as what you think say or do is in response to his posts. That being said.. Once more unto the breach! lol.

IMHO most Buddhists are passive but not pushovers. I'm unaware of an entirely Buddhist nation (Thailand?) , but I am aware of contemporary sources of Buddhist violence. (Sri Lanka for example) Usually these are cultures in which Buddhism has been intertwined with the government such as Thailand. This is not a religion acting in violence but a government. These acts obviously fly in the face of the 1st precept. That line begins to blur when a populace or government is threatened and in such a case violence can be justified in the minds of some in what would constitute defense. Again, it depends on the culture and the acting government within that culture. Buddhism isn't black and white and all tied up in a shiny little package. It continues to change and grow as more people decide to take up it's practice, or not. There are even so called "Christian Buddhists" http://www.buddhist-christian.org/

Again, this is to be expected when Buddhism begins to adapt to a largely Christian populace such as one would find in the west. No harm no foul. It is what it is.

Edit- Hello Sheri! I actually posted this on my facebook and my buddy Narendra had a nice perspective as well.

Edited by Mr. Miyagi
4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Buddhism belongs to country ... country doesn't belong to Buddhism because Buddha has nothing to do with illusionary borders

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Buddhism belongs to country ... country doesn't belong to Buddhism because Buddha has nothing to do with illusionary borders

The Thai government does actively support Buddhist organizations and they do grant special privaleges to monks etc... One of the king of Thailand's titles is "protector of buddhism" or something to that effect, correct? Also though, I don't think that members of the monastic order there are permitted to hold public office. I don't think it's ever been declared an official state religion but the populace is almost 95% Buddhist or thereabouts, correct?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just like 'art', religion has no proper (and fixed) definition. Depending on the definition of religion used, Buddhism can be deemed as a religion or not. It's not like most organized religions or theistic beliefs as far as I know. Other more enlightened members can possibly shed light in this area.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Thai government does actively support Buddhist organizations and they do grant special privaleges to monks etc... One of the king of Thailand's titles is "protector of buddhism" or something to that effect, correct? Also though, I don't think that members of the monastic order there are permitted to hold public office. I don't think it's ever been declared an official state religion but the populace is almost 95% Buddhist or thereabouts, correct?

Up to a hairs breadth,

BUddhism is 'above' official in regards to Thailand, beyond governance or Royalty but it is also 'non' official in matters of governance or Royalty

Titles are meaningless to the monastery, a monk in his capacity as 'head' or 'leader' only is responsible for the leading or organising prayers at major festivals.

As with all other forms of cultural exchanges, Thailand has its own unique blend and color of Buddhism compared with border neighbors which has theirs.

Its hard to find a comparison elsewhere and I don't believe I've read any English publication that can express this in fine clarity, I too fail because I'm not good at these academia ligua :lol:

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<p>

In regards to the quantum mechanics information, It's interesting to me but I'm not adequately educated on the subject to comment.

That entire exchange, in afterthough, bothers me. Beyond being a demonstration that what we perceive of the universe is illusory, I really don't see where quantum mechanics can be said to confirm anything in Buddhist thought.
As far as the negative cultural aspects and misunderstandings that L has brought up, In my experience he's just pushing buttons. He doesn't care what you think say or do as long as what you think say or do is in response to his posts. That being said.. Once more unto the breach! lol.

Quite the way I felt. Still, many virtues when taken too far become vices -- he points out where Buddhists sometimes take Buddhism's virtues too far.

I also tend to see his point when it comes to the idea of people being reborn as animals. There is a story about an avid hunter who spent all his time in the pleasure of the hunt. The Buddha is said to have remarked that he may well be reborn a tiger or something similar, the point being that rebirth happens largely in accordance with our desires combined with our karma or our natures. Hence non-human rebirth is extrememly unlikely.

Where L errs I think is in drawing too much of a line between human and animal. Human beings are animals. The Western notion that we are something else has merit but we remain animals too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Buddhism belongs to country ... country doesn't belong to Buddhism because Buddha has nothing to do with illusionary borders

How a Buddhist lay person behaves regarding their country's activities -- especially wars -- is difficult and I think very much up to each person, so we should not make judgements of how others decide to act or not act. The ethical guidance seems inclined toward passivity and (I can't think of the English word -- non participation in fighting), but not entirely. Buddhist ethics are not absolutes but choices, each with consequences. Failure to participate in the defense of one's country is a wrong, but so is war and killing.

I can't imagine Buddhists engaging in the sorts of things some Muslims do -- where innocent bystanders can be killed, but the self-immolations we see now in Tibet and we saw in South Vietnam when a Roman Catholic regime was persecuting Buddhists can be viewed as a way to defend Buddhism.

Edited by Frank Merton
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is important that Buddhism stay separate from the state but that it support the state whenever it can, and try to be of help and not hindrance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is whatever you perceive it to be.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is important that Buddhism stay separate from the state but that it support the state whenever it can, and try to be of help and not hindrance.

Separation of Church (any religion) and state is the only way to go. It has been shown time and time again through history. American's founding fathers knew what they were doing from experience when they said it. Some Christians have been fighting it ever since, but it is the only way to insure civil rights and religious freedom.

Edited by Darkwind
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always felt the terms 'religious' and 'freedom' used together is somewhat oxy moronic

~edit : grammar pothole

Edited by third_eye

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Separation of Church (any religion) and state is the only way to go. It has been shown time and time again through history. American's founding fathers knew what they were doing from experience when they said it. Some Christians have been fighting it ever since, but it is the only way to insure civil rights and religious freedom.

Democracy is more important and more significant a human right than separation of church and state. Where people want a religious state as part of a democratic and informed public, and nation, then there is nothing innately wrong with a state that combines civil and religious elements. Most humans (in general nearly 90% of the worlds population) combine within them selves secular and spiritual natures, and may wish a state modelled on that To deny the democratic will of an informed populace is more wrong, and more dangerous to liberty, than to establish a religious democratic state.

Australia has such a state, despite some opposition to it. But where america's constitution has come to divide church from state, Australia, with almost exactly the same wording in its constitution, has come to make all beliefs equal and inclusive in our governance.

That includes non belief and aboriginal spiritual/religious beliefs. We have emphasised the bit about govt not restricting the right to religious belief or non belief in any form, but kept the disallowance of the state from preferring or forming any specific religion. Thus, in theory, there can be no discrimination for or against religion in the state's governance. In practice this means rather than, for example, public prayers or religios icons or clothing being banned in govt schools, they are protected by law, but ALL beliefs and practices must be equally free to pray/observe, and non believers free not to.

So no one can be compelled to wear religious apparel or jewelry, and no one can be banned from doing so, except in cases of health and safety. There is a case in court now where non muslim teachers were compelled to wear muslim dress to work at a muslim school or face the sack. Given past legal precedent that will not be allowed to stand.

Employment must, by law, allow equal opportunity, regardless of race, sex, age, or sexuality and also religious belief or non belief. So, for example, a catholic school can't prevent a non catholic or an atheist teaching at their school, although they can ask them to observe certain work related expectations, like taking children to a mass or religious class and supervising them.

Edited by Mr Walker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sometimes wonder how we messed up the world so bad for ourselves

Our ancestors of common origin must have done something right to get us all here ... now almost everything ends up bringing out the worse in humankind

Frankly, it's hard to be optimistic looking at the things humans constantly gets so wrong and still persists in getting things wrong and even wrongER :lol:

I read an article today about the Japanese now able to suck natural gas from 'fire ice' If we'd all plant at least five new trees a month all of us ....

many that neglected own 'soul self' surrendered the hearts and minds too

~edit : ( )

Edited by third_eye

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my experience living during the civil rights movement here in the US, democracy can be used to keep some from civil liberties. Majority rules can be abused to keep others from their rights if they are not part of that majority. Most of the changes in jim crow laws (Black people had to sit in the back of the bus, etc type of law.) came from the courts not from the the voting booth. In history it can be shown and in modern governments religious law by its nature does not allow for the civil liberties needed for a happy life.

As far as women having to wear Muslim dress in a Muslim school is up to the employer unless the school is supported by the state, it would be a uniform. If school has state support then I would say true seperation of Church and state would dictate no you can't force women to wear Muslim dress in a state run school.

Edited by Darkwind

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Democracies tend to support religious freedom only for the majority. It takes something over majority rule -- as in the States there is a Constitution that overrules any popular vote that contradicts it.

In Vietnam religious freedom has pretty much returned, compared to the dogmatic materialist atheism that prevailed for really a very short time and not very seriously. There is great popular dislike here, including in the Party, for missionaries, so I doubt they will ever find themselves free to operate. Neither the majority nor the Party wants it, in spite of foreign pressure. Otherwise churches can do their thing, have their ceremonies, and so on, so long as it is all done inside the boundaries of their property (and there are few restrictions on religious acquisition of property and construction on it -- as long as they raise the money themselves).

Buddhism (heavily Chinese/Taoist in nature) is perhaps the majority religion here, although I think the majority would not affiliate with any religion at all. Roman Catholics are perhaps next, and there are several smaller but not insignificant specifically Vietnamese groups (Caodaism comes to mind at first, a fascinating religious movement of the twentieth century that as far as I know is entirely among Vietnamese and overseas Vietnamese, and is extremely syncretic, taking what they think is the best from almost everyone.)

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Democracies tend to support religious freedom only for the majority. It takes something over majority rule -- as in the States there is a Constitution that overrules any popular vote that contradicts it.

In Vietnam religious freedom has pretty much returned, compared to the dogmatic materialist atheism that prevailed for really a very short time and not very seriously. There is great popular dislike here, including in the Party, for missionaries, so I doubt they will ever find themselves free to operate. Neither the majority nor the Party wants it, in spite of foreign pressure. Otherwise churches can do their thing, have their ceremonies, and so on, so long as it is all done inside the boundaries of their property (and there are few restrictions on religious acquisition of property and construction on it -- as long as they raise the money themselves).

Buddhism (heavily Chinese/Taoist in nature) is perhaps the majority religion here, although I think the majority would not affiliate with any religion at all. Roman Catholics are perhaps next, and there are several smaller but not insignificant specifically Vietnamese groups (Caodaism comes to mind at first, a fascinating religious movement of the twentieth century that as far as I know is entirely among Vietnamese and overseas Vietnamese, and is extremely syncretic, taking what they think is the best from almost everyone.)

But of course the american constitution can be, and has been, altered by popular will and vote. It is entirely amenable to democratic principles . The constitution does not, and cannot, over rule a popular vote to alter its content. That applies to the separation of church and state. In the past the only thing keeping this from being changed was that the fundamentalist religious portion of the american people fears its governments interference and WANTS to keep state separated from church. This conforms with liberal democratic principles coming from entirely different motivations; giving a considerable majority opposed to changing this separation, but for entirely opposit e reasons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't change the US Constitution with a plebiscite. It is a much more difficult process.

I don't trust the people anywhere when it comes to religion. That the US is religiously fragmented is what keeps the majority favoring separation of church and state. If one sect came to dominate, the tone would change. As it is you see majorities trying to impose religious belief all over the place (abortion, creationism, public ceremonies, euthanasia, etc.), often getting their way in spite of the separation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 3

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.