Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby pink_trike » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:41 am

"Religion" to me is in the mind of the beholder...a belief in an experiential state of religiosity that is applied to the teachings. Of key importance to this debate is whether religion as a categorizing concept existed at the time Buddhism was conceived, or if it is a concept that has been layered onto the Dharma by people who have experiences of "religiosity".

Much of what is is regarded as "religion" in Buddhism by Westerners seems to me to be simply "paying respect" where respect is due...acknowledging universal truths.

mikenz66 wrote:Buddhism may not fit neatly into particular Western categories. However, it seems to me that to argue that it is not a religion in some sense would be inaccurate.

In my view, denying that Buddhism has anything to do with religion falls into the sort of self-importance trap that the practise seeks to avoid.

[/quote]
Last edited by pink_trike on Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby zavk » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:45 am

Nice quote Mike!

However, it seems to me that to argue that it is not a religion in some sense would be inaccurate.


Yes, yes. I agree that to 'be Buddhist' is to be religious--but, I would maintain that it requires us to be 'religious' in a way that both follows and goes beyond the notion of religion as it is conventionally understood--that is to say, we need to approach religion in a way that does not pit it in strict opposition to philosophy, science and what not, as we have in recent history. Or to put it another way, I wonder if we can be 'religious' in a way that is beyond the terms set by the religion/philosophy dichotomy. I do not know exactly how this is going to unfold but I think it is something worth exploring. Perhaps I could evoke the metaphor of middle path here, or more specifically, the ongoing search for the middle path.

pink_trike: Yes, you're right. I believe the Greeks in Antiquity did distinguish between religion and philosophy, but yet somehow interrelated the two in a way that was lost by the middle ages. The Ancient Greek understanding of the cosmos, as far as I understand (I am by no means well-versed in Ancient Greek thought or history, btw), involved a dimension of 'the sacred' that was later banished to the periphery, made irrelevant, with the rise of secular philosophy in around the 17th century. So yes, it might be better to speak of 'religiosity'. But all in all, my point was that we need to be reflexively aware of how our understanding of religion and philosophy has been conditioned, and how such conditioning in turn shape our understanding of Buddhism, so that we may allow for more expansive understandings of those concepts (and Buddhism) to express themselves.

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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby pink_trike » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:49 am

zavk wrote: But all in all, my point was that we need to be reflexively aware of how our understanding of religion and philosophy has been conditioned, and how such conditioning in turn shape our understanding of Buddhism, so that we may allow for more expansive understandings of those concepts (and Buddhism) to express themselves.

Agreed.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jan 22, 2009 5:08 am

i say religion. it's not a philosophy as one can take up any philosophy one wishes to and it means nothing in terms of one's daily life.

for example: i subscribe to certain anarchist philosophies, yet i live in a capitalist society and i function in ways that are purely capitalist. so what am i? capitalist or socialist?
i can use a philosophy to inform certain choices i make and thats about it unless i wanna start lobbing bombs or some other absurd BS.

religion on the other hand isnt bound like this, its not some intelectual "game". it defines who i am on a deeper level, both rational and irrational.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby piper » Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:00 am

jcsuperstar wrote:it [religion] defines who i am on a deeper level, both rational and irrational.


Existential reasoning would be philosophical. Irrational, in a religious sense, would be trans-rational.
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:40 pm

The word Religion comes from the latin religio, which no one knows exactly what it meant, but most believe it is from the verb ligare, that means to connect or to bind, and the prefix re- wich indicates an idea of repetition. The romans had period events in which they would pay homage to the deities (devas ? ) that were associated with water streams, fountains and woods, and also deities associated with human activities. Religio may indicate the repetitive aspect of these moments in which men connects to the deities.

Philosophy as clearer meaning ("love for wisdom") and as a greek root.

I don't think you can put the Dhamma in either, but at the same time it includes both. The recollection of the Devas could be interpreted as carachteristic of a religion,and the task of removing ignorance from ones minds can be seen as an act of a philosopher.
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:22 pm

I believe the Dhamma is beyond both of these concepts.

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:26 am

"Religion" to me is in the mind of the beholder...a belief in an experiential state of religiosity that is applied to the teachings. Of key importance to this debate is whether religion as a categorizing concept existed at the time Buddhism was conceived, or if it is a concept that has been layered onto the Dharma by people who have experiences of "religiosity".

Much of what is is regarded as "religion" in Buddhism by Westerners seems to me to be simply "paying respect" where respect is due...acknowledging universal truths.


:goodpost:

I have a lot of philosophies that I ascribe to but they don't have nearly the place in my life that Buddhism does.

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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:38 am

clw_uk,

clw_uk wrote:Just wanted to see what peoples take is on the Buddhas Dhamma. Do you consider it a religion, philosophy or something else?


Buddhism is a word that is used to describe a predominately Eastern philosophy, religion and ethical way of life, but it can also be used as a word to describe a rigorous mental discipline designed for a very specific purpose, the end of suffering. That is why I tend to view Buddhism as a pragmatic approach to suffering rather than as an abstract philosophy, religion, etc.

Jason
Last edited by Jason on Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby dhammatrophic » Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:52 am

Since becoming a Buddhist,
Sometimes my head spins
and
Sometimes my stomach gets in a knot.

But then again,
these things happen less often
since I became a Buddhist.
-trophic
1. turning, changing, or reacting in a particular way
2. attracted to, having an affinity for, or moving toward a particular thing
3. acting on something specified, or in a particular way
4. relating to a specified kind of nutrition.
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Jechbi » Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:36 am

Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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