Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

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Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:14 pm

I have heard, possibly incorrectly, that the Buddha asked that the teachings he gave not be made into a religion or philosophy. This is something separate from the Kalama Sutta, but I have been unable to find the exact source. Is it true that Gotama Buddha said something along the lines of not taking dhamma and turning it into a religion? And if so, is there a scripture or commentary on this subject?

Are there any suttas from the Tipitaka that specifically advise against superstitious beliefs/practices and blind faith? Are there suttas that do not promote the dhamma as religion?

Thank you.
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Sobeh » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:44 pm

Majjhima Patipada wrote:Are there suttas that do not promote the dhamma as religion?


Are there any that do?
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:56 pm

Sobeh wrote:
Majjhima Patipada wrote:Are there suttas that do not promote the dhamma as religion?


Are there any that do?


To my knowledge, no, though I have not even come close to reading all of the suttas. I am wondering if the Buddha explicitly said anything on the matter of religion in the suttas. Are there suttas in which he spoke of religion? If so, did he speak in positive or negative terms? If he ever mentioned religion, did he advocate it for some people and not for others, speaking to their different levels of understanding or progress on the path? Are there suttas in which Gotama explicitly advised against turning the dhamma into a religion of some form or another?
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:26 pm

Hi Majjhima Patipada,
Majjhima Patipada wrote:To my knowledge, no, though I have not even come close to reading all of the suttas. I am wondering if the Buddha explicitly said anything on the matter of religion in the suttas. Are there suttas in which he spoke of religion? If so, did he speak in positive or negative terms? If he ever mentioned religion, did he advocate it for some people and not for others, speaking to their different levels of understanding or progress on the path? Are there suttas in which Gotama explicitly advised against turning the dhamma into a religion of some form or another?

As Sobeh implies, you're unlikely to find anything explicit in the Tipitika about "religion" in some modern Western sense. There are expositions of the Vinaya, the Dhamma, misinterpretations of the Dhamma, and so on.

One could draw the conclusion from the refusal of the Buddha to appoint a successor in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html that the Buddha did not think that some sort of monolithic organisation was appropriate:
32. Thus spoke the Venerable Ananda, but the Blessed One answered him, saying: "What more does the community of bhikkhus expect from me, Ananda? I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back. Whosoever may think that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him, it is such a one that would have to give last instructions respecting them. But, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such idea as that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him. So what instructions should he have to give respecting the community of bhikkhus?

"Now I am frail, Ananda, old, aged, far gone in years. This is my eightieth year, and my life is spent. Even as an old cart, Ananda, is held together with much difficulty, so the body of the Tathagata is kept going only with supports. It is, Ananda, only when the Tathagata, disregarding external objects, with the cessation of certain feelings, attains to and abides in the signless concentration of mind, [19] that his body is more comfortable.

33. "Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

However, if you want to pursue this question further, you perhaps need to define what exactly you mean by "religion".

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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:35 pm

well he taught a set of truths, and wrapped them up in certain practices and guidelines for conducting one self. i guess that is a religion. and he encourage his followers to act and practice in such a way to keep this "thing" he started (sasana) going so it would seem that he was implying something
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

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: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:02 pm

Thank you for your response and the sutta link. It is very helpful, and much appreciated.

By religion, I mean any possible interpretation of the term. If specifics are helpful, we can limit religion to any reference to superstitions, rituals, exclusive divinity (meaning only a limited few or a single being is considered divine or holy), worship, and blind faith. I would also include the realms of samsara as having somewhat religious connotations. Did the Buddha advise against interpreting them in a religious sense? The deva-loka obviously differs from traditional Judeo-Christian theism that endorses belief in a Creator God, since the devas are mortal and subject to suffering, capable of being reborn into any realm depending on kamma. And the hell realm is not the eternal Hell of the West, all realms being only impermanent states of existence. But if they cannot be directly observed or empirically verified, is belief in them considered blind faith or superstition? What did the Buddha have to say on this matter, on what we cannot test by our own experience? I am also curious as to what the Buddha considered religious, and how Hinduism and Brahmanic thought at the time may have influenced this. How did the early Theravada community view religion, and what did they consider religious? What is the perspective of Classical Theravada?

If there is no known direct or explicit statement attributed to the Buddha concerning dhamma and its relation (if any) to religion, are there any records of statements in which he merely suggested that dhamma should not be made into religion?
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:14 am

Hi MP,

With reference to one of your questions: Saddha (translated as faith, confidence, conviction) is one of the "spiritual powers" http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... addh%C4%81 but requires balance with wisdom http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... ya-samatta

Here is one Sutta where the Buddha discussed faith versus certainty:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
SN 48.44 Pubbakotthaka Sutta: Eastern Gatehouse
"Excellent, Sariputta. Excellent. Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realized, or attained it by means of discernment would have to take it on conviction in others that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation; whereas those who have known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment would have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation."


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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jul 17, 2010 1:04 am

Majjhima Patipada wrote:...
By religion, I mean any possible interpretation of the term. If specifics are helpful, we can limit religion to any reference to superstitions, rituals, exclusive divinity (meaning only a limited few or a single being is considered divine or holy), worship, and blind faith. ...
If there is no known direct or explicit statement attributed to the Buddha concerning dhamma and its relation (if any) to religion, are there any records of statements in which he merely suggested that dhamma should not be made into religion?

Hello, MP.
I find it useful to separate 'religion' into beliefs (which you describe) and structures (which you don't).
Regarding the latter, I see the Buddha as reluctant to set up institutions and authority-hierarchies comparable to those found in Western religions; his refusal to appoint a successor is one indication, and the piecemeal ad-hoc accumulation of Vinaya rules is another. It seems to me that succeeding generations were responsible for almost all of the organisational structures which give institutionalised Buddhism, with its monasteries and rituals, its abbots and acolytes, such a strong resemblance to medieval Christianity.
But I don't know of any suttas which are explicit about any of that. :juggling:

:namaste:
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jul 17, 2010 1:52 am

at the risk of responding to this discussion in a way that might not be in-line with the classical forum i have some thoughts

we are asking a question that wouldn't be answered by the Buddha or maybe cant even be answered completely by looking at the suttas

the reason for this is cultural, the Buddha didn't live in a time or place that defined religions and religious followers in the same way we do now and in the west. i have never seen the type of I AM (fill in the blank) type of thinking in the suttas or in Asian culture (unless you're talking to a person who has adopted a western religion). i have seen Asian people frequent the shrines temples etc of many different faiths, a Buddhist will go to a taoist shrine, a Shinto shrine, Hindu shrine, Confucian shrine, animist shrine etc, and see no conflict. one can see many (ethnic Chinese) Mahayana Buddhists visiting Theravada temples, treating the monks with the same care and respect that native Theravada Buddhists would. in Thailand one is not asked "what one's religion is or what one is" but rather "what religion does one respect" this seems to be the main reason also why the number of Buddhists seems so low when you read about the number of religious adherents in the world. if you look many of these studies are done by christian and western organizations, one which will not count one as a Buddhist if one is also communist, or taoist or Shinto etc. they insist one must be of one faith. this is a modern western idea.
we also see this at times in the suttas. lay followers listen to different teachers, and give support to those they like. this us vs them idea doesn't seem to play out like it does in the west where the different religions or philosophies exclude themselves from each other and fight and kill one another. also we have this reaction in the west to swing to the opposite extreme at times and you get new age ideas that "all religions are one" or a thinking that the Buddha taught this or some "non dual" idea that explains things this way. which isn't what the Buddha taught at all.

so the answer to the OP question is no the Buddha didn't teach a religion in the sense many westerners are looking for, but the answer isn't found in the suttas because it is not a question that would have come up in ancient India, it's a question that belongs to us in the west, we who have had our religions and philosophies fail us.

I'm about to walk out the door so this might have come out jumbled, sorry. also someone with Jedi skills in finding sutta quotes may be able to find these suttas but in one the Buddha says that he only teaches suffering and the end of suffering and in the other a group of ascetics are giving a lay supporter of the Buddha a hard time and asking him about the views the Buddha teaches, the layman responds that the Buddha doesn't teach any view simple what is skillful and what is unskillful, and when he reported this to the Buddha the Buddha agreed.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

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: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:16 am

jcsuperstar wrote: also someone with Jedi skills in finding sutta quotes may be able to find these suttas but in one the Buddha says that he only teaches suffering and the end of suffering and in the other a group of ascetics are giving a lay supporter of the Buddha a hard time and asking him about the views the Buddha teaches, the layman responds that the Buddha doesn't teach any view simple what is skillful and what is unskillful, and when he reported this to the Buddha the Buddha agreed.

The first is in Retro's favourite: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The second is a monk, I think, who is taunted by other ascetics. I'll see if I can find it...

Meanwhile, here are some more Sutta quotes that might be relevant.

In DN11 the Buddha says that monks should not live off "lowly arts":

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#gods
"Whereas some priests and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such lowly arts as forecasting:

there will be a lunar eclipse;
there will be a solar eclipse;
there will be an occultation of an asterism;
the sun and moon will go their normal courses;
the sun and moon will go astray;
the asterisms will go their normal courses;
the asterisms will go astray;
there will be a meteor shower;
there will be a darkening of the sky;
there will be an earthquake;
there will be thunder coming from a clear sky;
there will be a rising, a setting, a darkening, a brightening of the sun, moon, and asterisms;
such will be the result of the lunar eclipse... the rising, setting, darkening, brightening of the sun, moon, and asterisms —

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from lowly arts such as these.

"Whereas some priests and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such lowly arts as forecasting:

there will be abundant rain; there will be a drought;
there will be plenty; there will be famine;
there will be rest and security; there will be danger;
there will be disease; there will be freedom from disease;
or they earn their living by counting, accounting, calculation, composing poetry, or teaching hedonistic arts and doctrines —

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from lowly arts such as these.

"Whereas some priests and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such lowly arts as:

calculating auspicious dates for marriages, betrothals, divorces; for collecting debts or making investments and loans; for being attractive or unattractive; curing women who have undergone miscarriages or abortions;
reciting spells to bind a man's tongue, to paralyze his jaws, to make him lose control over his hands, or to bring on deafness;
getting oracular answers to questions addressed to a mirror, to a young girl, or to a spirit medium;
worshipping the sun, worshipping the Great Brahma, bringing forth flames from the mouth, invoking the goddess of luck —

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from lowly arts such as these.

"Whereas some priests and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such lowly arts as:

promising gifts to devas in return for favors; fulfilling such promises;
demonology;
teaching house-protection spells;
inducing virility and impotence;
consecrating sites for construction;
giving ceremonial mouthwashes and ceremonial bathing;
offering sacrificial fires;
preparing emetics, purgatives, expectorants, diuretics, headache cures;
preparing ear-oil, eye-drops, oil for treatment through the nose, collyrium, and counter-medicines; curing cataracts, practicing surgery, practicing as a children's doctor, administering medicines and treatments to cure their after-effects —

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from lowly arts such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.

In many Suttas recollection of Devas is mentioned as a positive activity:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... call-devas
"There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones recollects the devas, thus: 'There are the Devas of the Four Great Kings, the Devas of the Thirty-three, the Yama Devas, the Contented Devas, the devas who delight in creation, the devas who have power over the creations of others, the devas of Brahma's retinue, the devas beyond them. Whatever conviction they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of conviction is present in me as well. Whatever virtue they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of virtue is present in me as well. Whatever learning they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of learning is present in me as well. Whatever generosity they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of generosity is present in me as well. Whatever discernment they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of discernment is present in me as well.' As he is recollecting the devas, his mind is calmed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned, just as when gold is cleansed through the proper technique. And how is gold cleansed through the proper technique? Through the use of a furnace, salt earth, red chalk, a blow-pipe, tongs, & the appropriate human effort. This is how gold is cleansed through the proper technique. In the same way, the defiled mind is cleansed through the proper technique. And how is the defiled mind cleansed through the proper technique? There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones recollects the devas... As he is recollecting the devas, his mind is cleansed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned. He is thus called a disciple of the noble ones undertaking the Deva-Uposatha. He lives with the devas. It is owing to the devas that his mind is calmed, that joy arises, and that whatever defilements there are in his mind are abandoned. This is how the mind is cleansed through the proper technique.

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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby alan » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:39 am

Simsasa...shouldn't that be eveyones favorite?
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby vinodh » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:38 pm

In Indian Context, the word Dharma itself takes the meaning of religion [depending upon the context]

:anjali:

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http://www.virtualvinodh.com

Buddhists Texts in Brahmi Script : http://www.virtualvinodh.com/brahmi-lipitva

yo dharmaṁ paśyati, sa buddhaṁ paśyati
One who sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha

na pudgalo na ca skandhā buddho jñānamanāsravam
sadāśāntiṁ vibhāvitvā gacchāmi śaraṇaṁ hyaham

Neither a person nor the aggregates, the Buddha, is knowledge free from [evil] outflows
Clearly perceiving [him] to be eternally serene, I go for refuge [in him]
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Jan 10, 2011 6:12 pm

33. "Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.


I find this passage quoting Buddha in response to the prompting of Ananda to be interesting as well as instructive. I have actually read this before, but probably after a mind-numbing read of several different long discourses. Explains why it didn't sink in.

On the other hand, Buddha was addressing Ananda and also Bhikkhus in general and not laypersons. So, taking refuge may be advisable for ones who are less familiar with The Dhamma and in need of support from The Sangha, and of course in need of inspiration from The Buddha.

It is a shame that the OP discarded The Kalama Sutta offhand in his first post, because I believe this instruction to be critical to responsible study, meditation practice, and mindfulness. Personal verification and validation has been critical to my personal practice over the last twelve years or so.
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Reason: Innapropriate comment removed.
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But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Will » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:00 pm

First determine Buddha's meaning of Dhamma and see how little or much Buddha's meaning resembles our modern notion of religion.

A bit from the Pali dictionary:
lit. the 'bearer', constitution (or nature of a thing), norm, law (jus), doctrine; justice, righteousness; quality; thing, object of mind (s. āyatana) 'phenomenon'. In all these meanings the word 'dhamma' is to be met with in the texts.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:01 pm

Ron-the-Elder wrote:So, taking refuge may be advisable for ones who are less familiar with The Dhamma and in need of support from The Sangha, and of course in need of inspiration from The Buddha.


Not so.

Even those who have reached complete liberation still honour, revere and venerate the Buddha.

When a bhikkhu’s mind is thus liberated, he possesses
three unsurpassable qualities: unsurpassable vision, unsurpassable
practice of the way, and unsurpassable deliverance. When a
bhikkhu is thus liberated, he still honours, reveres, and venerates the
Tathagata thus: “The Blessed One is enlightened and he teaches the
Dhamma for the sake of enlightenment. The Blessed One is tamed
and he teaches the Dhamma for taming oneself. The Blessed One is
at peace and he teaches the Dhamma for the sake of peace. The
Blessed One has crossed over and he teaches the Dhamma for
crossing over. The Blessed one has attained Nibbana and he teaches
the Dhamma for attaining Nibbana.”

~ M 35.26 (Bhikkhu Ñanamoli & Bhikkhu Bodhi trans.)


:anjali:
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: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:36 pm

"The Blessed one has attained Nibbana and he teaches
the Dhamma for attaining Nibbana.”"

Thank you for the reminder, Bodom. "He who teaches learns twice!" :namaste:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:45 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Sutta: Buddha asks that dhamma not be made into religion?

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:40 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:It is a shame that the OP discarded The Kalama Sutta offhand in his first post, because I believe this instruction to be critical to responsible study, meditation practice, and mindfulness. Personal verification and validation has been critical to my personal practice over the last twelve years or so.


In an attempt to clarify, I did not mean to discard the Kalama Sutta. Knowing its occasionally controversial use by some to claim Buddhism is not a religion, I was hoping to avoid fruitless debate concerning its meaning, variously interpreted. Rather, I was hoping to find other scriptural references, besides the obvious and controversial Kalama Sutta, which suggest a non-religious attitude toward the Buddha Dhamma. I agree with the above statement, that the Buddha's instruction to the Kalamas is critical to responsible study, meditation practice, and mindfulness, and that personal verification and validation are key. "Discarding" the Kalama Sutta was merely an attempt to broaden the search for teachings that support its overall message.
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