IanAnd wrote:If not, then to refer to it as "original Buddhism" would be a misnomer, if not misleading to those of us who are purists. Better might be "the original Dhamma" as opposed to labeling the Dhamma as "Buddhism."
Point taken. "Original Buddhism" is merely a modern designation referring to the dhammavinaya taught and practiced by the Buddha
and his followers during his lifetime.
Yes, I know that's what you meant. That is why I put in the disclaimer: "BTW, this comment isn't mentioned in order to be knit picky here about the usage of this term, within the context that Ñāṇa meant it
I wasn't endeavoring to make a point with you
(because I know you understand it), but rather with other readers of the thread, in order to inspire further thought and discernment. Of course, that further thought and discernment would depend upon how well read and how well understood (in regard to the discourses) said readers are.
The point being that, from my reading and understanding of the discourses, Gotama never meant to found a "religion" in the popular sense that that term is interpreted by people of less than discerning ability. That point seems to be made clear in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta
of the Digha Nikaya when Gotama disdains anyone taking over leadership of the Sangha after his departure. "Therefore, Ananda, you should live as islands unto yourselves, being your own refuge, with no one else as your refuge, with the Dhamma
as an island, with the Dhamma
as your refuge, with no other refuge." It seems quite clear that he did not
want what he started to be turned into a ritual of personality worship. I take Gotama at his exact
word in this passage. Of course, that is just my personal opinion and view based on the integrity of the man that is portrayed in the discourses.
IanAnd wrote:Religions are political tools, devised by fallible men in order to control the hearts and minds of other men (and women).
Depends on how you want to define "religion." It's a rather slippery term.
Well, there is religion (as the ordinary untaught worldling might understand and interpret it) and then there is religion
(as the more discerning sincere seeker of a process that is meant, as the Latin term religare
intends to mean, to "bind back together," might understand and interpret it). To "bind back together" in the sense of binding disparate parts of a whole back together into one united whole, which is what a true religion
(such as the Dhamma, or original Christianity, if you can find and discern it) attempts to undertake.
The ordinary untaught worldling, I'm thinking, might hold the popular view, based on cultural conditioning, that like the Old French definition of "religion" (based as it was on the word "religio
") meant "reverence for the gods, holiness." My dictionary defines it (in the first and second entries) as: "1
in a divine
or superhuman power or powers
to be obeyed and worshiped
as the creator(s) and ruler(s)
of the universe b) expression of such a belief in conduct and ritual. 2
a) any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy (the Christian religion, the Buddhist religion etc.) b) any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values , etc. resembling, suggestive of, or likened to such a system (humanism as a religion)."
It is a small step, indeed, from belief in the divinity of some "superhuman power or powers" to this same kind of respect and reverence for some undeserving, fallible human being (say in the form of a king or queen or some other type of worldly governor of a nation) who makes claims to be one's ruler, president, or prime minister. As Yeshua is said to have said (and which Gotama might also agree) "The Kingdom of heaven (nibbana) lies within you." Which has the meaning or implication of taking responsibility for self-governance over one's emotions and actions.
All through history, one can see how the former definition of "religion" has been used by despotic personalities to wreak tyranny on mankind, all in the pursuit of power and greed, using delusion (in the form of corrupting forms of "religion") as their tool.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV