Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby clw_uk » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:18 pm

Just wanted to see what peoples take is on the Buddhas Dhamma. Do you consider it a religion, philosophy or something else?
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:25 pm

I think it's a religion.

:buddha2:
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:27 pm

well if you look at Ancient Greek Philosophy it is very very similar, and philosophers have been Killed for creating new gods, it is also very similar to religion in a lot of ways.
I think it is a way of life which can be seen or viewed as anything people think it is
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby piper » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:31 pm

Philosophy operates within the realm of discernment or wisdom, and religion involves transcendence. The NEFP contains both aspects.
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:35 pm

Hi Piper
piper wrote:Philosophy operates within the realm of discernment or wisdom, and religion involves transcendence. The NEFP contains both aspects.


What is NEFP?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:37 pm

Greetings,

I think both words "religion" and "philosophy" carry with them a lot of baggage that is inappropriate to Buddhism.

The Dhamma is a path of self-liberation.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby clw_uk » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:53 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I think both words "religion" and "philosophy" carry with them a lot of baggage that is inappropriate to Buddhism.

The Dhamma is a path of self-liberation.

Metta,
Retro. :)



I agree, to me the words religion and philosophy fall short of describing what the Dhamma is.
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Fede » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:55 pm

Manapa wrote:Hi Piper
piper wrote:Philosophy operates within the realm of discernment or wisdom, and religion involves transcendence. The NEFP contains both aspects.


What is NEFP?


Noble
Eight
Fold
Path. :smile:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby piper » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:56 pm

Manapa wrote:Hi Piper
piper wrote:Philosophy operates within the realm of discernment or wisdom, and religion involves transcendence. The NEFP contains both aspects.


What is NEFP?

Oops... I meant the Noble Eightfold Path. :embarassed:
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Element » Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:01 pm

For me, whilst having elements of both, Buddhism is 'dharma' and 'dharma' is sustenance & skilful means.
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Aloka » Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:31 pm

I agree with Retro and also with Element's comment on Dharma.

However, if someone says to me "What is your religion?" - then I'll answer "Buddhism" !
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:03 am

Thanks Fede & Piper
not seen that Abrev before
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby pererin » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:53 am

The wisdom which liberates?

"I am an All-transcender, an All-knower,
Unsullied by all things, renouncing all,
By craving's ceasing freed. And this I owe
To my own wisdom ..."

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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby pink_trike » Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:49 am

Perhaps similar to what Element and Retro said...I think it is simply a "way of life" - neither science, or philosophy, or psychology, or religion...although containing elements of all of these...and more importantly, likely not specifically conceived as any of these.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:06 am

According to my teacher, an 'art of living'.
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby zavk » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:29 am

I believe a willingness to investigate this thorny issue of religion vs. philosophy is vital to the future of Buddhism. This religion/philosophy dichotomy which we take for granted is a relatively recent invention of the West. The separation between the two really only developed in about the 16th or 17th century. It is this separation between religion and philosophy that allowed for reason and rational (scientific) thought to reign supreme. The religion/philosophy dichotomy also ushered in secularism. And it is through the filters of this religion/philosophy dichotomy that the West discovered a 'universalist', 'rationlistic', and 'pragamtic' Buddhism in the around 19th century. Needless to say, such an understanding of Buddhism persists today.

So, it seems to me that we contemporary Buddhists are in an interesting position to see how our understanding of Buddhism is made possible by a certain development (i.e. the separation of religion/philosophy) that didn't exist in both the Buddha's culture and other Asian cultures where the dhamma took root. This doesn't mean that it is 'wrong' to read the dhamma through a rationalistic or 'scientific' viewpoint. Rational inquiry is important and it has certainly helped us understand the dhamma in new ways. But given how such a viewpoint is not absolute but conditioned (conditioned but not without merit), then, I think it behooves us to reflect carefully one how we approach the dhamma so that we do not pigeonhole it in some category or the other, and hence, foreclose its possibilities.

To give an example: I'm sure we’ve all encountered debates where people try to argue for the absolute certainty of certain doctrines. These people might hold the conviction that doctrines like dependent origination, karma, rebirth, etc, are true/false propositions and that there is no other way to accept such doctrines except on the basis of 'yes' or 'no'. But such an approach to Buddhism has its limits, shaped as it is by post-Enlightenment Western philosophical concerns with the centrality of rationality on all matters, and failing as it does to account for the richer, more complex and 'aesthetic' ways in which humans experience and express life. I don't know about others but I'm unable to express the profound effects that Buddhism has had on me solely in rational terms. There is for me a whole affective or emotional dimension that is beyond rational explanation but equally powerful and valid. I think we could do worse than prevent this dimension of Buddhism to express itself. And one way of doing this is, I think, is too let go of this religion/philosophy dichotomy.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby zavk » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:33 am

I apologise for the mental diarrhea—bad habit. But like Ben I too prefer to think of the dhamma as ‘an art of life’. I’m not suggesting this simply because I’m a student of Goenka. But because I do think that the notion of ‘an art of life’ allows for a more inclusive approach to the dhamma. Some people might take issue with the idea of ‘art’ but I am not using the word in the narrow sense to refer to lofty ideals or aesthetic evaluations. I invoke the word ‘art’ in a broader sense: as a certain ongoing process of thinking and doing that requires creativity and fluidity. So in this sense, religion and philosophy (and even science) are forms of ‘art’. I take ‘art of life’ to refer to a certain attitude not unlike a craftsperson’s attitude towards raw materials. In this manner, I think it is very apt that some of you evoke the Noble Eightfold Path to describe the dhamma. For as I’m sure we’ll all agree, the path is not a linear or rigid one, but one that requires us to live creatively and dynamically—this is a path that brings the religious, the philosophical, the aesthetic, the scientific, and the ethical into mutually supportive (rather than dominative) inter-relationships.

Best wises,
Zavk
With metta,
zavk
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:15 am

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. I take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. I can't prove that the Buddha was perfectly enlightened and so on. I can see improvements in my life due to practice, but of course so do practitioners of other faiths...

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.

Bhikkhu Bodhi, Tolerance and Diversity
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_24.html
To the extent that a religion proposes sound ethical principles and can promote to some degree the development of wholesome qualities such as love, generosity, detachment and compassion, it will merit in this respect the approbation of Buddhists. These principles advocated by outside religious systems will also conduce to rebirth in the realms of bliss — the heavens and the divine abodes. Buddhism by no means claims to have unique access to these realms, but holds that the paths that lead to them have been articulated, with varying degrees of clarity, in many of the great spiritual traditions of humanity. While the Buddhist will disagree with the belief structures of other religions to the extent that they deviate from the Buddha's Dhamma, he will respect them to the extent that they enjoin virtues and standards of conduct that promote spiritual development and the harmonious integration of human beings with each other and with the world.


Metta
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby pink_trike » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:31 am

zavk wrote: This religion/philosophy dichotomy which we take for granted is a relatively recent invention of the West.
The separation between the two really only developed in about the 16th or 17th century.


Greek philosophy was separate from "religion" significantly earlier than this.

It seems to me that it is the _concept_ of "religion" ( not the mind-experience of "religiosity" ) that arose in the West relatively recently (but I think much earlier than the 16th/17th century).
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Buddhism - Religion or Philosophy

Postby pererin » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:36 am

pink_trike wrote:It seems to me that it is the _concept_ of "religion" ( not the mind-experience of "religiosity" ) that arose in the West relatively recently (but I think much earlier than the 16th/17th century).


Yes - not everyone means the same thing by 'religion'.
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