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After all, what would make it be a religion? - Dhamma Wheel

After all, what would make it be a religion?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Sekha
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After all, what would make it be a religion?

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:55 am

Last edited by Sekha on Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:12 am

Avoiding words like "Buddhism," "Buddhist," "Converting," or "Religion," are mere sophistry to avoid turning off Hindus or others who are attached to their religion, to atheism, or to views of any kind.

If you have firm confidence that the Dhamma was well-taught by the Blessed One, who was Fully Enlightened by his own efforts, and well understood by those Noble Ones who practised his teaching properly, then you are a disciple of the Buddha, or a Buddhist.

Taking refuge in the Dhamma only, without acknowledging the origin of that teaching, or the possibility of others penetrating and realising that teaching, just makes for half-hearted commitment to the teachings and practice.

That doesn't mean that no one can set foot on the path without having the confidence to call themselves a Buddhist or even a "closet Buddhist." However, if their well-placed confidence is followed up by sincere and ardent practice and/or study, they will not be ashamed to call themselves a Buddhist, or a follow of the Buddha.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Kim OHara
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:14 am

Hi, Sekha,
Most Westerners, I think, would contrast "religion" with "philosophy", "rationalism" or "science". When we do that, Buddhism as practised in traditionally Buddhist countries (and mostly as practised in the West) doesn't fit neatly in any single category.
Religion is typically devotional, science isn't: devotional practices are common in Buddhism but are not encouraged in the suttas.
Science is always open to debate and improvement, religion isn't: many Buddhists would say that the suttas are the first and last authority.
Science is systematic and analytical, religion is mystical and non-rational: Buddhism has elements of both.
... and so on.

However, I have to say that Goenkaji's arguments for the non-religiosity of Buddhism are fairly weak. Saying that the word "Buddhism" (or any related word) was not part of the dharma is no proof that the teachings didn't add up to "Buddhism" in the religious sense. As we say around here, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. :thinking:
[Edit: this is just another away of saying what Bhikku Pesala has just said, "Avoiding words like "Buddhism," "Buddhist," "Converting," or "Religion," are mere sophistry..." ]

:namaste:
Kim

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Sekha
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:21 am

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:31 am

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:04 pm

I think many sceptics misinterpret what is said in the . Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote a much more thorough article on it.

On converting followers of other religions, see the .
Last edited by Bhikkhu Pesala on Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Ben
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:05 pm

Sayagi U Ba Khin had no problem saying that he taught Buddhism, nor did Saya Thetgyi, nor Ledi Sayadaw. Ostensibly SN Goenka teaches within the same tradition. The Burmese consider what he teaches as garden-variety Theravada and when one applies to the Govt of Myanmar for a religious visa, one is instructed to indicate that one's purpose is to practice Theravada meditation.

My take on it, after being a student to SN Goenka for 27+ years, is that what he is advocating is skilful means designed for those who may be leary of organized religion or so deeply attached to their own religious or atheistic views that it becomes a barrier for them to pick up the practice.
Unfortunately, many of SN Goenka's students, most notably newly-minted "old students", take on board his "secular" message uncritically and do not understand that "not Buddhist" is as much a label, as much an artefact of conceit, as the label "Buddhist".
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:15 pm

I remember meeting Ajahn Sumedho when Ajahn Chah first came to the UK, which was before I ordained. I asked Ajahn Sumedho whether he thought Buddhism was a religion, expecting him to say that it was not because there is no God, etc. He replied that he thought it was, which deflated me completely. Looking for a debate, and finding that there's nothing there to dispute with. It all depends what you think a religion is, and you can label the Buddha's teaching in whatever way you want — its still the same universal truth about the ways things are — impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self.

If you're devout, you may call it a religion.
If you're intellectual, you may call it a philosophy.
If you're a pragmatist, you may call it a way of life.

Whatever you call it, it is the teaching of the Buddha, so I call it Buddhism, but with the caveat that there may be many teachings going by the name of "Buddhism," which are, in fact, derived from Hinduism or other sources, and are not the true teaching of the Buddha. Our job is to sort out the wood from the trees, not to argue about what name to give it.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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daverupa
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby daverupa » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:36 pm


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Mr Man
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Mr Man » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:00 pm

For me the religion aspect is the form. and this is what has allowed the teaching to travel from the time of the Buddha to our present day.

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Sekha
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:39 pm

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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ground
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby ground » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:06 pm

What purpose does it serve to replace the term "buddhism" by the term "dhamma"? Actually there is a lot of religion in many suttas. On the other hand there are suttas which are not religious at all. So everyone may focus on what entails freedom from stress or at least reduction of stress. :sage:

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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Coyote » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:11 pm

I personally don't think Buddhists should care what others think, as long as it is not actually misrepresenting the Dhamma. Whatever name you choose you are going to get lumped in with others who don't necessarily believe or practice the way you do. When talking to others, "Buddhism" does just fine as everyone knows what you are talking about, whether they have the right idea or not.
The "religion" aspect makes it clear than the Dhamma goes beyond philosophy and psychology, though it has those aspects, and into the "spirit"ual.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

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Sekha
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:17 pm

Last edited by Sekha on Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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Sekha
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:26 pm

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:31 pm

There are many different versions of what is a religion, but the one I like is:

a belief in any one or more of the following:

1. A belief in a supreme being God or in gods, worthy of worship or veneration
2. Belief that there are sacred things, objects, places, or writings set apart from other mundane things and writings
3. Belief in some kind of post-mortem continuation, heaven, hell, reincarnation, or rebirth

Buddhism, oops I mean The Dhamma meets all of the above. There is no creator-God, but there are devas (1), there is the Pali Canon, pilgrimage (2), and there is rebirth (3).
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:33 pm

Follower of the Dhamma, Buddhist, etc. "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"

Call it whatever you like, but it is Buddhism. But I understand what Goenka-ji is doing, skillful means and all. Some want to avoid the "R" label at any cost.
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m0rl0ck
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:07 pm

Last edited by m0rl0ck on Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Coyote » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:16 pm

"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

Coyote
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Postby Coyote » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:20 pm

"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26


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