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

Post by DNS » 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?

Post by DNS » 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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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Post by m0rl0ck » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:07 pm

Sekha wrote:I fully agree with the views of Goenkaji, it's just as if he would express my own thoughts:
Great misconception has arisen in the name of Buddha and his teaching. (...) He was not the founder of any religion. He never founded any religion. When one goes through the words, original words of Buddha, (...) we find he never taught buddhism. He did not convert a single person as buddhist. More than 50 000 pages of his original words, commentaries, subcommentaries, which are now on a CD-ROM, and a search program is there, the word ‘boddh’ is missing.

No buddhism. No buddhist. He taught Dhamma, that is Dharma. He called his followers dhammiko, dharmic. If it was boddha dhamma, then it would have been limited to a particular community, a particular sect. But Dhamma is for all, not limited to a particular community, a particular sect, and he taught Dhamma. Hundreds of years after Buddha, the word Bauddh was never used (...) after that, we don’t know, after how many centuries these words buddhism and buddhist came into use.

To me, these words degraded Buddha’s teaching, devalued Buddha’s teaching. The teaching is universal, for one and all. And when it has come up in its true meaning, true practice, people are willingly accepting it. There is no religion today in there world, no religion whose followers are not attending vipassana courses.
--- Transcripted from the discourse Buddha: the super-scientist at IIT Powai, Mumbai
The video is available here: http://www.vridhamma.org/StreamingPlayV ... -Scientist" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

What would be your reasons to acknowledge/reject those assertions?
:goodpost:

Also i completely agree that to relegate the dharma to religion disrespects and degrades it. Religions are make beleive and myth and the dhamma is about reality. Imo if people need to feel holy they should go somewhere else.
Last edited by m0rl0ck on Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Post by Coyote » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:16 pm

Sekha wrote:
Coyote wrote:everyone knows what you are talking about, whether they have the right idea or not.
well you are contradicting yourself in the same sentence, friend
Coyote wrote: The "religion" aspect makes it clear than the Dhamma goes beyond philosophy and psychology, though it has those aspects, and into the "spirit"ual.
yes but it also has a sectarian connotation that is not helpful. "Spiritual art of living" seems to me more appropriate
Everyone knows what Buddhism is, even if their idea about it is not correct. It is a universally understood term for those following the teachings of the Buddha. What they understand by that might not be clear or even correct, though.
As to the second point, maybe it is just as unhelpful and divisive to try remove the Dhamma from any religious connotation, do you not see this as being sectarian? What about those (such as myself) who do find the term helpful? Many religious people, theists included, think of their own religion as being non-sectarian and a universal teaching, even the sectarians. Perhaps it is best to challenge divisive views about Buddhism and religion in general by living in a manner that suggests Buddhism has the ability to transcend it rather than just changing the name you call it by.
"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."
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Post by Coyote » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:20 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
:goodpost:

Also i completely agree that relegate the dharma to religion disrespects and degrades it. Religions are make beleive and myth and the dhamma is about reality. Imo if people need to feel holy they should go somewhere else.
You know Christians say the exact same thing. Ok, maybe not the part about feeling holy.
"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."
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Post by beeblebrox » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:33 pm

Coyote wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote: Also i completely agree that relegate the dharma to religion disrespects and degrades it. Religions are make beleive and myth and the dhamma is about reality. Imo if people need to feel holy they should go somewhere else.
You know Christians say the exact same thing. Ok, maybe not the part about feeling holy.
Yes, it seems to be a classical argument... of religion even. I think it's a quite unfortunate view to have.

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

Post by m0rl0ck » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:46 pm

Coyote wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:
:goodpost:

Also i completely agree that relegate the dharma to religion disrespects and degrades it. Religions are make beleive and myth and the dhamma is about reality. Imo if people need to feel holy they should go somewhere else.
You know Christians say the exact same thing. Ok, maybe not the part about feeling holy.
I speak from experience. As a student of buddhism for the past two decades, i have never been asked to beleive in anything with the kind of blind faith i was asked to display as a christian. Either your response is naive in the extreme, or you were trying to get a reaction. If you personally beleive that buddhism can be equated with faith based theist religions, you need more experience and familiarity with both.
“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?

Post by ground » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:16 pm

Sekha wrote:
ground wrote: Actually there is a lot of religion in many suttas.
What do you mean exactly by that?
Investigating into the meaning of religion, the commmon denominator of all religions resulted in categorising as religion all words - either spoken or written - that cause affirmation of ideas of a future "state of being" or similar that is imagined to be better, more attractive, worthwhile to strive for but is not supported by any kind of experience accessible. I.e. it is just sort of worshipping of ideas as if these were more that just mere ideas. It is however acknowledged that religions can have wanted effects through cultivation of ideas and belief. These effect however are quite trivial and simply an effect of focused cultivation which may entail confidence and contentment, even happiness, not least by means of exclusion of ideas that tend to cause stress. :sage:

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

Post by Coyote » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:26 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
Coyote wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:
:goodpost:

Also i completely agree that relegate the dharma to religion disrespects and degrades it. Religions are make beleive and myth and the dhamma is about reality. Imo if people need to feel holy they should go somewhere else.
You know Christians say the exact same thing. Ok, maybe not the part about feeling holy.
I speak from experience. As a student of buddhism for the past two decades, i have never been asked to beleive in anything with the kind of blind faith i was asked to display as a christian. Either your response is naive in the extreme, or you were trying to get a reaction. If you personally beleive that buddhism can be equated with faith based religions, you need more experience and familiarity with both.
All I am going to say is that based on my experience, I agree with beeblebrox. Obviously your experiences are different, but this kind of view dogged my almost the entirety of my thinking life (not nearly as long as yours, from what you have said) and it has been such a relief to give it up, either due to my own growth as person or through coming to the Dhamma, or both.

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

Post by Sekha » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:09 am

David N. Snyder wrote: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).
so, you are saying that the Dhamma may be religion for whoever is not a sotapanna yet, not so after that. In your definition, first thing I would replace the word "belief" by "dogma" and still consider the teaching of the Buddha as something quite different from all rest, since it is entirely non-dogmatic (the Dhamma is sanditthiko visible here and now, akaliko - immediately testable, paccattam veditabbo viññuhi - VERIFIABLE by the wise for themselves). To me, considering his teaching a just another religion is greatly depreciating it, as Goenka says. And to me, this is the very reason why there were no Buddha statues in ancient times.

I would rather define a religion as "a social organisation based on a set of unverified dogmas that regards itself as the supreme moral and spiritual authority".

David N. Snyder wrote: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.
Well, there IS a difference between considering it as a religion and considering it simply as the pragmatic way to end suffering. one example is that in the former case, people get attached to rites and rituals, not in the latter. I will post an illustrating story about the "religious feeling" that happened to me later.

m0rl0ck wrote: Religions are make beleive and myth and the dhamma is about reality.
I would rather refer to the concept of dogma vs verifiability, again.
m0rl0ck wrote: Imo if people need to feel holy they should go somewhere else.
I wouldn't go to that far though. If you read the definition of the sangha, it does somehow state that its members are kind of holy, as they are worthy of gifts and respectful salutations.
Last edited by Sekha on Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Post by danieLion » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:21 am

m0rl0ck wrote:Religions are make beleive and myth and the dhamma is about reality.
There's plenty of make believe and myth in Buddhism.

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

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:24 am

For myself, Buddhism what it is to each person depending on what way you look at it. There are aspect of each "thing" people want to describe it as.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
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Re: After all, what would make this be a religion?

Post by Sekha » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:27 am

Coyote wrote:Perhaps it is best to challenge divisive views about Buddhism and religion in general by living in a manner that suggests Buddhism has the ability to transcend it rather than just changing the name you call it by.
I would agree with that part.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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

Post by danieLion » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:27 am

Sekha wrote:I fully agree with the views of Goenkaji, it's just as if he would express my own thoughts:
Great misconception has arisen in the name of Buddha and his teaching. (...) He was not the founder of any religion.
According to the great world religions scholar Huston Smith, the Buddha didn't found a religion, he founded a civilization. Speaking of experts on religion, these kinds of threads go round and round because religion is difficult if not impossible to define.

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

Post by Sekha » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:34 am

ground wrote:
Sekha wrote:
ground wrote: Actually there is a lot of religion in many suttas.
What do you mean exactly by that?
Investigating into the meaning of religion, the commmon denominator of all religions resulted in categorising as religion all words - either spoken or written - that cause affirmation of ideas of a future "state of being" or similar that is imagined to be better, more attractive, worthwhile to strive for but is not supported by any kind of experience accessible. I.e. it is just sort of worshipping of ideas as if these were more that just mere ideas.
then the teaching of the Buddha doesn't fit this definition.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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