I noticed on the sign in page that there was a 'survey' asking what I was 'before' I was an atheist. One of the choices was 'Buddhist.' Not to make too fine a point of it, but Buddhism is a 'non' theistic religion. Buddhists do not believe in a God, albeit some branches do have gods, if you know what I mean. As for me I am a Buddhist, but have no 'belief' in the supernatural at all. Mind you I'm not saying that is a generalization to all Buddhists, but there are many like me who feel that Buddhism has no supernatural aspects as a condition of belief. Many, like myself, think that the Buddha was explicit in saying that even if there were gods and such they were of no significance to what he was teaching. Just an observation and why I didn't do the survey.

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I've read several books on Buddhism and I'm still not sure either.

For some it does seem to be a religion, for others it's a branch of philosophy.

In the west particularly people seem more than happy to re-interpret the core teachings quite creatively and take it in all manner of directions.

I sometimes wonder which would weigh the most, all the Buddhists in the world or all the books on Buddhism.
Hard to say, but the Buddha was pretty explicit that Buddhism did not involve belief in the supernatural. I think most, but not all, of Western Buddhists reject the idea of a 'God' in that sense. There have been books written about that as well; for example Stephen Batchelor's 'Buddhism without Beliefs.'

Buddhism was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Lao Tzu... who was explicit in saying that you could have 1, 1000 or 0 god(s).  It didn't matter to the Tao or Way...implying a  continually changing process. I must admit that Taoism (the philosophy) was the final nail in Christianity's coffin as far as I was concerned.  I credit it with saving my life at a very critical time in my past.

Nobody or nothing had told me before that I didn't need a god in order to be a good person. I have since moved on to be a complete (Strong) atheist.

I've always thought Buddhists were considered atheists. However, my MIL is Buddhist and quite superstitious. She is very concerned with numerology, naming rituals and feng shui. So I don't really know, I guess it depends on the follower.

Do most Buddhists go to a church and if so what do they do there?
Not sure what a MIL is, but this sounds more cultural than Buddhist. None of that can be found in the teachings of the Buddha, although he probably accepted it as it was part of his Hindu culture. Same goes for reincarnation and Karma, those are Hindu concepts the Buddha accepted. Only Karma has come to represent dogma and that's with a small 'd' to most western Buddhists.
MIL = Mother in law. Much of her superstition is definitely cultural but, and realize that we haven't talked about this, it seems to me her version of Buddhism is also riddled with the supernatural.

I'm still curious as to the Buddhist Church question.
replied to your earlier question.

Is your MIF Asian?
What I'm going to say has to do with American Buddhists of the Theravadan, or Insight Meditation tradition of which I am most familiar.

Most of us belong to a 'sitting group' or 'Sangha' which is just a group of like minded individuals who get together once a week to sit, i.e. meditate, together and sometimes have a short lesson, or Dharma teaching, depending on the group. Some, many really, Buddhists, especially Eastern, also go to a Temple to meditate or to take part in ceremonies. But the basic teachings of the Buddha warn against ceremony or places or such and say very clearly that meditation should be done in private without a lot of hoopdedo.

I normally do a couple of 4 to 20 day 'retreats' each year. These are extended meditation sessions, 12-17 hours per day, along with teachings in Buddhism, or meditation instructions and you generally do all this in silence for the entire retreat.

So the short answer is, 'no, Buddhists do not go to church,' but the long answer is there are other things close to church.
Thanks for the explanation. I did ask because she does go to church or that's what she calls it and from what I understand there is some ritual involved, although I think it is largely social. I was actually surprised at this because I was under the impression that Buddhist teachings were not supernatural.

As to the original point, AN including Buddhism on the survey. Since there seem to be different ways of practicing Buddhism today it seems to be a gray area and therefore not entirely inappropriate. Or at least that's my somewhat ignorant take on it.
A cousin of mine was a Mahayana Buddhist for a while but left because he said he just couldn't believe in anything which had a supernatural element.
I agree and that was my point; it is absolutely possible to be a Buddhist and reject the supernatural, I'm an example. I don't think that is possible for other religions. I think there is no conflict in spirituality and rejecting belief in the supernatural.




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