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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Well, to clarify it since you are asking.

Religion as a term is not so easy to understand especially not since it's most often used in a political sense. There is a difference in being religious and believing in religion.

Religion's fundament is faith in something, an idea to be right. You can be fundamental without being religious just as well you can be religious without believing in god(s).

You can basically split it up in two parts:

1. Rules
2. Rituals

If you as a follower of something practice and follow any of these above, then that movement can be described as a religion in an anthropological sense. I know it sounds strange at first, but let's take a simple example, the Health Food movement.

We have first of all a strong faih that Health Food or Green Food makes who you are, we are what we eat. Thus, if we eat Healthy Food we will become healthy. Notice how I capitalize it.

To become healthy, we must follow certain rules and rituals. Such can be to eat such and such a day while other types of food are forbidden (fat food and fast food), to follow a certain diet. In addition, you should for example be physically active.

The very idea that eating healthy food will make you healthy is very similar to say, Christianity, where the main idea is to be virtuous so you will get closer to god and end in heaven when you do. We have an idea which will cleanse you, and to do this, you must follow a certain set of rituals and rules.

So yes, religion isn't all about supernatural elements or about the metaphysical. That has got very little to do with religion at all if you ask me, and shouldn't be a part of the classification. The actual faith IN SOMETHING which leads to the cleansing of body/spirit/soul is more important.

Notice how my allegory with Health Food even has scientifical grounds! Of course if we eat no fat food we will (hopefully) not become fat.

Spoken like a true 12 Stepper.

Well, the Boy Scouts consider Buddhism to be a religion FWIW ...
Buddha was originally trying to reform Santama Dharma (Hinduism)...... but he's like Jesus. So much of what he said, did and meant has been bastardized out of context until it's almost no longer recognizable. Poor guy.

Anyway. It's in my World Religions class, which is good enough for me.
The same argument could be made for a decent chunk of Judaism and a very small chunk of (humanistic) christians and I've had long discussions about the topic with other people in the past. As a general rule of thumb, though most people within Buddhism aren't so well grounded in rational thought. Having read a few pop-lit books on Buddhism it seems that it's the most useful/least crazy of all the major religions. I'd say that Buddhism is in that grey area between philosophy and religion.
The problem I'm having is understanding why you would call yourself a Buddhist? No offense is meant, I am an ex-buddhist myself and from my understanding to be a 'Buddhist' one must accept (and try to follow) the 5 preceipts and take refuge in the 3 jewels..the Buddha, the sangha, and the dharma. Now, if you break these down you are left with a religion, imo. The Buddha, a dead man...the sangha, a community of like-minded believers...the dharma, the teachings of the dead man.

So, I guess, what I'm asking is what makes you a Buddhist? What is it in this label that you identify with?

and Namaste, my friend _/\_
Buddha might have been atheistic but somewhere along the way he has been elevated to god status by his followers (the irony). Of course Buddhism like Christianity has merged with the local beliefs where ever it was preached that's why there are so many different flavors of it today.

That is also why almost all Buddhists have supernatural elements in their beliefs and are not really atheists. You may not like it but they are the majority so they get to be the representative of what a Buddhist is.

I have some questions though, and if you have addressed them then I'm sorry I missed it.

1. Do you believe in reincarnation, achieving nirvana and such?

2. Do you believe in the authority of the Dali Lama?

3. Why are you so hung up on the label Buddhist? I'm having a slight problem with this, Buddha in all his insight was still a human in the end so taking everything he has written down as the truth is kinda dogmatic no? Why not just say that you find his teachings very enlightening and that you subscribe to the same philosophies? That he only happened to be the first one to write them down?

Well, I guess the problem with a label is it's not really enough of a word to describe all of our beliefs. I have to ask these questions because my immediate family members are all Chinese Buddhists and when you call yourself a Buddhist, their practices and beliefs are the first thing to come to mind and I know that's probably a wrong representation of you.
In my opinion, Buddhism is both a religion and a philosophy. If you read and understand the teachings of the Buddha (I'm referring to what is called the Pali Canon), you will think that it is a philosophy. Yes, the Buddha talks about Hindu gods, but they are not quite important or influential in the way you should live. Even Socrates and Plato believed in the existence of gods and their philosophies aren't considered religions.

But, Buddhism is a religion. Buddhist practitioners are what makes Buddhism a religion. If you see the practices of Mahayana Buddhists you will have no doubt that it is a religion. Chanting the name of a Buddha to attain salvation (as in Pure Land Buddhism). If that isn't religion, what should be?

I think that the Buddha didn't think that there were a difference between religion and philosophy. He just taught the way we should live. Plato also taught that. He taught about the nature of reality and what we should do. If today there were believers of Platonism that practiced a kind of devotion to Plato and his teachings, that would be considered a religion, but there aren't. There are only philosophy proffesors and students of philosophy who study Plato's concepts but they don't engage in rituals.

The same would have happened with Buddhism if there weren't practitioners that venerate and engage in religious rituals.

That's what I think, the teaching of the Buddha is a philosophy, Buddhism is a religion. What makes a religion is the practice of his followers.
I am thoroughly disgusted with Buddhism as it exists today. While the Buddha may have been a wise human being, Buddhism has made him into a God, just as many Buddhists have made the Dalai Lama into a God, and which has led to all kinds of violence, such as the Dorje Shugden affair (videos on youtube). There is a strong core of fundamentalism in Buddhism, just as there is in all other religions. I was recently banned from a well-known Buddhist discussion forum, without warning, just for disagreeing with the belief in literal rebirth.

I have a Thai Buddhist friend and when she talks it sometimes sounds like there isn't much of a difference between god and Buddha.  I am fairly sure that in original Buddhism the goal is a 'state of mind' (Not a destination) called Nirvana.  However, like most everything else, christianity has bastardized that message.  I presume she doesn't even know that she's doing it, though it is entirely possible that she may be just appeasing her xtian peers. Seems dishonest but unless you have experienced Alaska for some extended time you can't really understand how theocratic the prevailing mindset here is.

Sometimes it seems that even Utah may be more secular than AK.

I wrote something here a while back that touches on some of these issues.

"Theravada Buddhism, atheism, and clearing up some misconceptions"

There's a big difference between 'real' Buddhism and what people believe it to be...


I've heard lots of people say that if you're an atheist, you're not spiritual.  I think that people wrongly confuse spirituality with religion.  Spiritualism, to me at least, is nothing more than feeling connected with the things around you.  Getting in tune with nature, as it were.  We all need that feeling of connection with the things around us.  Isn't that kinda what the hippie movement was about?  Love and peace and connection?  Tree hugging?  They, I think, rejected the mainstream of spiritualism and made it their own, albeit with lots of drugs as a catalyst.  You only have to listen to Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk about the universe to feel the wonder it holds.  The fact that we are "star stuff" brings me a great deal of joy.  Buddhism is just a spiritual philosophy, not a religious one, I think.


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