IS BUDDHISM A RELIGION?

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  • Created by: Banisha.
  • Created on: 21-04-18 09:50

DEFINITIONS OF RELIGIONS

  • Peter Harvey  states: "The English term 'Buddhism' correctly indicates that the religion is characterized by devotion to 'the Buddha', 'Buddhas', or 'buddhahood
  • If belief in God in this sense is the essence of religion, then Buddhism cannot be a religion- Damien Keown
  • The Dalai Lama states: "From one viewpoint, Buddhism is a religion, from another viewpoint Buddhism is a science of mind and not a religion
  • Buddhism views activities that would be generally understood as religious—such as devotional practices and rituals—as a legitimate, useful, and even essential part of the practice and training that leads to the cessation of suffering.“  Rupert Gethin 
  • It does not matter what you call it. ...Truth needs no label... labels are a hindrance to the independent understanding of Truth, and they produce harmful prejudices in men's minds.” WalpolaRahula

  • “A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden--beliefs and practices which unite in one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.” - DURKEIM 

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FEAUTRUES OF A RELIGION

  • Sociologist Weber defines religion as belief in a superior or supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically
  • Sociologist Bruce defines religion as ‘Beliefs, actions and institutions which assume the existence of supernatural entities (God) with powers of action, or impersonal powers or processes possessed for a moral purpose
  • THESE TWO BULLET POINTS ABOVE SHOW A SUBSTANTIVE DEFINITION - BUDDHISM CANNOT BE A RELIGION AS THERE IS NO BELIEF IN A GOD 

FEATURES OF A RELIGION - SMART 

Practical and ritual – some rites and ceremonie Experiential and emotional – a lived experience Narrative and mythic – myths and legends Doctrinal and philosophical – core beliefs and texts Ethical and legal – strong ethical dimension Social and institutional - sangha Material – sites of pilgrimage

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SEVEN DIMENSIONS OF RELIGION

  • Ritual: Forms and orders of ceremonies (private and/or public) (often regarded as revealed)
  • Narrative and Mythic: stories (often regarded as revealed) that work on several levels. Sometimes narratives fit together into a fairly complete and systematic interpretation of the universe and human's place in it.
  • Experiential and emotional: dread, guilt, awe, mystery, devotion, liberation, ecstasy, inner peace, bliss (private)
  • Social and Institutional: belief system is shared and attitudes practiced by a group. Often rules for identifying community membership and participation (public)
  • Ethical and legal: Rules about human behavior (often regarded as revealed from supernatural realm)
  • Doctrinal and philosophical: systematic formulation of religious teachings in an intellectually coherent form
  • Material: ordinary objects or places that symbolize or manifest the sacred or supernatural
  • 'the whole nature of buddhist spirituality is flowers appearing in the sky' - BRAZIER 
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BUDDHIST ATHEIST STEPHEN BATCHELOR

there’s little in Buddhist philosophy that suggests the existence of a personal God
say goodbye to pie-in-the-sky transcendentalism (Nibbana). 
“Buddhism, which teaches impermanence, contingency, dukkha (suffering) and unreliability, is itself also impermanent, selfless or inessential,” 
his rejection of reincarnation and karma
he treats it as ‘true’ only insofar as ‘it works’ and is useful
Buddha’s four noble truths to be four challenges to our ordinary way of approaching life. IS BUDDHISM ATHEISTIC?

“Buddhism, which teaches impermanence, contingency, dukkha (suffering) and unreliability, is itself also impermanent, selfless or inessential,” he suggests. “With historical consciousness, we can now recognize that the Dhamma is a very fluid tradition, which is precisely what’s allowed it to flourish in so many vastly different cultures and circumstances. So, it’s all very well to say that I am popularizing or banalizing Buddhism, but basically what I’m doing is responding to my understanding of Buddhism as an evolving, adapting organism, rather than as a fixed body of truths that is passed down, uncorrupted, from one generation to the next.”

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