Buddhism- a Religion or a Philosophy?

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  • Topic: Buddhism, Religion, Gautama Buddha
  • Pages : 8 (2730 words )
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  • Published : November 22, 2012
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Albert Einstein believed that,
“the religion of the future will be a cosmic religion that should transcend a personal god and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both natural and spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual and a meaningful unity” (Jammer, 1999). Buddhism qualifies as a religion depending on one’s point of view. If religion is defined as a system of worship or devotion to a higher deity then Buddhism does not fall under the religious category (Buddha Dharma Education Association, 2012). However, if religion is defined as a system of beliefs and rituals and morals then Buddhism classifies as a religious practice (Harshorne, 1996). The aspects of religion that include rituals and devotions are the very key aspects of the human experience. Although occupying the same socio-psychological space as other religions, they do not all necessarily share similar characteristics (Molloy, p5, 2010). Western scholars and religious thinkers often refer to Buddhism as an atheist or nontheistic religious practice (Florida, 1990). Despite apparent contradictions between Buddhism and theistic religions there are many elements of commonality. This paper supports Albert Einstein’s claim on religion through exploring Buddhism as a contemporary religion relevant to reality in relation to science, while considering the similarities shared by Buddhism and traditional religions such as Christianity.

Why does it matter if we consider something a religion or not? There are Buddhists who speak confidently on “Panel discussions” stating that if using the word religion becomes a problem then they will not use it (Los Angeles Interreligious Group, 1991). Buddhism shows no concern over whether or not it qualifies as a religion, as it is a matter of belief from within and not what people think of it. Smith, a religion historian states in his works that “beliefs are not primary to religion; faith is” (Florida, 1990) which reflects Buddhism’s emphasis on the importance of karma and leading a morally-based life. Smith also strongly believes that theistic religions invented the idea of god based on humanities "ignorance, weakness, fear, and desire"(Florida, 1990). Michael Stone is a psychotherapist and a Buddhist teacher who shares Albert Einstein’s view on religion. Michael attempts to incorporate traditional Buddhist teachings with today’s psychological and philosophical understanding (Stone, 2012). Science has created an abundance of contradictory views in traditional religious teachings that Buddhism stands out as a religion which accommodates scientific evidence (The Dalai Lama centre, 2012). Religion’s importance today has come into question when analyzed through the eyes of society’s logical mind. The Dalai Lama claims that “if modern science presents good evidence that a Buddhist idea is wrong, I will accept the modern science, (he gives the example of the Earth moving around the sun, which runs counter to Buddhist scripture)" (The Dalai Lama Centre, 2012). Science has therefore made many questionable beliefs come to reality through trial and error research that many base their beliefs on evidence (Molloy, p179, 2010). Buddhism:

The Buddhist religion entails a sense of sacredness with one’s self in relation to the environment and the universe. “All religions are concerned with the deepest level of reality and for most religions the core or origin of everything is sacred and mysterious” (Molloy, p7, 2010). The “Three Marks of Reality” encompasses the embedded truth in Buddhist theology which reinforces the belief in having no god but rather finding the god within (Molloy, p132, 2010). Sacredness in religion refers to a dedicated practice to a religious purpose not the belief in a mystical figure who controls life as we know it. Sacredness is an interesting place of experience, and since there is a common misconception about Buddhism, the Dharma equips one to...
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