Monday, April 19, 2010

Buddhism is Humanism

Question : (Unedited)
Although Buddhism is considered a religion, the more I read about it, the more I feel that it is a philosophy that allows one to live a peaceful life.  Would you consider Buddhism more of a religion or a philosophy?

Hi M,

Thank you for asking me.

It is a semantic exercise in futility.  Depending on the interpretations of the words "religion" and "philosophy", the conclusion is still debatable.  My personal view is that "religion" emphasizes on belief and obedience.  It usually subscribes to the belief in some supernatural powers or a supreme being controlling us.  "Philosophy" entails intellectual analyzes of human endeavours.  

"Buddhism" is about the teachings of the Buddha.  The Buddha taught universal truths and inner peace.  His realization was not based on belief nor on intellectual analyzes.  His findings were the results of his mental cultivation throughout aeons of countless existences.  His mental cultivation culminated with his enlightenment embodied with a perfectly pure and powerful mind.  He attained the power of supramundane insight, which meant he was able to penetrate into the supramundane dimensions which no other humans could.  His knowledge was not through his intellectual ability nor through his external senses.  His discoveries of the truth of existence and the universe were through the supreme power of his mind.   From his discoveries which he shared with us, for lack of a better term (or would it be dictated by social norm?) that we mortals refer them as "religion" or "philosophy".  

As you have rightly referred Buddhism as allowing one to live a peaceful life, could it then be termed as "religion" or "philosophy"?  The Buddha advised us to live a dignified and harmless life, so that we could enjoy a peaceful life.  We need to conduct our lives in a humane manner.  

To me Buddhism is humanism.

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