it a religion?
is neither a religion in the sense in which that word is commonly
understood, for it is not "a system of faith and worship
owing any allegiance to a supernatural being."
does not demand blind faith from its adherents. Here mere belief
is dethroned and is substituted by confidence based on knowledge,
which, in Pali, is known as saddha. The confidence placed
by a follower on the Buddha is like that of a sick person in a
noted physician, or a student in his teacher. A Buddhist seeks
refuge in the Buddha because it was he who discovered the path
Buddhist does not seek refuge in the Buddha with the hope that
he will be saved by his (i.e. the Buddha's own) personal purification.
The Buddha gives no such guarantee. It is not within the power
of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others. One could neither
purify nor defile another. The Buddha, as teacher, instructs us,
but we ourselves are directly responsible for our purification.
Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha, he does not make
any self-surrender. Nor does a Buddhist sacrifice his freedom
of thought by becoming a follower of the Buddha. He can exercise
his own free will and develop his knowledge even to the extent
of becoming a Buddha himself.
starting point of Buddhism is reasoning or understanding, or,
in the Pali words, samma-ditthi.
the seekers of truth the Buddha says:
not accept anything on (mere) hearsay (i.e., thinking that
thus have we heard it for a long time). Do not accept anything
by mere tradition (i.e., thinking that it has thus been
handed down through many generations). Do not accept anything
on account of mere rumors (i.e., by believing what others
say without any investigation). Do not accept anything just because
it accords with your scriptures. Do not accept anything by mere
suppositions. Do not accept anything by mere inference. Do not
accept anything by merely considering the reasons. Do not accept
anything merely because it agrees with your pre-conceived notions.
Do not accept anything merely because it seems acceptable
(i.e., thinking that as the speaker seems to be a good person
his words should be accepted). Do not accept anything thinking
that the ascetic is respected by us (therefore it is right to
accept his word).
when you know for yourselves these things are immoral,
these things are blameworthy, these things are censured by the
wise, these things, when performed and undertaken conduce to ruin
and sorrow then indeed do you reject them.
you know for yourselves these things are moral, these things
are blameless, these things are praised by the wise, these things,
when performed and undertaken, conduce to well-being and happiness
then do you live acting accordingly."
inspiring words of the Buddha still retain their original force
there is no blind faith, one might argue whether there is no worshipping
of images etc., in Buddhism.
do not worship an image expecting worldly or spiritual favors,
but pay their reverence to what it represents.
understanding Buddhist, in offering flowers and incense to an
image, designedly makes himself feel that he is in the presence
of the living Buddha and thereby gains inspiration from his noble
personality and breathes deep his boundless compassion. He tries
to follow the Buddha's noble example.
Bo-tree is also a symbol of Enlightenment. These external objects
of reverence are not absolutely necessary, but they are useful
as they tend to concentrate one's attention. An intellectual person
could dispense with them as he could easily focus his attention
and visualize the Buddha. For our own good, and out of gratitude,
we pay such external respect but what the Buddha expects from
his disciple is not so much obeisance as the actual observance
of his Teachings. The Buddha says "He honors me best
who practices my teaching best." "He who sees the Dhamma
regard to images, however, Count Kevserling remarks "I
see nothing more grand in this world than the image of the Buddha.
It is an absolutely perfect embodiment of spirituality in the
it must be mentioned that there are no petitional or intercessory
prayers in Buddhism. However much we may pray to the Buddha we
cannot be saved. The Buddha does not grant favors to those who
pray to him. Instead of petitional prayers there is meditation
that leads to self-control, purification and enlightenment. Meditation
is neither a silent reverie nor keeping the mind blank. It is
an active striving. It serves as a tonic both to the heart and
the mind. The Buddha not only speaks of the futility of offering
prayers but also disparages a slave mentality. A Buddhist should
not pray to be saved, but should rely on himself and win his freedom.
take the character of private communications, selfish bargaining
with God. It seeks for objects of earthly ambitions and inflames
the sense of self. Meditation on the other hand is self-change."
Buddhism there is not, as in most other religions, an Almighty
God to be obeyed and feared. The Buddha does not believe in a
cosmic potentate, omniscient and omnipresent. In Buddhism there
are no divine revelations or divine messengers. A Buddhist is,
therefore, not subservient to any higher supernatural power which
controls his destinies and which arbitrarily rewards and punishes.
Since Buddhists do not believe in revelations of a divine being
Buddhism does not claim the monopoly of truth and does not condemn
any other religion. But Buddhism recognizes the infinite latent
possibilities of man and teaches that man can gain deliverance
from suffering by his own efforts independent of divine help or
cannot, therefore, strictly be called a religion because it is
neither a system of faith and worship, nor "the outward act
or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence
of a God or gods having power over their own destiny to whom obedience,
service, and honor are due."
by religion, is meant "a teaching which takes a view of life
that is more than superficial, a teaching which looks into life
and not merely at it, a teaching which furnishes men with a guide
to conduct that is in accord with this its in-look, a teaching
which enables those who give it heed to face life with fortitude
and death with serenity,"
or a system to get rid of the ills of life, then it is
certainly a religion of religions.