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Is Buddhism Relgion?

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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05 May 2011 17:28
 

The mind habitually thinks harmful things.  The mind habitually ruminates on things that precipitate behavior that destroys peace of mind, making itself unhappy and eclipsing creative potential.  Is it possible to watch the mind doing this?  Is it possible to nip negative or self-destructive thought in the bud, to stop detrimental thinking as soon as it sprouts?  Is that religion?

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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06 May 2011 14:01
 
unsmoked - 05 May 2011 03:28 PM

The mind habitually thinks harmful things.  The mind habitually ruminates on things that precipitate behavior that destroys peace of mind, making itself unhappy and eclipsing creative potential.  Is it possible to watch the mind doing this?  Is it possible to nip negative or self-destructive thought in the bud, to stop detrimental thinking as soon as it sprouts?  Is that religion?

No, no, and probably yes for most.

 
 
unsmoked
 
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06 May 2011 16:39
 
Kenneth - 06 May 2011 09:41 AM

Based on your formulation of the questions I suspect you’ve already answered them for yourself, so I’m not quite sure what your stake is in posing them, however here’s my take on them.

unsmoked - 05 May 2011 03:28 PM

The mind habitually thinks harmful things.  The mind habitually ruminates on things that precipitate behavior that destroys peace of mind, making itself unhappy and eclipsing creative potential.  Is it possible to watch the mind doing this?

Yes, it’s always possible, although some (such as myself) may also wish to make a concerted effort to do this by taking up a meditation practice, which may be more conducive to this than is the case in general, everyday waking life.

unsmoked - 05 May 2011 03:28 PM

Is it possible to nip negative or self-destructive thought in the bud, to stop detrimental thinking as soon as it sprouts?

This one’s a bit trickier. I don’t think it’s possible to “stop detrimental thinking” per se, but we can allow it to subside by becoming consciously aware of it; neither blindly succumbing to those detrimental thoughts nor actively attempting to suppress them.

unsmoked - 05 May 2011 03:28 PM

Is that religion?

No. (I must add, however, that this is an entirely different question than that phrased in the thread’s title, i.e. “Is Buddhism religion?”. To that question I would respond that for some it clearly is, for others it clearly isn’t.)

religion  n  1 a   (1)  :  the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2)  :  commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance 2 :  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices (Webster)

science  n  1 :    the state of knowing :  knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding 2 a :    a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study (eg. the science of the mind)  (Webster)

However, as you and GAD just pointed out, to most people Buddhism is a religion.  The science of looking at our own mental habits, observing what we are doing to make ourselves and others unhappy or downright miserable, to watch ourselves shooting ourselves in the foot, - to find out for ourselves if deleterious habits of mind and body can end . . .

deleterious  adj :    harmful often in a subtle or unexpected way (eg. deleterious to health)  PERNICIOUS (Webster)

 
 
EN
 
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07 May 2011 15:33
 

Mahayana Buddhism, especially the Pure Land form, is clearly a religion.

 
EN
 
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07 May 2011 16:25
 

So, some forms of Buddhism are religious, and some aren’t.  Just like some forms of Christianity aren’t really religious, like Unitarian/Universalists, or Christian Humanists. To avoid the True Scotsman fallacy, once can’t say that Mahayanas aren’t Buddhists, or that UU’s aren’t Christian.

 
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07 May 2011 17:26
 

When writing on this Forum about Zen, I often quote from a small book called ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’ - translated and edited by Thomas Cleary. 

Notice that Cleary’s subtitle is ‘The Science of Freedom’ not ‘The Religion of Freedom’.  I’m interested in Zen as a science of the mind. 

In Japan I visited the main temple of the Soto Zen Sect and was completely put off by all the ritual, trappings, paraphernalia - the whole place annoyed me.  I might as well have been at a papal ceremony.  I might as well have been in Tibet immersed in all the religious hocus-pocus that Stuka mentioned above.  The parking-lot of that temple seemed to be full of black, expensive cars.  The priests were dressed in regalia that out-glittered the Pope’s finest.

In Japan I asked several lay people if they were interested in Zen.  “Oh no!  Too difficult!  Too difficult!”  It’s hard to look at oneself.

“Who am I?  What am I?  What is the mind doing?  Is this painful jealousy (for example) inevitable?”

Walt Whitman’s line in ‘Leaves of Grass’ is ‘aplomb in the midst of irrational things!’  Buddha’s imagery, on this theme, is the lotus blooming fresh and unsullied in a muddy pond. 

Is the freedom that Gotama talked about possible, or is it religious hokum?

 
 
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07 May 2011 19:01
 
unsmoked - 07 May 2011 03:26 PM

When writing on this Forum about Zen, I often quote from a small book called ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’ - translated and edited by Thomas Cleary. 

Notice that Cleary’s subtitle is ‘The Science of Freedom’ not ‘The Religion of Freedom’.  I’m interested in Zen as a science of the mind. 

In Japan I visited the main temple of the Soto Zen Sect and was completely put off by all the ritual, trappings, paraphernalia - the whole place annoyed me.  I might as well have been at a papal ceremony.  I might as well have been in Tibet immersed in all the religious hocus-pocus that Stuka mentioned above.  The parking-lot of that temple seemed to be full of black, expensive cars.  The priests were dressed in regalia that out-glittered the Pope’s finest.

In Japan I asked several lay people if they were interested in Zen.  “Oh no!  Too difficult!  Too difficult!”  It’s hard to look at oneself.

“Who am I?  What am I?  What is the mind doing?  Is this painful jealousy (for example) inevitable?”

Walt Whitman’s line in ‘Leaves of Grass’ is ‘aplomb in the midst of irrational things!’  Buddha’s imagery, on this theme, is the lotus blooming fresh and unsullied in a muddy pond. 

Is the freedom that Gotama talked about possible, or is it religious hokum?

Well first people have to feel/believe they have a problem/deficiency and then they seek a cure and most all “cures” involve rites, ritual, trappings, paraphernalia etc in order (IMO) to trick oneself into accepting/believing the cure. This is even case for most self-help systems, I went to a 5 day 7 habits class and it had everything a Pentecostal sermon has just shy of rolling in the aisles and taking in tongues.

 
 
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07 May 2011 21:32
 
GAD - 07 May 2011 05:01 PM
unsmoked - 07 May 2011 03:26 PM

When writing on this Forum about Zen, I often quote from a small book called ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’ - translated and edited by Thomas Cleary. 

Notice that Cleary’s subtitle is ‘The Science of Freedom’ not ‘The Religion of Freedom’.  I’m interested in Zen as a science of the mind. 

In Japan I visited the main temple of the Soto Zen Sect and was completely put off by all the ritual, trappings, paraphernalia - the whole place annoyed me.  I might as well have been at a papal ceremony.  I might as well have been in Tibet immersed in all the religious hocus-pocus that Stuka mentioned above.  The parking-lot of that temple seemed to be full of black, expensive cars.  The priests were dressed in regalia that out-glittered the Pope’s finest.

In Japan I asked several lay people if they were interested in Zen.  “Oh no!  Too difficult!  Too difficult!”  It’s hard to look at oneself.

“Who am I?  What am I?  What is the mind doing?  Is this painful jealousy (for example) inevitable?”

Walt Whitman’s line in ‘Leaves of Grass’ is ‘aplomb in the midst of irrational things!’  Buddha’s imagery, on this theme, is the lotus blooming fresh and unsullied in a muddy pond. 

Is the freedom that Gotama talked about possible, or is it religious hokum?

Well first people have to feel/believe they have a problem/deficiency and then they seek a cure and most all “cures” involve rites, ritual, trappings, paraphernalia etc in order (IMO) to trick oneself into accepting/believing the cure. This is even case for most self-help systems, I went to a 5 day 7 habits class and it had everything a Pentecostal sermon has just shy of rolling in the aisles and taking in tongues.

In most translations of Buddhist writing I’ve seen, the word ‘suffering’ is used.  You used the words ‘problem/deficiency’, and I used as one example the problematic emotion . . . jealousy.  It’s true that whatever the form of mental angst, we first have to recognize it as a form of pain, suffering, - - some kind of blight in our life - - not only causing aggravation and irritation, but probably damaging our relationships, our sense of creativity, our joie de vivre etc. 

Once we acknowledge that we are ‘suffering’ from some kind of (usually habitual) mental activity, then some people look for a cure - just as we look for a cure for physical suffering.  Buddha offers a cure, like a doctor.  I’m suggesting that this cure isn’t religious - it doesn’t involve accepting or believing anything.  You study the prescription and try it.  It is effective or it isn’t.  To me, this is science of the mind, not religion.

Would you agree that most who suffer from jealousy, (I mean really suffer), don’t have a clue that there’s a cure?  Don’t have a clue that the suffering and damage to one’s life and relationships is unnecessary and can come to an end in an instant?  I mean, imagine a person 500 years ago with a splitting headache who has no idea that a potion of willow bark (salicylic acid = aspirin) could relieve the pain.

Do you think there is a life-enhancing, non-chemical, psychological/scientific cure for jealousy, resentment, anger, craving, bickering and other mental blights?

 
 
Gia Cát L??ng
 
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Gia Cát L??ng
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18 June 2011 05:05
 
unsmoked - 05 May 2011 03:28 PM

The mind habitually thinks harmful things.  The mind habitually ruminates on things that precipitate behavior that destroys peace of mind, making itself unhappy and eclipsing creative potential.  Is it possible to watch the mind doing this?  Is it possible to nip negative or self-destructive thought in the bud, to stop detrimental thinking as soon as it sprouts?  Is that religion?

The term religion should be exterminated. Strange, only in western culture uses this confused term.

If you see or hear the term religion on your path, KILL IT.

Then after, everything will be explained, for themselves.

 
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18 June 2011 05:24
 
Khổng Minh - 18 June 2011 03:05 AM

The term religion should be exterminated. Strange, only in western culture uses this confused term.

If you see or hear the term religion on your path, KILL IT.

Then after, everything will be explained, for themselves.

That’s the Dalek approach. I think we should talk about it endlessly and everyone should learn as much about it as possible.

 
 
Gia Cát L??ng
 
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18 June 2011 06:14
 
Nhoj Morley - 18 June 2011 03:24 AM
Khổng Minh - 18 June 2011 03:05 AM

The term religion should be exterminated. Strange, only in western culture uses this confused term.

If you see or hear the term religion on your path, KILL IT.

Then after, everything will be explained, for themselves.

That’s the Dalek approach. I think we should talk about it endlessly and everyone should learn as much about it as possible.

Sometimes being fixated with a term definitively, an object in itself, deters its intended expression and any other expressions intended to be associated with it.

[ Edited: 18 June 2011 17:59 by Gia Cát L??ng]
 
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31 July 2011 14:11
 
unsmoked - 05 May 2011 03:28 PM

The mind habitually thinks harmful things.  The mind habitually ruminates on things that precipitate behavior that destroys peace of mind, making itself unhappy and eclipsing creative potential.  Is it possible to watch the mind doing this?  Is it possible to nip negative or self-destructive thought in the bud, to stop detrimental thinking as soon as it sprouts?  Is that religion?

I’d agree that one could subjectively “watch” the mind and “control” competing drives and emotions, but I don’t think these features of Buddhism would make it a religion.

 
unsmoked
 
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31 July 2011 17:19
 
cosmodet - 31 July 2011 12:11 PM
unsmoked - 05 May 2011 03:28 PM

The mind habitually thinks harmful things.  The mind habitually ruminates on things that precipitate behavior that destroys peace of mind, making itself unhappy and eclipsing creative potential.  Is it possible to watch the mind doing this?  Is it possible to nip negative or self-destructive thought in the bud, to stop detrimental thinking as soon as it sprouts?  Is that religion?

I’d agree that one could subjectively “watch” the mind and “control” competing drives and emotions, but I don’t think these features of Buddhism would make it a religion.

Similarly, can the mind watch itself chattering?  Can the mind watch itself ‘channel surfing’ from one topic to another?  As the man of old said, “Bring the ten thousand things to rest.  Let the mind rest at peace.”  Is that religion?

Many think that the agitated mind is solving problems or figuring things out.  When someone suggests that they quiet the mind, they say, “You want me to be a vegetable?  The thinking mind is what makes us human!  This is how we solve problems!”

Zen masters suggest, “The ground of mind does not produce useless plants.”  The ground of mind is the mind in a peaceful, normal, effortless state.  In this state, when someone speaks to you, there’s attention and listening.  It takes some private experimenting to find out if the mind in a peaceful, normal, effortless, attentive state is in a healthy creative state, or in a state of torpor.  Is it religion to explore these questions?

torpor  n  1 :  APATHY, DULLNESS 2 :  a state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility :  extreme sluggishness or stagnation of function -  (Webster)

 
 
john76
 
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06 August 2011 18:39
 

Doesn’t karma get connected to reincarnation?

 
 
Gia Cát L??ng
 
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08 August 2011 01:27
 
john76 - 06 August 2011 04:39 PM

Doesn’t karma get connected to reincarnation?

Yes. Vipaka (or the potential results of Kamma dependent also on favorable conditions) is part of Buddhist’s rebirth theory (not reincarnation).

 
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08 August 2011 02:10
 

I’m not sure that the OP question is really relevant. Buddhism is what it is, and in some forms it definitely has religion overtones (Mahayana), while in others it does not (Theravada). Whether it qualifies as religion or not depends on the manner in which the individual or community applies it. A prophet, teacher or messiah introduces a concept, and then everyone interprets it as he/she will. You can have non-religious Christianity or Islam (following Jesus/Mohammed as a moral teacher but not as a messiah/prophet). The individual/community decides.

 
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