by Anura Guruge
>> Is Buddhism a religion?
>> — Oct. 7, 2013.
++++ Search on ‘Buddhism‘ for a number of very germane posts >>>>
++++Also check Category ‘Religion‘>>>>
I saw this on Google yesterday and was very rattled by it on multiple fronts. Of course, incontrovertibly, a teacher should NOT have told the young man that his religion was stupid. That was a very stupid thing to do. Of that there can be no doubt or debate. I am glad that the ACLU is going to go after the school on that. This, with luck, could become the modern day (Scopes) Monkey Trial. I think the time is ripe to litigate this ‘how we came to be here’ issue yet again.
As anybody who is familiar with my work, or has followed this blog, will know, Buddhism is yet another subject that I know more than I should. Actually I consider myself quite an expert in Buddhism since for the first 14 years of life (bar one week), I was totally and utterly immersed in Buddhism. There wasn’t a day that went by when I did not meet and speak with at least one Buddhist monk. I even used to consider a Buddhist chief monk as my best adult friend — given that I saw him and chatted with him nearly every day. I was forced to go to Sunday (and for a short while ‘Poya’) Day school. Would, on average, go to a Buddhist temple at least one other time during the week. There was Buddhist shrine in the house etc. etc. I considered myself a Buddhist until I was 18 and then renounced it because the fundamental notion of reincarnation did not make any sense to me. Much of this has already been documented here on this blog. There is even a YouTube video.
That said the MOST disturbing thing in all of this is highlighted here:
A teacher using multiple exclamation marks is beyond stupid, and shows a total lack of understanding of the English — even worse than somebody trying to use the beautiful word ‘portend‘ without knowing how to use it. There is another disturbing item in that clipping and I will come back to that later.
Buddhism, in my opinion, is NOT a religion. I dealt with it briefly here. Let me share my main rationale for this. The Buddha is gone. That is one thing that I totally, 100%, agree with him. I too will be gone when I die. Though unlike him, though I am a saint (and you can find folks saying that about me on the Web), I do not intend (thank god) to reach nirvana. I will just be gone. Because I do NOT believe in any kind of residual when I die.
Buddha’s lack of existence is a problem to those Buddhists that have managed to work it out. So, Buddhism does NOT provide anyone to whom you can pray! That is a problem. People want somebody that can intercede. Buddhism doesn’t have that. I grew up among some of the supposedly most devout of Buddhists in Ceylon. Nearly all of them, without batting an eyelid, prayed, daily, actually many times a day, to Hindu gods. That to me is the MAIN reason why I don’t class Buddhism as a religion. If Buddhism was a religion per se, Buddhist wouldn’t have to co opt gods from other religions to get by.
I have for most of my life maintained that Buddhism is a philosophy, a way of life, than a religion per se. Many educated Buddhists do not have a problem with that. Thank god — and maybe that should be one of the three Hindu gods that are worshipped by the Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
So the teacher, the school, this young man and his parents are basically arguing over a matter that really is not worth arguing. Don’t call Buddhism a stupid religion. Just stop worrying that Buddhism is a religion.
Now let me share with you, as a subject matter expert, something that will shock you.
You can, if you really understand Buddhism
(and are secure in that),
be a Buddhist and a Christian (of sorts) without a problem!
My adoptive mother was a Buddhist’s Buddhist. A paragon of Buddhism. But, she, was 13 years taught at a Baptist Girls School in Colombo, Ceylon. But, here is the kicker. The thing she loved most about her job was that she was the one that played the piano for the daily Christian service — and she got to belt out the hymns that she adored so much. She saw no problem with that. A good Buddhist playing the piano for Christians and joining them, with gusto (and she was also a singer), in their hymns. We didn’t have a piano. We had relatives that did. My mother, who played by ear, was often in demand to play the piano. Part of her repertoire was hymns. We didn’t have a car radio — and we drove a LOT. So we had to make our own music. My mother would sing ‘Silent Night’ year round. She would sing ‘Silent Night’ as we would be driving to a Buddhist temple.
So, it can be done.
My surrogate, as opposed to my adoptive, father was a Baptist. I spent at least 40% of my young life at his house. So I would transition from a very committed Buddhist household to a Baptist household and back again without even noticing it. The joys of real enlightened Buddhism. In terms of personality, if not looks, I most resemble him. And I am very glad of that. There is no way that I can, alas, look like him. He, a (Dutch) Burgher, was white. I, as you all know, am brown.
I feel bad for the young man. At 11 or 12, as he should be, be really should learn how to spell ‘Buddha’ — but then again, who am I to speak when it comes to spelling. That said, his parents have done him a great injustice. The Buddha, who was never a god (even with a small ‘g’), never ‘made’ or ‘created’ anything! That is Buddhist gospel. So for him to even think that the ‘Lord Buddha’ could have made anything shows acute confusion.
All told, this is all very sad. I worry about these things.
Yes, #4 or #5 on my current lists of books I have yet to write is a definitive book on Buddhism.