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November 23rd, 2007

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07:15 pm - Buddhism as religion
I thought I'd throw this out there just for grins.

I find it a little hard to relate to most other Western converts to Buddhism. I have a strong devotional/religious bent, which led me ultimately to Nichiren Shu. In our tradition, the Buddha isn't just some guy who lived 2,500 years ago, but an active presence in our lives, and whose enlightenment, which occurred in the beginningless past, includes the whole universe within it. We express our faith in this teaching through chanting the Odaimoku (sacred title) of the Lotus Sutra. I rarely practice silent meditation. I suspect most other Western Buddhists would find this hard to relate to, and maybe even off-putting. I guess I'm just curious as to how others here really see Buddhism. Is it a religion for you, or is it something else?

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Date:November 25th, 2007 05:39 am (UTC)
I get what you mean. I think a lot of Western Buddhists feel a little like outcasts. There's no real identity for us. We're all just kinda following whatever tradition we 'like' or we pick what we like from the various traditions. I think this is just because of the newness of it here.

I see Buddhism as a religion in the traditional sense of the word. Religion is a way of life, and religion contains philosophy. Therefore, calling Buddhism a religion is, to me, saying it is all these things: a religion, a philosophy, and a way of life. I see Buddhism as very practical and experiential. I think that's why it can co-opt so many different ways of 'being spiritual' and make them work towards its own ends. I think it picked this up from the beautiful syncretic culture from which it was born.

Date:November 25th, 2007 07:03 am (UTC)
I don't view Nichiren Buddhism...or most other types of Buddhism as a religion at all. I tend to think of religion as the worship of a deity or spiritual power who has control of our lives--so I sort of see religion as a kind cop out, if you will, and I that's not what Buddhism embodies. In our Buddhism, as you well know, we don't chant to any outside power. We chant to bring out our inner Buddha, the enlightenment that is in each of us but is buried by out inner darkness. I view Buddhism as a philosophy of living more than anything else. And the chanting is just way to center myself and clear my mind and heart.

There's my two cents.

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