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July 8, 2011

Is Buddhism A Religion? A Philosophy?

“Truth is a Pathless Land.” ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

‎”Buddhism appears to be a religion, as a concession to human mentality. But Buddhism is not a religion. Buddhism is the dismantling of all religions. Buddhism is not a philosophy; it’s the dismantling of all philosophies. It’s not a psychology, it’s not a system of ethics, it’s not a way to relax. It’s the dismantling of all human agendas and ambitions and attitudes. And when we dismantle everything, when we remove the husk, then we find something inside that is incredibly living, bursting with life, and burgeoning with love, and blooming with beauty. And that’s us, it’s our life.” ~by Reggie Ray of the Dharma Ocean Foundation.

“Is Zen a religion? It is not a religion in the sense that the term is popularly understood; for Zen has no God to worship, no ceremonial rites to observe, no future abode to which the dead are destined, and, last of all, Zen has no soul whose welfare is to be looked after by somebody else and whose immortality is a matter of intense concern with some people. Zen is free from all these dogmatic and “religious” encumbrances. …

As to all those images of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and Devas and other beings that one comes across in Zen temples, they are like so many pieces of wood or stone or metal; they are like camellias, azaleas, or stone lanterns in my garden. Make obeisance to the camellia now in full bloom, and worship it if you like, Zen would say. There is as much religion in so doing as in bowing to the various Buddhist gods, or as sprinkling holy water, or as participating in the Lord’s Supper. All those pious deeds considered to be meritorious or sanctifying by most so-called religiously minded people are artificialities in the eyes of Zen. It boldly declares that “the immaculate Yogins do not enter Nirvana and the precept-violating monks do not go to hell”. This, to ordinary minds, is a contradiction of the common law of moral life, but herein lies the truth and the life of Zen. Zen is the spirit of a man…” ~from Introduction to Zen by D.T. Suzuki

“If you are interested in “meeting the Buddha” and following his example, then you should realize that the path the Buddha taught is primarily a study of your own mind and a system for training your mind. This path is spiritual, not religious. Its goal is self-knowledge, not salvation; freedom, not heaven. And it is deeply personal. Without your curiosity and questions and your open mind, there is no spiritual path, no journey to be taken, even if you adopt all the forms of the tradition.” ~from Is Buddhism A Religion by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Huffington Post

So often we see religion and/or spirituality as nothing more than an “evacuation plan.” We feel so deflated that we want something or someone to deliver us from our ordinary life. So, we set out in search of “something else.” This only adds to our frustration, because that “something else” never comes. There isn’t anything else—”something else” is an hallucination.

The Buddhist path consists of embracing the fullness of our life; not just the peaceful or serene moments, but also the pain and dissatisfaction. What we call suffering, the Buddha called the path!

The observation of neurotic energy is the Buddhist path and it starts right now. It doesn’t matter if right now is filled with a pristine awareness of life’s grandeur or neurotically preoccupied with trying to manipulate someone into fulfilling some selfish end. Right now is all you have. You will never have anything more. So, whatever arises—regardless of how neurotic it might be—it is the path. It is all you have to work with. There is nothing else. So, listen to it. Find the intelligence which underlies your habitual commentary, because that intelligence is not only the path, it is the goal!

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