What is Buddhism?
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What is Buddhism?

I was reading a great blog about narcissism and it dawned on me that people always ask me what Buddhism is and I’ve always answered about it.  What it affirms… what it denies…  but never have I mentioned in so many words What Buddhism Is.

I think the question is both infinitely complex and infinitesimally simple.  The simple answer is that Buddhism is the destruction of the ego.  The idea being that every moment spent living for this or for that is a moment spent suffering.

Buddhism is simply to live life; understanding that existence is unified.

The complexity of Buddhism as I said is infinite in so far as Buddhism has no bounds, it has no hierarchy, and it has no right way.

Every aspect of destroying the ego is unique to each ego.  The ‘ego’ is translated as such from the Sanskrit word anatman or Pali word anatta.  Each is in reference to the Hindu atman or atta.  In each case the atman or atta is a reference to the individuals soul.  Vedic philosophy send the individual internally searching for Brahman or existence.  It was a philosophy of self realization.

The Buddha developed his philosophy as an answer to the tragedy that was occurring from self searching.  While the people lived their lives in searching they found no comfort.  The simple negation of the soul is what the Buddha taught.  To search Buddhism for an answer to self seeking is a perversion of Buddhism.

Perhaps this is why Buddhist are so often apt to deny being a Buddhist.  An understanding that our societies have perverted each and every aspect and religious creed.

Buddhism of late is being sold as a self help guide.  Buddhism is being sold as a entertaining trip into other worlds…  Enlightenment is not something to be sought after, it is something to reach.  It is certain that we are uncertain as to what is beyond.

I think the only way I can understand Buddhism, is that Buddhism is a denial of the self for nothing more than the improvement of existence.  One becomes enlightened upon shedding all ego and putting oneself forward to increase the situation of all being.

If there is a heaven or Nirvana… or if there is perpetual rebirth, our situation is our own.  Do we embrace it or fight it?  Do we improve our lot, or the lot of many?

Buddhism is the denial of the self.  It is action for the sake of action. Buddhism is intent.

Buddhism is none of this...

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Comments (11)

Hey JrodN. I have some philosophical concerns about your post, although I grant that it is Buddhism that you are describing: 1. If "Buddhism has no bounds, it has no hierarchy, and it has no right way," and if "Every aspect of destroying the ego is unique to each ego," then why did you disagree with my post of Buddhism. Surely, by it's own definition, I cannot be wrong in my understanding of what Buddhism is and what it is not? 2. "To search Buddhism for an answer to self seeking is a perversion of Buddhism," but then how can every aspect of destroying the ego be unique to each ego? What happens if someone enters Buddhism looking for answers to self seeking? If he were later to 'see the truth' (presuming it were there) that to search Buddhism for an answer to self seeking is a perversion. would he be allowed to continue? Since he has already perverted Buddhism. Who, or what is he answerable to? 3. I don't really know what to ask about this statement: "Buddhist are so often apt to deny being a Buddhist." Perhaps I could ask if you would advise this path or not? If you do advise it I would ask then why you would not advise it? It is extremely illogical, very confusing. If you mean that society has corrupted Buddhism even on a personal level, then what am I to believe? What hope is there at all? The only conclusion I can reach is that an individual who both acknowledges and denies his Buddhism either believes everything, or he believes nothing at all, or he is insane. Or, the fourth option which I believe is most likely, he has not thought carefully enough what it is that he does believe. Perhaps I am wrong, maybe if I am you could show me how I am wrong. 4. "Enlightenment is not something to be sought after, it is something to reach. It is certain that we are uncertain as to what is beyond." How do we reach something we don't search for except by accident? If by accident why be Buddhist? If you are certain that you are uncertain about what is beyond what can you teach us that we could use, even if we were to use it for the "situation of all being". 5. How is Buddhism intent? You have described the exact opposite of intent. 6. If Buddhism is none of what you described, then what is it? Am I not right in saying that I have a better idea of what Buddhism is than any Buddhist?

This is great. Especially with regard to these "philosophical concerns about your post." However, I definitely read into TWO features that Buddhism definitely is NOT: RIVALRY and CUNNING WIT solely intended in an insidious (Machiavellian) regard. This antagonistic attempt at "oneupmanship" is powerful, though.

I hope you don't mind, but I chose to respond in a factoid rather than in here. It is due to length and because I think you asked good questions. I must say I'm far more impressed with your questions than I was with the initial posting. Though I agree with BFergel that you seem to take offense to my criticism. Please rest assured I live to discuss and learn, if I'm criticizing you most, it is in some way my way of complementing you... Also I feel like you might have thought I commented then did not respond. I linked to my factoids which were in response to your 'What is Buddhism'. I'm sorry I also did not know I had to follow, in a way I figured I would know since I posted on your factoid. But, I never noticed till today that you responded to me. My apologies. It was not my intent to say something was not good then to leave.

No need for any of the apologies. I do come across as intense, but I am really not at all offended. I must confess though that I didn't understand bfergel's comment at all, sorry bfergel. I am also very interested to learn and grow and I see and accept criticism as both a compliment and an opportunity. It seems that each blog forum has different nuances and rules, we're all learning. I'll keep my eyes open for your new post. It's better to have fresh posts otherwise the comments can go on forever.

BTW could you let me know what you saw as "christian propaganda" on my post. I would be helpful for me to know.

It's in my post that should publish early today, but the connotations carried by the G in God rather than god. I don't believe any of the theistic Buddhisms have a God, though many have a god or gods.

OK, I'll look out for it. I understand the relativist views of 'g' vs 'G'. I'm not that interested though in everyone's view. I am interested in what actually is. If God is a person then God is not merely a concept, a total or a collective, regardless of how people feel. If god is a collective, a whole, a unity then god is not a person regardless of how people feel. If there is no God at all... then there is no God, regardless of how people feel. I'm interested in discussing what actually is, not in how people feel. So you say "I don’t believe any of the theistic Buddhisms have a God, though many have a god or gods." What you mean is that you don't believe any of the theistic Buddhisms believe there is a God, though many believe there is a god or gods.

Hey JrodN Did I miss something? I didn't see your post. Maybe I'm doing something wrong here?

Okay, man. I found some great sites that tie our materials together. Check these out: http://www.geocities.com/dharmawood/buddhism_existentialism_pt1.htm Powerful! I like this line: "Have Existentialist principles ever been put into practice? The answer is yes, and with devastating consequences. Friedrich Nietzsche was Adolf Hitler's favorite philosopher, and Nietzsche's concept of "superman" was one of the ideological pillars of Nazism. More recently, the Cambodian dictator Pol Pot (responsible for the deaths of a million of his countrymen) was educated in Existentialist philosophy during the 1950's and 60's in France. More information can be found in the biography of Jean-Paul Sartre in the book The Intellectuals by Paul Johnson." Here's another: http://www.the-philosopher.co.uk/buddhism.htm Address for correspondence: Omar Edward Moad, University of Missouri-Columbia, 601 S. Providence #707I Columbia, MO 65203 1 (573) 771-0240 email: erm264@mizzou.edu

check http://factoidz.com/what-is-buddhism-cont/ I understand your aversion to over thinking G vs. g as it is a moot point ontologically. But, language is a word game and connotations are everything. In my opinion the only way to avoid it is to define your words before hand. In which case we would hardly get anywhere. We would spend all our time defining our words and never get to the conversation at hand.

Semantics are of extreme importance, I like to ask the question, "semantics... what does the word really mean?" :^) But the real aim of semantics is to help us communicate, not to help us define. I think Ludwikstein got it (if that's how you spell his name). Steven Hawking was a bit mean to philosophy as a science saying something to the effect that is has been reduced to mere naming and defining of words. He was trying, unsuccessfully, to show that all we have now is science. I don't think I'm "over thinking" it, G vs g was a point you raised and how you name God is of little consequence to me. I agree that definition can sink a conversation, but we are not robots – we each have minds. The way to overcome it is for me to type 'God' and you to type 'god' (if that's what you prefer). I understood what you mean before you raised the issue. I have a response to your second post, I will put it up in a post of my own. But not this week; next week I have time.