Buddhism or Buddhist Philosophy?


Some politicians say they follow Buddhist Philosophy, not Buddhism. Maybe there is more truth in intention.

Like the pejorative quality used in other terms such as Socialism, Liberalism, etc., strictly speaking, the ‘ism’ in the Buddhism turns the Buddhist teaching into a formalised system of beliefs. In religious sense, the ‘ism’ is a notion of belief that supernatural powers control the universe and all living things. In that sense, their statement sounds true, but in the context of Dhamma, the faith or Saddha, does not rely upon supernatural powers or scripts, rather it can be verified by direct experience. Therefore, the Buddhist teaching cannot be an ‘ism’. This may be the reason why the western-educated scholars have related the Buddhist teaching to a Philosophy: study of general and fundamental questions about existence. It is not a bad idea if we understand what the true existence in the Buddhist thought is. Of course, it is neither in the past nor in the future, but always falls into the present moment. I believe understanding this is a prerequisite for understanding the Buddhist Philosophy.

Nevertheless, we can replace the term Buddhism with the ‘Buddha Sasana’ that covers the doctrine as well as accumulated beliefs, practices, values including Sanga and Laymen institutions that have built up by traditions. They all are essential components of the survival of the Buddhist Philosophy, so making statements to say that it is all downhill since the Maha Sanga and the devotees engaged in religious practices and traditional engagements is not a good idea. We also wonder how one can harmonise the insight into the Buddhist wisdom on the one hand, with the suicidal nature of social liberalism on the other. Nothing they said seemed to have an iota of the continuous and sustained concentration to hinder needless thoughts as the Buddhist Philosophy advocates.


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