Is Buddhism a religion? Yes and no. The truth of the matter is that anything that you worship and put faith in can be your religion. You can put your faith and hope in a political party, a possession like money or an ideal like a glowing guy with a beard sitting on a throne in the clouds who will only talk to his followers in words put together from dozens of books by a religious committee in the 6th century.
What is religion?
In thinking of religion, the question that comes to mind is why do people have to look for answers outside themselves as if they were separate from creation? If we are created by a supreme being and there is some purpose to our lives and we want to know what said purpose is then we might do well to ask how many of the “W’s” we can figure out.
Who is god? Wow that is a big one. Maybe it’s too big to tackle first so let’s move on for now.
What is god? Easy right? A supreme being! But what does that mean? We are beings and we are made of many parts physical and electrical and that etheric thing that gives us life energy. So we can say that god is many things. Material and energetic. OK that makes sense if you take the quote that “god is all things.”
Where is god? Well some say heaven. Some say everywhere and that seems to make sense if he knows all and sees all he must be there to see it.
When is god? It seems to be held that he is without beginning or end so he is without a time reference.
Why is god? This may be the first real step on finding out the purpose of things. If you want to know why we are here this is the first step. God is god because he has a creation. That is our definition of things most of the time. But then the question may become “Why did he create us?”. I doubt we were created as the result of a bet like the one between two authors that started scientology. Unless you believe in a decidedly more redneck god where the whole thing happened one morning with a “Hey Ya’ll, watch this! POOF!! Universe. Cool Huh?” then there is likely a more profound reason.
So is Buddhism a religion then?
Buddhism is a philosophy on a path. It can be a religion and is to many millions. At its heart though it is all about Truth. I spelled that with a capitol T to illustrate a point. There is a word we use in Buddhism called Dharma. And there is a word we use called dharma. The word means truth. In most parts of the world Buddhists are referred to as seekers of Dharma or followers of the Dharma. Only here in the west where we assume you have to follow the teachings of a man to reach god is the term Buddhist universal.
There are Dharmas in the universe that are pointed to in the four noble truths and the eight fold path. These are unchangeable and non subjective truth. Then there are little truths that we run into on a daily basis that are also dharmas. That is why I use the big D and the little d like the capitol T in truth.
In Buddhism the point is personal responsibility and proof. If you can’t prove it is real it may still be real but there is no reason to believe in it until it really is proven. Buddhists are more the scientists of religion. The use of Mantra as a psychological tool helps delve into the workings of the mind to see past illusion, ego and cultural trappings. It is a tool for finding truth in daily life and the workings of the universe. It is possible from the Buddhist point of view to be a Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist and still be a practicing Buddhist. Unfortunately most of the religions that rely on their personal flavor of controlling your life don’t share that view. In the end Buddhism is a path of self discovery, development and control of one’s own faculties. So What will you believe?