Is Buddhism a religion?

Le Bouddhisme est-il une religion ?

Buddhism is defined by the majority as a religion. In fact, with nearly 300 million followers, it is today considered the fourth religion in the world, preceded by Christianity, Islam and Hinduism in third place. But if it is a religion, who is its God? What does he promise? Does he advocate life after death?

The true definition of Buddhism provokes many controversies. While others see it as a philosophy, others describe it as a way of life. Let's determine it together then!

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a name derived from the word "budhi" which means "to awaken". Its main objective is to achieve enlightenment, that is, nirvana or enlightenment. To do this, its practitioners called “Buddhists” adopt several techniques: meditation, prayers and offerings. They also study philosophical as well as psychological teachings and thoughts.

The doctrine of Buddhism is based on the teachings of the first Buddha, Siddhartha. It is based on the concept that in order to achieve enlightenment, one must break with egoistic desire as well as illusion, because these two aspects are the source of human suffering.

Truths in Buddhism

In Buddhism, there are 4 truths. According to the Theravadins, if a person understands and applies these truths, they will easily attain enlightenment. These are the truths of suffering, of the'origin of suffering, of the cessation of suffering and finally path that leads to the end of this suffering. Their application helps break the vicious cycle of rebirth and death.

As for the Mahayana, he believes that enlightenment is achieved when an individual attains supreme wisdom and takes advantage of this latter to help those around him. The bodhisattva (one who has attained nirvana) can then live in the world without causing karma. On the contrary, he will guide people to encourage them to wake up in turn.

And Buddha? Is a god or an idol?

The first Buddha (the most famous and even founder of Buddhism) is called Siddhartha Gautama (or Gotama). He was born around 563 BC. This divine figure comes from a wealthy royal family, coming from Lumbini (present-day Nepal). When he was 29, he realized that wealth does not guarantee happiness. He then left his kingdom to explore different philosophies and religions in order to find the path to happiness.

After 6 years of research and meditation, he finally discovered his way and came to enlightenment. He then spent all his time professing his precepts. Unlike other religions, this divinity asked his followers to experience his teaching and not to take them for granted.

To come back to the question “Is Buddha a God?” The answer is no. Buddha is not a God, and even while he was still alive, he did not see himself as such.


And the Buddhists? Why do they worship them then?

Even though Buddha is not the creator God like that of Christians, his practitioners still worship him as Bhagavat; described as worshiper or supporter of a deity in his personal aspect, which takes a crucial role in Mahavana and Theravada.

Another revelation, every Buddhist can become a Buddha!

The first Buddha is Siddhartha Gautama, but there are other hundreds. You even have the opportunity to be one if you convert to Buddhism! However, before imagining yourself on the beautiful golden statues of Thailand or Burma, know that there are several steps to take.

The Buddha is above all the one who has attained Nirvana. But not only that! The followers who have reached this stage are divided into three titles.

  • The first is the "arhat" or the auditor. It resulted in Nirvana as a result of the teaching of a Buddha, but it is not yet considered such.
  • Then there is the Lonely buddha. He achieved enlightenment solo. This individual has discovered the path to happiness on his own and does not share it with others. He does not lead his colleagues towards enlightenment.
  • The Perfect buddha, also called Samyaksambuddha, is the one who has found enlightenment with his own resources. He then has the ability to share his precepts and teach the dhamma to those around him so that they in turn can attain enlightenment.

Buddhism, a philosophy and a way of life

To each his own definition! Since the very meaning of philosophy is "Love of wisdom". So, yes, Buddhism is a philosophy, as its precepts are based on wisdom, awareness of one's actions as well as self-development in a moral life.

If you do not believe in gods and irrational ideas, you can still view Buddhism as a thought or a way of life. It is an effective technique for regaining inner peace and being in harmony with both yourself and your environment. The application of its precepts also allows you to find happiness, to get rid of various problems in society.

And again, in philosophy, all thought is relative, there is no absolute truth. This is the case with the teachings of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. This character also encourages his disciples to question each of his precepts.

A science ? Why not ! Science is based on observation, study and verification. Buddha Siddhartha Gotama himself encourages his students to review his teaching and test it so that they come to their own conclusion.

A very open religion

The Buddhist religion, if it can be called that, is very open to other belief systems. It also accepts some ideologies of certain religions.

Promoting wisdom, knowledge and understanding, its main goal is to have inner peace and achieve happiness. Buddhism neither convinces, nor converts. He tolerates that the person is Christian, Hindu or Muslim. Moreover, it is not surprising that we never hear of war or conflict being waged on their behalf, except from sects or small extremist groups involved in the politics of their countries, unfortunately ...

And you ? Are you a follower of Buddhism? How long have you been practicing it?

1 Response

Lefranc Jean-Claude

Lefranc Jean-Claude

February 20, 2020

Je suis pleinement en accord avec le bouddhisme !

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