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Is Buddhism a religion?


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#1 katpaws

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:27 AM

I had an active conversation with someone who has recently embraced Buddhism, where they believe Buddhism is not a religion but a "practice" in life. However, from what I have read and understand, it is a religion, as even though it doesn't have a "deity" per se, it still teaches a certain way of life, an aim to achieve and has ritualistic ceremonies.

I am interested in people's opinions and experiences.

#2 spr_maiden

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:33 AM

It has always been spoken about to me as a non-religion. But,  with my very limited knowledge,  there are streams of it that sound like religion.

Don't all religions boil down to practice?



Typo edit

Edited by spr_maiden, 10 September 2019 - 08:49 AM.


#3 Soontobegran

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:40 AM

They follow a 'great man' aka God.
It may not be the God that others follow but it is their God so yes it is a religion as far as I am concerned.
It has always been included in the group of major religions even though some seem to prefer it be known as a philosophy.

#4 IamtheMumma

Posted 10 September 2019 - 08:45 AM

Yes it is a religion. Google says the 4th largest religion globally.

#5 seayork2002

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:05 AM

I believe it is a religion from my understanding growing up

#6 Soontobegran

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:11 AM

I have a few Buddhists friends and they in fact call it their religion. ( I just messaged one of them to check :) )

#7 CallMeFeral

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:16 AM

It might be down to what the person believes in, perhaps. Many Buddhists probably don't believe in the supernatural parts of the religion, in which case it's probably more of a practice. For the ones that do believe the reincarnation parts and all the rest, I'd say that places it in the camp of religion.

#8 Gumbette

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:17 AM

I'm a Buddhist and yes it's a Religion.  Many 'practice' Buddhism as a way of life yes i.e vegetarianism, meditation etc. without attending Buddhist services  or a temple -  maybe that's what they meant?  I visit the Temple but not services - unlike Catholicism, Judaism etc. there's no expectation to attend services on any particular day.

Edited by Gumbette, 10 September 2019 - 11:13 AM.


#9 Apple14

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:35 AM

Yes religion

#10 steppy

Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:38 AM

It's a religion. Kind of surprised anyone thinks otherwise. Maybe people practice it non religiously, but it is a religion. I would not regard those people as Buddhists though, more people who follow a Buddhist way of life.

Edited by steppy, 10 September 2019 - 09:40 AM.


#11 lizzzard

Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:21 AM

Interesting- I always thought it was a philosophy not a religion!

#12 molinero

Posted 10 September 2019 - 10:51 AM

Yes it is a religion. The concept of God or other deity isn't necessarily as central to this religion as it might be in other religions, but this of itself is not a defining factor for religious belief.

FWIW, Taoism, another large world religion, is considered to not have a specified God.

Just because there are buddhist teachings and taoist teachings that can be followed with or without the religious aspect, doesn't mean that these are not religions.

#13 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 10 September 2019 - 11:06 AM

i think it’s a religion, possibly one of the better ones - although, of course, it’s not without its extremists and violence (like all religions) eg in Sri Lanka and Myanmar


#14 Melbs2010

Posted 10 September 2019 - 11:16 AM

I think yes in that it is recognised in say the Census as a formal religion.  I assume it receives the same tax exemptions etc that other religions do.  It has rituals and beliefs surrounding it.  It forms part of some cultural norms in that if parents are Buddhist, children will be brought up similarly.  There are temples with live in monks supported by donations from followers.

But it is different in that it is more focused on individual practice of meditation and mindset rather than being preached at or scared into compliance under threat of fire and brimstone.  I think "Westernised" Buddhism could be viewed as not being overly religious.  People are free to attend for meditation sessions because the philosophy is about free access to the teaching and practice.  However, it's also thought if you want to achieve inner peace or enlightenment you need to fully commit to the whole lifestyle (e.g. no alcohol, no meat etc).  

I think it's very on trend at the moment with the adoption of Eastern practices like meditation, mindfulness, yoga.  But for many regions in the world it is a formal religion and is treated as such.

#15 Twinmum+2

Posted 10 September 2019 - 11:25 AM

Buddhism seems to be the underlying philosophy in a lot of mental health writing lately even if it isn't strictly acknowledged.  Not as a religion and more westernised though as other pps have said...  but you can definitely follow it as a religion if you want to... they even have monks and nuns!

#16 Hypnic Jerk

Posted 10 September 2019 - 12:17 PM

I have it slotted in my mind somewhere that it was claimed not to be a religion

ETA might be Hinduism I was thinking of

Edited by Hypnic Jerk, 10 September 2019 - 12:22 PM.


#17 Lunafreya

Posted 10 September 2019 - 12:26 PM

Buddhism is a religion, they have beliefs about the afterlife and what happens after you die. There are religious teachings (The Four Noble Truths, the Eight Fold Path),

And Hinduism is a religion too.

#18 katpaws

Posted 10 September 2019 - 12:43 PM

The person in question goes to a Buddhist centre and does meditation but some of these meditation sessions are, in my opinion, prayers. The person is reading a lot of books on Buddhism and talking in terms of Buddhist terminology. But it seems to be a lot of picking and choosing, what they want to do/not do.

Thanks for the replies. And thanks, Soontobegran, for asking a friend in the Buddhist community their opinion.

There are different perspectives of whether Buddhism is or isn't a religion (I read some before starting this discussion) but the above opinions are very useful and informative, and reinforce the concept that it is a religion.

#19 Deep thought

Posted 10 September 2019 - 12:50 PM

I think there is "Buddhist philosophy" which you could try to practise non religiously- e.g. to reach a "nirvana" state in the mind... But Buddhism (various sects) is definitely a religion. Tibetan Buddhism leans very Deistic.

#20 Mollycoddle

Posted 10 September 2019 - 02:14 PM

View PostSoontobegran, on 10 September 2019 - 08:40 AM, said:

It has always been included in the group of major religions even though some seem to prefer it be known as a philosophy.

This is my thought on it.  I think it's technically a religion but with the increase in popularity in recent decades there has been a bit of cherry-picking of the more desirable aspects so for many people it would constitute more of a philosophy.  In other words, there are people who practice its tenets and who may even call themselves Buddhists but may also consider themselves to be non-religious as a rule.  The values just appeal to them.

Edited by Mollycoddle, 11 September 2019 - 03:30 PM.


#21 WannabeMasterchef

Posted 10 September 2019 - 02:15 PM

Technically its a philosophy but I would say it has the same common meaning as religion.

#22 Lady Sybil Vimes

Posted 10 September 2019 - 03:00 PM

There are well known buddhists who believe it’s more a philosophy, others who say it’s a religion and some who say it’s both. Secular Buddhism is its own tradition that comes from the west and takes the words of Buddha without any of the Buddhist traditions of rebirth, karma, hells etc.

This a good summary of different views from buddhists: https://www.lionsroa...-november-2013/

#23 Lunafreya

Posted 10 September 2019 - 05:38 PM

Christianity is a religion and you can like its tenets without being a Christian.

#24 JBH

Posted 10 September 2019 - 05:44 PM

Slightly off track, but I think there are a lot of people for whom the cultural and traditional aspects of a religion that is deeply ingrained in their family remain very important even though they have ceased to be religious (by which I mean they no longer believe in God).  One of my good friends would say that being Jewish is one of the most important aspects of her cultural identity, but her “Jewishness” is not linked to faith. Similarly, I know a lot of Catholics who persist in traditions of Catholicism without the underlying belief.

#25 *Spikey*

Posted 10 September 2019 - 06:18 PM

There is definitely a philosophical underpinnings to its teachings and practice. And there is no belief In a God or deity, and no worship of a God or deity. However, there are prayer and meditation rituals, so there is much in common with the external practice of religion.

It's closer to being a religion, than not. I'm happy to allow the Buddhist to decide that for themselves, although the government clumps it in with religions because it's too hard to come up with a different category - it's not aetheism, it's not quite religion, it's, well itself.

If a person treats it as a religion, then it is for them.




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