Talk:Buddhism

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References[edit]

"Buddhism is a religion" logic[edit]

Regarding the question of whether this article should begin with the statement "Buddhism is a religion"--we have discussed this topic before, but I would like to re-open this discussion since I feel there are some flaws in the logic of using this statement as an opening remark. For reference, please see:

As far as I can tell, the main arguments for leading with the statement "Buddhism is a religion" are:

  • The only valid definition of religion is roughly speaking "an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence"
  • There exists a scholarly consensus that Buddhism is a religion

I realize that the other editors have strong opinions on this, so I would like to focus the discussion on the points just mentioned, which I believe are the crux of the argument.

"Religion is a collection of beliefs" logic[edit]

The assertion that "Buddhism is a religion" is valid only if you define the term religion in the broad sense of "a collection of beliefs, etc."

However, the most common definition of religion-- as cited in most dictionary definitions--is (for example) "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods."

So if we state "Buddhism is a religion", it must also be true that:

  • The only valid definition of religion is the broad interpretation offered by scholars
  • The definition of religion as "belief in a superhuman power (e.g. a god)" is not a valid definition

I think this is a very important point, because the lead of this article should be aimed at the broadest possible audience, and it is clear from the dictionary definitions that the most commonly understood definition for religion is the "belief in a superhuman power". Therefore, it is logical to assume that most people who read the statement "Buddhism is a religion" will assume that Buddhism posits a belief in a "belief in a superhuman power (e.g. a god)".

"Scholarly consensus" logic[edit]

It has often been stated in previous discussions that there is a scholarly consensus that "Buddhism is a religion". However, I do not believe that this assertion has been proven.

If there are several reliable sources that have conducted formal surveys of Buddhist scholars, and these sources concluded that the vast majority of scholars agreed that:

  • "Buddhism is a religion" is the best way to begin a description of Buddhism for a broad audience, or
  • "Buddhism is a religion" is the only valid way, or the best way, to categorize Buddhism
  • Etc.

Then we could say that there was a scholarly consensus on the matter.

However, I am not aware of any sources that have made the assertion that there is a scholarly consensus that "Buddhism is a religion" is the best way to describe Buddhism in this context (of presenting Buddhism to a broad audience).

We have seen evidence that many scholars refer to Buddhism as a religion in scholarly papers and in courses at universities. But this is a case of scholars speaking to a limited, specific audience whom they can assume will have a shared understanding of what is meant by "religion."

However, I have also provided evidence that many eminent scholars (and Buddhist teachers) who have undertaken to explain Buddhism to a general (non-academic) audience are reluctant to label Buddhism as a "religion". For example, contemporary scholar Rupert Gethin states: "I am not concerned here to pronounce on a question that is sometimes asked of Buddhism: is it a religion? Obviously it depends on how one defines ‘a religion’. What is certain, however, is that Buddhism does not involve belief in a creator God who has control over human destiny, nor does it seek to define itself by reference to a creed."

Conclusion[edit]

In conclusion, I strongly suggest that we follow the example of Mr. Gethin and many other eminent scholars and:

  • avoid a blanket assertion that "Buddhism is a religion"
  • make clear that Buddhism does not involve belief in a creator god

Regards, Dorje108 (talk) 20:44, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

I think the thrust of Gethin's statement, and something that I think is repeated by Gombrich, is that discussing whether or not Buddhism is a religion is 1) fundamentally neither tractable nor particularly fruitful and 2) an inquiry that academics are going to regard as pointless. Any definition in the lede that defines Buddhism concisely is going to have to include 'religion' to address the popular and historical understanding of Buddhism, and its tendency to be studied alongside other traditions that are considered religions. We would also need some other supplemental terms and previous candidates in this area have been repeatedly discussed and found wanting. It's also worth noting that conceptions of Buddhism as something other than a religion seem to be primarily confined to popular Western literature of the second half of the 20th century and beyond and in some cases reflect polemic goals rather than academic analysis.
In other words, if we are going to evict or qualify religion in the introduction, we need an alternative that reflects whatever the more nuanced understanding is without making the topic sentence three pages long. That's been tried numerous times, and nothing has really been adequate. We also need to think about this from the perspective of a novice reader, someone who is not already familiar with the material, given that this is an overview article. From 10,000 feet and for the casual reader, Buddhism is 'something comparable in role and scope to Hinduism, Christianity, etc' - i.e., a religion- is an adequate understanding. There are wrinkles to the definition of almost every world religion- is Judaism a religion or an ethnicity? Is Hinduism one religion or many?- but explaining those nuances is a task for the body of the article rather than a topic sentence.
I appreciate the attempt to confine the discussion to certain specific weaknesses in calling Buddhism a religion. I'll readily concede that there are some weaknesses to the blanket statement 'Buddhism is a religion' in the topic sentence, but years of raking over the topic have produced nothing that is not at least as bad or worse. It would be worthwhile to see what other encyclopedias call Buddhism; a quick perusal suggests that 'religion and philosophy' is one of the more common ones.
Is there a seperate 'is Buddhism a religion' article? To me, it would be better to summarize the situation in the main body of the article and send the list of quotes and some discussion of the history of the topic (comparative study, 20th century views, etc.) into its own article.
I'm unsure about the creator god issue; my intuition is that it does not belong in the lede, but it seems like a paragraph addressing Buddhist cosmology and addressing Buddhist theories of creation (or their absence) would be a beneficial addition to the article. Not addressing the realms of rebirth, Mt. Meru, etc., seems like an omission.--Spasemunki (talk) 09:44, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Hello Spasemunki. Thank you for the thoughtful response. Much appreciated. If we are going to keep the term religion in the lead sentence (and I don't see any consensus for changing this), then I suggest that we can address the "creator-god" issue directly by qualifying the term as follows: "non-theistic religion". This approach was suggested in a previous discussion, but I did not follow up at the time because I was hoping for a more comprehensive change.
Adding the term "non-theistic" is only one extra word, but it immediately clarifies what separates Buddhism from the other major world religions. From the Buddhist point of view, this is a fundamental distinction between Buddhism and the other religions that existed in India at the time of the Buddha--and it changes everything really. It completely alters the meaning of karma, the self, etc. (as compared to the Brahmic religions).
I would prefer to go further and say "Buddhism is a non-theistic religion and philosophy", but I don't see much of a chance for a consensus on such a change.
In summary, I think that any of the following changes would be an improvement of the current phrasing:
  1. Buddhism as a non-theistic religion.
  2. Buddhism as a non-theistic religion and philosophy.
  3. Buddhism as a religion and philosophy.
If we choose option 3, I suggest adding a footnote to the term religion to clarify the non-theistic nature of Buddhism. Best regards, Dorje108 (talk) 20:31, 5 January 2014 (UTC)
I just realized that DiverDave has already made the change in favor of option 1 above! (I was off-line for a number of days so I missed it.) I think that it is a very good change! It should help remove a lot of potential confusion. Best regards, Dorje108 (talk) 20:40, 5 January 2014 (UTC)
Much that there are traditions and schools within Buddhism which don't look very religious, it is pretty hard to assert that Buddhism is not a religion: Religion involves adhering to some sort of faith in something for which there is no current scientific basis; although Buddhism is one of the Dharma traditions there is a strong assertion of the following beliefs against which there is no current scientific evidence: Buddhahood, liberation (cessation of suffering) / Nirvāṇa, Karma, Rebirth, and even that Prince Gautama achieved Buddhahood.
Likewise there are plenty of deities in Buddhism (there are many traditions and varieties of Buddhism) - there are even 'creator' gods - but they are not omnipotent, and they cannot 'judge', - they cannot prevent karma from ripening. My understanding of this is that Buddha said, explicitly and implicitly, 'take responsibility for your actions'.
So, IMO, non-theistic religion really is only being used as a qualifier to say "Buddhism is not Judaism, Christianity, or Islam" - which is probably a bit redundant? However, I am not bothered enough to keep the status quo. (20040302 (talk) 08:46, 22 April 2014 (UTC))

Addendum 1: Academic consensus guidelines[edit]

For reference, here are the current Wikipedia guidelines on academic consensus:

The statement that all or most scientists or scholars hold a certain view requires reliable sourcing that directly says that all or most scientists or scholars hold that view. Otherwise, individual opinions should be identified as those of particular, named sources. Editors should avoid original research especially with regard to making blanket statements based on novel syntheses of disparate material. Stated simply, any statement in Wikipedia that academic consensus exists on a topic must be sourced rather than being based on the opinion or assessment of editors.

I think it is clear that if we follow the above guidelines then the assertion of an academic consensus that "Buddhism is a religion" has not been established. - Dorje108 (talk) 18:48, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

Comment on "Scholarly consensus logic"[edit]

  • Buddhism is for Aspirants; not for the Scholars of religion. It is a practical guide for the mental health (very practicle though)Kalakannija (talk) 15:16, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

Mindfulness meditation[edit]

Mindfulness meditation is a relatively new article in its present form. I wonder if it could benefit from some attention from some of the regulars here. --Nigelj (talk) 08:20, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Redirect to Mindfulness (psychology). Same topic. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 08:41, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

I agree with Nigelj that Mindfulness meditation will benefit from Buddhism regulars. Although I thank Buddhists for inventing it, my interest in MM is purely secular (I focus on Psychology articles), and have proposed that three related short articles (Mindfulness meditation, Mindfulness-based stress reduction, and Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) be built into apt sections of Mindfulness (psychology), then redirected there. Joshua Jonathan thinks Mindfulness meditation should be merged into Mindfulness. I'm fine with incorporating the article into both, maybe with different twists. Please see discussion here. - Thanks; LeoRomero (talk) 12:19, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 16 May 2014[edit]

I just wanted to see the source that the information came from to help me even further in a project 208.108.164.194 (talk) 14:13, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

X mark.svg Not done The sources are at the foot of the article page, ESP requests are for requesting changes to the article. - Arjayay (talk) 14:20, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 18 June 2014[edit]

Need to change the word Buddha to Lord Buddha Jdhdineshkumara (talk) 10:28, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

X mark.svg Not done Per WP:NPOV, honorifics are not added to the names of religious figures. For example, we do not write Muhammad (PBUH) or Lord Jesus Christ. --NeilN talk to me 10:52, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Nontheistic?[edit]

Isn't a bit much to refer to it as "nontheistic" from the start despite Buddhism having numerous sects that practice it in both theistic and nontheistic ways? It already mentions the several ways it is practiced in the article further down so shouldn't it say "its a religion and philosophy" from the start so as it doesn't seem like its dismissing theistic practitioners? -Fart Waker (talk) 00:04, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Good idea. By the way, therea re a lot of deities in Buddhism, despite its "atheism". Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:58, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
So can the protection on the page be temporarily lifted to allow for this change? -Fart Waker (talk) 06:35, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
The primary definition of theism is belief in a creator god. (See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/theism) In this sense, Buddhism is definitely non-theistic. I am not sure what sects you are referring to, but I think it is important to make the distinction between beings in other realms (devas, etc.) who are subject to karma, and the theistic view of an omnipotent create god. Having said that, I think it would be fine to change "non-theistic religion" to "non-theistic religion and philosophy". However, my first preference for a revised lead is here: Talk:Buddhism/Archive_14#Suggestion_for_revised_lead - Regards, Dorje108 (talk) 18:30, 7 July 2014 (UTC)
Even so, many sources define it as a religion and philosophy, and there are some who incorporate Buddhism into their own theistic views, so it should at least say that its a religion and philosophy but then follow with one of the statements in the link you provided, like this one: "In modern times, Buddhism has been variously described as a religion, a "nontheistic religion", a philosophy, a science of mind, or a way of life." That way the article's lead is at least not completely dismissing all the ways in which it is practiced. -Fart Waker (talk) 19:57, 7 July 2014 (UTC)
For reference, here are some lead paragraphs on Buddhism from reliable secondary sources: User:Dorje108/Buddhism_lead_paragraph_sources#Lead_paragraphs.
I find the lead paragraph by I. B. Horner to be particularly inspired. - Dorje108 (talk) 01:24, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template. There seems to be some discussion here but no consensus as of yet. — {{U|Technical 13}} (etc) 20:33, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
Your notion of "religion" apparently includes a bias toward theism, since none of the RS describes Buddhism as theistic.
Buddhism is "a nontheistic religion", which could also be described as "a notheistic religion and philosophy", though philosophy proper (i.e., that of Ancient Greece, from where the word is derived) has a separate historical context. Both philosophy and Buddhism share the historical context of having arisen in polytheistic societies, incidentally.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 23:07, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
The claim that Buddhism is "non-theistic" is misleading, tendentious, and in some cases just plain false. (1) The existence of "gods" (devas) such as Indra is acknowledged by most Buddhist traditions, even when it is not emphasized. (2) Despite rhetoric to the contrary, Buddhas and bodhisattvas are often the functional equivalents of the gods of other religions, in that they are superior supernatural beings who receive worship and are petitioned for help. Indeed, some Tibetan deities (Ganesh, Saraswati) have direct Hindu analogues. (3) Whether any of various Buddhist concepts of the ultimate reality might be compared to the monotheistic God is the subject of ongoing inter-religious dialogue, whose outcome (if there ever is one) should not be prejudged by Wikipedia. (4) In Indonesia and Malaysia, Buddhism is one of several government-recognized religions, all of which are affirmed / required by the prevailing national political ideologies (Pancasila, Rukunegara) to believe in God, albeit under different names, and Buddhists there accordingly cite concepts such as Buddha Nature as the Buddhist equivalents of "God." --Dawud — Preceding unsigned comment added by 111.240.176.199 (talk) 01:25, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 21 July 2014[edit]

While Buddhism is practiced primarily in Asia, both major branches are now found throughout the world. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined. Estimates range from 350 million to 1.6 billion, with 350–550 million the most widely accepted figure. 203.45.181.91 (talk) 08:36, 21 July 2014 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. Anupmehra -Let's talk! 09:18, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
I know about that, population of Buddhists is still unconfirmed. Bladesmulti (talk) 17:06, 31 July 2014 (UTC)