Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is Buddhism a Religion?

We’ve all heard about the necessity for religious tolerance and respect for different religions.

That was the main argument against ridiculing Mohammed put forth by prominent Muslims during the various cartoon crises and the uproar in advance of Geert Wilders’ movie. There have been proposals in the UN for a resolution that would make respect for the religion of others mandatory under international law, and thus outlaw the Motoons and any other blasphemous depictions or descriptions of the Prophet.

But when the Saudis really got serious about looking at mandatory religious tolerance in their own country, they realized the ramifications of what they might be getting into, and decided that it wasn’t such a good idea after all. According to ANSAmed:

Saudi Arabia: Pact To Respect All Religions Rejected

A resolution calling for the enactment of an international pact to forbid religions from being defamed or insulted as well as their symbols, leaders and prophets has been voted out by the Saudi Shoura (Consultative Council).

A total of 77 members opposed the recommendation while 33 voted in favour, online newspaper Gulf News reports. According to the opponents, such a pact would force people to recognise religions, which advocate idol worship, and that “would be unacceptable.”
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The rejected resolution stated that “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall work in coordination with Arab and Islamic groups and others at the United Nations to draft an international pact for respecting religions, their symbols and leaders.” “This recommendation is creating ‘much ado’“, said Khaleel Al Khaleel, a member of the Shoura. The recommendation would create a dangerous precedent that may produce a negative impact on Muslims rather than followers of other religions, he added. “Some consider Buddhism and Qadianism as religions. Can we make it obligatory for Muslims to respect these faiths and avoid criticising them?,” he asked.

Mohammad Al Quwaihes, who presented the resolution, told reporters that he had not expected that his move would be defeated in such a way as the overwhelming majority of members were in favour of introducing the resolution for deliberations. (ANSAmed).

I’d never heard of Qadianism before, so I looked it up. It’s another name for the Ahmadiyya movement, an offshoot of Islam that arose in India at the end of the 19th century. It is, of course, considered a heresy by the rest of Islam, and it’s no wonder that the Saudi authorities are nervous about having to recognize it as an official religion requiring tolerance and respect.

But what about Buddhism? Is that a religion? Or just a weird cult of loonies and misfits?

I guess we’ll have to wait for the official ruling from Al-Azhar University before we make a final decision.


Hat tip: C. Cantoni

16 comments:

Henrik said...

Buddhists also debate wether Buddhism is a religion or not. First, there are no Gods in Buddhism. Well, there are, but they're too confused to be paid any attention, not to mention worship.

OK, an atheistic religion. Weird. What would one then believe in?

Beg you pardon - believe? Well, it's a nice thing to do, but somewhat naïve. 'Trust' would be a better word, to have trust in the Buddha and what represents him and his teachings. 'Doubt' is just as important, as one will doubt things until they're checked out.

Well, an atheistic, doubtful religion. What does one worship in such religion?

Well, ehm... Technically, 'worship' isn't quite on target. 'Have reverence for' is better, as one will have reverence for those who are good examples and teach useful things.

Hey - an atheistic, doubtful religion where worship isn't really important! What's next?

Don't worry, it gets worse: How about trying to become like the Buddha? Try to find a belief-religion that does that! Sure, some branches of Buddhism say it's impossible in these degenerate times, while others say it's worth a try. Interestingly, these branches are not at war with each other.

What *is* it then - philosophy, psychology, what??

Good question. Buddhists have debated it too, the case can be made for either of these. No wonder other religions just toss Buddhism into the bin of 'polytheism', simply to have the matter settled in a faulty manner once and for all.

Profitsbeard said...

henrik-

The best description I've read of "Buddhism" is: mental hygiene.

It is essentially "looking through all illusions".

An existential philosophy more than a faith.

Taoism is more cheerful, though.

The illusions can be charming.

Why bother fighting them?

Just don't marry them.

Timbre said...

The day Islam becomes tolerant of anything other than submission to Allah is the day I drop dead and become resurrected as a certified Steely Dan bodishattva.

Afonso Henriques said...

Have you noticed how the East Asians have no religion? They only follow some "philosophy of life"!

Have you noticed that North East Asians have a greater IQ than the rest of the world?

Interesting...

I think that the East Asians who follow some "religion" as Christianity, Islam or Hinduism are a bit of "weak Asians", they seem to be more sensible than the others, less focused and more psychological instable.

Also, have you noticed that all the great marcial arts have come from the East?

Really interesting...

VinceP1974 said...

Actually I have the greatest IQ.

It's a real burdon.

SEOULDIER13 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SEOULDIER13 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Baron Bodissey said...

Sorry, seouldier -- I couldn't let that one stand completely as it was.

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SEOULDIER13 said...

[derogatory remarks removed]

East Asians have multiple religions. Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, Christians, Catholics, Paganism, and sad to say, Muslims. So before you open your mouth to say something, research. I take offense since I am part Asian, and lived in the Asia region for 14 out of 24 years. Sure Korea did behead the early missionaries of Christianity that came through since the 1700's. Not to mention the fact that THIS WEBSITE did post an article that shows Koreans converting to Islam and the mosques being built as we speak. I lived not 3 miles from the main mosque in Hannam-Dong. How I hated the site of that, but that's not the point here. The reason that Asians have the greater I.Q. is that you are "forced" to study from day one of school. Case and point, in Korea, kids get up for school, go to school, and after school, they go to a place called Hakwon, which can be translated to substitute academy that lasts anywhere from after school 4 PM to 9 PM for middle school. High school, 4 PM and come home at 1 AM and if there are national exams, they stay up after they come back. It's not about genes, it's about the education system. If the western civilization chose to give a damn about education, kids will have far better academic results. You even make yourself look dumb when you say that
"Have you noticed how the East Asians have no religion?"

and later you say
"I think that the East Asians who follow some "religion" as Christianity, Islam or Hinduism are a bit of "weak Asians"

My wife's two cousins whose father is a devout assistant pastor in Korea, are here in America on a full ride scholarship. One to the prestigious Cornell University, and the other is going to University of Wisconsin Madison. One has a doctorates and the is graduate school. You better believe that Christianity was the staple of their lives due to their father.

SO DON'T EVER PUT BIASED REMARKS ABOUT HOW RELIGION MAY OR MAY NOT PLAY A KEY ROLE IN MAKING ASIANS "WEAK".

Thank you,
From an ASIAN.

Dymphna said...

seoulsoldier--

someone told an anecdote about the different ethnic behaviors in LA. A bunch of black boys, middle school age, were having a grand time on their skate boards very daring and proficient.

Then the person telling the story took his friend into the library, which was filled with Asian children and their mothers. Those kids were being trained to succeed by the adults in their lives. The kids outside, with only peer relationships to guide them, were also being trained to a different set of standards...

...skate boarding won't get you into college and it may prevent you from finishing high school. Worst of all, there is no adult leadership to turn to for guidance.

Dymphna said...

VinceP1974 said...
Actually I have the greatest IQ.

It's a real burdon.


Don't worry about it vp1974. We'll help you carry your burdon and no one will even notice.

SEOULDIER13 said...

It's understandable dymphna and baron. I must respect your wishes on this excellent blog site. It's just frustrating reading certain comments that seem to be made in haste without any research. I do understand also the ancedote. That is a good ancedote as a matter of fact. That is why I said the facts of the Koreans that study hard in my comment. The kids do not wish to study because it is fun, but the parents force them to/train them to from as young as they can read and write. Hell, 3 year olds are learning English now in Korea. BTW if you want a good job, and have a college degree, go to Korea and teach English lol. Thanks once again for running this great site. To the people that read it, please look up, and then read before commenting on something you only have a vague idea of. Notice the 2 "authors" of this website do their research, have correspondents that either inform, or translate them of events and the 2 "authors" read and come up with conclusions based on facts of that current article of which they read, or draw similarities from other past articles.

Thank you,

Seouldier13

Afonso Henriques said...

Souldier 13,

Assuming that all that rage was against my comment...
I think you, as a "religious Asian", got offended. I also think that you are over reacting.

"It's just frustrating reading certain comments that seem to be made in haste without any research."

Well, I haven't done any research, I was talking about what I see in daily life, and here, I do notice a difference between East Asians who are "religious" and who follow a traditional East Asian religion that can hardly be qualified as a religion (Budhism, for example).
Here the "traditional" Asians are much stronger and consistent persons than the "Ocidentalised" Asians with their religion. Here, the Christianised Asians suffer from all the "First World Deseases" as my people do since we join the E.U.
The "traditional" East Asians, otherwise have a great loyalty towards their community, are extremeley correct persons in carachter and in their actions, are hard working, strong, presistent etecetera. That's why I brought this up. The problem (that I don't see as a problem, by the way) is that they are much closed in themselves. For example, one enters some Chinese stores and can see three young Chinese boys playing and talking Chinese with eachother. Suddently the father orders them (in Chinese) to go to the cave when costumers show up.
They usually don't go with strangers, etc. They do not trust in us, Europeans, Africans, Even other Asians such as Indians or muslims.

I just noticed great diferences and found them interesting.

"I take offense since I am part Asian, and lived in the Asia region for 14 out of 24 years."

I am sorry, didn't mean to offend you. And, honestly, I can not see how I did offended you. Is it because I labeled you as a "weak Asian"? Well, it was a general trend and there are many exceptions! I do not found it offensive at all but if you did, I am sorry. Many people say that religion strenghtens one person and others say that agnosticism/atheism strenghtens the person. Nobody gets offended with that. Why did you? Because I said "Asians"? If we were to be talking about Christians and Atheists would you accept my words?
I find your reaction to be too much P.C.

"The reason that Asians have the greater I.Q. is that you are "forced" to study from day one of school."

Yes, that's why uneducated rural Chinese people have generally a greater IQ than the middle educated Americans and Europeans... If you don't want to recognise the disparities because it is too racist, I will not force you to do so. The Mongolians have a great educational system, right. That's why they have a greater IQ than Americans as a whole.
But I was wrong, now we all know that Vince1974 has the greatest IQ of humanity. I am hoping he will give his brain to science.

"It's not about genes, it's about the education system."

Ok Ok you prooved it to be that way. That's why Americans have a lower IQ than Mongolians.

" You even make yourself look dumb when you say that
"Have you noticed how the East Asians have no religion?" and later you say
"I think that the East Asians who follow some "religion" as Christianity, Islam or Hinduism are a bit of "weak Asians""

Well, I think you did understood my words.

"SO DON'T EVER PUT BIASED REMARKS ABOUT HOW RELIGION MAY OR MAY NOT PLAY A KEY ROLE IN MAKING ASIANS "WEAK"."

I just wondered how it can or not be a factor.
As a whole one can even say that only "weak" Asians would abandon their "tradition philosophy" for a "religion". Because the "strong Asians" are sure of their convictons and will not start converting to the first stranger with a Bible.

I was just wondering... sorry for having offended you. But you really are over reacting.

Zeke said...

I would say Buddhism is a religion. While it doesn't posit the existence of "gods" it does support a very unique transcendental cosmology. To be a Buddhist one has to believe in Karma, that is a involitale moral balance to the universe. This in turn requires belief in reincarnation (or a sort). In addition there are the Four Noble Truths which are axioms of the faith that one must believe in. So it is a 'transcedental system of belief based on a very specific metaphysics' which is a pretty good working definition of religion.

SEOULDIER13 said...

I don't know what you have observed as an European, but trust me. Here in America, Asians keep close knit ties with each other. There are massive blocks in a city dedicated to them i.e. Chinatown? Koreatown? Ever hear of them? I am also sure there are equivalents or something like it in Europe. If you are solely basing your opinions on the narrow minded Chinese , then that is a sad sad judgement my friend. I am sure the Chinese were good leaders in philosophy and all that good stuff back then, but times are changing. Everyone is awed by them, but even if they are the largest group of Asians due to their size in sheer numbers. You should not judge the rest of Asia due to that. If you watch the news my friend, you would see that the Chinese are not letting a philosophy driven relationship like the monks of Tibet practice their beliefs. They are no different than the Muslims that we readers, and Authors of this site dedicate ourselves to not be consumed by. No bibles are allowed as of now in China....so I feel bad for those missionaries that are in constant danger in China. I see that your "observations" tell you that no religion but just good mental exercise is the answer to brightness? No my friend, you need both. Hinduism is a strong religion in India, yet India produces the top IT's and other practices such as in the medical field. Religion is a big factor. Sure they are naturally smart in some ways. BUT I.Q. tests are not all that it seems to be.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Two things to bear in mind. Most european - especially British - chinese immigrants come from Hong Kong,until recently a British protectorate, and Canton, always heavily influenced by the Empire. The hong kong immigrants are mostly westernised, anti-communist etc etc, liberal in the old meaning of the word and so on. If I were to go walking through chinatown in Manchester I wouldn't have to worry about some whackjob trying to chop my head off, which is something that would always be on my mind in the back streets of rusholm... They're insular, but they don't isolate themselves and they don't act like they're superior either. Well, unless they're Manchu. The Manchu are the stereotypical chinese bureaucrat emperors. Right arrogant buggers they are. Manchu, I suspect, would be where the majority of 20th century American chinese immigration would be from after the manchurian government was overthrown by the communists.

laine said...

To get back to the original topic, LOL for anyone to expect the Saudis or any Muslim nation to accept RECIPROCAL respect for religions.

Islam is supremacist. It will tolerate no equal. It demands for itself what it refuses other religions. The Muslim demand is that Islam alone is made impervious to criticism and universally, in non-Muslim countries as well so that one religion circumscribes the speech and behavior of everyone on the planet.

I'm amazed that the left wing UN didn't just grant Muslims their ultimate demand. They've denied them nothing so far. Why not go all the way and just call it the UM -United Muslims? Oh, guess China is the fly in the ointment. If it were only the US and other English speaking nations objecting to the world wide caliphate, the UN would order burkas/beards for all.