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The Forum > Article Comments > Australia's Buddhism > Comments

Australia's Buddhism : Comments

By Ian Nance, published 13/3/2015

In the 2006 Census, Buddhism is marked as the second largest 'religion' after Christianity; Buddhism is enjoying considerable expansion here.

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Buddhism is a religion - a great religion: there is no need to be apologetic about it.

Regarding the numbers, unfortunately I encountered Chinese people who claim to be Buddhist, but have no idea who Buddha was or what his teachings are - instead they worship a number of goddesses in the belief that this is what Buddhism is about, so it seems that the number of real Buddhists is in fact much smaller.

While Buddhism places less emphasis on "the existence or power of any form of supreme being, or deity", it does not deny it outright as the author claims. Buddha himself was quite ambiguous on this matter.

Faith (Shraddha) is important in Buddhism as in other religions as one should take refuge in the three gems: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Posted by Yuyutsu, Friday, 13 March 2015 8:40:18 AM
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Buddhists will tell you they don't follow a religion, but a philosophy; given there's no God or creator in their belief system; just a decision making hierarchy/highly evolved beings/Buddhas/enlightened ones?

However those beliefs are so similar to the very first esoteric Christian teachings, they could easily be taken as one and the same? i.e., to get into the kingdom of heaven you must be born again.

And backed up by phenomena like a kid coming out of a long term coma, able to speak flawless Mandarin, even though he'd never ever had any contact in this lifetime, with any Mandarin speakers!

So where and when did this well reported kid learn this language?

If not in this lifetime! Then when?

Or perhaps you swallow that BS that his absolutely remarkable human brain taught itself while he was out of it?

Perhaps someone could hit me really hard,[not while I'm looking,] so as to render me unconscious for the next 5-6 years; I'd like to learn to play the piano!

[Excuse me Mr piano man, but do you know your fly is open?
No! But if you hum a few bars I'll try and play it.]
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Friday, 13 March 2015 11:21:33 AM
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Great essay describing the situation re the influence of Buddhism in the modern world.
However there are some inherent problems with Westerners trying to take up and practice any form of Eastern religion including the many forms of Buddhism. And even any kind of now archaic esoteric Christianity too.
This essay describes the situation. http://www.dabase.org/Global_Unity-Culture.htm
This reference is a modern translation of one of the most sublime Buddhist texts (indeed any text) ever written: namely The Mahayanavimsaka of Nagarjuna
http://www.beezone.com/AdiDa/EWB/lastwords.html
Posted by Daffy Duck, Friday, 13 March 2015 12:21:47 PM
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Thanks DD, your link to the The Mahayanavimsaka of Nagarjuna discussion is a piece of wisdom I've been seeking.

Of late, I've been getting the notion there is a connection between what scientists refer to as Dark Matter and what the East might call the dynamic void, Supreme Consciousness or now possibly the Radiant Transcendental Consciousness. Consciousness being the cosmic glue everything in the universe is floating in and emanating from.
Posted by ConservativeHippie, Friday, 13 March 2015 12:56:06 PM
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The author wrote: Another way that it differs significantly from religions is that Buddhism has no hierarchy.

I wish the author knew more about different religions or he would not make such a statement.

Branches of Judaism, Christianity and Islam also have no hierarchy. In Judaism some rabbis are quite influential, but they are are not part of a hierarchy. Each congregation hires and fires its rabbis. No hierarchy assigns them.

Christian Quakers and Baptists do not have a hierarchy. Neither do Unitarians and many other Christian denominations.

Islam does not have a hierarchy although the opinion of some imams is greatly respected. One fundamental feature of the Islamic religious system is that there is no equivalent of "church"óno religious institution with doctrinal or legal authority, no ordained priesthood, no sacred/profane dichotomy, and no doctrinally sanctioned "official truth."

The author also wrote: Although it is convenient to brand Buddhism is as a religion, I suggest that this is not so; it is more a lifestyle practice without being faith-driven.

The author directly contradicts himself when he wrote: Buddhism draws heavily on the ancient Hindu tradition of karma which is essentially action seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.

Belief in reincarnation is just as much a matter of faith as belief in life after death or a virgin birth.

In short the article is both inaccurate and self-contradictory.
Posted by david f, Friday, 13 March 2015 2:13:05 PM
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Yuyutsu makes some good points, but gets a little distracted by the Chinese people calling themselves Buddhist, yet who worship goddesses without any real understanding of what Buddhism is about.

That's a bit like a wine lover claiming to be a connoisseur who relishes almost any drop without knowing its provenance.

Yuyutsu says that the real number of Buddhists is therefore smaller, instead of stating that the number of REAL Buddhists is smaller.

I guess that if you take a broad view of Buddhism, it could be defined as a religion which is defined by Wikipedia as an organised collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.
However, many followers would favour the cultural system component of that definition, thus refer to it as a way of living.

Faith is similarly defined as confidence or trust in a being, object, living organism, deity, view, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion.

Perhaps Yuyutsu also could have given a slightly clearer outline of what is meant by taking refuge in a Buddhist sense.
That means that we have some understanding about suffering, and we have confidence that the Buddha, the truths which he revealed, and the spiritual community in which Buddhists dwell the "Three Jewels") can help us.
We should however not be taking refuge in Buddhism to avoid problems in this very life, there are many non-religious organisations for that, but we should take refuge to avoid problems in future lives, or even better, to avoid future uncontrolled rebirths.
Posted by Ponder, Friday, 13 March 2015 2:13:39 PM
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