- Published on Thursday, 08 April 2010 07:36
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 3108
Buddhism is certainly a religion but does not really require a belief in a god. A better description of Buddhism is that believers want to live their lives in harmony with nature yet with a strong spiritual component. So if the "spirit moves you" or you "feel the spirit" or you want to be spiritual without necessarily believing in God, then maybe you should look into Buddhism.
There are several forms of Buddhism - much like the variations of Christianity but I would suspect (hope?) that the version that is most likely to become popular in the west would be secular and might not believe in one of the common Buddhist beliefs, reincarnation.
Like all major religions, it has been going for many years, has become complex and there is a lot of detail to be learned to truly understand it. One person who has learned a lot and written many books about it, is Stephen Batchelor, author of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. (Note Confession is not meant as "revelations" but more as "professing a belief"). At one time he was a fully practising Buddhist monk but was not really happy with some of the dogma. Being a basically honest person, he found it hard to call himself a practising Buddhist unless he accepted the whole package - one wishes other religious people would be so honest. Because of this conflict, he stopped being a monk but still thinks of himself as a Buddhist - albeit an Atheist Buddhist! He also feels that the outlook of the Buddha was far removed from the religiosity that has come to define much of Buddhism as we know it today. He argues that the Buddha was a man more focused on life in this world than the afterlife. But what would you expect - no philosophy would be the same after centuries.
Below are a couple of videos that help explain his thinking. He had a book tour of North America in early 2010 and made a couple of TV appearances - including a long one on ForaTV (Internet only). In one extract from that (below), he compares the Buddhist concept of karma with the Judeo-Christian belief in the will of God. Both convictions, he says, function in a way that "has effectively drawn upon a system of explanation that has virtually no explanatory power."
This clip also illustrates his clarity of thinking and expression.
He also gave an interview on ABC News. Although it is not mentioned, I am sure there is a resurgence of interest in Buddhism because of Tiger Woods acknowledgement that he is a Buddhist.