A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Philosophy?

Some say Buddhism is a philosophy. Summarizing Webster’s dictionary defines philosophy as

1: All learning exclusive of technical precepts and practical arts.

2: A pursuit of wisdom.

3: The most basic beliefs, attitudes and concepts of an individual or group.

Yes Buddhism fits all these so it can be classified as a Philosophy; however that is a label that can be too confining if applied stringently. The actions of karma, including past lives, the sense of déjà vu, are but two areas that put Buddhism into the metaphysical real more commonly referred to as religious in nature. Looking at the rules and techniques for a happy life with the practical application, could be better described as psychiatry. The guidelines for eating for good health, would make a good basis for a course in nutrition. So I think of Buddhism as including philosophy as one aspect in the way of life it recommends to us. For the study of Buddhism leads to a deeper understanding of ones thoughts, ones motivations, ones flaws, our relationship with others and the wisdom to know what we can change and what we can’t. The pursuit of wisdom not just for the sake of knowledge, but rather as the basis of practical steps we can take to improve ourselves without harming other sentient beings. A shared belief system, one of an attitude of acceptance, that includes the concept that we are evolving towards a higher from of existence. Referring to Star Trek again: The Vulcan philosophy of IDIC (infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), could be said to be very Buddhist in nature. It is accepting that we are all different yet share enough in common to accept, celebrate and encourage differences. When we find our partner in life, it is not someone who is identical to us. Rather it is someone who compliments our strengths, helps us overcome our weaknesses, shares our basic beliefs, and challenges our boundaries in a well-meaning manner, to name but a few examples of accepting others as they are.

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