A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the tag “What Is Buddhism”

Engaged Buddhism, my view

I have talked about Engaged Buddhism, and it dawns on me that I should define what I mean by it. To me Engaged Buddhism, is not about changing what the Buddha taught. Nor is it about accepting new systems of beliefs. Rather it is about solving the problems we face today based on wisdom that has stood the test of time. There was a musical in the 1960s called Stop the World I want to get Off, and you might say this is the opposite approach, instead of getting off, it’s about getting involved. Also as we are all interconnected here on this planet, we can’t just hop off. It s about solving the social, economic and environmental problems we all face, according to the principles and practices of Buddhism.


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.

Emptiness is form, form is emptiness

Still with the same book as the last few days. he tackles some of the esoteric questions that arise from what appear to be contradictory statements, such as void is matter, matter is void, or Buddhism is not Buddhism, therefore it is named Buddhism through mathematical formulae. I will leave those who are interested in the formulae, to obtain a copy of the book. He then will look at he Law of Cause and Effect, and delve into how Buddhism agrees with the Theory of Relativity. Talk about standing the test of time, over 2500 years till science proved the Buddha was right. The Buddhist outlook on the universe is that it is more immense then we know. That there are Buddhist lands 100,00 constellation away from earth. It’s only since we developed high powered electron telescopes and other devices has man started to see just how vast the cosmos really is. And now they are starting to identify not just planets in other solar systems in other galaxies, but that some of these could support life similar to our own. The earth in Buddhism has just been a grain of sand on the beach, it never was the center or pinnacle of creation.

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