Bernard White

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Should (+ why is) Buddhism ( be) held in such high regard compared to other religions?

Also if Colleen Steen, Jordan Burrill and Obey No1kinobe help me with the description, for I feel it is lacking in something. (Only if you want to, of course!)
The comment (by me) which inspired this debate : "I personally have never got why Buddhism is held in such high regard compared to other religions.
It believes in reincarnation, and that the dalai lama is the Buddha "reincarnate", (which from the New Atheist perspective that there is a need for evidence to make any claim valid, I don't see much evidence to suggest that reincarnation is correct, at this current moment in time.) and that "desire is the root to all suffering". While I would say rationalization was, but am happy to debate this with many.
I mean, do Buddhists want us just to be zombies? With no desire, or wishes. I am afraid I could not live in a world like that.
Buddhism, has a focus on getting rid of consumerism (and focus more on happiness economics), yet when my brother visited some Buddhist monasteries in Sri Lanka, some Buddhist monks forced him to pay to see the monasty, and made him pay more if he wanted to stay. Which seems rather ironic.
Also I find it rather odd when people say Buddhists are the most "peaceful" when they have extreme discrimination against Islam, which goes contrary to their own beliefs.
I hope you can help with this dilemma I have.
While I am willing to accept that Buddhism does have some amazing insights into what people fulfilled and happy (Which to be honest, I feel is quite amazing, and the main reason they are held in such high regard. And their research into meditation) I just disagree with (from what I understand of my very limiting knowledge of Buddhism) with some of the things they say!
I just view Buddhism in the same light, as I view all religions. (Which is strong agnosticism concerning their spiritual beliefs)"

I know I may have got some of my facts wrong! And apologise if I have!

  • Apr 13 2013: Buddhism isn't a religion, it's a way of life.
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      • Apr 13 2013: Okay, you got me there. I probably didn't word what I was attempting to say in the best of ways.

        What I meant was that religion isn't as much of a religion as it is a way of life. I can't deny that it isn't a religion because it is ;people talk about it, practice it and follow it just like a religion is talked about, practiced and followed.

        I wouldn't call myself a 'Buddhist', however I do keep in mind the morals and overall goals of Buddhism, and how to incorporate Buddhism in to my own life, but I don't practice it like a religion is practiced

        I hope I made more sense.
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          Apr 13 2013: Ruben,
          For what it is worth, I think/feel you worded it perfectly fine. From what I learned about Buddhism with old teachings, it is a philosophical belief, or a way of life. I believe in modern times and western culture, people have embraced it as a religion, and in keeping with the changing times, it is accepted and described as a religion.

          That is why I wrote in my comment on this thread...."....it is recognized at present, as the fastest growing religion in the world. I always thought of Buddhism as a philosophical belief rather than a religion, and believe that idea has been reinforced with many of the Buddhist teachings".

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism
      • Apr 14 2013: Colleen and Chris, I'm not sure how to directly reply to your comments (still new to this website).

        I agree with you there, Colleen, people have embraced it as a religion, if it wasn't titled a religion I doubt it would be as popular as it is.

        I'm not sure either Chris, it just came to be known as a religion one day. Understandable, I'm a bit lazy with my word choice and I do admit my vocabulary isn't one of the largest. Thankyou.
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          Apr 14 2013: Ruben,
          You did great with the positioning of your reply....it can be confusing. FYI...if there is not a little red "reply" in the upper right of a comment, you scroll back to the next possible "reply" opportunity, which you did.....PERFECT!

          I'm not sure when Buddhism started being called a religion either. I did a search yesterday to try to discover that information , and could not find anything.

          When I was studying and practicing Buddhism, all the old teachings I read indicated that it is a philosophy, or life practice/way of life, as you insightfully wrote:>) And since you are new to TED.....WELCOME!
      • Apr 15 2013: Obviously it comes down to perspective..What constitutes a religion? Just because it says so in the dictionary doesn't make it true, That's just a very sheepish thing to say.
  • Apr 11 2013: Part 1

    Thank you for your question, I have posted in three parts as my answer is quite long.

    I am not aware that Buddhism is held in higher regard to other beliefs.

    I was brought up in a Christian society (Church of England), attended church as a boy but drifted away from it as I grew older and developed a taste for critical thinking and rebellion.

    I recently became interested in Buddhism after going through what I believe was some kind of awakening (although it might simply be a mid-life crises).

    I do not know anybody else within my social circle that is a Buddhist, but I felt naturally drawn to it, bought some books and started attending daily meditation at a Buddhist centre in the town where I was born (where I no longer live).

    I have felt a natural affinity to most of the teachings so far and have benefitted immensely from the meditation.

    These are my personal reasons why I understand and feel comfortable with Buddhist teachings and practice:

    There is no supernatural being in Buddhism that hands out rewards or punishments on judgement Day.

    There is no original sin or saviour concept in Buddhism. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in him. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others.

    The liberation of self is the responsibility of one's own self. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline, practice and individual striving.

    Dharma (the teachings in Buddhism) exists regardless whether there is a Buddha. Sakyamuni Buddha simply discovered and shared the teachings. He is neither the creator of such teachings nor the prophet of an almighty God to transmit such teachings to others.

    Please continue to part 2.
  • Apr 15 2013: Buddhism I believe is of greater significance because in its true sense it is spirituality without Dogma. Science gives a method of empirical and objective inquiry. Meditation and Mindfulness given by Buddhism too are methods that are measured by the result the practicioner experiences and is made aware of. Given in a scientific kind of way i believe whats occurs during the "Path to Enlightenment" is the de-compartmentalization of brain functions. Enlightenment is the full integration of the different dynamics of our brain and its processes. Buddhism is a noble practice indeed and its built on action not dogma.
    • Apr 15 2013: Hi Keith!
      I agree, THIS is Buddhism in its pure, experiencial form! Not worshipping the teacher, but actually following the teacher. As is said; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (or in this case), appreciation.
      I also think that his (Its), teachings are also more highly considered (in the west, today), because 'It' offered to folks a systematic way to attain enlightenment - in "the Eight-Fold Path". Kung Fu Tzu and even Lao Tzu were either unable or unwilling to attempt this.
      I have an aquaintance who is a Mason. He said once that his lodge 'recieved quite a number of people who enquire about membership, based on its past reputation as a source for personal help in escaping religious tradition to pursue personal, spiritual experience. They are disappointed to find out that it is more like a fraternity.' So, there are some folks here and there, who are looking for real, presonal, spiritual connectedness.
      Cheers!
      Jordan
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      Apr 16 2013: Buddhism is only one of Indic religion, or irreligion that West could partially figured out. I think you must go to the roots.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_India
      • Apr 16 2013: what are you trying to suggest?.. The "west" cant figure out the other "religions? Huh? What do you mean?
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          Apr 16 2013: It is written in plain English and I don't think there is anything unclear about the meaning. Did you check the link, btw?
  • Apr 12 2013: I see some folks have been kind enough to correct some of your facts.
    I am Buddhist and have been for many years & still learning & in turn stumbling a bit here & there. As the Dali Lama would say: I am only human (He said this about himself).
    Teachings are important in any religion but Buddhism is not a religion, it is a teaching system of beliefs that the Buddha learned in his life. These teaching can, & are, carried over into modern life quite nicely.
    It would be nice if you read up on the Buddha's life to get a better insight.
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      Apr 12 2013: " I see some folks have been kind enough to correct some of your facts."
      Sorry! :(
      I haven't the time to do so yet.
      Yet even if it isn't a religion, and just a philosophy, it can still be incorrect.
      Out of interest why heed the perception of just one man (who lived a very long time ago) in such high light? When he was probably wrong about so many things?
      Why not make your own philosophy? I
      • Apr 12 2013: Was he wrong? I don't feel that way.
        Any philosophy can be wrong but his teaching have stood the test of time.
        I feel we all have our own philosophies about various things but being just a mere human, I find Buddha's words and teachings very much like my own.
        Me thinks you should take a wee bit of time to better inform yourself about a subject before you start a debate. Pretty please!
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          Apr 12 2013: I agree. :-)
          I have only read a few books about Buddhism.
          Yet I find that, Christian Teachings have stood the test of time. Does that make them right?
          No, Not necessarily. I mean you can make any scripture say what you want it to say.
          Yet I must admit, I mus do more research. For the only reason at the moment, I see why Buddhism is that the the Buddha was good at teaching people how to be happy.
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          Apr 13 2013: Bernard,
          Perhaps with your statement..."you can make any scripture say what you want it to say", you are suggesting that there are many different interpretations? If that is what you are suggesting, I agree:>)
  • Apr 11 2013: Please read from my first post up.

    This is part 3

    It is also important to point out that one can practice Buddhism without being affiliated to a sect or group. This is my chosen path as I believe that fundamentalism can appear this way.

    I personally do not believe in reincarnation in the traditional sense but do believe that all of us go on living forever. (I believe that there are 200 billion atoms that make up my body that were once making up the body of William Shakespeare).

    I strongly believe that lust (desire), Hate and Ignorance are the main cause of emotional and mental pain and suffering. I myself was experiencing a great deal of pain and suffering while living a lustful, hateful and ignorant life. However, I can assure you that I am not a zombie without these. In fact, I feel more alive than I ever have.

    Since becoming less materialistic and consumerist, I attain more happiness through gaining experiences rather than material objects, get more pleasure through spending more time on community activities and with family, eat healthier, and feel so much more free from the clutches of the media and the system that controls us.

    I feel less ignorant towards people of other faiths and respect all people and in fact all beings as equals.
    I no longer struggle with anger, jealousy, patience and tolerance as I once did.

    Finally, the most important thing for me, is that the Buddha taught us to question everything, seek our own answers and look inside ourselves for the way forward.

    I hope this personal view of Buddhism is of some help.

    Peace and love.
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      Apr 11 2013: WOW!
      Where do I even begin?
      I will probably take quite a long to,e responding to this one!
    • Apr 14 2013: Lee, thanks for your posts and my first reaction is "You are talking about Swedenborgianism" :) The concept of life, and how to live, is just as the doctor ordered!

      What Jews and Christians often do not understand is that sometimes people are 'chosen' because the worst students make the best example of what we must endure to achieve.

      Thanks
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      Apr 14 2013: Well said! :)
      (Even if I do disagree with you on some things! :P)
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          Apr 14 2013: Yes I admire most religions, and feel that there are many things to learn from them!
          Yet I do not agree with many of their spiritaul beliefs (concerning "God", for I am a Strong Agnostic!)
          Hope no offence is taken!
          Kind regards,
          Bernard.
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      Apr 13 2013: " "If you see Buddha in the road, kill him."
      Seems a bit harsh to me. But I can probably get where you are coming from (Was this you saying this, or a quote from someone else?) :)
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          Apr 13 2013: Hmm.
          Am not sure whether it is egotistical to identify yourself with a label, or the teaching of a philosopher.
          It is like saying I am an egotist, for Identifying myself with Hume, or Karl Marx. And that I need to discover communism for myself, for identifying myself with Karl Marx is egotistical which needs to be eliminated.
          Though I can see where your coming from! :D
      • Apr 13 2013: Hey Bernard!
        I believe this is an allegory in Buddhism, the process of seeking Divine enlightenment and the temptations waiting along the way of the seeker. I see similarities to the writings of "St. John of the Cross", a hermetic mystic who wrote "The Dark Night of the Soul", where issusionary temptations are offered by a deceiver to tempt the initiante to end their quest for union with God before final acheivement. This is a common theme among spiritual seakers of god. Consider Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness and temptation by Satan and the Old Testiment account of 'Jacob and the angel'
        Cheers!
        Jordan.
  • Apr 11 2013: Part 2

    Karma is a cornerstone of Buddhist teachings. Karma refers to an important metaphysical concept concerned with action and its consequences. It is the understanding that there are consequences in this lifetime for your actions.
    Loving Kindness and compassion is extended to all living beings including animals. Buddhism strictly forbids animal sacrifice for whatever reason. Vegetarianism is recommended but not compulsory.

    No holy war concept in Buddhism.

    Suffering is another cornerstone in Buddhism. It is the first of the Four Noble Truths. The causes of suffering a are very well analysed and explained in Buddhism.

    Buddhist teachings expound no beginning and no end to one's existence or life. (similar to what we are discovering through Quantum Physics).

    Buddha does not claim to be a creator of lives or the Universe.

    Wisdom occupies a paramount position in Buddhist teachings. One is taught to balance compassion with emotion with rationale (right understanding / truth / logic).

    The tradition and practice of meditation in Buddhism is important. While all religions teach some forms or variations of meditation, only Buddhism emphasizes Insight meditation as a powerful tool to assist one in seeking liberation/enlightenment.

    The concept of Hell is different in Buddhism. it is not a place for eternal damnation as viewed by 'almighty creator' religions. In Buddhism.

    The Buddhist cosmology (or universe) is distinctly different from that of other religions which usually recognise only this solar system with Earth as the centre of the Universe and the only planet with living beings. The Buddhist viewpoint is that there are many solar systems / worlds.

    Please continue to part 3
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    Apr 15 2013: "Also I find it rather odd when people say Buddhists are the most "peaceful" when they have extreme discrimination against Islam, which goes contrary to their own beliefs." Here, I think you might be confusing Buddhists with Hindus.

    But maybe not...
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    Apr 14 2013: To better understand Buddhism, I highly recommend you check out The Jataka (Jataka Tales, Jatakas, etc) the stories of the Buddha's former births.

    To start, Wiki gives a good overview of what the Jataka Tales are. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jataka_tales

    During my time at College for Creative Studies, I was fortunate enough to take a course on Visual Narration in Asia which was taught by Leela Aditi Wood, arguably one of the most qualified people in the world to be teaching such a subject. The course was an excellent experience and I learned so much!
  • Apr 13 2013: Whatever the connection, or the reason, but the Zen master D. T. Suzuki called Swedenborg "the Buddha of the North" and said the following regarding him:

    "Revolutionary in theology, traveler of heaven and hell, great man of the spiritual world, great king of the mystical realm, clairvoyant unique in history, scholar of incomparable vigor, scientist of penetrating intellect, gentleman free of worldly taint: all of these combined into one make Swedenborg... Those who wish to cultivate their spirit, those who bemoan the times, must absolutely know of this person." ~ D. T. Suzuki

    More on this here: http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ENG/loy11.htm
    One big advantage of Buddhism would seem to me, is the acceptance of the mind, or human spirit, as a reality. They may with that approach make humans more open and connective to a Divine entity and thus influence. However little they believe in a Divine Being.

    Unfortunately Christians have very little tolerance for different beliefs, while my motto, based on my belief is that "If, whatever you believe, makes you a better person, believe it!"
    • Apr 14 2013: Hi Adriaan!
      YES! Emanuel Swedenborg was a very interesting dimensional explorer! And a good example of human nature in action. Even though he was a true explorer of the Divine, There is now (of course), a Swedenborg christian denomination. I don't have a Swedenborg church near me, but I would venture a guess that they rely on his experiences / explorations - rather than follow his example, by having their own (religious practice rather than individual, personal responsibility). I could and hope I am wrong on this , but...
      Gary Lachman, a musician in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (former member of 'new wave' band "Blondie w/ Debbie Harry) has written a wonderful little book on Swedenborg's work and has also just done an other book called "Jung, the Mystic" which is also wonderful!
      To avoid pursecution from 'the church', Rene deCarte helped create this dualism in western thinking that has haunted us ever since - creating the mechanistic materialism that is now such an obstacle to western scientific progress in the area of consciousness research.
      Cheers!
      Jordan
      • Apr 14 2013: Thank you Jordan, religion, in my opinion is/should always be a personal endeavor and I see religion only as 'spiritual car pooling' nothing more.
        Was't there a Gary Lachman also witht the nickname Johnny Appleseed? Talk about reaching out, seed by seed :)
        Thanks very much for your input!

        BTW much of our church activities can be joined over the internet, if you searched "Bryn Athyn" and cathedral, the town. or "Swedenborg" on UTube.. Newchurchlive.org or newchurch.org, and much more.
        Have a great weekend.
      • Apr 15 2013: Did you know about Helen Keller? She even wrote a book about it "My Religion"
  • Apr 13 2013: Hi Folks!
    I believe I am seeing a thread here that is important for me personally in my experience! I am NOT a 'christian'! yet I have encountered (in the upper or innermost levels), a "god-head" (a part of the 'Great Center of All Being'), on the upper levels that will answer to the name Jesus, when called upon. I have also interacted with a wonderful being/god(?), that identifies itself as the Buddha. They both seem to spend most of their existance together as close friends and fellow workers. But, I am NOT a Buddhist!
    Over the last twenty-sum years of my explorations of the divine levels/dimensions, I have accumulated enough personal experiencial evidence for myself to feel comfortable in accepting apprenticeship to them for my life, here and beyond. I am now working daily to build my personal energy-information 'resume' for the time that I leave this 'boot camp' dimension and move on to more work and responsibilities.
    So, here is my point; to those who 'do', it is a life. For those who talk, ponder, practice theology and engage in feel good 'blind faith', it is a religion - what ever name it goes by or whom ever they are deluded into thinking that they are following.
    I know this sounds harsh and judgemental - I don't wish to offend anyone. But, i've done both myself and I know the difference between the two, intimately.
    Best Wishes To All!
    Jordan
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    Apr 10 2013: Its going to be a great debate !

    First of all, some corrections: Buddahism isn't a relign, it is a philosphy and psychologicly way of thought about the human mind and spirit.
    Buddahists may believe in reincarnation, but it is not part of the Buddahistic belief. The Dalai lama isn't litrealy a reincarnation of Buddah, but simply "have the spirit of Buddah within him"- meaning that he his someone that is believed that like the original Buddah, have reached internal bliss- the nirvana. The original Buddah avoided in any way from discussing on metaphiscal elements. By Buddahism the way to bliss is internal so any external power is not relevant, if exist or not.
    It is concidered as the most peacefull belief because its core concept is that the way to blissfulness is by doing good onto the world. Unlike most religens whome believe that man is evil by heart and need a force to put him on the right track, Buddahism believe that everytime you harm another living creature you harm yourself, because of your inner integrity.
    Buddahism isn't a way to happiness, it is a way to bliss, an end of suffering. Mindless zombies have more inner peace. But you don't have to be a mindless zombie in Buddahism, you can want, love, and need, but not desire. If something makes you happy, do it, but it differ what you do because it makes you happy and what you do because you are mentaly, physically and psychologicly have too.
  • Apr 10 2013: Woah Bernard!
    This new discussion now appears to be operational Captain Bernard! Always kinda wanted to say something Star Trekkie-like too!
    You've asked alot of preliminary questions that I believe YOU should begin with at your choice - first!
    'Live Long and Prosper'!
    Jordan
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    Apr 16 2013: Buddhism points to a different paradigm, a way of living that is one with all life and all that exists, that can be experienced and known, when we get free of the clutter in our conditioned human minds. Calling it a religion places it in the same ballpark as those organisations that require blind beleief, which only adds to the clutter.

    The ultimate level of enlightenment is to forget the path that lead you there and to live awakened, in the present, in peace, love and joy. That's not membership in a group, that is personal freedom
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    Apr 16 2013: This is an interesting question. Interesting, because it involves more of human behavior than a super natural god.
    One way to solve your dilemma, is to conduct a thought experiment, where you play the role of an extra terrestrial intelligent being who is watching human behavior. Suppose you have the power of watching such behavior over great spans of time and geographical space. Also suppose in your civilization you have nothing remotely similar to religious faith.
    When I conduct that experiment, human race looks almost exactly similar over time and space - and I see cruelty, kindness, dogma and rationality evenly distributed. No one can claim a preferred position in terms of human cruelty, destructiveness and bigotry.
    Now let's superimpose religious faiths on people with the idea that it is something that changes human conduct towards better on a global and statistical scale. I think that kind of idea will be clearly silly as history is replete with examples that tend to show there cannot be any general claim that religious faith can change humanity for demonstrably better conduct. Not even Buddhism. So if people hold Buddhism on higher regard compared to other religious faiths it has to be for other reason.
    I think that is because on a ground of comparison of religious texts and philosophies. In most part, Buddhism does not propose a God and total submission to his authority rather it insists that human misery or peace is the result of actions. Since it developed from Indic proto religious faiths, it has a distinct karmic element in it. This resonates better with modern liberated and secular ideals of life, though ideas like reincarnation is very difficult to be reconciled with common life.
    As human consciousness developed, its complexity induced a runaway quality in it, which is difficult to live with. That plus basic human nature of tribal living and conforming to a normative belief system is why religion came to exist at the first place.
  • Apr 15 2013: Hi Adriaan!
    Thanks for the tip on Hellen Keller's book! I've run through a synopsis of it, for now. Really facinating! It appears to be considered an important enough work to still be in publication even now! I'm looking forward to the time when I can sit down with it and really absorb it! Thanks again!
    But now, I have a question for you that is of a rather personal nature. You may answer or not in what ever way you feel comfortable. Are you personally practicing exploration of the Divine for yourself as Swedenborg did or are you enclined to simply follow his findings as a religious construct (ei. a theological set of untested, blind faith)?
    If you are not yet exploring the Divine for yourself, I can easily offer some spiritual skill/tools for that direction - should you be interested.
    Thanks again for our chats! I'm enjoying them very much!
    Cheers!
    Jordan
  • Apr 14 2013: Hi Bernard,
    Just responding to your mentioning of reincarnation. As Swedenborgians we do not believe in reincarnation because we see it as a misinterpretation of who says what :)

    We live in a spiritual world and have out body in this material, physical world. We can look around and know exactly what is ours (usually) and what is not ours. And just by looking at something does not make it ours either.

    We are conscious of this physical world and not (usually) conscious of the spiritual world. However we are more influenced and moved by that spiritual world than anything in this physical world. Just saying we are a spirit in a body does not say much. There really is a spiritual WORLD which also means we have good and not so good spirits around us that communicate thoughts and feelings to us. If we decide to change our view on something or concept that means we are changing our spiritual environment. Changing the spirits around us.

    When a person is hypnotized and that person says something it is not that person (which 'stepped aside') who is talking but it is on of the spirits around, or associated to the person. That spirit may have lived in this world hundreds or thousands of years ago, and say so, but it is not the person who's body is sitting or lying there.

    All that being said, if someone says to me he or she believes in reincarnation, I say "that fine, that's just details. If that helps you in becoming a better person, a more loving and compassionate person, Great! I compare it to what you wear to church, it is not what you wear because that's just looks. Just looks don't make us a better person.
    To give you details and a more general overview of what we believe this spiritual world is all about, I highly recommend this book. And if you want to read anything on paper, there is the Swedenborg Society in London.
    http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/documents/TheSpiritualWorld.pdf
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    Apr 10 2013: Personally as a 'strong atheist' (I've heard it labelled that many times),
    I only hold buddhism in a high regard (solely in comparison to my aggressive contempt for the abrahamic faiths) due to its appearance of being largely pacifist and non-confrontational.
    Essentially, it collectively leaves me alone and therefore I leave it alone in response.

    Now if I was in a country such as Thailand or Srilanka I may have a different opinion, but as it stands I have no reason to attack it or defend myself from it, directly or indirectly.

    My position on the dalai-lama and the belief system on the other hand is ultimately the same as any other faith.
    Superstition, faulty reasoning, lack of evidence, indoctrination and ruled by charlatans..
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      Apr 10 2013: Wow! This can make an interesting side debate, because I have often been labelled a strong agnostic, so I believer we might be polar opposites (in one sense)!
      I view 'God' as a poorly defined (in the way it only has subjective definitions!) hypothesis.
      I would recommend the other debate I started called : Can we create an experiment to test the hypothesis of God? (Or something like that!)

      While to the current debate at hand, before I get too carried away as Colleen suggests so brilliantly, it's interesting to see how you note that if you were born in a different country your opinion might the different, which is kind of crucial!
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    Apr 10 2013: Bernard,
    I am honored, again, to be invited to one of your discussions....thank you:>)

    Although I practiced and studied Buddhism at one stage of my life, I've also practiced, researched and studied other religions, and I do not hold Buddhism in any higher regard than other practices. That being said, it is recognized at present, as the fastest growing religion in the world. I always thought of Buddhism as a philosophical belief rather than a religion, and believe that idea has been reinforced with many of the Buddhist teachings.

    I do not practice a religion at this time, and certainly have embraced many teachings from various different religious and philosophical beliefs, many of which support each other as a foundation for our learning, growth and evolution. Much of the dogma of religions, which does not make sense, and does not beneficially support the life experience, keeps me from wanting to embrace a particular religion.

    I believe in a form of reincarnation, in which the energy that powers the body is recycled. I do not believe that the same "person" is reincarnated many times. Some Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and some do not.

    Regarding your brother's visit to Buddhist monasteries....
    Because there are different branches, which embrace a variety of different traditions, beliefs and practices, and are not consistant regarding their understanding and practices leading to "the path", we do indeed see some contradictions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism

    I agree with you Bernard, in viewing all religious beliefs in the same light, because people are different, will interpret these concepts in different ways, just as we may, as humans, interpret EVERYTHING in different ways, therefore using the information differently:>)

    I suggest that if anyone wants you to be a "zombie", you might want to seriously evaluate that information:>)