Buddhism – Religion or Philosophy ?

Michael Holmboe Meyer
The Buddha’s Words on Kindness This is what should be done Be the one who is skilled in goodness,And who knows the path of peace:Let them be able and upright,Straightforward and gentle in speech.Humble and not conceited,Contented and easily satisfied.Unburned with duties and frugal in their ways.Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful, Not proud and demanding in nature. Let them not do the slightest thing That the wise would later reprove. Wishing: In gladness and in safety, May all beings be at ease. Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,The seen and the unseen, Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born, May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another. Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings: Radiating kindness over the entire world Spreading upwards to the skies, And downwards to the depths; Outward and unbounded, Freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down Free from drowsiness, One should sustain this recollection. This is said to be the sublime abiding. By not holding to fixed views, he pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, Being freed from all sense desires, Is not born again into this world.

Coexist with any other religion
Buddhism is probably the most tolerant religion of the world, as the teaching can coexist with any other religion. Other religions however, aim to be exclusive and cannot accommodate Buddhism at the same time. The Buddhist teaching on God – in the sense of an ultimate Reality – is neither agnostic (as is sometimes claimed), nor vague, but clear and logical. Whatever Reality may be, it is beyond the conception of the finite intellect, as it follows that attempts at description are misleading, unprofitable, and a waste of time.
For these good reasons the Buddha maintained about Reality a noble silence. If there is a Causeless Cause of all Causes, an Ultimate Reality, a Boundless Light, an Eternal Noumenon behind phenomena, it must clearly be infinite, unlimited, unconditioned and without attributes. It follows that we can neither define, describe, nor usefully discuss the nature of THAT which is beyond the comprehension of our finite consciousness. It may be indicated by negatives and described indirectly by analogy and symbols, but otherwise it must ever remain in its truest sense unknown and unexpressed, as being to us in our present state unknowable.
In the same way, Buddhism denies the existence in man of an immortal soul. The Enlightenment which dwells in life does not belong to one form of life. All that is man’s changing and mortal; the Immortal is not any man’s.
The Buddha examined the phenomenal life objectively. Studying effects, and tracing their causes, he produced a science of living which ranks with any other science known to man. Having analysed form, he described the life which uses it, and showed it to be one and indivisible. Man, he declared, can become Buddha, Enlightened, by the principle of Enlightenment within. The process, therefore, is to become what you are, to develop to the full the innate Buddha-Mind by destroying the ignorance-produced, desire-maintained illusion of self which binds us from life to life on the Wheel of Becoming. All forms of life, said the Buddha, can be shown to have three characteristics in common; impermanence, suffering, and an absence of permanent soul which separates each from the other forms of life.
The Buddha pointed out how no thing is the same at this moment as it was a moment ago. Even the everlasting hills are slowly being worn away, and every particle of the human body, even the hardest, is replaced every seven years. There is no finality or rest within this universe, only a ceaseless becoming and a never-ending change.
Buddhism is a natural religion; it does not violate either mind or body. Its ethics closely approximate the Natural Law. The Buddha became cognizant of how men are born and die according to their good and evil actions, according to their self-created Karma (or the consequence of meritorious and demeritorious deeds).
Buddhism is a teaching of the Buddha who was born a prince of Kapilavathu, at the part of the Himalaya mountains near the border of Nepal in 623 B.C. He married and had a son. Although surrounded by all the Court’s glamour and luxuries, the sight of a decrepit old man, sick man, dead man and mendicant monk, these four signs left such a deep impression upon His Mind that, at the age of twenty-nine, He decided to leave His palace and enter “the homeless life” of a monk to seek the truth and find a way to salvation for all sentient beings. In His search for salvation among the teachers, He surpassed them and found that their doctrines were insufficient, not leading to Awakening, to Extinction and to Enlightenment and Insight. He departed those teachers and turned to practice self-mortification for six years with great zeal and effort.
Buddha met five ascetics who offered their services to Him, and finally, the Buddha realized that the ascetic exercises were not the right way to attain salvation. He had practiced self-mortification to the limit of His endurance and felt very weakened without achieving anything. So, He partook of food, regained strength and began to practice meditation which finally led to His enlightenment under the Holy Bodi tree near the town of Uruvela, the present Buddha-Gaya when he was only thirty-five years old.

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