Critiquing Buddhism as “Religion”

6 Jun

Buddhism as Religion:  Dead-On-Arrival


There’s a sense in which Sam Harris’ idea here of “Killing Buddhism” is perfectly reasonable and justified.

As long at Buddhism is presented as RELIGION, then much of its merits are left languishing, and all we have left for it is a metaphysical jungle.  Easy pickings for every guru, religionist, and mystic to pull out from Buddhist thought whatever suits his/her fancy without in fact considering the core or essence of Buddhist tradition.  Think it’s bad when ‘seculars’ do it?  I can assure you, by virtue of what’s already taken place in the history of Buddhism, that it’s even worse when the followers of ‘religious Buddhism’ do it (i.e., the vagaries of the Tibetan variety, the Rinpoche story, etc.)

Buddhism isn’t served by being seen as a religion or a metaphysics.

If SCIENTISM gets the Buddha wrong, then RELIGION gets him even wronger.  It’s time, maybe, for both to step aside.  Perhaps it’s time for therapeutic PSYCHOLOGY to try its hand at dealing with this issue.

It can’t hurt.  Buddhism, I’d contend, was already DOA by the time that Harris and others arrived on the scene for “forensics” so-called.   The train wreck’s already happened.  Religionism and cultural warfare over millennia between the various Buddhist factions and other belief systems has already “killed” “Buddhism” as such.  All that’s left now is to pull the ‘historical’/’philosophical’ Buddha out of the crash.

That’s the most we can do!


3 Responses to “Critiquing Buddhism as “Religion””

  1. John Landon June 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    The problem with ‘killing buddhism’ is that it is a Zen insight taken over by Harris with totally distorted meaning, and a dangerous one at that.

  2. Luke Rondinaro June 8, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Sam Harris and the enforcers of the Iron Cage

    Posted in General at 12:51 pm by nemo

    Luke takes on the Harris issue: I comment there. I think that Harris has done something very destructive when he should know better, fueling antagonism to buddhists in a sense not intended by the phrase ‘killing buddhism’. Harris is a bad influence, witness his effect on Luke. I am not a buddhist, and have been critical of buddhism, but the current attacks show up science more than buddhism. The enforcers of the Iron Cage.


    I’m no “true believer” … Neither in supposedly original, ‘authentic’ Buddhism nor in Harris’ ideas. I’m merely suggesting the metaphysics of ‘rebirth’ doctrines and nomenclature needs revisiting in light of new age confusions over “reincarnation.” That’s all!

    Point of fact, I’m much more sympathetic to philosophical Taoism and its own take on the Buddhist program. If Buddhists wish to insist on the principle of “rebirth” all-well-and-good, just as it is fine that they develop and practice the systematic techniques of meditation that they have. But just as Taoists traditionally have pointed to a much more discursive path to enlightenment through ‘non-doing’, I would stress the unborn, immeasurable Tao as the answer to Buddhist belief – tit for tat.

    Even Harris might not like that one. … But if anyone, Batchelor, Harris, Buddhist true believers, or others want a better discussion of the issue and approach to Buddhist living, they ought to be willing to redefine the terms of this debate, and really think about how much they’ve limited themselves by their insistence that it’s either a choice between “Secular” Buddhism or “Religious.” If Buddhism is more of a therapeutic model or a ‘psychology’, then there’s a third way out of this trap.

    Debaters take note …

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