If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It
The article “Is Buddhism a religion?” by Michael McGhee, discusses the issue of why many people are starting to consider Buddhism as a philosophical practice rather than a religious one. According to the article, the attractiveness of Buddhism came without a “fee” of religious belief, when being compared to Christianity. The article also states that from a traditional viewpoint, some commenters see a lack in practicing through the belief-subscription of Buddhism, and therefore it should make a shift away from being classified as a religion and more towards a philosophy of life.
This issue is controversial because it is questioning a belief system that has been in place for thousands of years, affecting the behaviors and lives of millions of people. In his article, McGhee states, “Some commentators have pointed out that there is no shortage of metaphysical beliefs in the Buddhist traditions and that its practices and rituals are embedded in worldviews of some complexity and sophistication” as well as another statement saying, “But it is one thing to seek to liberate Buddhist practice from unsustainable or unbelievable worldviews and another to reduce it to a mere technique, even one that is therapeutic.” I am taking into account that I am most likely biased towards accepting Buddhism as a religion, because I am not a practicing Christian, and therefore do not see Buddhist beliefs or practices as strange or lacking in any way. I argue that just because the calming and meditative techniques and worldviews of Buddhism are different from Christian beliefs, Muslim beliefs, or really any beliefs of any other form of religion, Buddhism religion eradication should not be at the top of anyone’s agenda. Although the article is not explicitly stating that Buddhism wouldn’t be gone forever, it would just be “reduced” to a more philosophical practice, I argue that this is just a shameful case of un-acceptance towards other culture’s worldviews and beliefs. Buddhism may incorporate some philosophical viewpoints in it’s the premise of its religion, but it seems extreme to force an ultimatum between the two.
McGhee’s rhetorical question used in the title of his article Is Buddhism a religion? provides a platform for much debate on the subject of what even separates religion from philosophy in the first place. McGhee’s own opinion on the topic is never explicitly stated; however I have made my point clear that there is no sound evidence why the Buddhist religion should be changed after all this time, just because non-Buddhists don’t agree with the calming and arguably “less spiritual” practices.