Tuesday, February 22, 2011

what is a Buddhist?

What is a Buddhist? Does anyone have a clue?

Yes, I can do the lock-step "Well, a Buddhist is someone who embraces the observations of the Four Noble Truths and exercises the suggestions of the Eightfold Path," but once those aspects are more or less in place, does this insure that someone is now a "Buddhist?"

I think it was Christmas Humphreys who once observed, "begin and continue" as regards to a Buddhist practice. Certainly that's sensible, but does it bring us any closer to what a "Buddhist" might be?

Shall we then surrender in frustration and say simply that it's a tentative description of students and teachers who ... well, who what? Who say so? Who have a wardrobe? Who write or read books about Buddhism? Who defend or attack Buddhism? Who can perform marvelous rituals? Who are "enlightened?" Who are "not enlightened?" Who pretend they can attain a good understanding without being beholden to any name or form? Whose serene demeanor reeks of serenity? Who make it up as they go along? Who ... who ... who what?

Don't you just love it when people can answer the most abstruse questions with the most ornate answers and yet have serious difficulty tying their shoes ... or addressing the assured words that issue from their mouths. Yessir, I am a Buddhist.

But what is a Buddhist and, if you knew, would you really be better off? Alternatively, if you didn't know, would that have some hidden usefulness?

I mean no disrespect. I don't want to take anyone's toys. But I figure a little curiosity never hurt anyone.

What is a Buddhist?


  1. I was just thinking about a thread on ZFI where someone asked "what is Buddha Nature" and got all the usual responses. To me, "Buddha Nature" is a special concept you acquire when you study Buddhism.

    TRUE nature, on the other hand, is nothing special at all.

  2. A Buddhist is someone who has taken the refuge vows :) Anita

  3. "A Buddhist is someone who has taken the refuge vows :) Anita"


    Anita has given a terse, correct and complete answer.

    Genkaku, you may want to salute her.

  4. Hey Anita! I salute you as I did before you were ever a Buddhist. :)

  5. So, Genkaku, I hope that Anita has cleared things up for you.

    Can you now say whether or not Are YOU a Buddhist?

  6. Why do I have this hunch that you're going to tell me?

  7. I have been a Buddhist for 20 years genkaku , I have only known you for 5-6 years :) Anita

  8. Taking a wrecking ball to a building belonging to someone else takes little effort or skill. Building up your own house takes time and money but is not particularly difficult either. But to leave one's home behind, and not need to destroy the dwellings of others, at peace sleeping underneath the stars - that's what it is all about: to be happy, to be at peace, to live on emptiness, to awaken.

  9. Labels are most often applied to us by others. Sometimes we label ourselves. I imagine I'm a pagan as the I'm not a xtian and their outsider label is broad.

    If you look at ol'buddhaman's teachings and talk about 'em, investigate 'em, you'll likely be labeled a buddhist, might even give yourself that label. Wonder what label ol'buddhaman gave himself, if he did.