Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay 


The book itself has no introduction and general conclusion but this book has described so many philosophical teachings and this book has also tried to denote whether Buddhism is religion, or philosophical teachings, ethical adaptation, moral ethics. There are seven dimensions which are not explain but for the easy understanding seven of the headings are described. This book also brought out life of Buddha, Buddhism, and the teachings of Buddha-such as Nirvana, karma and the four noble truths and also eight pathfolds. Moreover, Tibetan Buddhism, Mahayana, Vajrayana Buddhism and also Indian Buddhism from Ashok to modern Indian Buddhism and Japan, Burma and Chinese Buddhism. Finally, it brings out modern Buddhism of western.

Buddhism and Elephants

Buddhism and elephants the Buddha once told the story of the blind men and the elephant. A former king of the town of Sāvatthī, he related, ordered all his blind subjects to be assembled and divided into groups. Each group was then taken to an elephant and introduced to a different part of the animal—the head, trunk, legs, tail, and so forth. Afterwards, the king asked each group to describe the nature of the beast. Those who had made contact with the head described an elephant as a water pot; those familiar with the ears likened the animal to a winnowing basket; those who had touched a leg said an elephant was like a post, and those who had felt a tusk insisted an elephant was shaped like a peg. The groups then fell to arguing amongst themselves, each insisting its definition was correct and all the others were wrong. The study of Buddhism over the past two centuries or so has resembled the encounter of the blind men and the elephant in many ways. Students of Buddhism have tended to fasten onto a small part of the tradition and assume their conclusions held true about the whole. Often the parts they have seized on have been a little like the elephant’s tusks—a striking, but unrepresentative, part of the whole animal. As a result, many erroneous and sweeping generalizations about Buddhism have been made, such as that it is ‘negative’, ‘world-denying’, ‘pessimistic’, and so forth. Although this tendency to overgeneralize is now less common, it is still found in some of the older literature where authors tended to exaggerate certain features of the tradition or assume that what was true of Buddhism in one culture or historical period.

Is Buddhism a religion?

Problems of the kind just mentioned confront us as soon as we try to define what Buddhism is. Is it a religion? A philosophy? A way of life? A code of ethics? It Is not easy to classify Buddhism as any of these things, and it challenges us to rethink some of these categories. What, for example, do we mean by ‘religion’? Most people would say that religion has something to do with belief in God. God, in turn, is understood as a supreme being who created the world and the creatures in it. Furthermore, God takes a close interest (or at least has up to now) In the course of human history, by entering into covenants, making his will known in various ways, and intervening miraculously at critical junctures. If belief in God in this sense is the essence of religion, then Buddhism cannot be a religion. Buddhism holds no such belief and, on the contrary, denies the existence of a creator god. In terms of the available Western categories, this would make Buddhism ‘atheistic’. One problem with this designation, however, is that Buddhism recognizes the existence of supernatural beings such as gods and spirits. Another is that Buddhism seems not to have much in common with other atheistic ideologies such as Marxism. Perhaps, then, the categories of ‘theistic’ and ‘atheistic’ are not really appropriate here. Some have suggested that a new category—that of the ‘non-theistic’ religion—is needed to encompass Buddhism. Another possibility is that our original definition is simply too narrow. Could it be that the idea of a creator god, while a central feature of one religion—or family of religions—is not the defining characteristic of all religions? While this notion is certainly central to the ‘Abrahamic’ or ‘Semitic’ religions, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, there may be other systems of belief—such as Confucianism and Taoism—which resemble Western religion in many ways but lack this ingredient.

The seven dimensions of religion:

  1. The practical and ritual dimension 
  2. The experiential and emotional dimension
  3. The narrative and mythic dimension
  4. The doctrinal and philosophical dimension
  5. The ethical and legal dimension 
  6. The social and institutional dimension 
  7. The material dimension

A religion without God?

Some scholars have denied that Buddhism is a religion because Buddhists do not believe in a supreme being or in a personal soul. But is this judgement based on too narrow a definition of ‘religion’? According to Ninian Smart, religions have the following ‘seven dimensions’. If Smart is correct, it seems justifiable to classify Buddhism as a religion.

  1. Practical and ritual
  2. Experiential and emotional
  3. Narrative and mythic
  4. Doctrinal and philosophical
  5. Ethical and legal
  6. Social and institutional
  7. Material

The enlightenment:

Acting on this principle the Buddha once again began to take food and returned to the practice of meditation. He now made rapid progress and in the course of one night seated beneath a large tree, later known as the Bodhi tree (ficus religious), attained the complete state of awakening which he sought. The textsreport that during the first watch of the night he acquired the power to look back through his previous existences, recalling them in full detail. In the second watch of the night he attained the clairvoyant power which allowed him to see the decease and rebirth of all types of beings in the universe according to their good and bad deeds. During the third watch he attained the knowledge that his spiritual defilements had been eliminated and that he had rooted out craving and ignorance once and for all. He had ‘done what needed to be done’—attained nirvana and put an end to rebirth, just as he prophesied when he was born. The place where the Buddha attained enlightenment was known as Bodh Gayā, and the Buddha remained there for seven weeks pondering his future. He wondered whether he should become a religious teacher but was deterred by the difficulty of communicating the profound realization he had attained. For a time he inclined towards a life of privacy and seclusion, but following an appeal from one of the gods (Buddhism has a rich pantheon of gods who are somewhat like angels in Christianity) he was moved by compassion and decided to proclaim his teachings—or Dharma (Pali: Dhamma)—to the world

New ideas about the Buddha

As the ideal of the bodhisattva comes more into the foreground, the Buddha becomes a more distant and exalted figure. By the time the Mahāyāna came into being, the Buddha had been dead for several centuries, and as the accounts of his life became more exaggerated and embellished, he came to be thought of as a semi-divine being. This mystique was heightened by the ambiguity surrounding his status in final nirvana: although the Elders taught that he had passed beyond this world into final nirvana, it was also possible to conceive of him as existing in a transcendent realm. Followers of the Mahāyāna reasoned that a being as compassionate as the Buddha would never cut himself off from others: they believed he was still ‘out there’ somewhere, actively working for the welfare of beings just as he had done on earth. In line with this belief, devotional cults sprang up in which reverence and homage were offered and intercessions sought. IIf a bodhisattva resembles Christ in the love and service he gave to mankind, then the Buddha came to resemble God the Father as a benevolent supernatural being, not located in the world but positioned somewhere close by in a heavenly realm and taking a keen fatherly interest in the welfare of his children. Eventually these ideas gave birth to a full-blown Mahāyāna cosmology and new ‘Buddhology’, which envisaged the Buddha as having ‘three bodies’ (trikāya) or existing simultaneously in three dimensions: earthly, heavenly, and transcendent. The earthly body (nirmāṇakāya) was the human body he had on earth. His heavenly body (sambhogakāya) was in a blissful realm located somewhere ‘upstream’ from the world we now inhabit, not unlike the Christian heaven. And the other chapter talks about Indian Buddhism, Japan Buddhism, and Chinese Buddhism.

Buddhist modernism

The fact that Buddhism can be presented as in harmony with influential contemporary ideologies has undoubtedly aided its spread in the West. This reading of Buddhism, however, which has been termed ‘Buddhist modernism’, Suppresses certain features of the religion which have been present since the earliest times and which are less in harmony with contemporary Western attitudes. The belief in miracles and in the efficacy of mantras, spells, and charms is one such example. Even today, the Tibetan government in exile consults the state oracle for advice on important matters. Belief in the existence of other-worldly realms populated by gods and spirits, and in the unseen power of karma, is another tenet which has been central to Buddhist teachings from the earliest times. The traditional Buddhist view of the status of women is also problematic. Many feminists see all religion as inherently patriarchal and repressive, but where Buddhism is concerned the picture is more complex. Buddhism is a product of a traditional Asian society, one in which women were regarded as subservient to men. Largely due to these cultural associations Buddhism may fairly be described as ‘androcentric’, and there is certainly a tendency in many sources to see rebirth as a female as a relative misfortune. Perhaps this is due not so much to overt discrimination as a reflection of the fact that the lot of women in certain Asian cultures has been—and remains—unenviable. However, it would be wrong to generalize about Asian culture in this respect. As compared to pre modern Europe, the position of women was far better in legal and other terms in such countries as Burma than in the West.


Buddhism is also perceived as liberal and progressive in the field of ethics. Its moral teachings are not expressed as commandments in the imperative form ‘Thou shalt not’ but as rational principles which followed will lead to the good and happiness of oneself and others. The Buddhist toleration of alternative viewpoints contrasts with the some of the darker episodes in the history of Western religion, where persecution and torture have been employed in order to stamp out heresy. Westerners who object to the dogmatic moralizing tone of established religion often find Buddhism a congenial alternative within which to pursue their religious goals. Meditation also has a strong appeal, and offers practical techniques for dealing with stress and other psychosomatic problems. This book has also bring historical Buddha teachings and modern way of Buddhism beliefs. 

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