Is Buddhism a religion, a philosophy, psychology, or a way of life?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is probably safest to say that Buddhism is both a religion and a way of life, as are many religions. Buddhism teaches that one should accept the Four Noble Truths:

  1. Life is suffering
  2. Suffering is caused by desire
  3. One can end suffering by ending desire
  4. One can end desire by following the eight-fold path.

The end result is a happier life. In addition, Buddhism teaches that one will re-incarnate after one's death to a higher or lesser life form; but one's ultimate goal is to reach Nirvana, a state of spiritual independence and perfection. As has been the case with other missionary religions, Buddhism has morphed itself into several different forms, one of which worships Buddha himself as a god.

Since Buddhism attempts to explain what happens after one dies and also offers an alternative lifestyle as does Islam and Christianity, the other two missionary religions, it seems axiomatic that Buddhism is indeed a religion and a way of life. One could also argue that it is a philosophy, as are many religions; however to refer to it as psychology seems to push the envelope a bit too far.

frankboase2 | Student

Sorry l got off the track there, but following on from my previous posting, Buddhism is more of an attitude, a way of life. It is definitely not a religious dogma.

frankboase2 | Student

Buddhism is certain not a religion. The word "religion" comes from the Latin "to bind", as in commit (bind) ones self to a particular point.

The entire point about Buddhism is to become 'unbound'. Free of conventions that the samsaric realm that is the world we take for 'real'.

A point with respect to the previous author, Buddhist are not re-incarnated, rather endure re-births, until we learn what has to be learnt.