Buddhist Fundamentals Essay

This essay has a total of 1135 words and 6 pages.

Buddhist Fundamentals

Buddhist Fundamentalism
Although religions differ greatly in the beliefs and practices they endorse, many
universal themes can be found when comparing the underlying reasons that people practice
religion. Freud believed that people practice religion as a form of displacement so that
they could be at ease with themselves while not coming to terms with the actuality of
their convictions. Someone who is a Buddhist by this theory may only be so because they
are dissatisfied with their current situation and do not know why specifically. Perhaps
Jung was correct when he said that we create religion because of a collective unconscious
or similar thought process among members of a given society. Hence people of one time and
space may have beliefs that coincide.

When exploring Buddhist Fundamentalism it is important to ask who is involved within the
religion? There are two methods through which people can be introduced to the ideals and
practices of Buddhism. These ways will affect the perception and interpretation of what
Buddhism means to that person. The first way is growing up within a Buddhist environment;
having Buddhist parents, a society in which the Buddhist religion is very observable.
This would be the simplest way for a person to be introduced to a religious belief. In
many ways this might also be the easiest form of the spread of religion because there is
no conflict associated with the undertaking of the practices. The second way for people
to undertake Buddhist beliefs is when it is encountered outside of their normal routine.
These people might be dissatisfied with their present lifestyle whether it is religious or
not. This way also includes the spread of Buddhism through the media and popular culture.
For example, famous and therefore influential individuals like Richard Gere and Adam
Yauch (Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys) who might introduce the awareness of the Buddhist
religion to people who otherwise might not have encountered it. In keeping with this,
people might be swayed from their normal religious beliefs because it appears exotic or
foreign and therefore attractive.

It is also important to ask what exactly is Buddhist fundamentalism? There is an
important distinction to be made regarding what the true practice of Buddhism actually is
and the perception of it as portrayed by the media perhaps the deep, transcendent nature
of Buddhism appeals to people who have lost faith in Western Society’s pursuit of material
wealth. However, the religion of Buddhism fills other needs as well. Marx says that
religion is created as an “opium” of the people, to dull their senses of the world and
industry. By this theory people practice Buddhism because it was given to them as a
temporary escape from the every day rat race. Perhaps Eliade was right when he said that
to fully understand a religion we must view it from the perspective of that particular
religion. According to Eliade someone with a Christian upbringing cannot fully understand
the concepts that Buddhism presents.

If we accept these ideas that “God” is a human construct and fulfils human needs then it
seems like it has been said that Buddhism is not a true religion in that it rejects the
notion of God. However, it does endorse an ultimate reality, so in this sense it is not
really all that different. Also, Buddhism sets forth precepts regarding a specific
lifestyle and ideals so Buddhism can actually be seen as a true religion. Therefore
Buddhism probably serves the same function to its followers as any other religion.

Until recently Buddhism only existed within Eastern culture. It has gained such
popularity that it is now recognised as a major world religion. This speaks volumes about
how much western society has changed. It also shows Buddhism is evolving in the global
spectrum. At first glance it is hard to imagine the world of western society and the
Buddhist religion colliding. The language and ideology are alien to one another yet now
it is not uncommon to see people practising Buddhism and living fully functional Western
type lifestyles. This must mean that there are aspects of both Buddhism and the societies
in question that can coincide while other aspects are rejected.

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