RE: virus: Buddhism (was Free thought and control)

Robin Faichney (
Sun, 19 Oct 1997 11:21:17 +0100

> From: Marie Foster[]
> Buddhism is not a faith based
> religion.
Right. I'm reading a book just now called
Buddhism without Beliefs, by Stephen
Batchelor. He sees the "essential"
Buddhism as being radical agnosticism,
ie not a set of beliefs, but a stance that
fully acknowledges that "I don't know".

He follows TH Huxley, who coined the
term "agnosticism", viewing it not as a
creed but a method realized through the
rigorous application of a single principle,
whose positive expression is "Follow your
reason as far as it will take you", and
whose negative expression is "Do not
pretend that conclusions are certain that
are not demonstrated or demonstrable."

I've only read about 1.5 chapters so far,
but I think Batchelor's saying that
Buddhism is this method applied directly
to the problem of human suffering,
whereas when it's applied to the "world
out there", it's science. Looks like an
interesting science-religion link, but...

> The idea that Buddhism is a philosophy or a
> way of life is one of degree. Christianity is a philosophy or a way
> of
> life to a Christian. I think one of the the book's purposes is trying
> to expand our ideas of what religion is.
Batchelor's take on that is to say that Buddhism
became a religion when it went wrong, becoming
(for some) a set of beliefs instead of a method,
and that "core" Buddhism is definately not a
religion, but I think that's largely a matter of

On the other hand, given the sort of attitudes
towards religion we see around here, maybe it
would be good memetic engineering to adopt
Batchelor's semantics, and insist that Buddhism
is not a religion.