Is Buddhism a Religion? Essay

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IS BUDDHISM A RELIGION? Buddhism is one of the world’s largest major religions with an estimated 360 million followers all over the world (Adherents, 2008). Its main focus is the reflection of human suffering and how to overcome it; an experience that all of humanity share. However, there is an argument being made that Buddhism is not a religion because it does not worship or even recognize the actuality of a deity. But religion is not the practice of worshipping a god but rather it is a way of life and a system of faith. Buddhism is a religion because it is based on faith and self-understanding in replacement of being theistic based, it does not have a deity however it believes in what a god represents, and it follows the purpose of religion. Instead of worshipping and believing in a god to resolve life’s problems, Buddhism stands by the proposition of understanding one’s mind and believing in their self. Although the Buddha is the image and figure of the religion, he is not a god or a deity. Buddhists do not turn to him looking for salvation: “A Buddhist does not seek refuge in the Buddha with the hope that he will be saved by his personal purification” (Thera, 2012). A god provides their followers with support and strength in their times of need, and Buddhism takes this idea of finding salvation in a god to finding salvation in oneself through self-realization and reflection. It teaches Buddhists that they are responsible for their own purification. They turn to themselves to find strength in place of praying to a god. They strive to achieve redemption through meditation: “Instead of petitional prayers, there is meditation that leads to self-control, purification, and enlightenment” (McGhee, 2013). The purpose of prayer is to seek refuge in a god, but meditation allows the Buddhist to reflect on their actions in order to find forgiveness and redemption in their
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