When we classify people we assign them different labels; for instance; He is a scholar.
That person is a politician. He is a religionist. If we use such labels, what kind
of label would be appropriate for Shakamuni? ("Shakamuni" is one of the Buddha's
In general, the label religionist is given to Shakamuni. Shakamuni is a religionist;
such an idea is the general opinion. We like to categorize religionists as Christian,
Mohammedan, Brahman and Buddhist. And those who founded such religions we call religionist.
In the sense that Christianity is a religion, and Mohammedanism is also, and the
people who founded them are religionists, it seems all right to say that Shakamuni
is a religionist. But between Buddhism and other religions (such as Christianity
and Mohammedanism) there is a vast difference. Buddhism cannot be called religion
in the same sense that we speak of Christianity and Mohammedanism. Likewise, there
is a great misunderstanding if you say that Shakamuni is a religionist in the same
way that Christ and Mohammed were religionists.
Shakamuni Is a Philosopher
The Japanese word shukyo is translated from the western word religion. The word religion
embodies many Christian-like ideas. From ancient times, western people did not know
anything other than Christianity. They say religion, and they think: Christianity.
Some westerners do not include Buddhism in religion. In Christianity, they believe
in a God who created and controls the world. (But in Buddhism there is no such God.)
In such a manner of thinking, Buddhism is not a religion, and Shakamuni is not a
religionist--at least according to some students of religion. And they are quite
right! It is quite wrong to say Shakamuni is a religionist in the same sense as Christ
Shakamuni is not a religionist; rather, he belongs to the same group as Socrates.
It is perhaps better, therefore, to say that Shakamuni is a philosopher. Religionists
all think in terms of God. They think the world is controlled by God. And they think
that religion is praying to God in an effort to attain some benefit. If religion
is such a thing, then Shakamuni did not believe in it or in such a God. Without depending
on God, he earnestly walked life's path, discovering all things within. Thus, it
is possible to state that Shakamuni was not a religionist.
The book then goes on to describe just what Shakamuni was if he was not a "religionist"
and the features of his "religion" that make it unlike any other religion in the
world. Notice Rev. Akegarasu's many allusions to Western concepts and people, such
as Socrates, Christ, and Mohammed. The truth is valuable no matter where it comes