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Bright Dawn Center of Oneness Buddhism
 

 

Universal teachings for everyday living.

Excerpt From The Fundamental Spirit of Buddhism

By Rev. Akegarasu

(Translated by Rev. Gyomay M. Kubose)

 

Shakamuni and Buddhism

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 names.)

 

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 and Mohammed.

 

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 from.