Thread: Is Buddhism "Spirituality?"

  1. #1

    Is Buddhism "Spirituality?"

    Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner asks "Is Buddhism Spirituality?

    Any comments?

  2. #2
    Global Moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Brad highlights the problem of translating difficult ideas into English, where people had to use words which were developed for other meanings. Spirituality is one such word. Initially 'of the spirit', its use for Buddhism is problematic where there is no separate 'spirit being' within us. He goes on to suggest that what we need is a shared understanding of such terminology for those of us interested in Buddhism in the English-speaking West. Even our own terminology can be confusing, such as the difference between ontological and epistemological. In the end it depends on why you want to use such words and the community you use them within.

    For me, my teacher background means that I divide how we see the world into forms of knowledge: mathematics, the arts, science, philosophy, and so on. The 'subjects' we study, if you like. I took an Open University course on 'Inquiry' one year, which opened my eyes to a lot of this dividing up of how we explore the world, each having something different to offer. An interesting one for me was 'spirituality'. What is this as a way of looking at the world, and how does it add to the other areas of knowledge? It can mean the regular spiritual traditions we meet in religions, or it can be another meaning (from Wiki), "Modern usages tend to refer to a subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live", often in a context separate from organized religious institutions."

    I tend to look at the, "deepest values and meanings by which people live" part, which I think is more the Buddhism that I know and love, that allows me to develop a spiritual understanding of the world alongside all the other ways of understanding it.

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