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I feel that Buddhism is not what it used to be (the original teachings of Lord Buddha). It has got corrupted and what is left mostly relates terminology and worldly-matter and excuses. For-example: recently I came across a question in which someone said Buddhism teaches it is okay to eat meat, drink wine, etc. with various excuses such as it's okay as long as the animal isn't killed particularly for you and so on. I think, like Christianity and Hinduism, the teachings of Buddha are mis-interpreted for one's own benefits and the discipline with which Buddhism started out has long faded. Neither remains the atheism which Buddha preached, for example see: this. People have forgotten the abstract concepts and the Buddhist way of life and instead focus on miracles, folklores and powers that Buddhists monks possess. The question:
Do you think so too? If so, provide references of Buddha's teachings being mis-interpreted. If not, tell me then what was it that Buddha forbade, and if it was nothing, then why is Buddhism a religion? Shouldn't it be just living your life the usual way?

  • I don't understand the reason for the downvote, this question recieved. If you feel the question is not helpful, please explain your reasons in the comments, before downvoting. – bat_of_doom Dec 27 '16 at 16:27
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First, we can't tell with absolute certainty what is the original teachings of the Buddha -- unless we were there. In principle, any buddhist who says "this is the absolute original teachings of the Buddha" is putting forward a belief. A belief that may have varying degrees of proximity with the real facts. But that belief can be quite different from another buddhist living in a different buddhist culture.

So a question here is how can we tell what is original and what is not? People who misinterpret something think they interpret it right. How are these people different from "us", those who think interpret things right -- maybe we are the ones misinterpreting it. And what is the source of the information misinterpreted? A text? A teacher's word? A feeling?

Five hundred years after the Buddha, there were over 18 distinct names identifying distinct buddhist groups. These already disagreed with each other in some topics, so of course two thousand years later buddhists still disagree with each other over topics.

But also, there are buddhists and there are buddhists. For example, Brazil has a large percentage of catholics. Most likely, the great majority never read the bible. It's reasonable that many buddhists are buddhists due to being born in a culture of buddhism, but this does not mean such a person is familiar with the entire doctrine -- or with any word believed to be said by the Buddha. The general case is they don't know. There are even buddhist monks who didn't even know scriptures quoting the Buddha existed.

Moreover, just because there's a large population who are not quite engaged with their religion doesn't mean the religion is declining. After all, there are the buddhists who take it seriously, who dedicate their life to it.

Also, some people come here with varying degrees of knowledge of Buddhism and very distinct interests on Buddhism (e.g. super powers), who may not even be buddhists themselves, and may ask questions that are perceived as strange to some buddhists. But these questions are not evidence that buddhists are going bananas.

It seems to you Buddhism comprises some abstract concepts and way of life that you claim have been forgotten. But other Buddhists are following their traditions -- which they claim to be genuine -- or are reading old scriptures -- which they believe to contain the words of the actual Buddha. To them, Buddhism is being practiced. They think themselves to be genuine monks when they follow what they read in the scriptures, e.g., that the Buddha instructed them to not eat meat if they know the animal has being killed for them to eat it.

And to answer your question: yes, the Buddha forbade, in the sense that he instructed people to abstain of many kinds of actions.

But forbidding is inconsequential for a doctrine to be a religion or not. One could still spawn a religion by just saying what people should do or how people should understand their lives, etc.

  • The Dhamma is verified by the wise in absolute honesty. Attachment to the five aggregates is suffering? Verified. This suffering arises from craving that leads to new becoming? Verified. Suffering ends when craving ends? Verified. 8 fold path ends suffering? Tick. Verified. All four noble truths have been verified as true & as ending suffering. Verified as a teaching of a Buddha (awakened one). – Dhammadhatu Dec 27 '16 at 23:25
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Buddhism became extinct in India due to its transformation into a religion of reincarnation, which resulted in it being the same as & thus absorbed by Hinduism.

Original Buddhism is about the here-&-now, as chanted everyday in Buddhist countries but, at the same time, ignored:

Savakkhato bhagavata dhammo

The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One

Sanditihiko

Apparent here and now

Akaliko

Immediate

Ehipassiko

Inviting inspection

Opanayiko

Leading to liberation

Paccattam veditabbo vinnuhi

To be experienced individually by the wise

Buddhism is unrelated to vegetarianism, which is the fetter of sīlabbata-parāmāsa (i.e., using morality in ways that is unrelated to the goal).

  • 'almost extinct in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) due to its transformation into a religion of reincarnation', can you please elaborate on that? – dmsp Dec 27 '16 at 10:49
  • i amended my post to remove Ceylon. However, what i wrote about India is one general theory about the demise of Buddhism in India. see "Philosophical convergence" at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_Buddhism_in_India . As for Ceylon, I read Buddhism was so degenerate in Ceylon at the time of colonialism that Burmese & Thai monks had to visit to reinstate a Sangha of monks in Ceylon. However, I am unaware of why Buddhism declined in Ceylon although this is probably easy to research in the internet en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_in_Sri_Lanka#Decline_and_revival. Regards – Dhammadhatu Dec 27 '16 at 11:00
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    You are correct the religion declined in 17th and 18th centuries, but it wasn't due to Hinduism per se. It was more of a gradual decline due to colonial influence and no access to resources. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weliwita_Sri_Saranankara_Thero – dmsp Dec 27 '16 at 11:11
  • Buddhism declined before colonialism. It was colonialism that lead to a Buddhist resurgence due to trying to protect Ceylon from Christianity – Dhammadhatu Dec 27 '16 at 18:52
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It's important to always remember that Zen "Empty your cup of tea" story. Most of the time, our perception is shaped by our preconception. So always keep an open mind and read extensively before jumping to a conclusion. The most important thing the Buddha taught us is that we should rely on the teaching, not the teacher. So if someone said this or that about Buddhism, always verify, verify, and verify even if that person is the world most renowned Buddhist teacher. Most of the Buddha's suttas have already been made available for free online at accesstoinsight.org and suttacentral.net. So if someone claim something about the precept of eating meat or drinking wine, simply go back to the suttas and you'll find the answer for yourself. On eating meat, refer to MN 55, on drinking, refer to AN 8.39

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Buddhism is not what it used to be. Just as every conventional construction, within a conventional world, it is exposed to change. Is that a bad thing? Ideas need to be applicable to people within completely different frames, separated by time and space, so change and differentiation is only negative if it limits people's ability to achieve the idea's goal.

The Buddha banned the intentional use of mind altering substances, possibly outside of medicinal cases.. Within Buddhism drugs serve no purpose within the soteriological process.. Personally I think that they provide possibly valuable different ways to look at the world, but that such experiences are less and less needed the further you are along the path, and at some point they become detrimental to progress. In some ways, modern neuroscience is giving a more nuanced view on substance, meaning maybe the rule should be like with sex - 'none' for monks are 'no misconduct' for the laity, and much more than ghee for medicine!

Meat is more interesting. The Buddha only ruled that monks should never intentionally accept meat that was killed directly for them. This makes sense in their world - in 500BC householders were not all rich enough to be picky with what they gave monks as a gesture of goodwill.. The monks refusing meat could cause embarrassment or even offence to people, sometimes that is all they had maybe. But having it cooked for you is a different story.

The Buddha did not teach an atheist message - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.01.0.bodh.html atheism is not usually clearly philosophically defined, but in denying 'God', it (usually, both in style and substance) lands on an essentials, nihilist position, which the Buddha saw as just another idea to be found within the thicket of views. The Middle Way begins with the abandoning of philosophical speculation, with Nagarjuna providing the best philosophical argument for why this is the obvious thing be done much later, and a more sparse and scattered reasoning by the Buddha on why within the Tripitaka (imo)..

Even though the Kalama Sutta states to find out for yourself, which limits the faith element to be found within Buddhism, faith (lack of doubt) in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha is a prerequisite for stream entry (this faith is not absent in buddhist laity anywhere imo btw).. I'm not sure if that makes Buddhism a religion, I don't personally like the word as I see it too close to the broader and more useful one of ideology. Buddhism is definitely not an ideology. It asks for the abandonment of ideology, just as any other conceptual construction. The social structure that was born and exists within buddhist cultures, being moulded and mixed into ethnic customs can become religious in nature (a hodge podge of cultural history, law, economics etc), and this can have detrimental impacts on people's progress on the path, but this is a delicate point, because after millenia, there are many people with an ironic 'their' version of Buddhism.

The Buddha taught the Dhamma and the Vinaya as a path to the cessation of stress. This original path, as likely best described within the Vinaya, Nikayas or Agamas, in its proper implementation likely has had difficulty in all times and places. The message is profound and wonderful, but it's implementation is tough. It is primarily a path of meditation.

Broadly speaking, the Buddha asked people to not harm themselves or others either in thought, speech or actions http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.061.than.html, even broader https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Right_Exertions give a map for an honest decision making process with regards to what actions should be taken and which ones abandoned. So yes, with regards to morality, it is basically living your life in the usual way, but 'usual' requires more definition for most people than they think imo!

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Buddha gave scenario of the disappearing of his teachings with a drum..

Staying at Savatthi. "Monks, there once was a time when the Dasarahas had a large drum called 'Summoner.' Whenever Summoner was split, the Dasarahas inserted another peg in it, until the time came when Summoner's original wooden body had disappeared and only a conglomeration of pegs remained. [1]

"In the same way, in the course of the future there will be monks who won't listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. They won't lend ear, won't set their hearts on knowing them, won't regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works — the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples — are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.

"In this way the disappearance of the discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — will come about.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves."

There is new tradition of Buddhism about 15 years, they study only what can be credited to Buddha and dismiss all later additions or if later additions that are not directly supported by Buddha's teachings.

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Buddhism was never the point, Buddhism, like any and all systems, is made of delusion - it cannot be otherwise. To pursue and deify the Buddha or the Buddhism is merely one's own delusional association with causality and means to soothe or transcend causality, and such effort can only lead to more hubris and more delusional authority making.

Once one adorns the primary miracle of being with the cloak of implication, anger and positioning ensues. The Buddha gave the simplest of observations as means and memes to evoke clear seeing. The volumes and volumes of instruction and moralistic encouragements and discourses on the discourses are all indulgences in deferral and avoidance.

Isn't it the privilege and duty of each generation to make the Dharma their own? What was true then is true now, and that truth is uncomplicated by the gifts and prisons what came before.

Warmly, NightSkySanghaGuy

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