Whether or not Buddhism is a religion is always open to question. Scholars of religion typically include Buddhism within their inquiry since it shows many of the characteristics of what a religion is understood to be: systems of belief, institutional organization around belief and ritual practices, religious specialists in its monastic system and an ethical discourse based upon its teachings and beliefs. However, the fact that Buddhism does not teach belief in a transcendental deity or supernatural being(s) does differentiate it from most other religious systems. While the figure of the Buddha and various bodhisattvas1 do, at the popular level, more or less, fulfil the role of transcendental deities, and often Buddhists will combine local animistic beliefs in the supernatural within their Buddhist practice, the ‘orthodox’ view is that a reliance upon the divine is an obstacle to the individual taking responsibility for their own journey towards enlightenment.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.