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Statement of Faith for Buddhists

Hello. The other day, I was wondering whether Buddhists have a kind of creed-statement for enquirers or those that are curious, so I looked on the Web. Among other references, I found this, which, apparently was produced by several Buddhist dignitaries:

I thought that it made good reading, so I printed it and put it away. (Very soon, we are to have a visitor with whom my wife has been in correspondence, and to whom, in answer to a question, she said that we are Buddhists. I expected that, when this relative did visit, she might be curious about our unconventional beliefs (as she referred to them), so the article was printed so as to hand it to her for leisurely consideration, later.)

It was only later that I realised that the article does not mention what I take to be the prime article of “faith” of Buddhism, which is that its founder claimed to be the Buddha (the Awakened One) following a life-changing experience, and that he taught a way of life and practice that, if followed diligently, brought about transcendental wisdom and the end of suffering. (Well, that's my understanding of the matter.)

If I had been curious about Buddhism and had read the article referred to, my impression would have been that the Buddha was merely a deep thinker, who taught simple, harmless living (which he did, of course). However, I should not have had an impression that there was anything transcendental about his teaching. I would have passed on, looking for something to replace my abandoned Christianity (which, whether it is true or not, does not claim to be merely a system of ethics and right living, but a way of salvation and the transcendence of the limitations of human life).

To me, it seems that if Buddha’s awakening is not mentioned in a Buddhist “Statement of Faith”, Buddhism is being misrepresented (or undersold, at any rate).

I am curious to find out how others may view the article. Does it represent “Buddhism” faithfully and fully, or not?


  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I don’t think it is actually meant as a general creed-statement, as it was produced for a World Bank document about faith in conservation, see the citation at the bottom of the page. That also explains the strong emphasis on nature in the piece.

    So no, I don’t think it is very representative.

  • I think most Buddhists believe that Siddhartha became 'awake' or a Buddha. But at the outset it's hard to know what 'awake' means. It's intuitive right at the beginning of becoming a Buddhist and is a question that remains for me even though I've been interested in Buddhism for many years.

    It is said that to know a Buddhist teaching (teaching as opposed to teacher) that the teachings have 3 marks: impermanence, non-self, and suffering. Those might be interpreted slightly different by different traditions, people, or teachers. I think my teacher says that suffering comes by grasping what is not the self as the self. For her the word 'avidya' (not seeing) refers to not knowing what is and is not the self.

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    "Buddha" is not a title. It is a state of awareness. However, when we talk about "The Buddha" we are referring to the Shakyamuni Buddha - Siddhartha.

    As for faith, when Buddhists teachers talk about faith, they are talking about having the faith that the practices work ... that they change you. And this "faith" can come only from the experience of inner change.

    As for the "faith" that refers to "belief", traditionally it is allowed in Buddhism ... for the villagers who don't have the time or the focus to do the practices. This is the kind of faih that other religions have.

    But the Tibetan language distinguishes between the word for "I know" that refers to "I know because someone told me/I read it" and the word that means "I know because I have directly experienced it." And in Buddhism, it is this latter meaning that matters.
    “When presented with a concept difficult to accept, we either reject it or believe it. Neither is better. Either way our mind is distorted, because denying is a form of underestimating, and blind faith is a form of overestimating.”
    From “What Makes you (Not) a Buddhist” by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    “What Makes you (Not) a Buddhist” by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

    AWESOME book.

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