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On Being and Not Being a Buddhist February 22, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in General.

Woodmoor Village points us to this post on the Washington Post‘s On Faith section.

I am not a Buddhist. I’ve never told anyone that I am a Buddhist and have in fact denied the title on more than one occasion. Even though I have been circling around the stupa for the last ten years, I have never made any formal or official commitment to the Buddha sāsana. I’ve never sown a rakusu or received a “dharma name.” I am, as of this moment, a freelance wanderer through the six realms of samsara.



1. Gerald Ford - February 22, 2008

I take refuge in the three jewels. I ring a Tibetan singing bowl three times. I place my hands in the mudra of Vairocana Buddha.

How does taking refuge in the three jewels not make him a Buddhist? Just because he doesn’t want to be affiliated with a particular sect, lineage or organization doesn’t invalidate him as a Buddhist. All Buddhist teachings revolve around taking refuge in the three jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), and he pays homage to Mahavairocana, which isn’t just a part-time dabbler’s practice. I really don’t understand his point.

Can someone please clarify?

2. Scott - February 22, 2008

I had the same reaction, GF. I thought, well if he doesn’t want to call himself a Buddhist I guess he doesn’t have to. But he’s doing everything “a Buddhist” has traditionally done.

This is one of the reasons I’m interested to the see the results of the Pew research report mentioned here a couple of days ago and due out on Monday. If there are people like this kid out there who don’t call themselves Buddhists, how does that effect polls like the Pew? Interested statistical problem for studying Buddhists in this country.

3. A Freelance Wanderer Through the Six Realms of Samsara « 初菩提心 - February 23, 2008

[…] A Freelance Wanderer Through the Six Realms of Samsara On Being and Not Being a Buddhist: […]

4. Philip Ryan - February 23, 2008

Yes, we all know labels can be hurtful and limiting, but there is something to this essay that reminds me of a man saying, “Yes, I have sex with other men, but I’m not gay!”

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