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Atheist AND a Buddhist?

I am an atheist. I have never believed in "organized religion" and if I can speak frankly, think it is pretty much BS.
But I have always felt that there is a difference between RELIGION and SPIRITUALITY, although I never knew what that meant for me because I have never been very spiritual either.
I have recently come across Buddhism and I feel at home in the beliefs and ideals that Buddha practiced. I meditate daily and am trying to live more consciously and with more compassion.

Someone I was speaking to about Buddhism (NOT a Buddhist himself) was trying to tell me Buddhism IS a religion but I don't agree.

Can you be an Atheist AND a Buddhist?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 2:43 PM on Feb. 2, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Answers (16)
  • You can be a Christian and a Buddhist (believe in the tenets of Buddhism but still see Christ as your one and only Lord and Savior) so why not an Atheist and a Buddhist?

    Answer by CraftingMama at 2:46 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

  • Atheists reject theism, not any unknown thing or philosophy. You can be an Atheist and be a lot of things - pagan, Buddhist, Satanist, or a practitioner of any of dozens of New Age practices.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 2:46 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

  • Buddhism IS a religion. (I'm a Buddhist). A lot of people confuse religion with Christianity - religion is actually a collection of beliefs. I don't believe in God, many Buddhists don't.

    Answer by Scuba at 2:47 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

  • Atheist is one without God, Buddhist is a particular religion or philosophy which happens to yes be an rganized religion but one that does not believe in a god. so YES you can be atheist and buddhist

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 2:48 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

  • Though Buddism is considered a reliegion, technically it is not. It's a way of life that is older than even Christianity itself (i'm sure i'll get bashed by christians for that one). me and my husband are atheist. I have been following many ways of Buddism for some 15 years now, my husband within the last few years. Buddism is very spiritual, but not religious. Buddists can organize and make it a religion for themselves. I have always considered myself spritual, but for the last several years see organized religion a joke. But don't let it bother you. Do what makes you feel right, good, and what makes you strive to be a good person.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:57 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

  • Yes,but I would think at some point you would simply refer to yourself as Buddhist.

    Answer by jewjewbee at 3:01 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

  • It depends who you ask, but generally Buddhism IS considered a non-theistic religion. Some Buddhists are atheists, some are pantheists, and some are theists (especially if Buddhism has been combined with another religion, for example Shinto). I don't really think there's any such thing as a Buddhist, so I usually describe myself as a Scientific or Naturalistic Pantheist (my perspective on the concept of God) and say that I practice Buddhist principles (my way of life).

    The author Pema Chödrön, when writing about Buddhism, states:

    "The difference between theism and nontheism is not whether one does or does not believe in God. ... Theism is a deep-seated conviction that there's some hand to hold. ... Non-theism is relaxing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect ourselves. ... Nontheism is finally realizing there is no babysitter you can count on."

    Answer by pam19 at 3:33 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

  • Here's a good link that points out that it all depends on how the word religion is defined. It really doesn't matter whether it's a religion or philosophy in my opinion. If I said it was a philosophy, it's highly unlikely another Buddhist would argue with me that it's really a religion and I'm not a 'true Buddhist' for thinking that. It's just not viewed that way. Most people who say it's not a religion mean it as a compliment, and those that say it's a religion are usually trying to make sure it's included with other world religions--so no worries either way, however you want to see it. :-)

    Is Buddhism a religion or philosophy?

    Answer by pam19 at 3:42 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

  • Yes. Many Buddhists are Athiests. Buddhism doesn't force a belief in God, in fact it doesn't even encourage one.

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 5:02 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

  • I practice Buddhism. Whether it's a religion or not probably depends on how you want to define the word 'religion.' If it is a religion, it's a non-theistic one which does not require belief in a creator God. There are plenty of atheist Buddhists... personally I'm probably closer to pantheism as I tend to see 'God' as interchangeable with 'energy of the universe.'

    Answer by Freela at 7:03 PM on Feb. 2, 2011

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