Being Human posts a rather interesting article about Buddhism, amongst the religions, probably being the closest to a fully rational philosophy; the article goes on to describes some of the problems with Buddhism as a religion. What has bothered me most with Buddhism has been its irrational elements, the superstitious elements such as karma and re-birth. There are, of course, many Buddhist sects, each with a different set of philosophes and superstitions; some sects de-emphasising the superstitious elements. The Dalai Lama, although seen as a hero my many, is much steeped in superstitions although there have been attempts over the years to put some spin on this.
Get rid of all that re-birth, karma, etc and what do you have? Sam Harris’s famous article, Killing the Buddha, argues that the original core tenants of Buddhism would be better served if they were not wrapped around a religious framework (a PDF version is also available).
Being Human explains that the original Buddhism, stripped of the superstitions and the other claptrap added by later generations, is a compelling philosophical framework. Perhaps. But is it sill recognisable as being “Buddhist”? I do not understand why a secular Buddhist philosophy is needed as there already appears to be an innate moral code in all of us, and I am not sure that secular Buddhism adds anything meaningful, However, but I am receptive to what it says so further research is called for. The Secular Buddhist appears to be a good place to start.
On a related note, I do recognise that there are many people who are uncomfortable in living without a ready-made philosophical framework and perhaps a secular Buddhism would help, even if as a transitory phase to a life free of dogmas. Those disillusioned with with Christianity or Islam, for example, may look at Buddhism where a secular form may appeal. Being Human has made a similar argument for Epicureanism philosophy and has, of coursed, noted the similarities with the early forms of Buddhism.
Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2011