Being halfway a Buddhist – what’s a real Buddhist?

I said in my blogpost about whether Buddhism was the best world religion (let alone win an award) that I was halfway a Buddhist myself. I got a question about that: what do I mean?

A real Buddhist, in my view, and in the traditional Asian view, is someone who has taken refuge. That is, in a solemn ritual they have taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. I have not done that, so I’m not officially a Buddhist.

However, being a vegetarian who tries to live by the five precepts, who believes that Buddha was one of the greatest spiritual teachers of all time, believing in karma and rebirth, and knowing sunyata to be a true description of reality, Buddhism is certainly closer to my personal religion than any other religion.

7 thoughts on “Being halfway a Buddhist – what’s a real Buddhist?”

  1. I really liked your description of your views of how you relate to Buddhism, in comparison to what you perceive Buddhism to be all about.

    “A real Buddhist, in my view, and in the traditional Asian view, is someone who has taken refuge. That is, in a solemn ritual they have taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. I have not done that, so I’m not officially a Buddhist.”

    You said that so clearly and concisely. I too believe in and try to live the 5 precepts. It’s pretty much a quick-n-easy “How-To” guide on morality. I am a flexitarian vegetarian wanna-be that can’t seem to somehow get away from chicken.

    I have always believed in karma. I don’t believe in reincarnation per se, but do believe that energy is never destroyed, that it only changes form.

    Anyway, thanks for an opportunity to discuss spirituality without getting stuck on religious differences. In response to your question: Is spirituality a lifestyle or a quest? I would say “both”. Take care ~ Les

    drop by, enjoy & comment:

  2. To be fair, I did mention your definition of a “true” buddhist in one of my blog posts. My post is not meant to be a criticism as much as an exploration of my own definition but I did use your post as a springboard.

    If it comes across as inflammatory or insulting I do apologize and will revise..



  3. Thanks for this post. I have been trying to think of how to describe myself in this regard. Halfway a Buddhist. Buddhism is the discipline that resonates most with my heart. I have not become vegetarian yet but am working on it and getting there. I eat mostly fish and veggies now, as I have health problems that I need to work with carefully, and a totally vegetarian diet may not work with me, I work at the eight-fold path and mindfulness. But neither have I joined a Sangha (there is ONE where I live, a Kadampa community). I see, like me, you are also a theosophist, and there comes a small conflict between theosophy and Buddhism when it comes to atman v. anatman. I usually just refer to myself as a small t theosophist with Buddhist leanings. (I did not renew membership in the American Society.TSA) But halfway Buddhist is good. I think Tagnahoor is right, though, about shedding definitions. I read somewhere that if you call yourself a Buddhist, then you aren’t one, because there is no Buddhism. Steven Batchelor tells us in Buddhism Without Beliefs that you only have to accept three things to call yourself a Buddhist…1. the reality of suffering 2. the reality of impermancence and 3. the reality of anatman. Alan Watts agrees, these were the three things that Buddha taught and the rest was probably added by followers.
    Thanks for the post, Katinka.

  4. The again it occurs to me that it has been said if you call yourself a Buddhist, you probably aren’t one, because like everything else, Buddhism is an illusion.

  5. Like yourself Im not a real buddhist. I’ve found myself here at this place a sort of a slow drift over the years and sort of found out Im a buddhist by default (Cause and effect ect !)
    Im more of an experential learner myself and on reflection I realize the intillect and the anilization of all the traditions and the various masters methods is comforting and it helps us feel that we,er not wasting our time there’s continuity and this practice will in some way be benificial to us . All these things are constructs of our own mind Re: when you see the buddha kill him !The experiance (and for me the learning only comes with the experiance)during the practice is what will tell the individual if He/She is on the right path or with the right teacher) its a very slippery quary but Having tryed every tool in the box the only way is practice This takes time and in this modern world with we seem to have less and less I myself sort of found I was a buddhist not by taking on anything new or learning anything new but renouncing or rejecting various beliefs and behaviours and slowly I was left with me and when I thought about it I was a Buddhist or had become a buddhist sort of steltilly 🙂 Its like humility once we acnowledge our humility its gone
    Thats the thing about spiritual progress it sort of happens in the background while we,er trying to make it happen or we,er trying to learn it or trying to feel it or trying to do i t the best we can . then one day you look around and you do or say somthing totally unconsiously and feel like where did that come from you,ve internalized it No not realy its not a reaction it came from somwhere else entirly your true nature it all comes so very naturly if you just let it I never really thought I would understand that statment or rather I thought I understood that statment As Oscar Wilde said youth is wasted on the young
    Sorry !!!!! Sorry!!!
    Dont mean to seem pompus, superiour, arroigant,
    or any of the prideful traits But in reply to the question is spirituality a life style or a quest ? You learn what it is by living it and only by living it . practice practice How do ya get to carnigae hall !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    Some of these lessions are very profound and unsettling for a time as when you get to a stage where you can see how deeply the conditioning really goes and how little you really know about who you are your true identity
    the scary aspect to meditation Yes Ive experianced this myself when meditating on form and how transiant every thing is and what or who is in the there between between thoughts nothing Formless nothingness a blank canvice
    where was I there was No I Scary !!!!!!!!!!!!
    Again thanks for your effort putting this together
    I really enjoy the content and for the platform
    to think outloud

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