Click here to download this blogcast in MP3 Audio.
The Buddha, as described & depicted by the ancient Buddhist texts in the Suttas, specifically the older text from the Pitaka, is painted for us as a person who did not strictly associate himself with any group, nor considered any place as a specific place of practice. That is to say, that the Buddha did not weave together with his Dhamma, the concepts of a monastery, or a religious group, under one name.
Just like researchers today, and in the past, he was a man, who suggested a system of rules & practices that recognized a problem, and pointed to a solution. And just like other researchers, even since before his time, his system was described in terms that were relevant to his time and place. Beyond its' basic principles, it only created many responses to issues of its' time.
The Buddha is depicted as debating his opinions with others. The Buddha is depicted as putting forth concentration & thought, into understanding his reality. The Buddha is depicted as a person who accepted disciples, which means that he accepted disagreement, and different ways of using his ideas.
Understanding this history of Buddhism, and by doing some research about our own contemporary Buddhism, it comes to light that there really is no such thing as "Buddhism." What there is, is the Dhamma - the rules that the Buddha described, and the results he predicted, for following those rules. We also have several millennia, in which people have tried those rules, in an endless variety of ways.
And the result? Failure. There is no evidence, whatsoever, that the Buddha's Dhamma actually achieves the results it predicts. Saying that a person has not used the Dhamma for "enough time", or that those who fail, do not "really follow the Dhamma", is not acceptable reasoning. Scientists and researchers do not, these days, accept "laws of nature" that do not prove themselves constantly.
|I practice meditation,|
but do so regardless of Buddhism,
like most people.
For the Buddha's ideas to be true, to be a law of nature - Dhamma, they must repeat in a reliable manner. This is simple scientific observation. Naturally, there can be argument about the validity of certain cases. But, like with anything else, when there is an overwhelming account of failure, then there can be nothing left, but suspicion and doubt.
Lao Tzu, of the ancient wisdom of the Tao Te Ching, was not affiliated with any group, either. He taught what he saw as the law of nature - Tao, in an a way that is applicable to people, as well. These are the most concise and specific ideas he could use, to predict results with. There is an interesting correlation between the two faiths, when their origins, history and modern expressions are examined and compared.If the Buddha ever had a religion, it was simply the manifestation of his own ideas, and nothing more. If he ever had a monastery or sacred place, it would be nothing more, than just his home. If he ever had disciples, they would be nothing more, than just interested equal parties. Buddha, like many other charismatic teachers, had his own traditions and notions about life. Those worked out in limited ways, and never proved to be anything but generally good ideas, if even that.
The same could be said about any of us.