Buddhism is often misinterpreted. People have different view on Buddhism, sometimes exactly opposite to what Buddhism promotes. Here I debunk 7 such common myths surrounding Buddhism.
1. One of the Most Common Buddhism Myths – All Buddhist Are Vegetarians
Monks & Nuns are called as bhikku and bhikkuni which means one who ask alms. Now how can a person asking alms have a choice of being vegetarian or a non – vegetarian? So, yes, Buddhist back then where not vegetarians but ate whatever was served to them. However, the monks did not accept the meat if they knew the animal was slaughtered only to feed them.
Today, though many of the Buddhist monk are mostly vegetarian, there is no such commandment in Buddhism that one has to be a vegetarian to embrace Buddhism. Buddhism strongly condemns violence or killing of animal, and even practicing such acts, but it doesn’t prohibit consumption of animal that died its own death.
2. Buddhism Is Just A Philosophy, Not A Religion
Westerners often have emphasized that Buddhism is just a philosophy and not a religion. However, unless you define religion as a faith in a creator god, Buddhism fulfils all the requirements of being a religion. In addition, miracles and magic that we usually associate with religion is also a part of Buddhism.
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3. Buddhism Promotes Pessimism
Life is suffering goes the first noble truth of Buddha and people misinterpret that Buddhism is all about suffering, suffering and suffering. However, what these people generally fail to look at the other noble truths which emphasize on the cause of suffering and also ways to end these sufferings.
According to Buddha, the route to happiness was by overcoming all the hindrances that comes along the path. He highlighted the very main hurdle – suffering and mentioned ways to overcome it, to gain the ultimate happiness i.e. the enlightenment. Besides, Buddha did not use the term suffering, he used dukkha and dukkha has various meanings.
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4. Buddhism Believes in Reincarnation
No, Buddhism do not believe in reincarnation but rebirth. There is a vast difference between reincarnation and rebirth. Reincarnation is the transmigration of a soul into the new body. As in, the person is same but it is in different form. For instance: Lord Vishnu in the form of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. Rebirth is something very different, it means a person is born elsewhere and there is no soul that transmigrates.
5. The Meaning of Enlightenment
Many of the people think enlightenment as a lottery ticket to get away from the problems in life. In fact, they think enlightenment will turn them “all knowing” from ignorant. These people fail to understand that enlightenment here is “awakening” and not a ticket to utopia. Even the most awakened Buddhists teacher live the same life as we do and even travel in the same bus like us, he does not float in some utopian world where he is surrounded by clouds of bliss.
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6. Buddhism Believes that Karma Punishes People
According to Buddhism, Karma is not destiny but action. It is an energy formulated by one’s deeds and thoughts. When somebody goes through the worst phase of life or meets a heavy accident, people often say it must be his karma that is punishing him. Perhaps he must have done something really wrong that today he met with such a big accident.
However, Buddhism doesn’t support such beliefs. Unfortunate things can happen to anybody and everybody, even the most righteous person sometime might suffer a lot.
7. Non-Attachment Means No Attachment
Often people misinterpret non-attachment in Buddhism as no attachment, thinking people cannot have relationships. However, in Buddhism the non-attachment refers mainly with respect to our attachment due to our own created need and self interest.
These are some of the most common Buddhism myths that is widely believed – which one did you think was actually true?