Buddhism – Religion or Philosophy?

Sabrina Petruzzo

Purpose: The purpose of this essay is to reveal how Buddhism falls under the classification as a philosophy, rather than religion which is it commonly mistaken as.

 Context: The essay discusses various aspects of Buddhism, and then compares those aspects to the definition and aspects of both religion and philosophy as a means to reveal how Buddhism falls under the category of philosophy rather than religion. First, the definition of both philosophy and Buddhism are listed in order to understand what defines and religion and what defines a philosophy. Additionally, information regarding the origins of Buddhism is the main topic of research and is what is compared to the definitions previously listed. The information gathered is then analyzed in order to reveal how it causes Buddhism to be classified as a philosophy. Some aspects that reveal Buddhism is a philosophy are the lack of a supreme deity, lack of need for faith or prayer, and the analysis of Buddhism’s sacred texts. However, there are aspects of Buddhism that highlight its classification as a philosophy. One extremely important aspect of Buddhism that does so is the fact that Buddhism revolves around a moral code of law, which is taught to individuals in order to lead them towards enlightenment and defeat the cycle of reincarnation. Buddha’s lack of depiction of a divine being also demonstrates how the origins of Buddhism neglected any religious aspect. Although modern times may have shifted how Buddhism is seen, the essay focuses on the beginnings and foundations of Buddhism in order to reveal its intended purpose solely as a philosophy – or way or life to follow.