Is Buddhism a religion or is it a practice?

“I have heard this question several times and there are without a doubt legitimate answers to both sides. I think it’s important to first ask how you define religion. If one defines it as something that is founded on the belief of a god or multiple gods, then I’d say Buddhism is not a religion as Buddha is not considered a supreme being in the same way as God is considered in Christianity or Vishnu or Shiva are considered in Hinduism. Throughout Buddha’s teachings there is a crucial emphasis on one’s personal practice to moral principles. Thus I personally view Buddhism more as a way of life, however both sides are legitimate and neither should be discounted.” (K. Alumni)

“Buddhism can be both a religion and a practice — most religions, I think, are both. Buddhism begins with the teachings of the Buddha, and through intentionally living one’s life based on those teachings Buddhism becomes a practice. ” (E. ‘18)

Can you be a Buddhist and other things too?

“This is another debated topic. Theoretically yes you could be a Buddhist, as well as a practitioner of another religion or tradition. There are many examples, such as Elaine MacInnes who is both a Catholic nun and a Zen master. At the end of the day I believe it’s more important to respect one another’s spiritual paths and value each other’s differences rather than debate whether there’s a right versus wrong way.” (K. Alumni)

“Probably. People are complicated. For example, I identify as Buddhist, but my spirituality exists in some undefined space, somewhat separately from Buddhism or other organized religions I’ve encountered. I believe you can’t force yourself to feel spiritual in only certain situations or in only certain ways, so that’s just the way I ended up. Still, if someone asked about my religion I would say I’m Buddhist. Buddhism allows for more flexibility on that front than other religions might. ” (E. ‘18)

Are Buddhism and Mindfulness the same thing?

“Mindfulness is the practice of intentional awareness and compassionate observation to the present moment. Mindfulness has ties to many religions and traditions and can be practiced without a spiritual context, as well. A close friend of mine once succinctly explained that mindfulness can be practiced without Buddhism, however Buddhism cannot be practiced without mindfulness. Therefore I’d state that mindfulness is simply an aspect of our human condition.” (K. Alumni)

“No. Practicing mindfulness is part of Buddhism, but mindfulness is not the same as Buddhism. Mindfulness, to put it simply, is being aware of the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness is a fundamental element of many of the Buddha’s teachings, but Buddhism is far more complex than just mindfulness. ” (E. ‘18)

What is it like to be Buddhist at Elon?

“While attending Elon I was still in the midst of discovering my spiritual path. Although I knew very few students who identified as Buddhist at Elon, I was able to find solidarity through becoming a member of Elon’s meditation society, Iron Tree Blooming. This student organization opened my mind to Buddhism, mindfulness and Zen, as well as provided me with a network of supportive friends.” (K. Alumni)

“It’s not difficult if you’re willing to seek out opportunities for yourself. The staff at the Truitt Center are incredibly welcoming and supportive of all religions, and will work endlessly to make sure you have what you need. This could include any Buddhist programming you want to put on, connecting you with other Buddhist students, or providing resources about Buddhist centers nearby. There are also some great academic opportunities — for example, I took a winter term class called “Zen in Theory and Practice” where I learned more about Zen Buddhism and went on a four – day silent Zen retreat. ” (E. ‘18)

Who supports Buddhist students at Elon?

“Faculty members, staff, and several student organizations directly support Buddhist students. I’d highly recommend attending Iron Tree Blooming, Elon’s meditation society, to all Buddhist students at Elon.” (K. Alumni)

“The Truitt Center is a great resource for Buddhist students. Not only are the staff incredible, but they also host many programs and events supporting Buddhist students including Iron Tree Blooming (Elon’s meditation society), a Tibetan sand mandala, and other cultural events throughout the year. ” (E. ‘18)

Are there any Buddhist faculty and staff at Elon?

Yep! Faculty and staff members regularly join Iron Tree Blooming meditation sittings, and I’ve met a few other faculty members who identify as Buddhist.

Are there Buddhists Student Associations nearby to Elon?

  • Kadampa Center (Raleigh)
  • Won-Buddhism Meditation Temple (Chapel Hill)
  • Zen Center of North Carolina (Pittsboro)

Are their interfaith opportunities for Buddhists?

Plenty. The Truitt Center has a full list of all student organizations, including interfaith groups. They also offer interfaith opportunities such as service trips during breaks, interfaith conferences, and they advise an upperclassman LLC focused on interfaith and mindfulness. (E. ‘18)