If you are wanting Buddhism to be "Not X"?

I want to experience Buddhism with others but I can only find religious temples.

I am very new to Buddhism and I am interested in finding a teacher.

I don’t know where Buddhists gather and the only thing I can find are temples that appear as though they worship idols of The Buddha and I’m not down with that.

How do I find others who can offer guidance to grow through Buddhist teachings without diving into the religious aspect of it?

I should mention I’m based in NC, USA.

It’s strange to consider oneself “very new to Buddhism” yet be immediately dismissive of anything about it.

You might reflect on the possibility that you don’t know enough about Buddhism in general, or the relevance of statues specifically, to have a well-informed position on what you’re down with yet.

To clarify, I mean the temples where there are statues of various reincarnations of Buddha. Where they view him as something other than human.

Okay, I’ll rephrase. I don’t want to worship different reincarnations of the Buddha. Rather, I would love to just learn his truths without worshipping a deity.

Calling it a religion doesn’t change anything, does it? There is still someone who can help me understand things like the noble truths and eightfold path without me having to bow to idols, yes?

I have good news then: We don’t really worship the Buddha like a god. We pay great respect to him and we view him not just as a teacher but also as an example of what each of us has the potential to become. It’s quite a bit different from a theistic religion in which you put a god on a pedestal and try to gain their favor and avoid their wrath.

Bowing in Buddhism isn’t about worship, it’s about surrendering our self-grasping ego; we literally lay ourselves down in a practice of humility (which is an antidote to pride).

Statues of the Buddha exist as reminders and as inspiration for the most part.

As someone else mentioned, you seem to be bringing a lot of ideas from the major monotheistic religions into the arguments you’ve made here.

Tying religion to a god is one of them. There are many religions around the world that aren’t built around ideas of a deity.

Have you given thought to what worship is? I think you may be bringing a lot of Christian or other religious conception over to Buddhism and assuming what it means when you see someone bowing to an image of a buddha.

No form of Buddhism takes Buddha to be a god.

And you could be TOTALLY correct. The thought of bowing to anything makes my skin crawl due to my cultural inheritance of what that implies.

I think the reason that the idea of rebirth is distasteful to me is because I see it as a way to motivate people toward ‘righteousness’ in the same way Christians might use heaven/hell.

I could be dead wrong and I’m tired now so I’m not sure where I’m going with this but I really appreciate the conversation we’ve had.

If you are wanting Buddhism to be “Not X” then you aren’t going to end up with anything but your own creation.

It is very, very common for people to be draw to Buddhism because they see it as different from the religion they grew up with and have a dislike for. But that only works when you are consuming a distorted version of Buddhism marketed for people exactly like you.

So when you come into a Buddhist space saying more or less, “Give me Buddhism without Buddhism” you are going to get a negative reaction. It’s fine to like whatever you like and use whatever you can. Just be really conscious of what you are doing and where you are getting your information from.

Until modern times there has never been anything one could even remotely consider to be “non-religious Buddhism.” So while you may have (even legitimate) criticisms of “religion,” keep in mind that without people practicing what you are labeling as “religious Buddhism” you wouldn’t even know the Buddha’s name, let alone any of the teachings he gave.

1 Like

He could go the Goenka path.

They don’t allow Buddhas during their retreats. It is a rule.
New people to Buddhism are pretty much like that. The problem is, without proper Buddhism where the monks don’t use money and have proper intention, Buddhism will appear empty. As one monk said…

“Buddhism is chanting, food and money in the children’s eyes.”

The problem is that many temples in the usa (nearly all of them) end up serving the immigrant community. They “import” monks to satisfy their need for good luck. There is little propagation going on, and it is just a money machine for those “lucky” monks who come to the usa. The problem is these immigrants have kids, and it does not work so well with those growing up in the usa. Then those kids have kids. Then it is finished… nobody literally “buys” this type of Buddhism.

The monastery in Chicago was like that, and they (the original donors) tried to reformat the monastery before they died. Unfortunately they went with Ajahn Krukit style who is an extreme Buddhavācāna monk who not only removes “evaṃ me suttaṃ” which is spoken by ven ānanda, but also other suttas spoken by other disciples have been removed too.

He tolerated by the Ajahn Chah tradition for some time, but he was booted for doing the Pātimokkha with only 150 rules… because it is in a sutta. They seem to ignore that the pali says… more than 150 rules and also the fact that the rules were formulated over time. At one time there were only 4 rules. Say what you want, but don’t fiddle with the Pātimokkha.

So they want vinaya monks, but vinaya monks stay clear of this place. They are a rock in a hard place. But this monastery might work for this person.

The Lao monastery in Hawai’i sells alcohol as fundraisers. It is very common. I’m the only one who told them not to do this and how ridiculous it was. They refused to stop.


I have understood that these two, namely Classical Dhamma and Strict Vinaya, as the basic gauge to filter out improper types of Buddhism.

“Well then, bhikkhu, purify the very starting point of wholesome states.
And what is the starting point of wholesome states?
Virtue that is well purified and view that is straight.

Therein, bhikkhus, right view comes first. And how does right view come first?
One understands wrong view as wrong view and right view as right view:
this is one’s right view.

Unfortunately, after filtering out, we have only handful of places remaining all over the globe.


This probabaly explains the situation and progression of Westerners and why they turn to sutta only or EBT. It makes sense.

The other problem is lack of proper guidance. Monks are left on their own to meditate and find their own way. The Westerners are often trophy monks and they seem to be left to do as they wish. Ordaining as a Westerner gives one a 20 vassa handicap as soon as they are ordained .

The pts translators and those who have followed were also looking for the dry spiritual path with no proper teacher. Instead they thought they knew better. Even as so much to explain the naive mistakes of venerable Buddhaghosa.

But faith runs dry in Westerners who run away from Theistic religions. They want a pure spiritual approach but have no map. I can see why we have what we have. That is why the Buddha could know that the Abhidhamma would be the first to disappear.

Yes just a handful of monasteries . There are about 40 good monasteries in Cambodia too that I have heard of from visiting monks at Varanasi (Myanmar) monastery.


Yes bhante. The majority people came from Theistic religions don’t like any similar feature to be seen in Buddhism.

Eg: Idol-worship, Patriarchy, Orthodoxy (sometimes rebirth and hell even)

They want an anti-theistic practice in all aspects. They miss the notion of Middle way.

If they had faith-factor (which is blind in most cases), they would most probably not run away from their born-religion, I guess.

Eg: Muslims

Is this a characteristic only of the Modern West but not of Ancient West?


1 Like