True Buddhism is not “Buddhism”
By: <a href="" target="_self">Shozan</a>

By: Shozan

Shozan explains why the true essence of Buddhism is not an -ism.

An article from the Spring 2000 Newsletter explaining why true Buddhism is not Buddhism or an “ism” at all, and why a more proper name for “Buddhists” would be “Dharma Practitioners.”

Christianity was named after Christ (the Annointed One), though it is doubtful that Christ would approve many aspects of what has been claimed in his name. The same is true of Buddhism, named after its founder, Buddha (the Enlightened One). While Buddhism (like all other social movements) developed its own bureaucracies, hierarchies, sects, and so forth, strictly speaking (in a Zen sense) it is not an ‘ism’ and is not based on worshiping its founder as an external, objectified entity. Leaving out the name of Buddha and any of his great successors, and going beyond the varied features of Buddhist organizations, a more accurate epithet for Buddhists is Dharma practitioners. 

‘Dharma’ is an untranslatable Sanskrit word expressing the way everything is and works, whether or not our notions and actions are in accord with it.

For more articles on Zen philosophy, click here.

Article categories: Philosophy | Teaching
<a href="" target="_blank">Shozan</a>


Shozan (Marc Joslyn, PhD) became a student of Joshu Sasaki Roshi in 1964 and was instrumental in founding the first Zen center in Los Angeles and, subsequently, Mt. Baldy Zen Center. He was ordained as a monk in 1972 and an osho in 1982. Shozan and Myodo moved to Bainbridge Island in 1986 and founded Entsuan Zen in 1995.
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