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.