We take a look at some of the biggest misconceptions that exist about Buddhism and some of the key questions that are explored in our Applied Buddhist Studies Program.
- All Buddhists believe the same things
- There are three major lines of Buddhist transmission: (1) South and Southeast Asian, (2) East Asian and (3) Tibetan.
- The three lines of transmission spring from a common source, so how can we make sense of the diversity of teachings and practices. Is there an up-to-date modern Buddhism that transcends these?
- All Buddhists are vegan/vegetarian
- The diversity of teachings and practices within Buddhist traditions is extremely varied, some Buddhist schools are exclusively vegan (notably East Asian schools) however others are meat eating. Why?
- How do Buddhists approach the ethics of food production and consumption?
- How does Buddhist teaching relate to modern conservation and “small is beautiful” movements?
- Buddhism is too ancient to be relevant in the modern world, the issues we face nowadays are too new for it
- Buddhist teachings begin with an analysis of the human condition, the human condition is much the same as it always was, only the content of the issues changes.
- Buddhist teachings are making appearances throughout current cultural practices, the principles of non-violence, respect for complex systems such as the earth’s ecosystems, meditation, mediation, climate change, economics, inequality, conflict, surrogacy, etc.
- Buddhist meditation is only about making you feel better
- The focus of Buddhist meditation is certainly to help people move away from problems and negativity. But just what kinds of contemporary issues are the Buddhist teachings useful for and what techniques are used? How can Buddhist meditation contribute to improved wellbeing?
- Why is meditation such an important part of the vast Buddhist heritage?
- Why is mindfulness currently making such inroads into all possible fields of endeavour, what is behind that?
- It is necessary to believe in reincarnation and future lives in order to get any benefit from Buddhist teachings or practices
- Buddhist teachings revolve around the human mind and as such the Buddhist analysis of consciousness, attention, the nature of the mind and the human heart are the foundations and starting points, not belief in unseen or unknown forces or events.
- The immensely practical disciplines transmitted in Buddhist meditation practices are universally applicable and can be studied without any commitments of belief or faith.
To learn more, read about the NTI subject: 'Introduction to Buddhism'. It provides an overview of the history of Buddhist thought, and provides the essential foundation for further studies in Buddhism.