• Andrea Sangiacomo

Teachings, no brands

Updated: Oct 15

Buddhism is often seen as a religion, or better a family of religions, more or less directly connected with the teachings of an ancient Indian sage, lived roughly in the fifth century before the common era in North-East India.

The discourses of the Buddha (suttā) preserved in the Pāli canon of the Theravāda tradition provide the most extensive historical record preserved in an ancient Indian language of what that ancient sage might have thought. They also form the shared heritage of later Buddhist traditions.

'Religion' can be seen very much as a Western category, mostly shaped on the paradigms provided by Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Regardless of how one spells out further this notion, one can surely take up some texts (including the discourses of the Buddha) and decide to use them for religious purposes (however conceived).

But this does not entail that those texts are inherently 'religious' or that any other use of them will have some 'religious' aspect attached to it. Texts are just texts, and their meaning is dependent upon what one does with them.

Without ignoring the historical reception of the discourses of the Buddha, and how they have been interpreted and transmitted in various (religious and non-religious) contexts throughout times and places, it must be possible to engage more directly with what they have to say, bracketing any other issues (including 'being a Buddhist').

This means (1) trying to understand what the texts genuinely mean to say; (2) check how that works out when applied to one's own experience; (3) create a feedback loop between study and practice, so that both can grow deeper. Exploring this option is the leading intention behind the resources collected on this website.

What is done here has little to do with 'religion,' even less to do with 'spirituality' (whatever this means), and does not rely on any particular lineage or brand of Buddhism. It is not even about Buddhism. It is about all the rest.

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