Belief vs. Practice

Belief vs. Practice June 2, 2017

My husband made a comment here on the blog a few days ago that really struck a chord with me about the difference between belief and practice in religion. It’s on this post: What Is The Purpose of Life?

I’m sad to read all this superstitious material concerning Buddhism, (my dictionary defines superstition as beliefs in concepts that are un supportable) What I have read about Buddhism is that it isn’t a belief system but should survive empirical demands of it. If is is as I interpret the conversation, it is just another belief like christianity which I as a scientist can’t accept. Are Zen Buddhists AGNOSTICS or ATHEISTS?

  • There are so many responses to this post yours got lost. So I’m sorry for the late reply.

    There are many, many sects of Buddhism; some are very devotional like Christianity, some are mystical like lamas in Tibet, and some are stripped of their cultural references down to pure logical philosophy.

    I am not here to judge any of these approaches, though clearly you are. Buddhism’s logical foundation and tradition of philosophical debate has been tested for a thousand years. Buddhism changes when it enters a new culture which is what is responsible for many of these sects.

    Zen Buddhism in particular comes from Chan Buddhism in china, which itself is a fusion of Buddhism and Taoism. There are even sub-sects of different kinds of Zen Buddhism for example the Rinzai and Soto sects. I am not a Zen Buddhist, but from what I know of them they could be either agnostic or atheist.

    What you need to understand though is that a Buddhist is not a Buddhist because of what they believe. A Buddhist is a Buddhist because of what they do. It is a religion of practice. So, a believer of the supernatural who practices Buddhism is a Buddhist, as is a Hindu, or Jew, or even an Atheist.

    ::Puts on Theravada hat:: The underling philosophy is simple: if you observe life is painful, and that pain has a cause which is attachment, there is a possible end to that pain through the application of the 8 fold path. The only faith you are asked to have is to try the practices and see if they work. ::Takes Theravada hat off::

    Buddhism is not about god or not-god.

hindu belief
I feel exactly the same way about Hinduism. It’s not about belief. Belief is rather irrelevant.

Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) has a lot of practices and wisdom from being one of the oldest religions in the world (if not *the* oldest!) and your job is to try them out. Try the practice and observe how it effects you. Read the wisdom and see how it resonates with you. You are always testing everything against your own instincts because God resides within you so in your heart of hearts you know the answer. You just need to clear away anything getting in the way of hearing that “still, small voice” (as Christianity calls it).

Not everything has to have proof, but I think it is important to be paying attention to the evidence in the world. You want your beliefs to be fluid enough to handle new information if it comes to light. So when something is scientifically observable about the world, your response can’t be to pretend it didn’t happen or close your eyes and hum. Your religion is useless if it can’t match up with what is observably true.

So not everything I believe is proved or provable but everything I believe fits into the framework of the world as we observe it to be. I am operating with a theory and weighing evidence as I find it. Because Hinduism is not rigid and is about personal experience first and foremost, I am able to continue to grow and learn and come to a better and better understanding of Truth as time goes on.


On the Youtube channel today I have a video that I’m particularly proud of! Here is a little clip:

See the full video: How Do Hindus View Other Religions here

Thank you to my wonderful Patreon supporters…

Brian Hanechak

Amit Agarwal

(views expressed here are mine alone and do not reflect opinions of my supporters. Links within the text may be affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase something I get a small commission for recommending it. I only recommend things I truly believe in)

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  • Ch Billy

    HI Ambaa. Brilliant answer by Brad I must say!!! I have a theory about the modern day self-aggrandizing atheists who rabble rouse on the internet like the ones who commented on your article “What is the purpose of life?”.

    Here are some traits I observed of atheists like the one who posted comments on the article you were mentioning:

    1) They all are ready to declare there is no God of any form, shape or concept and are not ready to get in any discussion where the opposite person as contrary views.

    2) They think they have the winning argument because they claim that there is no evidence for God. This is ironic because to make a declaration of no evidence, they seem to claim to have the information of all the events that has ever happened in the history of mankind which is acting like God.

    3) They have practically zero knowledge of any religion or its scriptures and dismiss the idea about any discussion on such topics because they claim that they are “fairy tales” or “cock and bull stories” with meaningless and impractical philosophy. In other words, they have no respect for scholarship.

    4) They have the scientific knowledge of a middle-school student or a high-school student at the most. When you take the discussion to high-level science like modern physics or neuroscience, they either dismiss it as irrelevant or coincidental or just change the topic immediately.

    I am not saying that all atheists are like this. Some of my role-models are atheists like Arthur Schopenhauer, Jiddu Krishnamurthi and Aldous Huxley. They were very well-read and celebrated scholars who gave their unbiased and unique opinions about each religion and its philosophy only after studying them deeply. They did not hesitate to appreciate the good parts of a religion or criticize its bad parts but their appreciation and criticism were strongly backed by logical and scholarly arguments. In short, they had the qualities of a true seeker.

    My theory is that these modern atheists like the one who commented on your article seem to be brought up in a strongly exclusivist faith like Islam, Judaism or Christianity. The primary trait of a practitioner of religious exclusivism is the deep conviction of the practitioner that he/she is always right and whoever follows/believes/practices anything else is definitely wrong. I call this trait primal false ego. When such practitioners go through modern education and see that many parts of their religion does not make scientific sense, they abandon their religion but not the primal false ego that comes it. This primal false ego makes them the warrior of atheism just like before when they were the warrior of their respective excusivist faith. Hence, they go and rabble rouse everywhere (i.e., internet) thinking they are defending atheism against other “faiths” just like before. In short, with their primal false ego, they are making atheism another exclusivist faith.

    What are your thought on this? Do you think I am completely off here?

    • Noelle S.

      I am no expert, but I think you make interesting comments. One point though…..
      1. “….are not ready to get into any constructive discussion where the other person has contrary views….” Just one thought:- that unfortunately so many Christians share this trait – especially ardent ones who can’t or won’t discuss points even with another Christian with a broader outlook on the truth! They can be so sure they were taught right and have the facts and the truth right, that there can be NO questioning – they are scared to doubt their beliefs.
      I do think that many who considered themselves to be atheists, might simply be people who cannot accept the God presented (by Christianity, e.g.), over the ages. Not surprising – a God who can be jealous, judgmental and punishing, is more human than God – the Great Spirit of All Life. If G-D can diminish ‘Himself’ to exhibit human negative traits, ‘He’ cannot possibly be the true God!! My impressions!

      • Ch Billy

        Thank you for the compliment.

        “…that unfortunately so many Christians share this trait – especially ardent ones who can’t or won’t discuss points even with another Christian with a broader outlook on the truth!”: True. I have met many such Christians and even if they get into a discussion after a lot of persuasion, they will only agree with what I say as long as I give a Bible reference to it. Questioning the authority of Bible objectively is something they can never ever do. I find myself in the same fate when I discuss with Muslims. They out rightly laugh at me when I make attempts at comparative religion between Islam and Hinduism claiming that Islam is the most logical religion in the world. Most of them mock Hinduism saying you worship cows and Shivalinga and idols which, according to them, is weird and illogical even though they don’t know the contextual meaning and philosophy behind it and they don’t even attempt to know. They focus on only external appearance and the moment I talk to them about philosophy, they just call anything outside Quran illogical. One thing I have to commend about mainstream Christianity and Islam is how they have convinced so many billions of people to be so naive and unassuming. This is a marvelous achievement.

        “I do think that many who considered themselves to be atheists, might simply be people who cannot accept the God presented (by Christianity, e.g.), over the ages. Not surprising – a God who can be jealous, judgmental and punishing, is more human than God – the Great Spirit of All Life.”: True, although giving up the concept of God is one thing and giving up the idea that only I know the truth is something else. Most of these atheists make statements like “isn’t it obvious there is no God?” without thinking what sort of unscientific presumptions they are making in saying so. And they are really convinced they are right and all others are wrong. This trait seems to be a baggage from their Christian or Islamic past which has just not left them. As Sadhguru says, there is so much power and joy in saying I don’t know. Saying I don’t know is something that the Abrahamics and the ex-Abrahamics (atheists) just cannot do. This is my view.

  • Noelle S.

    Very interesting article. It seems to me that the danger with belief is that we probably all begin by believing that which we were taught or told from childhood; AND WE ASSUME LATER THAT THAT IS WHAT WE REALLY DO BELIEVE. sO THE ACTUAL FACTS – THE TRUTH – CAN BE MISSED, AND DEPENDING ON THE TEACHINGS, SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES (SORRY – wINDOWS 10 JUMPING INTO cAPITALS!) can affect a person’s self-esteem, confidence, and the ability to do his/her best; or to examine, question, and seek further.
    Practice, however, tends to reveal errors in thinking and actions more readily and inescapably, I think. The Universal Law of cause-and-effect brings noticeable results from whatever we do, therefore a wrong approach or thought and motivation are quickly recognised – and then the choice is there as to whether we change for the better or continue on.