What is Buddhism?

A lot of people seem to have a bit of confusion when they’re asked whether not they know what Buddhism is. And for good reason! Some think it’s just a way of life, while others may think it’s a religion, spirituality, or a philosophy.

But the reality is that there’s not one commonly accepted thought about Buddhism’s official title – it’s kind of both a religion and philosophy and it’s a non-theistic belief system. Buddhism got its start in India about 2,500 years ago. From there, it has grown into many different paths or ‘schools’ of Buddhism. Just as there are many paths of Christianity or Catholicism. There doesn’t seem to be a great divide or rift between the different schools either, they just emphasize on the actual teachings rather than on the interpretations and who’s right.

The two main types of Buddhism can be broken down like this:

Mahayana (great vehicle)

- Zen Buddhism

- Tibetan Buddhism

- Pure Land Buddhism

Theravada (Teachings of the elders)

- oldest form of Buddhism

- practiced in locations of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar

Buddhism and Addiction

There are many benefits to following or practicing Buddhism in part or in whole when it comes to addiction recovery. There are many aspects of Buddhism that are beneficial to those in recovery, even if the entire way of life is not adapted. Even the ‘father of cognitive therapy,’ Dr. Alan Beck who is held in high regard, believes there is a great overlap between Buddhist psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Some people just find that the spiritual path of Buddhism helps them adapt and commit to their 12-step program in recovery. A major concept in Buddhism is that of suffering and attachment to things that are non-permanent. In recovery that follows a Buddhist path, the greatest attachment is addiction and overcoming this attachment can lead to the end of suffering.

Has Buddhism or another form of philosophy or spirituality helped you through recovery? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

Garrigan, P. “Buddhism and Addiction”. Hope Rehab. (website). 2019
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