I feel its teachings and depth show without a doubt it’s a religion. I find it odd so many look to it as a philosophy but understand why in a conventional and American sense. There isn’t a “believe this or rot hell “aspect, but you have to look to in a Hindu light. Samsara is negative (cycle of rebirth) to Hindus and Buddhist, and could be considered as dreadful as the conventional Christian hell. Another reason it may not be considered a religion is that other than the four noble truths, which includes the 8 fold path, there aren’t these set in stone rules that the lay people (those who are not monks and follow lifestyle regulations listed in the Pali Cannon) must follow. I feel this is due to Siddhartha constantly pushing followers to find the truths, and live them, for themselves. He discovered a path in the dark, but it’s your responsibility to create the light for you to see and follow, or not, his footsteps. Sidhartha’s last speech to his followers involved him instructing them to ‘hold fast to the dharma (teachings) as your lamp’ and to ‘be a refuge unto yourselves.’ Much of Buddhism involves self reliance on yourself, your own actions, and the dharma you have been not only taught, but discovered by LIVING it!
Is this any different than Catholics deeming that ‘faith is more than a belief; it is a way of life?’
It also relies on you giving up what you think is yourself. Your identity and ego … yeah, at times it’s a little complicated. Rely on yourself, and understand what you think you are is an illusion, but rely on it.
Sorry, I read a ton of Buddhism text, so to me this rant is hilarious, but probably boring to you, I’ll continue (there are answers to what I’m saying though it’s just really long)
Hinduism is never questioned as a religion, but one of its oldest holy books is the rig veda, which contains the Upanishads. Sidhartha studied with the Upanishad monks when he considered himself a Bodhisattva (where the concept in Mahayana Buddhism got its name). The Upanishads is almost parallel with Buddhism. The main differences between the two is keeping desire to find enlightenment, which Sidhartha (Buddhism) said you must distinguish, and that Nirvana was Brahman, a monotheistic God.
……Anyway – religion. Just quaintly unique.