Why “Buddhist Theology” is Not a Good Idea

The careful reader will note that in this essay I am talking about the intellectual category of “Buddhist theology” as such, and not the more general project of adapting Buddhist thought and practice to the present-day.

The even more careful reader will note that the last part of the sentence above does not say “present-day needs,” or some similar expression implicating needs theory. This is because needs theory in the study of religion is an act of bad faith (yes, Sartre once again) in that a construct (“religious needs”) is being passed off as natural entity comparable to the need for air, water, food. And, vague hand-waving in the direction of Maslow’s theory of a needs hierarchy does not solve that problem.

So, here it is: Payne on “Buddhist Theology”

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3 thoughts on “Why “Buddhist Theology” is Not a Good Idea

    • I prefer “Buddhist thought” over both “Buddhist theology” and “Buddhist philosophy.” The latter is the subject of another forthcoming essay…

  1. I look forward to the essay. (And I definitely prefer Buddhist “thought” over “theology” or even “philosophy.” Though any English language term will bring with it the baggage of colonialism, “thought”—being the most abstract—brings the least among the options you mention.)

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