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Creed

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A creed is a statement of beliefs, usually religious beliefs, which someone must subscribe to in order to be considered a member of a particular religion. The word creed comes from the Latin credo meaning ‘I believe.’ The idea of having a creed is alien to Buddhism because it has always emphasised behaviour more than belief and dogma. All the ancient creeds of Christianity – the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, etc. – lay down theological ideas that must be accepted, even if they are not understood, in order to be a Christian and to be saved. Significantly, none of these creeds say anything at all about how one should behave. If there was an equivalent to a creed in Buddhism, or at least a succinct summary of it, it would be the Buddha’s statement: ‘One thing and one thing only do I teach – suffering and the transcending of suffering.’ (M.I,140). Better still would be his famous words from the Dhammapada: ‘Avoid everything evil, develop the good and purify the mind; this is the teaching of the Buddhas.’ (Dhp.183). According to Buddhism, believing a set of ideas, even if done so with great fervour, cannot liberate one. Only understanding and a profound change of heart can do that. See Epithet and Faith.

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