In our world today, there are at least four different
types of Buddhism. The first type is the authentic Buddhism, the education of
understanding the true face of life and the universe originally intended by
Shakyamuni Buddha. Unfortunately, the authentic Buddha's education is rare nowadays,
and difficult to encounter. The remaining types of Buddhism are more or less
distortions of the original teachings.
The second type of Buddhism is the religious Buddhism. Originally, Buddhism was not a religion, but now it has become one. We can no longer deny that there is a 'Buddhist religion' because everywhere we look, Buddhism is displayed as a religion. Unlike the monasteries in the past which held eight-hour classes per day and provided another eight hours for self-cultivation, today's Buddhist 'temples' no longer uphold such a perseverance of the Buddha's Teachings. Today we mainly see people offering to the Buddha statues and praying for blessings and fortune. In this way, Buddhism has been wrongly changed into a religion.
The third type of Buddhism is the philosophical study of the Buddha's teachings. Many universities today open courses on the study of Buddhist Sutras, considering the teachings as a philosophy. The content of the Buddha's education is actually a complete university of knowledge and wisdom. Philosophy is only one of its courses. Just as it is wrong to recognize an university as a single course, it is also inappropriate to think of and limit the Buddha's education as only a philosophy. The Buddha's education can help us resolve our problems - from family difficulties to the great issue of life and death. The Buddha's teachings are deep and vast, and teach us the truths of life and the universe. It should not be mistaken as only a philosophy.
The fourth type of Buddhism we see in our world today is the deviant and externalist Buddhism. This is an extremely unfortunate affair which only came to be in the past 30-40 years. We must know that the religious Buddhism persuades people to be decent, and the philosophical Buddhism pursues truth, neither cause much harm to the society. If Buddhism is changed into a deviant and externalist path, using the weakness of the human nature to cheat and harm living beings; disturbing the peace and safety of the society, then this conversion of Buddhism has gone too far. The speech and actions of these deviant and externalist paths can be very attractive and enticing. One should be very careful as not to be mislead by these deviant ways, or regretting it would be too late.
These four types of Buddhism exist in our society today, we should recognize them as they are and think carefully as to which way is most beneficial to us, and the one we will ultimately follow.