chapter  7
Symbols, Propositions and Religious Experiences
Pages 21

This is how Buddhism is a religion: in default of gods, it admits the existence of sacred things, namely, the four noble truths and the practices derived from them.

This final chapter begins with the observation is that the categories of symbol and doctrinal propositions have been employed as if they consisted of two kinds of religious experiences that were perceived to be distinct from each other by scholars of religion in the early part of this century. Symbols were thought to represent a certain kind of direct, sensuous, and immediate experience that transcended the normal parameters of daily life. Theorists who sought to define the origins of this experience did not all agree in their precise definitions of symbol, but they were consistent in their descriptions of symbols as bearers of a direct and immediate experience. In contrast, philosophy was considered to be embedded in the logical propositions of doctrines that were understood to be the focus of certain beliefs. Definitions of symbols were contructed within the larger question of the origin of religions. Theories on the origin of religion were proposed by such scholars as Robertson Smith, ]. G. Frazer, E. B. Tylor, Emile Durkheim, Lucien Levy-Bruhl and others; all of these scholars operated within a framework that distinguished the experiences of primitive cultures from those of civilized cultures, although they made this distinction in different ways.