Perhaps I'm a "weekend warrior" skeptic, but I've said before that Buddhism is the only religion that I admire and respect and will likely defend it in a discussion. I think I've heard it somewhere before that said we need to save Buddhism from the Buddhists.
Here is a short list of some things I can be on board with about Buddhism, some of I have no opinion on, and some I disagree with. I'm getting my information from about.com.
On board: Four Noble Truths--Life is suffering. The causes of suffering. The end of suffering. The paths that free us from suffering. The Eightfold Path--The right view. The right intention. The right speech. The right action. The right livelihood. The right effort. The right mindfulness. The right concentration. No absolutes--I think this speaks for itself.
No opinion: Dependent Origination--Don't ask. It makes no sense to me, but it doesn't seem silly either. Chi--Seems like new age stuff, but some imaging scans of Buddhist monks by neutral doctors have shown some strange energy manipulations by the monks. Meditation--Beyond health benefits? No idea. However I've seen monks do some scary stuff after meditation. No "self"--I think it's easy to twist such a vague concept. I don't think the Buddhist is saying that you are "not there". Rather they are saying we are a collection of "thought moments". Reincarnation--As opposed to Hinduism's version of reincarnation, Buddhism's version does solve some problems associated with immortal soul concepts and heaven and hell doctrines but is otherwise unprovable just as Hinduism's is.
Not on board: Karma--Nope. Realms of mysticism--Nope. Prayer wheels--Too much like rosary beads. Giving up material goods--Sorry. I like my stuff. *points to doctrine of no absolutes*
First off, I do not consider Buddhism a religion. I agree with your on-board list. I would also add Meditation and No "self". Although the "self" concept can warp your noodle a little. Is Chi a Buddhist concept? I don't believe it is something that is taught.
You are correct, Doone. There is "chi" in Daoism, but in Hinduism as well. Yogis are prime examples. All three harness chi: the yogis, Taoist masters, and Buddhist monks. The historians aren't sure whether chi was introduced from Hinduism via Buddhism to China......but I strongly believe it originated separately since Daoism is much older than the "introduced" Buddhism to China.
Chi has origins in Hinduism and Daoism.....separately. Hinduism, derived from Vedic religion, is much older than Daoism. Some people think chi originated "SOLELY" in China......but this is not the case.
The yogi masters harness chi as well.
Things like the prayer wheel get into the specific sects or cultural aspects of Buddhism. I don't buy any of this stuff at all. As for the realms of existence...I know these are allegorical descriptions but I just don't buy karma and reincarnation.
I like Theravada Buddhism, as it has some very great qualities. However, I of course disagree with the after-thoughts after dying if you decide to be ignorant and hurt people (however, there are plenty of Theravadans who reject this). When you die it's the big zero to me, but as I said many of them have the same attitude as I. There are several branches of Buddhism, but Theravada is about the only one I personally like. Some Buddhists can be radical, and some are not. I'm with you (OP), I'd defend Theravada just as much as atheism. If you're a Theravada Buddhist, then you aren't causing any harm and you support science & open-mindedness all the way....I fully respect them.