The recent E-Sangha rebirth controversy got me thinking...

Apparently some people hold the opinion that if you don't believe in rebirth - or don't take the issue seriously enough - you're not a "true buddhist" (what a funny concept anyway!).

But what things are essential parts of Buddhism? What can you take away from the practice and still call it Buddhism? Or what can you add, is there something so un-Buddha-like that doing it would make any practice non-Buddhist?

I would think that at least three things are required for some practice to be Buddhist:

1) meditation (that's kind of the thing, no?)
2) knowledge of the precepts and trying to abide by them (whichever precepts your lineage has, but some are necessary I think)
3) recognizing Buddha as teacher or something (it would be silly calling something Buddhist if the practitioner doesn't identify themselves with Buddha's teachings)

What about the third gem, the Sangha? Can there be Buddhism without it? Or without teacher altogether (meaning only relying your own practice and the basic teachings, but not having an ongoing teacher relationship)? Can Buddhists go solo?

Anything else? Are those three (or four if you add the Sangha) things what it comes down to when you rip off all extra fancy stuff from the Way or is there something else that's needed? Or can you leave out even some of those?

You can ponder this from the Zen perspective or from an all-encompassing one, but anyway please share your thoughts!

PS. I know "Buddhism" is just a silly label, but the unenlightened being that I am those silly labels and concepts are what I have to do with. :roll: