A. It can be treated as an academic discipline. However, Buddhism as a subject of academy is one thing and Buddhism as a religion is another. The former is based on literature, but the latter on practice. The latter pursues enlightenment, but I have never heard that a Buddhist scholar has attained enlightenment.
Let me offer a glimpse into the difference between Buddhism and philosophy by comparing Buddhist masters with philosophers. Philosophers seem to adhere to their unique opinions that are different from those of their predecessors, or their contemporaries, although sometimes being partially in accord with them. They pursue new thought whilst disputing, or negating, or finding fault with existing theories by others.
However, all Buddhist masters who have realised the true-Self, or the Buddha that they believe is the essence of everything have the same opinion concerning it throughout history; what it is like and what its characteristics are, even though their ways of describing and expressing it are diverse from each other. Masters who have realised the true-Self can tell whether a person is enlightened or not by testing him with koans, Zen questions in the same way as elementary school teachers test their students with arithmetic questions to see whether they have mastered arithmetic rules.
Accordingly, Buddhism as a religion is quite different from philosophy.
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