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The Buddhist Attitude To God


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I found this rather interesting paper online about Buddha and God. Click here.

It is a long read, which is why I didn't post it all here excpet for these small quotes.

 

Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. Indeed most Asian religions (with the possible exception of some extremely devotional forms of Hinduism) are essentially non-theistic, in that God does not occupy the central place that is accorded to him in monotheistic religious traditions. But Buddhism goes beyond most of these other religions in that it is positively anti-theistic because the very notion of God conflicts with some principles which are fundamental to the Buddhist view of the world and the role of humans in it (see section "The God-Concept and Buddhist Principles" below).

 

However Buddhism is not atheistic in the sense that modern secularism, rationalism, humanism, etc. could be regarded to be atheistic (although it has much in common with them). Buddhism is not concerned primarily with refuting the notion of God (as some atheistic writers have done). It is principally concerned with developing a method of escape from the worldly ills.

 

In the West a number of "arguments" have been adduced to prove or disprove the existence of God. Some of these were anticipated by the Buddha. One of the most popular is the "first cause" argument according to which everything must have a cause, and God is considered the first cause of the Universe. The Buddhist theory of causation says that every thing must have preconditions for its existence, and this law must also extend to "God" should such an entity exist. But while the "first cause" claims that God creates everything, it exempts God from the ambit of this law. However if exemptions are made with respect to God such exemptions could be made with respect to other things also hereby contradicting the principle of the first cause.

 

But the argument which the Buddha most frequently uses is what is now called the "argument from evil" which in the Buddhist sense could be stated as the argument from dukkha (suffering or un-satisfactoriness). This states that the empirical fact of the existence of dukkha cannot be reconciled with the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient being who is also all good.

 

Another concomitant of the God-idea that is fundamentally incompatible with Buddhism is the belief that God acts as the final judge and could determine if individuals go to heaven or hell. According to Buddhism the destination of individuals is determined by the karmic law, which cannot be interfered by any external process. Only individuals can effect their karmic destinies; even a Buddha cannot "pardon" or otherwise interfere with the karmic process. In Buddhism there is simply no place for a God even if one were to exist.
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It's part of why I love Buddhism, and study it. Its non-theistic nature lends itself to making Buddhism all the more malleable to everyday life, and to reality. From the Buddhist perspective, a member of any religion can also be a Buddhist, since being a Buddhist entails little more than understanding its moral concepts and attempting to practice them. Of course, from the perspective of some (Abrahamists, mostly), one cannot be a Buddhist in addition to their own religion, but that's neither here nor there.

 

Buddhism is an excellent religion/philosophy/etc, as it embraces some basically common-sensical values, as well as the concept of questioning everything, even Buddhism itself. It encourages not just inner peace, but intellectual growth, and doesn't promise to lead to instant happiness or success, only to be a big help along the way. As an Agnostic and a Pagan (primarily Asatruar), I find Buddhism perfectly compatible with all other things I believe in, and while I do not fully agree with all traditional Buddhist tenets, I agree with Buddhism enough to consider myself one :)

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Buddhism is quite impressive for its sheer rationality and clear-thinking. Quite astounding for a philosophy that is thousands of years old.

 

Buddhism is non-theistic rather than atheistic, that's true. Buddhism doesn't really attempt to answer the question of whether there is a God or not, neither does it promote the idea that you can't know (agnosticism). Buddhism simply says that there are more important things to worry about. Random person:"Is there a God?" Buddhist(or even the Buddha himself): "Don't worry about whether there is a God or not. Just try and concentrate on becoming a better person and finding some inner peace."

 

You've got to admire that perspective. WHO CARES if there is a God or not. There are things we can figure out through reasoning that are of much more immediate importance - such as what the causes of evil and suffering are and how we can best eliminate them.

 

Just one small example of how amazingly clear-thinking Buddhism can be. I'm a big fan of that. If there was one religion that is worth following, that'd be the one.

 

(Taoism's pretty neat too)

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I admire much of the Buddha's philosophy, particularly because it says one ought to test a philosophy before agreeing with it, hence supporting a good sceptical stance. Also, the Buddha denounced personality cults, whereas some religions rely totally on one person who is sanctified and revered to an absurd extent (Jesus, Muhammed etc).

 

However, as it is practised by many, Buddhism seems to show little difference from other relgions: it has gods, it is a personality cult of Siddharate Guatama and it is dogmatic.

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However, as it is practised by many, Buddhism seems to show little difference from other relgions: it has gods, it is a personality cult of Siddharate Guatama and it is dogmatic.

 

Sadly, many people "Xianize" Buddhism this way, because Xianity totally ruins their understanding of what a religion ought to be. Many ex-xians do this to Buddhism, as well as to various Pagan religions at times; I've seen Asatruar and Wiccans, for example, who still act as dogmatic and theistically-obsessed as any Xian or Moose-lim and might as well just put their crosses or crescents back on.

 

Such is the price that must be paid to dismantle such religious thinking, I suppose. It'll take time for those people to realize their errors, and hopefully, the majority will.

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However, as it is practised by many, Buddhism seems to show little difference from other relgions: it has gods, it is a personality cult of Siddharate Guatama and it is dogmatic.

 

Sadly, many people "Xianize" Buddhism this way, because Xianity totally ruins their understanding of what a religion ought to be. Many ex-xians do this to Buddhism, as well as to various Pagan religions at times; I've seen Asatruar and Wiccans, for example, who still act as dogmatic and theistically-obsessed as any Xian or Moose-lim and might as well just put their crosses or crescents back on.

 

Such is the price that must be paid to dismantle such religious thinking, I suppose. It'll take time for those people to realize their errors, and hopefully, the majority will.

TBH, Mahayana Buddhism had a very deified view of the Buddha, and that is wholly distinct to the western/classical view of religions. Theravada is more a-theist. Both Mahayana and Theravada regard the question of who or what creaed the universe as a 'non-question', akin to a man shot by an arrow demanding ot know who made the bow and arrow, from what, and the history and training of the man who shot him before allowing someone to treat the wound.

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TBH, Mahayana Buddhism had a very deified view of the Buddha, and that is wholly distinct to the western/classical view of religions. Theravada is more a-theist. Both Mahayana and Theravada regard the question of who or what creaed the universe as a 'non-question', akin to a man shot by an arrow demanding ot know who made the bow and arrow, from what, and the history and training of the man who shot him before allowing someone to treat the wound.

 

Pretty much. I never did care for the deified views of Buddha, either eastern or western. Just seemed to rub the wrong way, especially with the overall pointlessness of the god-question. Since it's pretty clear that no gods are able to intervene in human affairs or otherwise reveal themselves, it doesn't matter therefore if any exist, and to waste too much time on the question robs one of opportunities to expend effort on better things.

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Buddhism is quite impressive for its sheer rationality and clear-thinking. Quite astounding for a philosophy that is thousands of years old.

 

Buddhism is non-theistic rather than atheistic, that's true. Buddhism doesn't really attempt to answer the question of whether there is a God or not, neither does it promote the idea that you can't know (agnosticism). Buddhism simply says that there are more important things to worry about. Random person:"Is there a God?" Buddhist(or even the Buddha himself): "Don't worry about whether there is a God or not. Just try and concentrate on becoming a better person and finding some inner peace."

 

You've got to admire that perspective. WHO CARES if there is a God or not. There are things we can figure out through reasoning that are of much more immediate importance - such as what the causes of evil and suffering are and how we can best eliminate them.

 

Just one small example of how amazingly clear-thinking Buddhism can be. I'm a big fan of that. If there was one religion that is worth following, that'd be the one.

 

(Taoism's pretty neat too)

 

I agree...it seems the most non threatening of the "religions."

The philosophies are interesting, I don't mind reading them at all. It's a case of "take what you like and leave the rest."

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'It's a case of "take what you like and leave the rest."'

 

Strange to say, you're paraphrasing one of the early sayings of The Buddha :)

 

 

:lmao: See what I mean!! Some of the philosophies are pretty cool! :HaHa:

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It's along the lines

 

"It doesn't matter who said it, even if I said it; if upon deep contemplation and investigation, you experience that it isn't true, it's not true."

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'It's a case of "take what you like and leave the rest."'

 

Strange to say, you're paraphrasing one of the early sayings of The Buddha :)

 

 

:lmao: See what I mean!! Some of the philosophies are pretty cool! :HaHa:

 

Zackly. That's why the Buddha > the christ :)

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Sadly, many people "Xianize" Buddhism this way, because Xianity totally ruins their understanding of what a religion ought to be. Many ex-xians do this to Buddhism, as well as to various Pagan religions at times; I've seen Asatruar and Wiccans, for example, who still act as dogmatic and theistically-obsessed as any Xian or Moose-lim and might as well just put their crosses or crescents back on.

 

Such is the price that must be paid to dismantle such religious thinking, I suppose. It'll take time for those people to realize their errors, and hopefully, the majority will.

 

Though I'm sure you're right, I was actually referring to many of the people that have been raised in 'Buddhist' families, cultures and nations. Many branches have multiple gods and mythologies that seem to form a huge part of their personal religion. There are also contradictions, dogmatism, sectarianism and clear attempts at revising history in the competition between different sects.

 

A lot of teachings never espoused by Siddharta Guatama himself seem to have entered the mindsets of many, and are treated as dogma.

 

I suppose such a thing is inevitable when philosophy, religion and cultural identity are so closely entwined.

 

Still, even with the influence of petty and dogmatic human beings, Buddhism has not sunk to the levels of legalistic hatred that many sections of Christianity have.

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Not strictly true. There has been a sectarian scuffle going on between the Gelugpas and the Kampas, over the worship of Dorje Shugden. Last I heard we were up to the 100 dead... which by holy war terms is pretty good, but by Buddhist terms is a bloodbath.

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Not strictly true. There has been a sectarian scuffle going on between the Gelugpas and the Kampas, over the worship of Dorje Shugden. Last I heard we were up to the 100 dead... which by holy war terms is pretty good, but by Buddhist terms is a bloodbath.

 

I didn't mean sectarian violence so much as theological conflicts and divisions within Buddhism. But, you're right that Buddhist sectarianism is not as violent and evil as that in other religions.

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Not strictly true. There has been a sectarian scuffle going on between the Gelugpas and the Kampas, over the worship of Dorje Shugden. Last I heard we were up to the 100 dead... which by holy war terms is pretty good, but by Buddhist terms is a bloodbath.

 

I didn't mean sectarian violence so much as theological conflicts and divisions within Buddhism. But, you're right that Buddhist sectarianism is not as violent and evil as that in other religions.

 

When the Dalai Lama denounces a sect as 'devil worshipping' and 'apostate' you can tell it's getting ugly. From my studied I don't see Dorje Shugden as any worse thasn anyother of the wrathful dharma protectors... however there has been bad feeling between the red cap (Dalai Lama's Gelugpas) and the yellow caps (Kadampa) since the 16th Century. Since 1977 the whole thing has got worse with the splitting off of the New Kadampas (under the leadership of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso). I've read a number of the Geshe's books (18 of the 21 available) and I find his teachings interesting. TBH, I am not keen on his followers, who seem a little too 'eager' to me, and not wholly what they seem or what they want you to think they are. I find no sign of the Geshe wishing to form a cult, but there seems to be one forming around him, in structure and tenor not wholly different to the type you find with some Christian sects. I think the hardest thing for me to swallow is the belief that Gyatso has supernatural (Miracle) powers. He seems personable enough, but I have the feeling some folk just need to embrace the pointing finger instead of heading for the moon

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Buddhism seems to show little difference from other relgions: it has gods, it is a personality cult of Siddharate Guatama and it is dogmatic.

 

Buddhism has no "gods." See my earlier posts on this site for clarification. A personality cult? Please explain. Dogmatic? Where is the dogma in having no dogma?

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Buddhism has no "gods." See my earlier posts on this site for clarification. A personality cult? Please explain. Dogmatic? Where is the dogma in having no dogma?

 

I was just thinking that it was a shame that you were not on the board anymore, considering this thread. Welcome back! :wave:

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Buddhism seems to show little difference from other relgions: it has gods, it is a personality cult of Siddharate Guatama and it is dogmatic.

 

Buddhism has no "gods." See my earlier posts on this site for clarification. A personality cult? Please explain. Dogmatic? Where is the dogma in having no dogma?

 

Hmm... no 'Gods' lets see...

 

Shakyamuni Buddha in Tibetan buddhism has most of the attributes; Omniscient, Omnipresent, all but Omnipotent

 

Same with Maitreya, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Nagarjuna and Aryadeva. Not to mention the Taras (Green and White).

 

If you pray to it it's a God or a saint.

 

Talk about throttling the dharma until gods drop out. ;)

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Buddhism seems to show little difference from other relgions: it has gods, it is a personality cult of Siddharate Guatama and it is dogmatic.

 

Buddhism has no "gods." See my earlier posts on this site for clarification. A personality cult? Please explain. Dogmatic? Where is the dogma in having no dogma?

 

Hmm... no 'Gods' lets see...

 

Shakyamuni Buddha in Tibetan buddhism has most of the attributes; Omniscient, Omnipresent, all but Omnipotent

 

Same with Maitreya, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Nagarjuna and Aryadeva. Not to mention the Taras (Green and White).

 

If you pray to it it's a God or a saint.

 

Talk about throttling the dharma until gods drop out. ;)

 

 

I can't comment on "Tibetan" practices, knowing nothing of what they claim. But if you "pray" to anything as a supernatural force, then it's clearly NOT BUDDHISM. If there is PRAYER involved you are NOT PRACTICING BUDDHISM. If you PRAISE the Buddha as if he were still present in some omnipresent form or "believe" in him or the various Bodhisattvas as being actual beings - THEN YOU ARE NOT PRACTICING BUDDHISM. If that seems to mean that the Tibetans are NOT Buddhists well............perhaps they should look deeper into the Dharma. My personal view is that I've never considered Tibetans or other Vajrayana practitioners (Shingon-shu or Tendai-shu and to some extent Shugendo) as practitioners of Buddhism.

 

If the tradition of Buddhism you study involves secret rituals, prayer, talismans, magic, incantations - THEN IT'S FAR REMOVED FROM WHAT THE BUDDHA TAUGHT AND NOT IN ANY WAY WHAT THE BUDDHA INTENDED.

 

The various man-made statues of the various man-made Bodhisattvas simply serve as inspiration. They inspire us to awakening. They also represent certain aspects of Buddhism which remind us of a particular topic of teaching. Praying to the man-made Bodhisattvas or to Buddha is superstition. Superstition has NO PLACE in Buddhism. A Buddha statue represents our original enlightenment, and a Bodhisattva statue represents the application of our true enlightenment. The statues and the stories of the Bodhisattvas are for inspirational purposes only.

 

What many people fail to see is that the Bodhisattvas are teaching aids. There is no polytheism in Buddhism.

 

On the subject of "God" (in the Christian, Muslim, Hindu sense) I wrote this some time ago:

 

Those who believe in God describe him as a being who is omnipotent, i.e. all-powerful, omnipresent, i.e. he is everywhere, and omniscient, i.e. he knows everything.

 

There are also certain moral qualities which are attributed to God. God is said to be good, God is said to be just and God is said to be all-loving. Buddhism does not accept the doctrine of the existence of God for many realistic and logical reasons.

 

God is unknown and unseen. People only speak of God without offering any proof. Nobody can prove that God exists or that anything in the universe was created by a God. We can see clearly that the world has evolved throughout millennia. We can see also that all in existence is as the Buddha has said, subject to birth and decay.

 

What advantage can there be in believing in supernatural powers and God? It is unprofitable. The Buddha stated that a religion based on unproved supernatural powers, miracles, and God is of no benefit to anyone. It is no more than a superstition. It is based on speculation.

 

The grounds on which the Buddha rejected the doctrine of God are various and well thought out. They are arrived at through long and hard investigation, something which believers in God are forbidden to do.

 

The doctrine of the belief in God is not based on truth. The Buddha once said,

 

"If God is omnipotent and is also the efficient cause of creation then because of this, man cannot have any desire to do anything, nor can there be any necessity to do anything, nor can he have the will to do anything or to put forth any effort. Man must remain a passive creature with no part to play in the affairs of the world. If this is so, why did God create man at all?

 

If God is good, then why do men become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, abusive babblers, covetous, malicious and perverse? The cause of this must then be God. Is this possible with the existence of God who is good?

 

If there is a supreme creator who is just and merciful, why then does so much injustice prevail in the world? He who has eyes can see the sickening sight; why does not God set his creatures right? If his power is so wide that no limits can restrain, why is his hand not spread to bless? Why are his creatures all condemned to suffering? Why does he not give happiness to all? Why do fraud, lies and ignorance prevail? If God does exist he is the most unjust, who made a world only to shelter wrong.

 

If there exists some God all-powerful to fulfil in every creature, bliss or woe, and action good or ill, then that God is stained with evil. God is surely not good and just. Belief in a God is superstition, and that is dangerous. Superstition gives rise to the efficacy of worship and prayer which dumbs man, and removes his ability to investigate and learn. "

 

Another question which the Buddha had is of importance. The Buddha asked,

 

"If God is the creator of the universe, did he create something out of nothing or did he create something out of something?"

 

It is impossible that something can be created from nothing. If the so-called God has created something from something, then that something out of which something new was created was in existence before he created anything. God cannot therefore be called the creator of that something which already existed.

 

Belief in God is falsehood, a delusion.

 

 

Varokhar, thanks for the welcome back.

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Rev junpei Mukyoho, aka CAPTAIN CAPITALS...

 

I suggest y'all tell the Dalai Lama he's not a Buddhist... and SENTENCES IN CAPITALS LACK CHARM AND ADD NOTHING TO THE ARGUMENT. So much for equanimity...

 

After 2500 years, it's hardly surprising there are more than just one interpretation of what Buddha said. I'd agree, Tibetan Buddhism is more an amalgam of Buddhism, Bonpo and Hinduism, than pure Buddhism. However, saying your strain is the only pure one is something we hear from Christians the whole damn time. So, it's got a different back beat, but it's still the same song as the fundies sing.

 

On the subject of purity, I recall the Buddha saying to make no images. Your temple got images? The Six realms are pretty much superstition... Form Realm Gods? Hungry Ghosts? Hell of Hot Iron? So is reincarnation. No objective proofs. I like the philosophy, but Hells? Ghosts with mouths like pinholes anfd huge bellies?

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Rev junpei Mukyoho, aka CAPTAIN CAPITALS...

 

I suggest y'all tell the Dalai Lama he's not a Buddhist... and SENTENCES IN CAPITALS LACK CHARM AND ADD NOTHING TO THE ARGUMENT. So much for equanimity...

 

After 2500 years, it's hardly surprising there are more than just one interpretation of what Buddha said. I'd agree, Tibetan Buddhism is more an amalgam of Buddhism, Bonpo and Hinduism, than pure Buddhism. However, saying your strain is the only pure one is something we hear from Christians the whole damn time. So, it's got a different back beat, but it's still the same song as the fundies sing.

 

On the subject of purity, I recall the Buddha saying to make no images. Your temple got images? The Six realms are pretty much superstition... Form Realm Gods? Hungry Ghosts? Hell of Hot Iron? So is reincarnation. No objective proofs. I like the philosophy, but Hells? Ghosts with mouths like pinholes anfd huge bellies?

 

Am I looking to go into journalism? I think not. Do I show non-equanimity in using capitals as emphasis? Captain capitals, I like it that's COOL!

 

I don't recall saying anything about PURE Buddhism. What's PURE anyhow? Did I make the claim that the Buddhism I practice is the only "pure" version?

 

Actually, the Buddha himself did not comment on the making of images. He was asked if a stupa should be made after his passing to which he agreed. Erecting stupas was a common practice.

 

Again, all this talk of heavens and hells and ghosts and gods - they are teaching aids, most of which is left over from the Indian beliefs of the time. The Buddha often borrowed common Indian beliefs of the people to get his message across. There are no actual heaven realms or hell realms or ghosts and boogy men. Yes, that is all superstition and has no place in Buddhism.

 

Yes, there is one image in our temple. It is at the back of the main hall, in a cupboard collecting dust.

 

What constitutes "BUDDHISM?" Tibetan magical incantations and belief in the Hindu inspired reincarnation? Shugendo mountaineering and mountain worship? Shingon-shu magical empowerment and fire rituals? Tendai-shu marathon running around Kyoto? Rinzai-shu Koan practice? The Buddha instructed us to look beyond such superstitious nonsense. The Buddha himself rejected magic and ritual.

 

On a visit to Japan in 2000, the Dalai Lama met with a prominent Soto-shu Zen priest Mengan. Mengan said to the Dalai Lama, "You should take up the practice of Buddhism, you might find it suited to your peaceful disposition."

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