Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditions?

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Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditions?

Postby padma norbu » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:06 am

The thread about whether or not Zoroastrianism influenced Dzogchen prompted a question to arise in my little pea brain. So here it is...

Tara was not known as "the mother of all Buddhas" before Buddhism came along. Like the other Vedic cultural aspects, many gods (such as Tara and Saraswati) were absorbed into Buddhist tradition taking on new roles. One description of this process I read was that the Buddha rejected the Vedas and parodied the Vedic tradition by redefining their various terms. "Parody" sounds a bit harsh when we're talking about taking the goddess Tara and restating her position as "The Mother of All Buddhas."

I mean, think about that. That's quite a promotion. Perhaps Tara and the other gods and goddesses that found their way into Buddhist tradition are an aspect we're not supposed to think of as "parody," but it does raise a question...

So, the question is: how much respect do you have for other gods from other traditions which haven't yet been written into a text claiming they are in fact Buddhas or dharma protectors? It's kind of funny now that I think about it. Most people seem to disregard gods of other pantheons as inferior when in fact we really have no idea what these gods are like. Yes, we do have texts describing different gods as being quite cruel, that is true, but I think some of the cruel gods and local spirits of India and Thailand, China, Japan, Tibet and Mongolia have been reappointed as dharma protectors in various Buddhist cultures.

I guess this is more of a dialog-opener than a question. In as few words as possible, I guess what I'm thinking is that if someone came along and wrote a Buddhist text stating that Jehovah bowed before Maitreya and was now a dharma protector right-hand man of the future Buddha (and like time is an illusion and all that, bro, am I blowing your mind?!) that nobody would take this seriously unless maybe the text survived for 500 years. Old texts seem to have an air of authenticity about them, especially where gods are concerned.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby invisiblediamond » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:19 am

This area of the world changed hands between rulers crazy often. Rulers just commissioned religions. It was the thing. So there was endless cross-pollination. All these groups are a mish mash of every other. All these differences and distinctions are meaningless. Actually, non duality doesn't refer to anything so it doesn't counter anything. Duality is just a conversational device. Talented sophistry was and still is a great way to make money there. The only meaningful aspect is that's what happened.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby padma norbu » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:28 am

invisiblediamond wrote:This area of the world changed hands between rulers crazy often. Rulers just commissioned religions. It was the thing. So there was endless cross-pollination. All these groups are a mish mash of every other. All these differences and distinctions are meaningless. Actually, non duality doesn't refer to anything so it doesn't counter anything. Duality is just a conversational device. Talented sophistry was and still is a great way to make money there. The only meaningful aspect is that's what happened.

So, are you changing your earlier opinion that Zoroastrianism and Dzogchen are incompatible? The nonduality of advaita vedanta is pretty different from Dzogchen, actually. Way different from Zoroastrianism.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby greentara » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:37 am

Tara mother of all Buddhas, Maa jagdamba in Hinduism or Mother Mary in Catholicism all seem to be a primary yearning for the devotionional side many of us have that needs release and an outlet.
It can be seen as baby steps or infantile or maybe even total surrender to the maternal source of all that is represented as the epitome of compassion.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby padma norbu » Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:04 am

greentara wrote:Tara mother of all Buddhas, Maa jagdamba in Hinduism or Mother Mary in Catholicism all seem to be a primary yearning for the devotionional side many of us have that needs release and an outlet.
It can be seen as baby steps or infantile or maybe even total surrender to the maternal source of all that is represented as the epitome of compassion.


What about Saraswati and the rest of converted deities and local spirits who become guardians? Btw, I just prefer to think of Tara as a being as real as myself but endowed with all the qualities of a Buddha. I think of her as a loving deity because that is how she is treated in various teachings about how to think of her. Trying to psychoanalyze what she might or might not be aside from that doesn't help me to arise any useful feelings for practice.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby Zhen Li » Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:44 am

There's no need for surprise when one finds out that on the ground in medieval India or modern Nepal/Tibetosphere, there aren't boundaries between religions - particularly where goddesses are concerned.

Goddesses are very easy to translate from one tradition to another. There's no point talking of different traditions in any absolute sense, because everyone is jumbled into one pot in reality. And this isn't a uniquely European mistake to make, in Europe there are plenty of ambiguities in the identities of individuals, particularly after the reformation where self-identifying Protestants would still cling to and repeat patterns of identity essential to Catholicism.

This may because of the matrixial/womb principle which is common among all conceptions of women. Maybe psychoanalysing it can help your practice, understanding and actualising oneself in regards to external polarities within your own psyche can be incredibly important.

I wouldn't say this is particularly a principle of compassion, which in fact may tend to be more masculine than we are led to believe. Instead, it may be a principle of creation/matrix-principle.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby padma norbu » Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:02 am

Zhen Li wrote:There's no need for surprise when one finds out that on the ground in medieval India or modern Nepal/Tibetosphere, there aren't boundaries between religions - particularly where goddesses are concerned.

Goddesses are very easy to translate from one tradition to another. There's no point talking of different traditions in any absolute sense, because everyone is jumbled into one pot in reality. And this isn't a uniquely European mistake to make, in Europe there are plenty of ambiguities in the identities of individuals, particularly after the reformation where self-identifying Protestants would still cling to and repeat patterns of identity essential to Catholicism.

This may because of the matrixial/womb principle which is common among all conceptions of women. Maybe psychoanalysing it can help your practice, understanding and actualising oneself in regards to external polarities within your own psyche can be incredibly important.

I wouldn't say this is particularly a principle of compassion, which in fact may tend to be more masculine than we are led to believe. Instead, it may be a principle of creation/matrix-principle.


I'm not surprised by it, I'm quite used to it. I also come from a skeptical background and initially viewed the deities as archetypes or egregores or something initially. Over time, I realized that was not helpful and what was most helpful was to stop doubting the deities' existence which, we are told, are deathless Buddhas whose existence is at least as real as our own.

What I am surprised by, though, is the thought that other pantheons which have not been subsumed into Buddhism at all seem forever separate and inferior. There seems to be no chance of Jehovah ever bowing before a Buddha, for example, as Brahma supposedly did. And it doesn't seem like anybody really cares or considers it much.

People just say stuff like "praying to worldly gods might give you worldly power, but that's all; there is no possibility of escaping samsara that way" and that's about as far as they comment about it. I don't think I've ever seen a thread anywhere about the possibility that Jehovah or Satan or anyone from any other "western" oriented tradition might be a convert of Buddhism. Plenty of threads about "Jesus was a bodhisattva" and "all religions teach the same thing," but interesting that nobody ever seems to fathom that these other gods would bow before Buddha and become Buddhists and dharma protectors. It's interesting. It's also interesting that people accept these other deities from the Vedic tradition, etc. as dharma protectors and Bodhisattvas seemingly without any problem in accepting that this really happened and these deities are now really Buddhist.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby smcj » Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:06 am

The nonduality of advaita vedanta is pretty different from Dzogchen, actually. Way different from Zoroastrianism.

How so? I'm quite ignorant on the differences. I didn't even know Zoroastrianism had a non-dual component.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby padma norbu » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:05 am

smcj wrote:
The nonduality of advaita vedanta is pretty different from Dzogchen, actually. Way different from Zoroastrianism.

How so? I'm quite ignorant on the differences. I didn't even know Zoroastrianism had a non-dual component.
Well, he linked up a pdf that has some newer ideas about Zoroastrianism and how previous scholars got things wrong. You can read that here if you want to: http://tenets.zoroastrianism.com/AManualofKshnoom.pdf ...I started it and it's pretty interesting, but I generally like to read about religion, anyway. Not sure why, but I enjoy it as a hobby or something. Anyway, Zoroastrianism is another religion where the goal is union with god or godhead, so its nonduality is similar to other theistic religions of that variety. And if I recall correctly it's theistic in the sense that "before the personal god there was a non-personal god, so it's not really god its nondual potentia, the inexhaustible source of all things". I must admit, this does seem a common enough idea in multiple religions.

From the PDF:

SPECIAL FEATURES OF THIS BOOK
(showing items of Essential Occult Knowledge of the Zoroastrian
religion taught in Khshnoom, not found in philology).

1. AHU and Ahura Mazda, the twofold concept of the Godhead
in Avesta - the former, impersonal, inconceivable, Absolute
One in oneness, refuting the century-old heresy of "Dualism"
as the fundamental theological Teaching of the Zoroastrian
Faith; the latter, (Ahura Mazda), the personal Deity, the creator
of the Universe, conceivable from his numerous names
occurring in Hormazd and Ram Yashts.
AHU, literally meaning, "it IS" (Only as it occurs in the Yatha
AHU Vairyo prayer) corroborates with "it IS" occurring in
pre-philological "Ethical Zervanism" which "starts squarely
with the unity of the godhead of which nothing positive can
be stated except that "it IS". God, the One, is pure
potentiality". ("Zurvan" p. 270 - Prof. Zaehner). Thus in
Zervanite Writings, though the true Avestan term AHU is
forgotten, its literal meaning, "it IS", survives.
2. Description of the Pre-Cosmo-Genesis World,. beginning with
_ AHU above mentioned showing manifestation of Ahriman
(first) and Ohrmazd (later), and other knowledge relating to the
creation of the Universe, and showing Where man came from
and Why, and What is the Ultima Thule of human existence.

Reminds me of Qabalah overall (not just this, but the rest of what I've read in the PDF). When I came to dzogchen from a qabalah background, I was convinced it was the same thing in different words, but now I really don't feel that way. It's funny because as I read this pdf, I think "sounds like qabalah" quite frequently, but don't think "that sounds like dzogchen," so that's pretty interesting because I haven't really studied or practiced qabalah for over 10 years now and dzogchen is really much fresher in my mind on a daily basis, so you'd think more things would sound like dzogchen to me than qabalah in this pdf. There's the AH in AHU having some connection with the sky/space and the vibratory colors, but so what, the qabalah had all that, too, and a lot more.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:50 pm

People make up all sorts of things.
Everything you describe so succinctly was a much more complicated process than most people realize, and occurred over a very long period of time, and all references to it, terminology used, various translations, and so forth have to be considered in a multitude of contexts and meanings. It's not as though one day somebody simply got promoted to CEO.

God is one of humanity's greatest inventions, and religion is one of its worst.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby studying_231 » Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:52 pm

God. Gott. Bóg. Allah.
Sadly my last post on this board, and the only answer.
Niech Bóg was ma w opiece.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby Zhen Li » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:49 pm

padma norbu wrote:What I am surprised by, though, is the thought that other pantheons which have not been subsumed into Buddhism at all seem forever separate and inferior. There seems to be no chance of Jehovah ever bowing before a Buddha, for example, as Brahma supposedly did. And it doesn't seem like anybody really cares or considers it much.

People just say stuff like "praying to worldly gods might give you worldly power, but that's all; there is no possibility of escaping samsara that way" and that's about as far as they comment about it. I don't think I've ever seen a thread anywhere about the possibility that Jehovah or Satan or anyone from any other "western" oriented tradition might be a convert of Buddhism. Plenty of threads about "Jesus was a bodhisattva" and "all religions teach the same thing," but interesting that nobody ever seems to fathom that these other gods would bow before Buddha and become Buddhists and dharma protectors. It's interesting. It's also interesting that people accept these other deities from the Vedic tradition, etc. as dharma protectors and Bodhisattvas seemingly without any problem in accepting that this really happened and these deities are now really Buddhist.

Then why don't you write the sutra where they bow before the Buddha?

I'm sure they did all sorts of interesting stuff together. :cheers:
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:58 pm

padma norbu wrote:What I am surprised by, though, is the thought that other pantheons which have not been subsumed into Buddhism at all seem forever separate and inferior. There seems to be no chance of Jehovah ever bowing before a Buddha, for example, as Brahma supposedly did.


My understanding is that God (Jehovah), unable to deal with his intense anger and jealousy issues, went to Buddha to learn meditation, to help him chill out a little, and Buddha put him into a long retreat, and that's why he hasn't been seen for the last couple of thousand or so years.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby tatpurusa » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:11 pm

padma norbu wrote:What I am surprised by, though, is the thought that other pantheons which have not been subsumed into Buddhism at all seem forever separate and inferior. There seems to be no chance of Jehovah ever bowing before a Buddha, for example, as Brahma supposedly did. And it doesn't seem like anybody really cares or considers it much.

People just say stuff like "praying to worldly gods might give you worldly power, but that's all; there is no possibility of escaping samsara that way" and that's about as far as they comment about it. I don't think I've ever seen a thread anywhere about the possibility that Jehovah or Satan or anyone from any other "western" oriented tradition might be a convert of Buddhism.


There is a particular problem with Jehovah. If it is the same being as described by the name of "God of Israel" (these two being the same is stated in the Bible), then he self-declared to be "jealous", and commanded some really cruel deeds from Jews. And did some quite cruel stuff himself.
At the very least he manifested some behaviour that could never fit to a Buddhist enlightened being.
It would rather fit an asura.

My take on it is that this "God of Israel" originally was just a common tribal protector spirit (as opposed to enlightened protectors) that with the time because of certain (quite often cruel, merciless and fanatic) conditions in the imagination of certain people(s) turned into a "universal creator god".

Let's face it: if some crazy Buddhist invented a story where Jehovah bowed to Buddha or became converted to Buddhism, it would be quite difficult to trust the sanity of this person.
On the other hand, if someone invented the story that Satan became a Buddhist convert, fundamentalist members of the most common monotheist religions would be all too happy to cite this as a proof that Buddhism is a "false religion", work of Satan, just the way they have claimed it all along.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby padma norbu » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:41 am

Other awful deities and local spirits have been converted into dharma protectors by people like Padmasambhava.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby Karma Dorje » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:06 am

Why not? Karma Thinley Rinpoche had once quipped that the reason Allah was so uptight is that he had no consort. How would you feel being cooped up for all eternity not able to get laid? He said that he was going to give Allah a consort called Allani so he could deal with his pent-up frustration.

When you think about it, it would probably be good for all of these Abrahamic manifestations. All it takes is the right mahasiddha and a few dozen apsaras.
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Re: Not a comparative religion thread! Gods of other traditi

Postby greentara » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:07 pm

karma dorje, I'll take that comment with a pinch of salt. Muhammad made up for it by having more than 11 wives. Muslims refer to them as Mothers of the Believers.
'The prophet is closer to the believers than their selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers'
There maybe many myths and several consorts to believe in but at the end of the day introspection is still needed.
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