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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby wisdom » Fri Nov 18, 2011 7:41 pm

The problem is that no matter how its framed God always means, in essence, some supreme force that has somehow caused things to come into being.

As far as I know the Unconditioned is not viewed as having "caused" the conditioned to come into being. Rather its just acknowledged that they are there. To suppose we know how or why things exist, if there is a meaning to existence, if there is a purpose, if there is a direction, and so forth, is to make assumptions about things we can't actually know. Buddhism deals with what can be known, what can be attained, and what can be experienced. What can be known is all things which exist, the conditional universe. What can be attained is anything within that universe. What can be experienced are all things in that universe as well as the Unconditioned, which can neither be known nor attained.

To experience the Unconditioned, then turn around and call it God is really to make assumptions about it that we don't know, so long as we admit that the only thing that can be known about it is that its there. That its beyond form, words, ideas, concepts, and so forth, and that having experienced it doesn't explain why it or anything else is here. In essence the conceit, in my opinion, comes from belief itself. Belief is a filling in the gaps of our knowledge. We have this knowledge, and not this other, so we make conjectures and come up with an idea, a belief, that we adhere to. The problem is when we confuse our beliefs for knowledge or experience itself, then its fundamentalism.

With this view in mind, we can see how every path is just so many paths going up the mountain and leading to Enlightenment. If someone has spent years praying, and is a Kabbalist for example, and experiences the Unconditioned, they are going to come out of it and think they saw God. A Christian would think they had seen Christ. Hindus say they have achieved Krishna Consciousness or Siva or Brahma. Gnostics will say they have Christ Consciousness. Sufis will say they merged with the beloved. Occultists will say they achieved union with the Higher Self or Crossed the Abyss. Alchemists will say they found the philosophers stone. In every case, even the Buddhist, the way the experience is interpreted and understood is based upon the tradition in which one has been studying.

The methods even are largely the same, meditation, contemplation, the study of nature, chanting, singing, mantras, visualizations, devotion, study, the practice of virtue, emphasis on teachers and lineage. There is nothing inherently special about any tradition. The traditions of the world are just like veils or clothes covering the absolute, the methods are just like different styles of apparel for people of different cultures. The inner mechanics are the same because we are all human and all part of the same conditional universe. It is also for this reason that Buddhism does not need God, God is found everywhere, in every system just about. Let there be a system that does not emphasize God, for those whose temperament prefers such a system.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Nov 18, 2011 7:58 pm

wisdom wrote:The problem is that no matter how its framed God always means, in essence, some supreme force that has somehow caused things to come into being.


Please give me an example of something which has come into being.

I agree with this (part of your) statement.
However, this is where Buddhism and the other fine traditions you mention part ways.
Buddhist theory says that nothing has in fact come into being.
This is why, although many traditions give great insight, and may be said to enlighten a person (whatever that means),
and may bring peace of mind and some relief from confusion,
It is precisely because of the view that in fact nothing has arisen
that Buddhism alone offers the path to the complete and perfect cessation of suffering,
meaning that once it has been uprooted, suffering can no longer return.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby wisdom » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:17 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
wisdom wrote:The problem is that no matter how its framed God always means, in essence, some supreme force that has somehow caused things to come into being.


Please give me an example of something which has come into being.
Thank you.


Thats the problem and my point, hence why I begin with the words "The problem is...". We can't know either way. Things simply are. Here we are, here they are, there it is, here it is. Not only can we not prove that anything has come into being, but what has come into being can be shown as not existing at all. So to assume a belief in God is to make at least two mistakes, that things arose, that those things exist. All we know is that they are here.

To simply know that there is something here, which exists only relatively, and has no inherent existence of its own, does not postulate the existence of, nor indicate a need for, any kind of God to exist. And trying to work God into Buddhism framework is like trying to install Mac hardware into a PC, its just not going to work.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby wisdom » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:19 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
However, this is where Buddhism and the other fine traditions you mention part ways.
Buddhist theory says that nothing has in fact come into being.
This is why, although many traditions give great insight, and may be said to enlighten a person (whatever that means),
and may bring peace of mind and some relief from confusion,
It is precisely because of the view that in fact nothing has arisen
that Buddhism alone offers the path to the complete and perfect cessation of suffering,
meaning that once it has been uprooted, suffering can no longer return.


I agree with this completely. I have studied many different traditions, worked with many different systems, but saw them all as useless to me personally once I found Buddhism.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:30 pm

wisdom wrote:The problem is that no matter how its framed God always means, in essence, some supreme force that has somehow caused things to come into being.


No matter how it's framed? Really? How come?

The word "God" is just a word. As such, it can mean anything. To cite just a handful of random examples: Margaret Atwood uses the word as synonymous with the biomass (in the ecological sense of the term) of the planet; Blake used it to refer to the intrinsically liberated (but in the fallen world of "generation" unknown to be so) human dimension; for Don Cupitt the only way in which the word "God" may be meaningfully construed is to read it as "life". If you study the history of Christian heterodoxy, you find out that there's been a gazillion definitions of "God", quite a few of them strongly atheistic.

Still, the question remains: why do so many Western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to redefine and relocate the G-word in such a way that it can be seen within, or even as compatible with, the framework of the Dharma? Are we really so grossly conditioned by our upbringing? Even in this secular and blatantly post-Christian age?
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:55 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:why do so many Western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to redefine and relocate the G-word in such a way that it can be seen within, or even as compatible with, the framework of the Dharma? Are we really so grossly conditioned by our upbringing? Even in this secular and blatantly post-Christian age?


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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby tobes » Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:17 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Still, the question remains: why do so many Western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to redefine and relocate the G-word in such a way that it can be seen within, or even as compatible with, the framework of the Dharma? Are we really so grossly conditioned by our upbringing? Even in this secular and blatantly post-Christian age?


Indeed. And also the inverse: why do so many western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to refute and negate the G-word whenever it appears near the context of Dharma?

I would suggest: precisely the same thing in both cases - gross conditioning by our upbringing. It really says a lot about western conditions.

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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:52 am

tobes wrote:
treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Still, the question remains: why do so many Western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to redefine and relocate the G-word in such a way that it can be seen within, or even as compatible with, the framework of the Dharma? Are we really so grossly conditioned by our upbringing? Even in this secular and blatantly post-Christian age?


Indeed. And also the inverse: why do so many western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to refute and negate the G-word whenever it appears near the context of Dharma?

I would suggest: precisely the same thing in both cases - gross conditioning by our upbringing. It really says a lot about western conditions.

:anjali:



I don't know that I "so desperately feel the need" to distance myself from any concept of God. But it doesn't have anything to do with dharma. I mean, the same could be said of The Easter Bunny, or of a cucumber.

So, if somebody were to to say "A cucumber is ultimately the same thing as Buddha's four Noble Truths" or something along those lines, I might feel compelled to step in and point out that they don't have anything in common. I don't know if I would "so desperately feel the need" to make that correction, but compelled, yes.

The only reason why "God" is any different from "cucumber" is because people have assigned the word "God" some imaginary quality that they then think has some relevance to Buddhism. But does it? Really? Isn't it is only the various meanings that people assign to the word "God", that they don't give to "cucumber" that gives it any relevance to Buddhism?

And further, since all of those meanings are arbitrary, where does it lead?

But from the Buddhist point of view, both are equally irrelevant. I mean, if you want to talk about God, cucumbers or Easter Bunnies, well, that's fine. Let's do that.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Malcolm » Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:33 am

tobes wrote:
Indeed. And also the inverse: why do so many western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to refute and negate the G-word whenever it appears near the context of Dharma?



Because it is a signifier that posits any number of monolithic, totalizing concepts that have nothing do with Dharma.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby wisdom » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:20 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
wisdom wrote:The problem is that no matter how its framed God always means, in essence, some supreme force that has somehow caused things to come into being.


No matter how it's framed? Really? How come?

The word "God" is just a word. As such, it can mean anything. To cite just a handful of random examples: Margaret Atwood uses the word as synonymous with the biomass (in the ecological sense of the term) of the planet; Blake used it to refer to the intrinsically liberated (but in the fallen world of "generation" unknown to be so) human dimension; for Don Cupitt the only way in which the word "God" may be meaningfully construed is to read it as "life". If you study the history of Christian heterodoxy, you find out that there's been a gazillion definitions of "God", quite a few of them strongly atheistic.


Even worse. If we look at it as a word that can be anything, and that all words can mean anything, we defeat the purpose of having a discussion at all. Furthermore that means God can never be defined and can never be really useful since it can indicate anything and everything. A sort of infinite joker card in every discussion. Yet another reason not to incorporate it into Buddhism. And why bother incorporating it when its just a word. Buddhism has plenty of words, enough words to fill your life studying, we don't really need another one that can be defined in an infinite number of ways.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby tobes » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:34 am

Namdrol wrote:
tobes wrote:
Indeed. And also the inverse: why do so many western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to refute and negate the G-word whenever it appears near the context of Dharma?



Because it is a signifier that posits any number of monolithic, totalizing concepts that have nothing do with Dharma.


Such concepts may be posited upon the signifier - but the signifier itself does not automatically posit anything. It is for precisely this reason that one must inquire what is meant when the signifier is used; only when that meaning is given, can one conclude that it does or doesn't have anything to do with Dharma.

The truth is, this requires more philosophical work than simply decreeing that the signifier has nothing to do with Dharma -

That is, questions of time, motion, causality, identity, change, being and non-being are all questions which have a great deal to do with Dharma, and these are questions which are often intimately related to the signifier God: therefore, a rational response must be engaged with those questions, and not simply the referent abstracted from it context.

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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby tobes » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:43 am

wisdom wrote:
treehuggingoctopus wrote:
wisdom wrote:The problem is that no matter how its framed God always means, in essence, some supreme force that has somehow caused things to come into being.


No matter how it's framed? Really? How come?

The word "God" is just a word. As such, it can mean anything. To cite just a handful of random examples: Margaret Atwood uses the word as synonymous with the biomass (in the ecological sense of the term) of the planet; Blake used it to refer to the intrinsically liberated (but in the fallen world of "generation" unknown to be so) human dimension; for Don Cupitt the only way in which the word "God" may be meaningfully construed is to read it as "life". If you study the history of Christian heterodoxy, you find out that there's been a gazillion definitions of "God", quite a few of them strongly atheistic.


Even worse. If we look at it as a word that can be anything, and that all words can mean anything, we defeat the purpose of having a discussion at all. Furthermore that means God can never be defined and can never be really useful since it can indicate anything and everything. A sort of infinite joker card in every discussion. Yet another reason not to incorporate it into Buddhism. And why bother incorporating it when its just a word. Buddhism has plenty of words, enough words to fill your life studying, we don't really need another one that can be defined in an infinite number of ways.


I think this is quite misleading - it is not the case that the signifier God is a term with infinite definitions, and therefore, is automatically non-nonsensical in a discursive context where each communicative actor commits to a genuine understanding (i.e. to rational dialogue).

It is rather the case that the signifier God has many different hermeneutical, theological, literary and philosophical contexts, and the meaning of the signifier depends entirely on the specificities of each particular context.

So, the implication is that one needs to deal with the particularities of a given definition, and not treat the signifier as if it does not have particular meanings in particular contexts.

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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby wisdom » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:57 am

tobes wrote:
treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Still, the question remains: why do so many Western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to redefine and relocate the G-word in such a way that it can be seen within, or even as compatible with, the framework of the Dharma? Are we really so grossly conditioned by our upbringing? Even in this secular and blatantly post-Christian age?


Indeed. And also the inverse: why do so many western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to refute and negate the G-word whenever it appears near the context of Dharma?

I would suggest: precisely the same thing in both cases - gross conditioning by our upbringing. It really says a lot about western conditions.

:anjali:


I hope I don't come off as desperate, because I'm not! I'm just enjoying this discussion despite that I know it has no end and cannot come to an end, just to see what sorts of ideas get thrown around.

I can say that I have held about a dozen different versions of a belief in God in my life. I have rejected God on numerous different grounds as well. I have studied tons of the western mysteries which are far more God centric, Alchemy, Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Occultism, Gnosticism, Rosicrucianism, Paganism (Egyptian/Celtic/Greek/Roman) and I have seen God through all those lenses. I have also looked at different versions of Hinduism, Krishna, Siva, and Brahma worship. I have run the gamut from Nihilism to Eternalism, I have held all four views at one time or another. I had experiences that I thought were God, and I had experiences I thought were messages from God, I had experiences that I thought were punishments from God, and I had some I thought were blessings from God.

Then to put it simply, one day I woke up. My conclusion is that God is used to fill in gaps of knowledge, its there as a filler for what we don't know, and possibly will never be able to explain. Thats why it has so many variations in definitions, because its based on what a person *thinks* they don't know. Its attributed sometimes to a creator, and sometimes to some ultimate and mysterious thing, usually some form of ultimately beauty or mystery but we can't define it and don't know what it is. Either way, mystery implies not knowing. Thats what people label God. Its a security blanket for our ego and an answer for our minds, and the ego above all seeks security and the mind, above all, seeks answers, hence the power of any kind of belief in God. Take that away from someone, and their ego feels groundless, like its lost its gravity and reality, and the mind will feel confused and chaotic, like its lost its grip on whats real and true.

I'm agnostic when it comes down to it. Its not for me to say whether there is a God or not in the ultimate sense. But its also not for me to try to work it into my approach to Buddhism for that very reason. I might as well just take any pet theory at that point and call it Buddhism.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby wisdom » Sat Nov 19, 2011 6:06 am

tobes wrote:So, the implication is that one needs to deal with the particularities of a given definition, and not treat the signifier as if it does not have particular meanings in particular contexts.

:anjali:


Thats true, but I was replying to the extreme view that "its just a word". If its just a word, then all words are just words- thats certainly true enough. So all discussion comes to an end!
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby tobes » Sat Nov 19, 2011 6:47 am

wisdom wrote:
tobes wrote:So, the implication is that one needs to deal with the particularities of a given definition, and not treat the signifier as if it does not have particular meanings in particular contexts.

:anjali:


Thats true, but I was replying to the extreme view that "its just a word". If its just a word, then all words are just words- thats certainly true enough. So all discussion comes to an end!


Yes - that is certainly a tragedy for a discourse; and if I recall correctly, this thread ended up in exactly such an unfortunate place somewhere along the line.

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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby tobes » Sat Nov 19, 2011 6:58 am

wisdom wrote:
tobes wrote:
treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Still, the question remains: why do so many Western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to redefine and relocate the G-word in such a way that it can be seen within, or even as compatible with, the framework of the Dharma? Are we really so grossly conditioned by our upbringing? Even in this secular and blatantly post-Christian age?


Indeed. And also the inverse: why do so many western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to refute and negate the G-word whenever it appears near the context of Dharma?

I would suggest: precisely the same thing in both cases - gross conditioning by our upbringing. It really says a lot about western conditions.

:anjali:




Then to put it simply, one day I woke up. My conclusion is that God is used to fill in gaps of knowledge, its there as a filler for what we don't know, and possibly will never be able to explain. Thats why it has so many variations in definitions, because its based on what a person *thinks* they don't know. Its attributed sometimes to a creator, and sometimes to some ultimate and mysterious thing, usually some form of ultimately beauty or mystery but we can't define it and don't know what it is. Either way, mystery implies not knowing. Thats what people label God. Its a security blanket for our ego and an answer for our minds, and the ego above all seeks security and the mind, above all, seeks answers, hence the power of any kind of belief in God. Take that away from someone, and their ego feels groundless, like its lost its gravity and reality, and the mind will feel confused and chaotic, like its lost its grip on whats real and true.

I'm agnostic when it comes down to it. Its not for me to say whether there is a God or not in the ultimate sense. But its also not for me to try to work it into my approach to Buddhism for that very reason. I might as well just take any pet theory at that point and call it Buddhism.


Right, I tend to agree that it is often a kind of philosophical (or psychological) urge for foundations - particularly the foundation of Being.

That explains why Buddhists are quick to take it to the sword. However, it doesn't always play out that way.

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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby catmoon » Sat Nov 19, 2011 7:19 am

tobes wrote:.... also the inverse: why do so many western Buddhists so desperately feel the need to refute and negate the G-word whenever it appears near the context of Dharma?

I would suggest: precisely the same thing in both cases - gross conditioning by our upbringing. It really says a lot about western conditions.

:anjali:


And I would suggest it is not the case at all.


My gross conditioning and upbringing was Christian. I even spent three years living in a Catholic boarding school. Prior to Buddhism, there was a time where I had no religion, but prior to that I spent seven years in the fundamentalist churches. I taught Sunday school. I led Bible studies. Now if what you say is true, I should surely be one of those people who is trying to smuggle God into Buddhism by the back door. However, the diametric opposite is the case.

My refusal to admit God into Buddhism is based on entirely other reasons. Before running through them again, perhaps we should agree on a definition. I suggest that we use God in the common parlance, God the Creator, the Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent Alpha and Omega.

I regard other uses of the word as illegitimate, not because I think someone has their theology wrong, but because common usage defines the meaning of a word. Using minority definitions, or privately invented definitions, is no better or different than hiding a faulty argument behind a wall of semantic obsfucation.

So since Buddhism has done rather nicely these last couple of millenia without such a character hanging about, there is no need to graft him in now. This would be rather like glueing a cartoon cutout of Homer Simpson to the Mona Lisa as a background figure. It can be done, but the effect is a little dissonant.


Now there are certainly those who believe in things quite different from God, but like to call them God. Those who believe in divinity residing in the universe at large, or in each little stream and tree, are notorious for arrogating the name of God to describe the object of their beliefs. By doing so they lend themselves a sense of legitimacy, a sense of equality with the mainstream religions that is surely very comforting. However they also do violence to an idea that is clear, by muddying the waters and adding superfluous definitions to it. They do violence to the English language, making it nearly impossible to tell what in the blazes a person is talking when they use the God word. Such mucking about with clear concepts strikes me as sheer laziness, an unwillingness to simply use descriptive terms or invent a new term.

Hence my position:

1) God has never been a part of Buddhism and indeed comes into direct conflict with Dharma

2) Lesser concepts of God have their own, perfectly good nomenclature, and that should be used in preference to borrowing the name of a deity that bears little or no relation to them.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Thug4lyfe » Sat Nov 19, 2011 7:23 am

Sounds like u got a grudge wid god homes...
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby catmoon » Sat Nov 19, 2011 7:28 am

Food_Eatah wrote:Sounds like u got a grudge wid god homes...


A misapprehension of staggering proportions. Please reread my post as many times as necessary to clear that idea out of the air.
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Re: Buddhism on God

Postby Virgo » Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:21 am



:Shaking fist:

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