All Buddhists Are Atheists

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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:26 am

catmoon wrote:But what some Buddhists are trying to do is to fuse the two systems, having a complete set of minor deities and an omniscient Buddha at the same time. Now omniscience is a tricky beast and it tends to get out of hand. One might think that omniscience implies knowledge of how to do anything desired, so now there is omnipotence as well. Omnipresence is widely assumed for the Buddha. So you can see, there is some danger of assigning the Buddha the three fundamental properties of the Judeo Christian God at which point they become difficult to distinguish.

So I think the whole question can be rephrased as, "What are the actual limitations on a Buddha's omnipotence?" If there aren't any, don't we just have Christianity with the names translated into Asian languages?


The Buddha's function and omniscience is entirely different from monothestic conceptions, because the underlying worldviews are fundamentally different. Christianity operates under the worldview that there is a Creator and he is omnipotent and created all. Buddhism operates under the worldview that there is no creator, all of samsara arose due to ignorance and dependent origination, Buddhas are liberated and their unceasing function is to teach others to free themselves. So its apples and origami.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby catmoon » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:09 am

One quibble here. Omniscience is omniscience, either you know everything or you don't. So the omniscience of Buddha must be identical to the omniscience of Yahweh, or anyone else you care to name.

I might be persuaded to accept that it is apples and origami, but the point that keeps attracting my attention is, Is it consistent origami?

If you package together the three omnis, and they sum up Buddha nature, then it looks like Buddha Nature and Jehovah Nature become the same thing. Yes the messages they bring differ substantially, and the teachings are different, but isn't that just peripheral?

How do you maintain the idea that Buddha is fundamentally different from Jehovah and keep the three omnis in the picture? I don't think it can be done. I think one must, at some point, tone down this Ne Plus Ultra tendency or Buddha becomes something... else.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby viniketa » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:28 am

catmoon wrote:One quibble here. Omniscience is omniscience, either you know everything or you don't. So the omniscience of Buddha must be identical to the omniscience of Yahweh, or anyone else you care to name.

I might be persuaded to accept that it is apples and origami, but the point that keeps attracting my attention is, Is it consistent origami?

If you package together the three omnis, and they sum up Buddha nature, then it looks like Buddha Nature and Jehovah Nature become the same thing. Yes the messages they bring differ substantially, and the teachings are different, but isn't that just peripheral?

How do you maintain the idea that Buddha is fundamentally different from Jehovah and keep the three omnis in the picture? I don't think it can be done. I think one must, at some point, tone down this Ne Plus Ultra tendency or Buddha becomes something... else.


After 16 pages, we get to the heart of the matter...

In regard to the three 'omnis', catmoon has a point. Buddha is widely portrayed as both omnipresent and omniscient. If Buddha is also omnipotent (even if Buddha could create the universe, but chose not to), there is really no difference between Buddha and other conceptions of God. Thus, Buddha's potence must be limited. However, catmoon has another point:

catmoon wrote:Hm. I think I've wandered into one of those questions Buddha condemned as a waste of time. Oops.


The extent of a 'Buddha field' is indeed an imponderable. Perhaps that is why.

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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherlock » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:45 am

A Buddha cannot be omnipotent otherwise with infinite compassion he would liberate all sentient beings instantly. Manifesation of worldly siddhis has a good chance of leading people astray as described in the Pali Canon as well so with the ability to see karmic fruits, an enlightened being only uses siddhis/"grants prayers" in specific situations where it is helpful to lead sentient beings to liberation. On the other hand, unenlightened beings with worldly siddhis don't have the same level of ability to see karmic results and are not omniscient; they might grant worldly prayers for whatever reason.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:00 am

catmoon wrote:One quibble here. Omniscience is omniscience, either you know everything or you don't. So the omniscience of Buddha must be identical to the omniscience of Yahweh, or anyone else you care to name.


Well, regarding the omniscience of the Buddha, it depends on which tradition you are referring to. In Sravakayana, the Buddha's omniscience is that he knows whatever he directs his attention to. In Mahayana, he is all-knowing (sarvajna) and is entirely unobstructed.

catmoon wrote:If you package together the three omnis, and they sum up Buddha nature, then it looks like Buddha Nature and Jehovah Nature become the same thing. Yes the messages they bring differ substantially, and the teachings are different, but isn't that just peripheral?

How do you maintain the idea that Buddha is fundamentally different from Jehovah and keep the three omnis in the picture? I don't think it can be done. I think one must, at some point, tone down this Ne Plus Ultra tendency or Buddha becomes something... else.


It is still fundamentally different. You also have to pinpoint exactly which type of monotheism you are referring to. Since you used the word Jehovah, I am assuming you are referring to the Abrahamic model. In this case, the worldview is still entirely different, since the Buddha is not a Creator god (and no such thing exist in Buddhism). The difference in message is not peripheral - it is crucial to our conversation here.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:15 am

viniketa wrote:If Buddha is also omnipotent (even if Buddha could create the universe, but chose not to), there is really no difference between Buddha and other conceptions of God. Thus, Buddha's potence must be limited.


No - the receptacle universe (bhajanaloka) arose from (or rather due to) the minds of sentient beings, so there is really no creation or non-creation per se. Even the adornment of buddhaksetras are illusory - the drawing of sentient beings into buddhaksetras rely on a form of sympatico between the reigning Buddha and the sentient beings desiring to be born there.

So the key point here is the underlying worldview of these religions are just too different to compare in this fashion. The relationship between Buddhas and sentient beings, and the relationship between God and his creation are different to begin with, and also the nature of reality between these 2 worldviews are entirely different.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby catmoon » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:27 am

Its getting late and I'm getting tired, but I can't resist throwing this one out there:

If a Buddha can create a pureland, why not an entire universe?
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby viniketa » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:29 am

pueraeternus wrote:there is really no creation or non-creation per se...


We keep running into imponderables...

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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:32 am

catmoon wrote:Its getting late and I'm getting tired, but I can't resist throwing this one out there:

If a Buddha can create a pureland, why not an entire universe?


Because a pureland is a universe. If you are talking about this universe, there is no need to create it since it will arise naturally due to the karma of sentient beings.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:34 am

viniketa wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:there is really no creation or non-creation per se...


We keep running into imponderables...

:namaste:


In a way, yes. But what I said above is basically Yogacara, so we can still talk about the generalities. It can go a long way, but it will eventually hit a wall of "imponderability".
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby viniketa » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:44 am

pueraeternus wrote:So the key point here is the underlying worldview of these religions are just too different to compare in this fashion.


Here, I agree. Which is why I think HHDL's characterization as "nontheistic" is appropriate.

Nevertheless, this hasn't stopped the comparison since the two worldviews first came into contact with each other.

:namaste:
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:53 am

viniketa wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:So the key point here is the underlying worldview of these religions are just too different to compare in this fashion.


Here, I agree. Which is why I think HHDL's characterization as "nontheistic" is appropriate.

Nevertheless, this hasn't stopped the comparison since the two worldviews first came into contact with each other.

:namaste:


If the "theism" in "nontheistic" refers to primary worship of God/gods, then yes, nontheistic would be a good description, since in Buddhism gods are propitiated but are not objects of refuge.

If the "theism" refers to the belief in gods, then it would not be a good description, since in this case "nontheistic" would be the same as "atheistic". In this case, then the term "polytheistic" would be the better description.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:10 am

Sherlock wrote:A Buddha cannot be omnipotent otherwise with infinite compassion he would liberate all sentient beings instantly.


If omnipotent means doing anything to anything or anybody, including the state of liberation/non-liberation of beings, then no, Buddhas are not omnipotent, and such omnipotence is not possible in the Buddhist schema of things.

That being said, the powers of Buddhas and high level Bodhisattvas are considered inconceivable (acintya). For example, the attainment of the Suramgamasamadhi brings with it 100 aspects of truly mindboggling powers, including the effortless manipulation of matter, time, space, knowledges, etc. However, as you said, all these powers are employed in the effort to teach and guide sentient beings, and they ultimately have to do the work themselves.
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherlock » Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:23 am

catmoon wrote:Its getting late and I'm getting tired, but I can't resist throwing this one out there:

If a Buddha can create a pureland, why not an entire universe?


Because a universe cycle arises through avidyā.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:20 pm

Doesn't having no First Cause make a huge difference here?

When I read things like the beginning and end of samsara being unfathomable by beings, it seems to me a linear picture of the the universe vs, one where there is no beginning or end has huge implications for concepts of omniscience or omnipotence. By definition, any being 'creating' something which will pass away cannot be said to be omnipotent nor omniscient..can it?
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby GarcherLancelot » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:41 pm

pueraeternus wrote:
Sherlock wrote:A Buddha cannot be omnipotent otherwise with infinite compassion he would liberate all sentient beings instantly.


If omnipotent means doing anything to anything or anybody, including the state of liberation/non-liberation of beings, then no, Buddhas are not omnipotent, and such omnipotence is not possible in the Buddhist schema of things.

That being said, the powers of Buddhas and high level Bodhisattvas are considered inconceivable (acintya). For example, the attainment of the Suramgamasamadhi brings with it 100 aspects of truly mindboggling powers, including the effortless manipulation of matter, time, space, knowledges, etc. However, as you said, all these powers are employed in the effort to teach and guide sentient beings, and they ultimately have to do the work themselves.


I am wondering why they do not use these powers more evidently?Or maybe the number of samsaric worlds are too much in comparison to the numbers of Buddhas etc. ?.. .
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby catmoon » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:08 am

GarcherLancelot wrote:
I am wondering why they do not use these powers more evidently?Or maybe the number of samsaric worlds are too much in comparison to the numbers of Buddhas etc. ?.. .


There are numerous possible reasons, but they all boil down to usefulness in the task, which is the easing of suffering, the cultivation of compassion and wisdom, and the eventual attainment of Buddhahood.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:13 pm

catmoon wrote:
GarcherLancelot wrote:
I am wondering why they do not use these powers more evidently?Or maybe the number of samsaric worlds are too much in comparison to the numbers of Buddhas etc. ?.. .


There are numerous possible reasons, but they all boil down to usefulness in the task, which is the easing of suffering, the cultivation of compassion and wisdom, and the eventual attainment of Buddhahood.


That is true. The Buddha preferred his disciples to tone down the demonstration of psychic powers to the laity, since such displays of power have limited usage in directing sentient beings onto the path (you tend to get people fascinated and reliant on such things and they miss the whole point on practice). It is useful in some circumstances, and during periods of time when the dharma is forgotten or no longer practiced. For example, Pratyekabuddhas tend to teach this way (whenever they do teach).
When I set out to lead humanity along my Golden Path I promised a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern humans deny with words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, conditions they call peace. Even as they speak, they create seeds of turmoil and violence.

- Leto II, the God Emperor
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby floating_abu » Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:05 pm

Astus wrote:
oushi wrote:. If I talk about "the Buddha" I mean Siddhartha Gautama. If I say "a buddha" it is any being who achieved perfect enlightenment. I don't consider Sasaki roshi any of the two.


To think that you are qualified to know who or who is not a Buddha in the first place, let alone from forum analysis, is certainly telling, Astus. To then further take that as fact is even more interesting.

But of course your opinion is taken - and seen - for what it is.

Here are three quotes for you, Astus:

"Whoever seeks me in form
Or in sound
Walks the heterodox path
And cannot perceive the Tathagata"


- Diamond Sutra

"If you love the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion"

- Zen Master Rinzai (Lin-Chi)

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."


- Le Petit Prince


Good luck,

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Buddhism and the god idea

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Thu May 23, 2013 12:20 am

I've been on many forums, and in some discussions, about weather Buddhism is theistic or atheistic. The fact is, is that it's neither, and it's both. For some time, I had seen Buddhism called 'non-theistic'. But this descriptor is only part of the story. Then, I seen another term applied to Buddhism, transtheistic. This works a little better, but still isn't perfect. So, just how does theism and atheism work in Buddhism? (Barring, of course, the idea of some that Buddhism is pantheistic)

The first thing we notice is that, in the Pali canon, the Buddha never denies the existence of the Hindu devas. Some of them even make appearances. However, he did teach that none are almighty creators, or are to be worshiped.

Now we come to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. We use the term 'deity' to describe these beings. But how does this work? Each of these beings describes some aspect or characteristic that is in ourselves that is hidden, but needs to be brought out. We may revere these beings, and even pray to them, but ultimately, they are not different from ourselves. We are Guan Yin, we are Manjusri, we are Amitabha, and they are us.

So what does this mean? A Buddhist can call themselves a theist, an atheist, or neither, and they all would be right. But it would be improper to call Buddhism theistic or atheistic.
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen
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