God in Buddhism

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 9:25 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:First off, who cares what anyone else thinks about your beliefs. It's not like your beliefs are disrespectful or offensive. Just believe what you want to... Why feel like you have to be defensive about them or justify them to others?

Well, it's simply that it sometimes seems as though my views aren't exactly welcomed. I don't feel a need to justify my beliefs or anything, I don't exactly go around throwing it, I just like to give my two cents' worth on it, and then people disagree with that view.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as people honestly finding fault with your views because they see holes in them. In the face of that, you can either close down and bury your head in the sand lest your views might turn out to be faulty, or you could explore the points people make and then 1) discover you were right after all, or 2) realize that there actually were holes in your view and then be thankful that you now see things more clearly.

I'm absolutely open to that, of course. :smile: I may not necessarily agree with the others' views, but I'm open to hearing what they think, and hopefully have the same given.

I didn't join here to troll or argue, after all, but to learn. That's why in my first post here I asked if I'd be welcome here with my views and my terminology.
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue May 03, 2011 9:59 am

Keshin wrote:I didn't join here to troll or argue, after all, but to learn. That's why in my first post here I asked if I'd be welcome here with my views and my terminology.


Well you certainly don't come off as a troll in my estimation. You've got your own opinions, that's all. I'm sure everyone around here will enjoy your participation just fine if this is how you interact. By and large, people only really get touchy around here when people with unique takes on Buddhism show up and tell them they're fools for believing in "orthodox" Buddhism and don't understand what the Buddha "really" meant.
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 10:12 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote: By and large, people only really get touchy around here when people with unique takes on Buddhism show up and tell them they're fools for believing in "orthodox" Buddhism and don't understand what the Buddha "really" meant.

Yeah, I can imagine. I hope I haven't done this, as this is not my intention. I apologize if I have come across that way. :smile:

After all, my views are my views only. Nobody can ever be 100% sure what is beyond this life. We'll know when we get there. Or not. :-D
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue May 03, 2011 10:41 am

From the Jonang Foundation website:

"Since their existence cannot be established externally or separately,
The realization is that creators such as Brahmā and other such creator gods do not exist."

(A Treatise on Awareness by Rangjung Dorje, the 3rd Karmapa (PDF))

A summary of Buddhist refutations of theist ideas:

Dharmakiirti's refutation of theism
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue May 03, 2011 10:46 am

Keshin wrote:
Pema Rigdzin wrote: By and large, people only really get touchy around here when people with unique takes on Buddhism show up and tell them they're fools for believing in "orthodox" Buddhism and don't understand what the Buddha "really" meant.

Yeah, I can imagine. I hope I haven't done this, as this is not my intention. I apologize if I have come across that way. :smile:


Nah, I didn't get that impression. I meant to be saying "don't worry, you're cool... it's only when people do such and such other thing that people here get upset." :namaste:
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 12:12 pm

Sherab wrote:The idea of a creator-God is loaded with logical problems.

Astus wrote:The realization is that creators such as Brahmā and other such creator gods do not exist."

Once again: I don't believe in a creator god.

I can't believe I keep having to say this.
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Tue May 03, 2011 1:37 pm

Keshin wrote:
Sherab wrote:The idea of a creator-God is loaded with logical problems.

Astus wrote:The realization is that creators such as Brahmā and other such creator gods do not exist."

Once again: I don't believe in a creator god.

I can't believe I keep having to say this.


I think your persistence in using the words "God" and "Soul" to mean what you mean them to mean is part of the confusion. For instance, when you say:

Keshin wrote:That's exactly what I believe, but people are re-interpreting my belief to a Christian-God for me when I don't hold those views. I stated in my first post, I use the terms 'God' and 'soul', for Buddhist terminology because I'm used to them.

To me God is our Enlightened Nature within us. "The Whole", which we are part of. Not some external lightning bolt throwing guy who sends people to Hell.


That's reasonable, but the rest of us are used to using the Buddhist terms for Buddhist understandings of things. Might it not be easier to get used to the Buddhist words and practice non-attachment to the God/Whole/Soul/Kosmos diction, just for clarity in communicating your convictions?

Put another way: I'd like to understand where you're coming from, and I get you loud and clear when you use the conventional terms, but I don't yet understand the value of the theistic language to your understanding of Buddhism, to your point of view.
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue May 03, 2011 2:14 pm

Keshin wrote:Once again: I don't believe in a creator god.

I can't believe I keep having to say this.


I had actually read your post about it before I posted that quote. The Buddhist point is that there can't be any ultimate being/substratum. It is a common mistake to take alayavijnana/tathagatagarbha/dharmadhatu as something behind/beyond the world as the origin of everything. Also, if "God" (with a capital) is not a creator and/or a ruler the word itself has practically no meaning.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 2:26 pm

Jikan wrote:Put another way: I'd like to understand where you're coming from, and I get you loud and clear when you use the conventional terms, but I don't yet understand the value of the theistic language to your understanding of Buddhism, to your point of view.

It may be that. I was not raised with Christianity or any Abrahamic religion, so these views are foreign to me. When I first read the Bible, I think I was about 18 or so. I laughed at the way their idea of God was portrayed.

I'll quote my first post, where I tried to outline my view:

[quote=Keshin, first post]Regarding God: I don't believe in a Supreme Creator God who rewards or punishes us, but I do believe in a transcendent all-pervading unity (like in the Kulayarāja Tantra, where Samantabhadra says "I am the core of all that exists", etc), and I don't believe in a "soul" that is separate from this Unity. I'm also one of those people who seems to be pre-programmed by his mind to believing in something that could be called as "God". I'm a panentheist and see everything as what I consider as God, but that God to transcend everything too, and that our "souls" are a part of that being. I'm comfortable using the term 'God' when referring to the Adibuddha/Dharmakaya Unmanifest/Amitābha (*from the "Eternal Buddha" perspective), and I'm comfort able using the term 'True Self' or 'Soul', when referring to the Buddha-nature/Mindstream & Base Consciousness together. I use "God", because that's an immediately accessible term for me - but I use it in a panentheistic (God is in all and beyond all) and transpersonal (does not intervene and make prophets and stuff, but is not an unfeeling, personality-less, non-sapient entity).


Regarding Soul: Effectively, it's our "True Selves", free some skandhic-ness: one with the Dharmakāya, our Buddha-nature, and pretty much the Buddha-nature/Mindstream & Base Consciousness together. Possibly even a Self of Nirvāṇic permanency beyond the skandhic mundane world, but I'm not sure at the moment.[/quote]
Does that make it a little bit clearer?

Noting of course, the bold part. Regarding the bit in bold, I highlighted it because I literally cannot NOT see this interdependent unity.
* = Added a little bit for clarification


So, no Brahmā, no Jehovah, no Allah.

In brief:

"God" = Adi Buddha, Dharmakāya. Possibly, but I am not sure, like the way some (usually Japanese) interpret Amitābha or Mahāvairocana. I haven't decided this bit yet.
Soul = Buddha-nature from a Tathāgathagarbha Sūtra and Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra interpretation. Not an "I" or ego-self.

That a bit clearer? :smile:
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 2:33 pm

Astus wrote:I had actually read your post about it before I posted that quote. The Buddhist point is that there can't be any ultimate being/substratum. It is a common mistake to take alayavijnana/tathagatagarbha/dharmadhatu as something behind/beyond the world as the origin of everything.

"Origin of everything" sounds a bit obscure and as though the idea of there being some conscious entity that attributes everything to it. If so, that's not how I see it. :smile:
However, I'm afraid we're going to have agree to disagree on this. I've not had any such things from my mentor or any other people (such as a Shin priest I am in contact with) regarding my views, which I shared with them some time ago. There was no "This is not permitted within Buddhism" or "This is not the way this should be within Buddhism". Nothing of the sort, in fact.

Also, if "God" (with a capital) is not a creator and/or a ruler the word itself has practically no meaning.

Pretty much, yeah.

They're just words. Words can change. Meanings can be misunderstood when being spoken of.

It is the meaning behind these words that is important, although I can see why some people feel otherwise who cringe over terms like soul and God.

For example, some speak of a True Self as opposed to a Soul, and of rebirth over reincarnation, because soul can lead to a view of separate nature which is not a view to be found in Buddhism, and reincarnation sounds like the same person coming back. Whereas others, like myself, personally prefer it the other way around. That just boils to aesthetics.
Last edited by Keshin on Tue May 03, 2011 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Tue May 03, 2011 2:33 pm

Keshin wrote:
So, no Brahmā, no Jehovah, no Allah.

In brief:

"God" = Adi Buddha, Dharmakāya. Possibly, but I am not sure, like the way some (usually Japanese) interpret Amitābha or Mahāvairocana. I haven't decided this bit yet.
Soul = Buddha-nature from a Tathāgathagarbha Sūtra and Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra interpretation. Not an "I" or ego-self.

That a bit clearer? :smile:


Sure, I can use the decoder you provide here to translate your ideas. But is it helpful to you or to anyone else to speak in code like this? I'm trying to understand what your particular use of the terms God and Soul well beyond their conventional meaning gets you for the trouble it causes you. if you mean Dharmakaya, why not just say "Dharmakaya" instead of saying "God but when I say God I mean Dharmakaya"?
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 2:42 pm

Jikan wrote:Sure, I can use the decoder you provide here to translate your ideas. But is it helpful to you or to anyone else to speak in code like this? I'm trying to understand what your particular use of the terms God and Soul well beyond their conventional meaning gets you for the trouble it causes you. if you mean Dharmakaya, why not just say "Dharmakaya" instead of saying "God but when I say God I mean Dharmakaya"?


Probably not the most helpful thing to do, so forgive me - I am not used to the way other Westerners take these terms to mean after all.
I will try to remember to consciously use the Buddhist terms, but the terms "God" and "Soul" are a default for me because of my English-language upbringing after all.

Even then, though will it really be much different? There will still be people who disagree with me ferociously. :smile:
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Tue May 03, 2011 2:57 pm

Disagreement is OK. It's a discussion board, after all: we talk about our differences and try to learn from each other.

I think in your case, Keshin, there's less disagreement with your actual meaning generally (you are by no means the only Zhentongpa on this board), but on the connotation that your choice in words carry. It's true that words are empty, but it's also true that they're a medium of communication among people, and their meaning is never only personal. Meaning is social, cultural... it's shared.

Finally, even though it may seem hot and uncomfortable, I don't think anyone is attacking you personally, but they are going after some of your comments with energy. As I said before, it's a way to learn.

Welcome to the party! :cheers:
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 3:09 pm

Jikan wrote:Disagreement is OK. It's a discussion board, after all: we talk about our differences and try to learn from each other.

Absolutely. :smile:

I think mostly it's a misinterpretation of what I mean. However, it's been fun for debate.


Finally, even though it may seem hot and uncomfortable, I don't think anyone is attacking you personally, but they are going after some of your comments with energy. As I said before, it's a way to learn.

Welcome to the party! :cheers:

Haha, thanks! :smile: I'm enjoying it here, even if I may be come across as a bit rude or blunt, or ambiguous, I mean no harm and I'm enjoying myself here. It may seem kind of surprising considering how I almost steal the limelight, but I've not felt uncomfortable posting my views, even when they were a bit misconstrued due to my choice in words. :smile:
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Re: Exploring Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue May 03, 2011 3:15 pm

Keshin wrote:
That's not a sort of Buddhist theism? :shrug:
What kind of theism are you thinking of that this is not? Because from my angle, this is definitely panentheism.


It is talking about what happens when you don't recognize the nature of the mind.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

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Re: Exploring Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue May 03, 2011 3:17 pm

Keshin wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Bodhicitta aka Kun byed rgyal po

Bodhicitta is jang chub sem, isn't it?
For one, the Kulayaraja Tantra (Kunjed Gyalpo) is "All Creating King". Raja = King after all.

Or am I missing what you are trying to say, that Bodhicitta is the All Creating King?


Yes, bodhicitta ( as defined in its rdzog chen sense) is the all-creating king, the kun byed rgyal po or as Norbu Rinpoche translates it, the supreme source.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue May 03, 2011 3:57 pm

(God is in all and beyond all) and transpersonal (does not intervene and make prophets and stuff, but is not an unfeeling, personality-less, non-sapient entity)
Regarding Soul: Effectively, it's our "True Selves", free some skandhic-ness


Let's clarify here then. The five skandhas are all there is and you can't have a self/soul/X beyond them. The difference between samsara and nirvana in Buddhism relies on whether one is attached to the skandhas or not. Thus any entity, thing or being outside (or inside, for that matter) the skandhas is practically impossible. Thus there is no self/soul in Buddhism, neither an absolute God.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 4:00 pm

Astus wrote:Let's clarify here then. The five skandhas are all there is and you can't have a self/soul/X beyond them. The difference between samsara and nirvana in Buddhism relies on whether one is attached to the skandhas or not. Thus any entity, thing or being outside (or inside, for that matter) the skandhas is practically impossible. Thus there is no self/soul in Buddhism, neither an absolute God.

I disagree; the story of the turtle and the fish comes to mind. :smile:
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Re: God in Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue May 03, 2011 4:01 pm

Keshin wrote:I disagree; the story of the turtle and the fish comes to mind. :smile:


Could you elaborate?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Exploring Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Tue May 03, 2011 4:03 pm

Keshin wrote:Define soul


Permanent essence in an individual. This does not exist.



It may also help people to know I can't not see what I use the "God" for. I take a closer affiliation with the Jonang and Pure Landers than I do other groups, especially ones who focus on absolute non-self-ness.


Jonangpas are not theists.Their argument is quite different. They are arguing that qualities of buddhas are naturally present in sentient beings, albeit covered up. That emptiness is not just a blank void, but is endowed with qualities.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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