All Buddhists Are Atheists

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

Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby plwk » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:29 pm

I'm content to leave it there for now. I thought the idea might be worth exploring a little and the discussion seems to have unearthed some ambiguities, and possibly the atheism idea is outright contradicted by the existence of Pureland. Might be interesting to ask a Purelander if he sees himself as a theist though.

No catty, as one myself, I don't and here's why... at the heart of Pure Land practice is buddhanusmrti/buddhanusati, mindfulness/contemplation of the Buddha...

Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing, it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much, it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga

The Buddha said to Ananda and Vaidehi, "After you have seen this, next visualize the Buddha. Why the Buddha?
Because Buddhas, Tathagatas, have cosmic bodies (dharmadhatu-kaya in another translation), and so enter into the meditating mind of each sentient being.
For this reason, when you contemplate a Buddha, that mind itself takes the form of his thirty-two physical characteristics and eighty secondary marks.
Your mind produces the Buddha's image, and is itself the Buddha.
The ocean of perfectly and universally enlightened Buddhas thus arises in the meditating mind.
For this reason, you should single-mindedly concentrate and deeply contemplate the Buddha, Tathagata, Arhat and Perfectly Enlightened One.

The Sutra on Contemplation of Amitayus
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby seeker242 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:33 pm

catmoon wrote:Ok, the subject title is a bit out there, acknowledged. But I thought it might be fun to kick the ideas around a bit. So here goes.

Buddha is not God. He did not create the universe or you or me. Since it is a well established Buddhist principle that your karma is your own, Buddha cannot interfere in that and thus cannot save you, you have to do that for yourself.

God is said to reside on a celestial throne, attended by angels, ruling the world which is dependent on him for it's very existence.

Buddha on the other hand, was a disenchanted rich kid who left home to live in a swamp with five of his buddies, attained a meditational breakthrough, wandered around India for fifty years or so and eventually died in the middle of nowhere from eating a bad pork sandwich.

So you can see there's a bit of a difference there.

So it seems to me that any reliance on gods in any form is counter-Buddhist. To do so is to deny karma, to try to find a way around it, and to cast responsibility for one's welfare on others. Buddha spent most of his life teaching the Four Noble Truths, dependent origination and Eightfold Path. None of these is in the least concerned gods great or small.

So Buddhists are atheists. Opinions?


Some of them are, obviously! But did the Buddha teach atheism? I don't think so. He said many times that you could be reborn in a lower realm or higher realm. The higher realms are the realms of gods. Atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist, regardless of what kind of deity they are. Not necessarily just a non-reliance on gods or non belief in a supreme creator god. It is essentially a non belief in any other non-material realm of existence.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby ram peswani » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:44 pm

If one accepts God the Creator. He is falling in a trap.
We all have Buddha nature and we all can become Buddhas.
Once we have become Buddhas we have become the ultimate creator of our Universe.
This universe has everything, space, time,ego, heavon, hell, Gods, Devatas, Brhama, Indra.
Where will a Buddha place a God? How does a God concern a Buddha?
Buddha has His own place to retire in Nirvan.
And the Nirvan is ETERNAL.(Life of Thathagata..Lotus sutra).

NO ETERNAL GOD WILL EVER CROSS THE PATH OF BUDDHA.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby ram peswani » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:55 pm

If any of my conscious or sub-conscious mind Thinks of God ...the ultimate creator, it will stop my progress on the path of Buddhahood.
I must understand rather I must KNOW that I am the CREATOR and nothing else exists beyond me.
This is the stage we have as a buddhist to reach.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:03 pm

oushi wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:So what are you saying exactly?

That, what I wrote. Discussing God is like discussing space. Negating God is like negating space. If there is a view of objectified God, there is duality. If there is a view of no God, there is self-contradiction. And If there is no view?

"I determine all events and meanings.
Because no objects exist which are not me,
You are beyond perspective or meditation."
Samathabarda.

If you think you have perspective, and you can meditate on things, think twice.

Buddhism is all about non-duality.
Fair enough, just that in the Greek language the prefix "a-" in atheist works in the same way as in Sanskrit. ie Vidya (wisdom) and Avidya (ignorance). When somebody is atheist (without god) it does not mean that they against god. The prefix in that situation is "anti-".

Essentially an atheist is not against god(s) since you can only be against something that you believe exists, atheists are without god(s).

Being an Atheist though, has become an ideological position in contradiction to theism. Realistically one can be an atheist without being an Atheist.

The quote you gave above has been translated/interpreted in the vein of pantheism, ie that everything is an expression or in union with god. How does its differ from non-dualistic theism then?
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"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby oushi » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:09 pm

gregkavarnos wrote: How does its differ from non-dualistic theism then?

Difference in non-duality is an oxymoron. I Cannot say anything in this subject without contradicting myself.
If one holds a belief in nonexistence of God, he is stuck. If one holds a belief in existence of God, he may also be stuck. All comes down to trust.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Seishin » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:32 pm

Gods and other beings are in the sutras and suttas, so I’d say Buddhism is polytheistic. But whatever label we place on Buddhism, Buddhists will differ in opinion. Looking at it another way, China is officially an atheist country which is full of theism.

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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:40 pm

oushi wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote: How does its differ from non-dualistic theism then?

Difference in non-duality is an oxymoron. I Cannot say anything in this subject without contradicting myself.
If one holds a belief in nonexistence of God, he is stuck. If one holds a belief in existence of God, he may also be stuck. All comes down to trust.
Really? It is not an oxymoron when dualism is due to seperation from some "thing" (Brahma, Shiva, etc...) and non-dualism is union with this "thing". At least that's how non-dualist theists deal with it.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby mindyourmind » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:50 pm

And off we go - different definitions and different understandings of the term "god" lead to the most hilarious discussions. You just watch.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby lobster » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:59 pm

Experientially rather than intellectually I have been in both places.
The Grace or Presence and the Absence.
Both are Absolute certainties as an experience.
There is a Middle Way.

Now I prefer popcorn :popcorn:
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby oushi » Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:22 pm

lobster wrote:Experientially rather than intellectually I have been in both places.
The Grace or Presence and the Absence.
Both are Absolute certainties as an experience.
There is a Middle Way.

Now I prefer popcorn :popcorn:

I just wonder, how did you enter "Absence"?
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby lobster » Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:39 pm

oushi wrote:I just wonder, how did you enter "Absence"?


Awareness of what is (and in this case) what is not there.
There is another condition, where these apparent contra positions are transcended.

Popcorn Nirvana :popcorn:
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby viniketa » Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:16 pm

Emphasizing scepticism, reason and rigorous enquiry rather than blind faith, the Dalai Lama explains why and how he conducts his ongoing dialogue with science. He believes East & West meet naturally on the ground of mind and emotion, the factors that govern our individual and collective health.

Buddhism, says the Dalai Lama, is nontheistic -- but not "atheistic" in the sense of "anti-God". Buddha is to be located within and experienced in the heart as Tathagatagarbha, the Buddha-nature. We should not get attached to merely local cultural aspects in Tibetan, Japanese, Chinese (etc) Buddhism.
http://www.ecobuddhism.org/multimedia/videos/dlama1


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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 David N. Snyder » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:17 pm

See also these quotes from Dhamma Wheel: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=11082

Theravada Buddhism seems more atheistic or at least non-theistic. As for Mahayana Buddhism, well you guys have the Trikaya concept which sounds pretty close to some kind of God-concept.

An all-powerful-creator-God with a capital G however, is not found in any Buddhist tradition, as far as I know.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Nighthawk » Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:47 pm

catmoon wrote:I'm content to leave it there for now. I thought the idea might be worth exploring a little and the discussion seems to have unearthed some ambiguities, and possibly the atheism idea is outright contradicted by the existence of Pureland. Might be interesting to ask a Purelander if he sees himself as a theist though.

Call us purelanders whatever you like. Labels have zero importance. The only thing that will ever matter is freedom from the bondage of samsara and how to achieve that.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:48 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:See also these quotes from Dhamma Wheel: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=11082

Statements that disparage, mock, or otherwise poke fun at other belief systems on a Buddhist discussion forum -- as do many in the above linked thread -- are reprehensible and deserve to be censured.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Nighthawk » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:22 pm

Jnana wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:See also these quotes from Dhamma Wheel: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=11082

Statements that disparage, mock, or otherwise poke fun at other belief systems on a Buddhist discussion forum -- as do many in the above linked thread -- are reprehensible and deserve to be censured.

Seconded.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby anjali » Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:15 am

Somewhat off-topic, but still relevant. Perhaps this deserves another thread. From split brain research (severed corpus callosum) , a dual theist and atheist in one person: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFJPtVRlI64.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Indrajala » Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:57 am

David N. Snyder wrote:Theravada Buddhism seems more atheistic or at least non-theistic. As for Mahayana Buddhism, well you guys have the Trikaya concept which sounds pretty close to some kind of God-concept.


The ancient Mahāsāṃghikas had the same idea about the Buddha -- he being a transcendental force rather than a flesh and blood sage. That was pre-Mahāyāna, too.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:04 am

Buddha said there's no creator. He acknowledged so many god realms and deities.
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