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 Sherab Dorje » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:10 am

Huseng wrote:That doesn't preclude the existence of mortal devas, hence Buddhism is not atheism.
I thought we solved this one already? Buddhism does not fit anywhere on the atheist-theist continuim. Mainly because the Gods in Buddhism are a) mortal and b) not creators.
: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 futerko » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:27 am

Jnana wrote:Yes, of course. I don't see anyone here maintaining that you should cling to a view.


Doesn't that suggest that ideas about our own and others' experiences of the six lokas is more about an effective approach to soteriology than what is considered as truth or not?
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:50 am

Truth is an experience?
"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 Jnana » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:52 am

futerko wrote:Doesn't that suggest that ideas about our own and others' experiences of the six lokas is more about an effective approach to soteriology than what is considered as truth or not?

Sure. It's a matter of skillfully working with appearances, which includes acknowledging and working with conventions. It isn't about trying to truly establish those conventions or those appearances -- i.e. asserting philosophical realism or physicalism, etc., etc.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby futerko » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:09 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Truth is an experience?


I'm in agreement with what you posted previously... that devas are on the the side of relative rather than ultimate truth, and therefore dualistic concepts such as theist and atheist don't really apply. As such the Buddhist cosmology is, as Jnana wrote, more concerned with "skillfully working with appearances" rather than an attempt to grasp the truth.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby sinweiy » Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:09 am

Q: You have said that according to Buddhist philosophy there is no Creator, no God of creation, and this may initially put off many people who believe in a divine principle. Can you explain the difference between the Vajrayana Primordial Buddha and a Creator God?
A: I understand the Primordial Buddha, also known as Buddha Samantabhadra, to be the ultimate reality, the realm of the Dharmakaya-- the space of emptiness--where all phenomena, pure and impure, are dissolved. This is the explanation taught by the Sutras and Tantras. However, in the context of your question, the tantric tradition is the only one which explains the Dharmakaya in terms of Inherent clear light, the essential nature of the mind; this would seem imply that all phenomena, samsara and nirvana, arise from this clear and luminous source. Even the New School of Translation came to the conclusion that the "state of rest" of a practitioner of the Great Yoga--Great Yoga implies here the state of the practitioner who has reached a stage in meditation where the most subtle experience of clear light has been realized--that for as long as the practitioner remains in this ultimate sphere he or she remains totally free of any sort of veil obscuring the mind, and is immersed in a state of great bliss.

We can say, therefore, that this ultimate source, clear light, is close to the notion of a Creator, since all phenomena, whether they belong to samsara or nirvana, originate therein. But we must be careful in speaking of this source, we must not be led into error. I do not mean chat there exists somewhere, there, a sort of collective clear light, analogous to the non-Buddhist concept of Brahma as a substratum. We must not be inclined to deify this luminous space. We must understand that when we speak of ultimate or inherent clear light, we are speaking on an individual level.

Likewise, when we speak of karma as the cause of the universe we eliminate the notion of a unique entity called karma existing totally independently. Rather, collective karmic impressions, accumulated individually, are at the origin of the creation of a world. When, in the tantric context, we say that all worlds appear out of clear light, we do not visualize this source as a unique entity, but as the ultimate clear light of each being. We can also, on the basis of its pure essence, understand this clear light to be the Primordial Buddha. All the stages which make up the life of each living being--death, the intermediate state, and rebirth--represent nothing more than the various manifestations of the potential of clear light. It is both the most subtle consciousness and energy. The more clear light loses its subtlety, the more your experiences take shape.

In this way, death and the intermediate state are moments where the gross manifestations emanating from clear light are reabsorbed. At death we return to that original source, and from there a slightly more gross state emerges to form the intermediate state preceding rebirth. At the stage of rebirth, clear light is apparent in a physical incarnation. At death we return to this source. And so on. The ability to recognize subtle clear light, also called the Primordial Buddha, is equivalent to realizing nirvana, whereas ignorance of the nature of clear light leaves us to wander in the different realms of samsaric existence.

This is how I understand the concept of the Primordial Buddha. It would be a grave error to conceive of it as an independent and autonomous existence from beginningless time. If we had to accept the idea of an independent creator, the explanations given in the Pramanavartika, the "Compendium of Valid Knowledge" written by Dharmakirti, and in the ninth chapter of the text by Shantideva, which completely refutes the existence per se of all phenomena, would be negated. This, in turn, would refute the notion of the Primordial Buddha. The Buddhist point of view does not accept the validity of affirmations which do not stand up to logical examination. If a sutra describes the Primordial Buddha as an autonomous entity, we must be able to interpret this assertion without taking it literally. We call this type of sutra an "interpretable" sutra.


Dalai Lama's answer
Philosophical questions on Creation
http://hhdl.dharmakara.net/hhdlquotes22.html
_/\_
Amituofo!

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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby ram peswani » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:33 am

Dialouge between God and Buddha

G... I am everywhere
B... I am with those who follow my 8-fold noble path.
G...My awareness is equally with evil sons and good sons because my
awareness is limitless.
B... My awareness though limited is placed on right sons and is hence ever
increasing.My 8- fold path blocks evil sons.
G....My sons good or evil both make universes as per their capability
B....The universes of your evil sons does not grow higher because of internal
squibbles and the universe of good sons also gets eroded because of
proximity of bad universes.
The result is that my universes have expanded to black holes, milkiways,
stars, planets etc. While your sons can not go beyond stars and planets.
G....But you are also my son.
B....Yes, I am your exceptional son as I have utilised the Wisdom of 12 linked
chain. I have gone beyond by three turnings.
G....You are my blessed son and I am proud of you and I can rest in peace. After
all "Son is the father of man" is correct.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sara H » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:39 am

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?

Well, you can speak for yourself Kitty,
But I know I'm not an atheist.
And most Buddhists I know are not.

I'll quote a Zen Master here who said it better than me:
"I am sure you’ve noticed by now that I’ve been talking about Zen as a religion, and yet some of you may have heard that all of Buddhism, and especially Zen, is atheistic. It is not. You’ve heard this due to the fact that the Christian missionaries who brought back the Scriptures from the Far East either did not know of, or deliberately steered clear of, one particular Scripture spoken by the Buddha. In the Udana Scripture He says very clearly, “O monks, there is an Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, Uncreated.”1 This is what He found in meditation and which gave Him His enlightenment. In other words, He found That Which Is. What the Christians call “God” and Mohammedans call “Allah”, the Buddhists call variably: That Which Is, the Lord of the House, the Cosmic Buddha, the Eternal, Amida Buddha, the Immaculacy of Emptiness, Vairocana Buddha, the Unborn, etc." -RM. Jiyu-Kennet, from a Dharma talk recorded in the Roar of the Tigress volume I
Notes
1. Translated by F. L. Woodward, “Udana: Verses of Uplift” from the Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon, Part II, Chapt. VII, sec. iii (London: Oxford University Press, 1935) pp. 97 & 98.


For the esternal link and reading of this article go here:
http://www.berkeleybuddhistpriory.org/pages/articles/rmj_online/zen_religion.html

For the whole book, go here:
http://www.shastaabbey.org/pdf/bookRoar1.pdf
Downloadable, offered for free, as a pdf.

Meow Kitty, : D Purr... >.<

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Fu Ri Shin » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:16 am

Sara H wrote:Well, you can speak for yourself Kitty,
But I know I'm not an atheist.
And most Buddhists I know are not.

I'm not addressing Sara directly, but using her comment as a reference for my own comment.

At one point, I used to feel that my Buddhist faith and practice should be labeled as atheistic. Later I rejected that idea. There have been multiple changes since. I believe Malcolm eventually rejected the label of Buddhist, at least as a way of acknowledging the provisional nature of labels.

Semantics. Let's sit.
"Once delusion is extinguished, your wisdom naturally arises and you don’t differentiate suffering and joy. Actually, this joy and this suffering, they are the same."

— Chinese hermit, Amongst White Clouds
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:02 am

"I am sure you’ve noticed by now that I’ve been talking about Zen as a religion...In other words, He found That Which Is. What the Christians call “God” and Mohammedans call “Allah”, the Buddhists call variably: That Which Is, the Lord of the House, the Cosmic Buddha, the Eternal, Amida Buddha, the Immaculacy of Emptiness, Vairocana Buddha, the Unborn, etc."
Yes, well... It's not quite like that though, is it?

The (completely out of context) quote is from the Udana (Exclamations), a collection of short teachings by the Buddha that end with a statement/exclamation.

The teaching referred to is this one:
Ud 8.3 PTS: Ud 80
Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (3)
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2012

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. And on that occasion the Blessed One was instructing, urging, rousing, & encouraging the monks with Dhamma-talk concerned with unbinding. The monks — receptive, attentive, focusing their entire awareness, lending ear — listened to the Dhamma.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

There is, monks, an unborn[1] — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.[2]

Notes

1. Some scholars have argued that the term "unborn" cannot be used to distinguish unbinding from transmigration, as there are discourses (such as SN 15.3) stating that transmigration itself has no beginning point, implying that it too is unborn. Thus they argue that in this passage the term ajātaṃ, although a past participle, should be translated as, "without birth." However, this argument is based on two questionable premises. First, it assumes that unbinding is here being contrasted with transmigration, even though the passage simply contrasts it with the fabricated. Secondly, even assuming that the phrase "the born — the become," etc., is a reference to transmigration, the scholars' argument is based on a misreading of SN 15.3. There, transmigration is said to have an "inconceivable" or "undiscoverable" beginning point. This is very different from saying that it is unborn. If transmigration were unborn, it would be unfabricated (see AN 3.47), which is obviously not the case. Thus, in translating this term to describe unbinding, I have maintained the straight grammatical reading, "unborn."
2. Iti 43 gives this exclamation as the synopsis of a Dhamma talk, followed by this verse:

The born, become, produced,
made, fabricated, impermanent,
fabricated of aging & death,
a nest of illnesses, perishing,
come-into-being through nourishment
and the guide [that is craving] —
is unfit for delight.
The escape from that
is
calm, permanent,
a sphere beyond conjecture,
unborn, unproduced,
the sorrowless, stainless state,
the cessation of stressful qualities,
stilling-of-fabrications bliss.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

So, as can be seen quite clearly, the Buddha was not talking about a god/entity/deity, he was talking about Nirvana as being "Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, Uncreated".
: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 Sara H » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:39 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
So, as can be seen quite clearly, the Buddha was not talking about a god/entity/deity, he was talking about Nirvana as being "Unborn, Undying, Unchanging, Uncreated".
:namaste:

Well, they're not actually separate Greg.

The Eternal interconnected nature of things is what one experiences in what, in Zen, is referred to as a "Kensho" experience.

As she put it directly after that quote:
"The terms we use for It don’t really matter: they’re just labels, just concepts. Don’t waste time thinking about what God is like. Whatever you imagine that It is, I assure you, is not what you’ll—how can I say this?—I was going to say, “is not what you’ll know”, when you get self out of the way. That’s not strictly true; what it comes down to is this: we always place upon ourselves our own personal concept of God or the Eternal— something that is much better than us. But we usually stop short at Something that just is there, and is such perfect love It can tolerate everybody in the world."


You can call the Eternal "God" Greg, It's ok.

If one prefers "Mu" or "The Cosmic Buddha". that works too.

If you're thinking of some external deity that is somehow outside or above us, or separate from us. That's not correct. There is nothing in us that is truly separate from, or cut off from the Eternal.

In Zen Buddhism, having an experience of this is actually one requirement before a monk or priest receives Dharma Transmission from their Teacher.

I'm not exactly sure what the Tibetan term for it is.

But this is, actually experienced in Buddhism, and is an integral part of Buddhist practice.

In Gassho,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:07 am

...what it comes down to is this: we always place upon ourselves our own personal concept of God or the Eternal— something that is much better than us. But we usually stop short at Something that just is there, and is such perfect love It can tolerate everybody in the world."
Actually I find this statement problematic because the tathagatagarbha is not "much better than us" it is the true nature of "us". It is inseperable from us. When we project it outwards we can easily fall into the trap of considering it beyond, or seperate to, us. That somehow we lack "it", that we have somehow to find "it" or have "it" given to us, or connec to "it" rather than just realise "it".
You can call the Eternal "God" Greg, It's ok.
Actually it is not quite okay because the word God comes with a heap of baggage attached that has no relation whatsoever to the tathagatagarbha.
If you're thinking of some external deity that is somehow outside or above us, or separate from us. That's not correct.
When you equate tathagatagarbha with God/Allah/Yaweh etc... this problem arises instantly because that is how the majority of believers in Abrahamic religions conceive of God/Allah/Yaweh. That is why the terms are not interchangable.
There is nothing in us that is truly separate from, or cut off from the Eternal.
This can be construed as pantheism (cf my previous post outlining the various theisms) and also smacks of non-dualistic Theism (eg all is one with the great Brahma).
I'm not exactly sure what the Tibetan term for it is.
Mahamudra, Dzogchen...
: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 Seishin » Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:12 am

Sara H wrote:The Eternal interconnected nature of things .....


Eternal?

Gassho,
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:25 pm

Sara H wrote:The Eternal interconnected nature of things...

You can call the Eternal "God" Greg, It's ok.

There's no need to play fast and loose with language like this.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby deepbluehum » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:34 pm

The Buddha-nature is beyond the limitations of permanence or annihilation. Being completely illusory, Samsara is also without elaboration, and it too has no limits of permanence or annihilation. Because samsara has no limit, the display of Buddhas is continuous.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby viniketa » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:37 pm

For those who still find labels convenient (rather than a darned nuisance):

Transtheism - Transtheistic is a term coined by philosopher Paul Tillich or Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, referring to a system of thought or religious philosophy which is neither theistic, nor atheistic,[1] but is beyond them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transtheism

:namaste:
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby nilakantha » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:51 pm

Eternal?

Gassho,
Seishin[/quote]

You well know that the Tathāgata is one eternal and unchanging, and is Uncreated. Nirvana Sutra, Chapter Two: On Cunda

Since the Lord is Eternal, some mistake Him for God; however, the Lord is not the cause of samsara.
May I be a poet in birth after birth, a devotee of the feet of Lord Avalokiteśvara,
with elevated heart, spontaneously directed towards his Refuge,
wholly occupied with the solemn duty of saving others.

--Lokeshvarashatakam of Vajradatta
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:01 pm

viniketa wrote:Transtheism - Transtheistic is a term coined by philosopher Paul Tillich or Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, referring to a system of thought or religious philosophy which is neither theistic, nor atheistic,[1] but is beyond them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transtheism


Interesting that the term was originally used to describe Jainism, but notably not Buddhism. This could be because in Jainism, the gods are not creator-gods but maintain an eternal presence in heaven. In Buddhism, especially the Theravada, the gods (devas) eventually return to human/animal life or are liberated to nirvana.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:04 pm

The first question on the Belief-O-Matic quiz:

Q1. What is the number and nature of the deity (God, gods, higher power)? Choose one.
1. Only one God--a corporeal spirit (has a body), supreme, personal God Almighty, the Creator.
2. Only one God--an incorporeal (no body) spirit, supreme, personal God Almighty, the Creator.
3. Multiple personal gods (or goddesses) regarded as facets of one God, and/or as separate gods.
4. The supreme force is the impersonal Ultimate Reality (or life force, ultimate truth, cosmic order, absolute bliss, universal soul), which resides within and/or beyond all.
5. The supreme existence is both the eternal, impersonal, formless Ultimate Reality, and personal God (or gods).
6. No God or supreme force. Or not sure. Or not important.
7. None of the above.

A monotheist would answer #1 or #2. A polytheist might answer #3. A pantheist might answer #4. A Jain might answer #5.
A Buddhist would most likely answer #6 or #7.
An atheist would answer #6 or #7.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby catmoon » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:14 pm

Omg 5 pages already. This thing has a life of its own.

I think Greg is right on the money in pointing out that the sutra referring to the Eternal Uncreated etc... was referring to Nirvana. Since Nirvana is not a person, I'd think it cannot be used to refer to God.

Now it is true that "God" is sometimes used to refer to a more nebulous non-personal principle, but in my book thats atheism. Such a "God" lacks almost all the properties I can think of that would define God.
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