All Buddhists Are Atheists

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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:55 am

catmoon wrote:I had not heard the the Upagupta story before. I like it. :)


This book is the best source for Upagupta - I enjoy re-reading it from time to time:
http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Cult-Upagu ... 0691073899

I will quote another story from this book, that highlights the ways that the Buddha does employ the skillful means of force:
apalala.jpg
apalala.jpg (106.39 KiB) Viewed 870 times


Here is what Lamotte thought of these cases:
lamotte_vajrapani.jpg
lamotte_vajrapani.jpg (60.65 KiB) Viewed 441 times


So you see, the gods are indeed quite active in the Buddha's ministry.
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 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:19 am

Catmoon seems to imply that worship follows belief. In the first place the way the Buddha "believes" in the existence of devas is more like how one "believes" in the existence of humans. He can interact with them just as we do with humans. This is not the "belief" of theists who can't see their gods. Even if Buddhists today believe devas exist it does not mean we need to worship them. Actually we can honour them with gifts and incense and you might call that worship but we do not take refuge in them as beings who can lead us to enlightenment. We can also honour enlightened beings.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:16 am

pueraeternus wrote:Not at all. In fact, the problem with your whole argument is "believe". The Buddha did not have to believe, since he could interact with them as easily as we interact with the person next to us. Do you have to "believe" in your neighbour in order to talk to him? Do you have to "believe" in the existence of your cat before you could see or pet him? You are asking the wrong question and have the wrong premise in your questioning.
I think "believe" may be the correct term, not for the Buddhas, but for our conceptions of reality. In reality human beings are just as real as gods. We "believe" that we exist in a certain way, we do not actually exist in that certain way. The same thing can be said of all samsaric beings. So the Buddhas, when looking at sentient beings, do not see sentient beings us as we "believe" we are.

Back to the original discussion, I reiterate for the third time: the point (or problem) is not whether Buddhists are atheists, polytheists or even monotheists. The point is that the term theism (as defined by popular perception, dictionaries and encyclopedias) is not applicable to Buddhism since theism is always defined in relation to a creator (or a number of creator) god(s) cf here viewtopic.php?f=66&t=10513&start=60#p133642 and Buddhism does not accept the concept of creator god(s). Dependent origination places Buddhism outside of the confines of the (poly/mono)theism-atheism argument.

If we do not realise this then this silly argument will just wage back and forth ad nauseum!
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:40 am

Lhug-pa wrote:...however that they are generally not visible to those who cannot perceive the Sambhogakaya dimension.

do Abrahamic gods vividly appear in other dimensions (whether Sambhogakaya, or Deva, Asura dimensions, etc.) to those with the ability to perceive other dimensions?

lthough it's possible that Elohim, Yehowah, Shekinah, Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, etc. appear in other dimensions (i.e. are as 'real' as you and I), instead of only existing as imaginary intellectual fabrications like cartoon characters.
Dear Lhug-pa,

You have used the word "dimension" to describe three completely different things:

In the first instance we normally talk about aspects of appearance or manifestation (Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya) rather then dimensions.
In the second example you confound the aspect of appearance with the samsaric realms (rather than dimensions) of existence.
In the third example you use dimension to refer to mental fabrications/projections of (apparently) existent objects.

It is confusing as hell. Please try to apply the commonly used terminology so that we can undertand you.

Thanks!
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:01 am

Hi Gregkavarnos,

Well, Chögyal Rinpoche often refers to Sambhogakaya manifestations as being related to a Pure Dimension.

And samsaric realms are also dimensions, they're just not Pure Dimensions.

Also, I just said that Abrahamic Gods/Angels could possibly exist in, for example, Deva or Asura dimensions; that is IF Abrahamic Gods/Angels are not only mere mental fabrications. Therefore I did not refer to mental fabrications/projections as dimensions.

:anjali:
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:29 am

I'm not interested in whether the use of the term is correct or incorrect according to him or her, I am interested in reducing confusion. If you do not want people to understand exactly what you are saying, that's fine by me, but it seems to contradict the aim of communication.

Back to the point of the thread:
Lhug-pa wrote:Also, I just said that Abrahamic Gods/Angels could possibly exist in, for example, Deva or Asura dimensions; that is IF Abrahamic Gods/Angels are not mere mental fabrications.
I have no doubt that all gods of all religions are beings that belong to the Deva and Asura realms (well, okay, some may actually be hungry ghosts or hell beings that are perceived of as gods due to their, for us, unearthly capacities). None whatsoever! But really, and this may be the crux of the entire thread:

Ultimately is not all (samsaric) phenomenal existence merely a mental fabrication? Does this not then render the whole atheist-theist debate ultimately irrelevant?
: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 Jnana » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:41 am

catmoon wrote:
Huseng wrote:Having respect for and venerating such deities is likely not going to eat up all your time. Where do you even get that idea?


From observing two of my friends, one in Karma Kagyu and the other in GKG's organization. Each is spending from two to four hours daily in formal practice busily propitiating protectors, devas and dakinis of all kinds. Both have full time jobs. It leaves little time for meditation, a problem that afflicts even the Dalai Lama.

Liturgical prayers and praises are forms of meditation, and can induce the bliss of samādhi more effectively than other types of śamatha meditation.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby mindyourmind » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:56 am

Jnana wrote:
catmoon wrote:
Huseng wrote:Having respect for and venerating such deities is likely not going to eat up all your time. Where do you even get that idea?


From observing two of my friends, one in Karma Kagyu and the other in GKG's organization. Each is spending from two to four hours daily in formal practice busily propitiating protectors, devas and dakinis of all kinds. Both have full time jobs. It leaves little time for meditation, a problem that afflicts even the Dalai Lama.

Liturgical prayers and praises are forms of meditation, and can induce the bliss of samādhi more effectively than other types of śamatha meditation.



Tai Situpa Rinpoche even refers to them (liturgical prayers and practices) as easier practices or forms of meditation because it gives us something to do with our hands and our minds. With the right approach and understanding everything is a meditation session.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Jnana » Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:08 am

catmoon wrote:My current position is, that that devas are substantially less enlightened than the Buddha and therefore any propitionary prayers would be better sent to the Buddha himself than anyone else, since he would be wiser and more capable than any samsaric being. That is, assuming Buddha is in the business of granting prayers at all.

It's also worth noting that from an early period of the Budhadharma the practice of recollecting the gods was considered to be a valuable meditation practice. For example, AN 11.12 Paṭhamamahānāma Sutta:

    Furthermore, you should recollect the devas: 'There are the devas of the Four Great Kings, the devas of the Thirty-three, the devas of the Hours, the Contented Devas, the devas who delight in creation, the devas who have power over the creations of others, the devas of Brahma's retinue, the devas beyond them. Whatever conviction they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of conviction is present in me as well. Whatever virtue they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of virtue is present in me as well. Whatever learning they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of learning is present in me as well. Whatever generosity they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of generosity is present in me as well. Whatever discernment they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of discernment is present in me as well.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the conviction, virtue, learning, generosity, and discernment found both in himself and the devas, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the [qualities of the] devas. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

    Of one who does this, Mahanama, it is said: 'Among those who are out of tune, the disciple of the noble ones dwells in tune; among those who are malicious, he dwells without malice; having attained the stream of Dhamma, he develops the recollection of the devas.'

Also, there are early texts such as the Pāli Vimānavatthu where gods describe their former meritorious deeds that resulted in their rebirth as deities in heavenly mansions. This text is early enough to be included in the Pāli canon. Thus, from a quite early time the path of practice was understood to include the generation of merit so as to attain high rebirths in order to continue with one's dharma practice, and the recollection of the gods in order to inspire and develop a skillful mind.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Astus » Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:27 am

To me it seems that in Buddhism the common Indian deities/gods were gradually changed to bodhisattvas and buddhas in Mahayana, and naturally practices related to them developed from simple considering the buddha's and gods' good qualities into visualisations, prayers and rituals. If we drop the intellectual-philosophical explanation about the difference between buddhas and gods, and how everything is mind made and empty, on the everyday practical level in religious practice whether one prays to Tara, Guanyin or Virgin Mary for a son it makes no difference. Why is it not important if the being one prays to is a god or a buddha? Because the beings are easily exchangeable without affecting the content and the nature of the prayer and the ritual. Buddhism could incorporate Indian deities into its pantheon even as buddhas, like Tara, or in Japan they could reinterpret Shinto gods as bodhisattvas and buddhas. The latest example is Jesus as a bodhisattva.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Dave The Seeker » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:22 pm

This is a very interesting and informative thread, thanks to all for their input.

Catty, your new avatar is great!!!!! How did you get the kitten to keep the hat on?

No need to cry my friend :consoling: :group:
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They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:17 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:I think "believe" may be the correct term, not for the Buddhas, but for our conceptions of reality. In reality human beings are just as real as gods. We "believe" that we exist in a certain way, we do not actually exist in that certain way. The same thing can be said of all samsaric beings. So the Buddhas, when looking at sentient beings, do not see sentient beings us as we "believe" we are.


I disagree - by saying that, that means that the Buddha also "believed" in the concept of human beings, which is a ludicrous statement. In short, using the word "believe" just creates unnecessary conceptual barriers, when in fact the narrative of the sutras is just this: the gods exist, are sentient beings like us, and the Buddha and those with the correct faculties can see and interact with them as easily as they can communicate with any other humans they come across.
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 Sherab Dorje » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:20 pm

pueraeternus wrote:I disagree - by saying that, that means that the Buddha also "believed" in the concept of human beings, which is a ludicrous statement.
Why ludicrous? Before their enlightenment they were prey to the same fetters that bind us, to the same belief in an independently existing autnomous being. So why is it ludicrous?
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Azidonis » Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:24 pm

Buddhism - nontheistic religion
Buddha - unclassifiable.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Pero » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:12 pm

catmoon wrote:
Pero wrote:
catmoon wrote:So if these beings are at root the same as you and I, why apply the western term "deity" to them? Again they are an entirely different breed of cat (god I love that phrase) and as such deserve a completely separate and unique term, like "deva".

Ah I guess I see your point now. Buddha deities are reffered to as devas too though.


What? All of them?

The male ones, pretty much yes.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Sherlock » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:56 pm

catmoon wrote:
Pero wrote:
catmoon wrote:So if these beings are at root the same as you and I, why apply the western term "deity" to them? Again they are an entirely different breed of cat (god I love that phrase) and as such deserve a completely separate and unique term, like "deva".

Ah I guess I see your point now. Buddha deities are reffered to as devas too though.


What? All of them?


Female form would be devi.

I don't see why the term deity wouldn't fit.

A deity (i/ˈdiː.ɨti/ or i/ˈdeɪ.ɨti/) is a being, natural, supernatural or preternatural, with superhuman powers or qualities, and who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred.


A deity/deva doesn't have to be omnipotent to have superhuman powers. There are plenty of "deities" according to that definition in Buddhism -- the Buddha himself is a "deity". catmoon seems to think that deity implies omnipotency as well as necessitating worship; this isn't the case in other polytheistic religions either.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:30 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:Hi Gregkavarnos,

Well, Chögyal Rinpoche often refers to Sambhogakaya manifestations as being related to a Pure Dimension.

And samsaric realms are also dimensions, they're just not Pure Dimensions.

Also, I just said that Abrahamic Gods/Angels could possibly exist in, for example, Deva or Asura dimensions; that is IF Abrahamic Gods/Angels are not only mere mental fabrications. Therefore I did not refer to mental fabrications/projections as dimensions.

:anjali:


The Abrahamic God seems like he would live in the Asura realm.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby greentara » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:51 pm

"Buddhism could incorporate Indian deities into its pantheon even as buddhas, like Tara, or in Japan they could reinterpret Shinto gods as bodhisattvas and buddhas. The latest example is Jesus as a bodhisattva"
Astus, Well put, how right you are!
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby greentara » Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:02 pm

Catmoon, "That's neither provable nor disprovable, so I have nothing to offer there. What would you see as the consequences for Buddhists if you are correct? Would you view these officials as inferior or superior to the Buddha?" You miss the point, there's no inferior or superior. The yearning, purity and strength of your belief is what propels you. If you believe strongly enough even a stone has divine properties.
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Re: All Buddhists Are Atheists

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:21 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:I disagree - by saying that, that means that the Buddha also "believed" in the concept of human beings, which is a ludicrous statement.
Why ludicrous? Before their enlightenment they were prey to the same fetters that bind us, to the same belief in an independently existing autnomous being. So why is it ludicrous?
:namaste:


I just reread your comments and yes, you are right, since you said it does not apply to Buddhas, but to unenlightened beings like us. Sorry - I should have read clearer.

I was refering to the usage of the word "believe" in a more normative, less metaphysical sense, in that we don't have to "believe" in human beings in order to interact with them - we just know they exist (in the conventional sense) since we can see, touch, smell, hear them, etc. That is the case when it comes to gods when it comes to Buddhas, Arhats and even unenlightened beings who possess the power of divine sight - there is no need to believe.

I have to drop off this conversation for the time being. NYC has cut off all power from lower Manhattan due to Hurrican Sandy, so I have to converse my battery power.
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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