New to this

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

New to this

Postby imkelly » Tue May 03, 2011 12:26 am

Hello all, im kelly. I found this site by searching for information on Buddhism and began to read through the posts on the first page. I came across a recent post about "god" in Buddhism and it made me think. Up to this point i have not been religious in any way, but i feel that something is missing. I would like to know if Buddhism is right for me. I don't think of "god" like most other westerners. I don't believe that if a god exists he would be involved in our lives, or that some master plan is playing out. To be honest the whole idea of a god is pretty spotty with me and i believe that we make our own ways in life. That being said "it" all had to start somewhere. That somewhere would be the closest thing to god that i can think of.

I know that might all sound muddy, but if someone could tell me if that correlates with the beliefs in Buddhism i would greatly appreciate it. I would love to be able to possibly talk to someone in the chat room on their time. I live in the Appalachian mountains and to be honest people around here would say that this is blasphemous if i tried to ask around. So any help would be appreciated.

I would also like to add that i am very scientifically minded. I do believe in evolution through natural selection. Thought that might help a little.

Thanks
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Re: New to this

Postby Kyosan » Tue May 03, 2011 2:34 am

There are some Buddhists who believe in God but God is not part of Buddhism. God is not what Buddhism is about. Buddhism is about improving the spiritual life of yourself and others and discovering the true nature of the world. If you are interested in that, perhaps Buddhism would be right for you.

As to your saying '"it" all had to start somewhere', how do you know that? Perhaps the world always existed. Or if it did come into existence at some point in time, perhaps it just spontaneously appeared without there being anyone who created it. Those explainations are at least as likely as a god creating the universe in my opinion.
:namaste:
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Re: New to this

Postby KeithBC » Tue May 03, 2011 4:38 am

Buddhism denies the possibility of a creator. Lesser gods may exist, but are of no importance. They are stuck in the world of suffering just as we are.

Buddhism is not about gods. It is about suffering, and how to become free from it. It teaches that freedom from suffering is attainable, and that there is a path that will get us there.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: New to this

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 03, 2011 4:52 am

Greetings Kelly,

T Y Lee wrote:Question: In Buddhism, why isn't there a belief in a supreme god that created the universe?

Buddhists tend to be fairly realistic in such matters and do not believe in creation myths such as the universe emerging from a cosmic egg, or created by an old man with a long, white beard. If anything we believe that the universe has always existed.

If it is said that an omnipotent being or 'intelligent designer' did create the universe, then it begs the obvious question of who then created or 'designed' that being? And if that being has always existed, then isn't it more believable that the universe has always been in existence instead?

In any case, Buddhists certainly don't believe in any such all-powerful and all-knowing being that, for whatever reasons, allows its creations to be tortured in an everlasting hell, (which that being also created). And if that omniscient being knows beforehand that most of its creations are destined to burn in hell forever, then why does it go ahead to produce so much suffering? It is hard also for Buddhists to believe in such a supreme being that somehow manages to be loving and forgiving, while at the same time also vengeful, unjust, merciless and sadistic.

The Buddha advised us not to concern ourselves with such speculations, as these speculations are ultimately unproductive. He tells the story of a person who pierced by a poisoned arrow, did not want the arrow to be removed until he knew who shot the arrow, why he was shot, and what kind of poison was on the arrow.

Just as it is a doctor's job to remove the poisoned arrow and treat the wound, and not answer the man's untimely questions; it is the Buddha's role to show us how to free ourselves from suffering and not answer such speculative questions. Thus, He said we should think and focus more on what really matters, which is our practice of Buddhism.

Source: http://www.justbegood.net/MoreQuestions.htm

Metta,
Retro. :)
Live in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes

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Re: New to this

Postby imkelly » Tue May 03, 2011 5:30 am

Ok i believe i understand. This does seem to be something that i think could really work for me. Just for reference i was supposed to put "not involved in our lives" though that is not important. I was wondering if you guys could possibly point me towards some info that could help me in starting out. Thanks for the quick responses by the way.


Kelly
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Re: New to this

Postby Kyosan » Tue May 03, 2011 6:39 am

imkelly wrote:Ok i believe i understand. This does seem to be something that i think could really work for me. Just for reference i was supposed to put "not involved in our lives" though that is not important. I was wondering if you guys could possibly point me towards some info that could help me in starting out. Thanks for the quick responses by the way.


Kelly

I'm sorry that I can't think of any books for people starting out but would like to say that there are several schools of Buddhism. Though the final goal is basically the same, the practice varies considerably. I think you should take your time and learn about the different schools and decide which one is most appealing to you. And you don't even have to belong to any of them if you don't want to, and still be a Buddhist.
:namaste:
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Re: New to this

Postby ram peswani » Tue May 03, 2011 6:55 am

[quote="imkelly"]Hello all, im kelly. I found this site by searching for information on Buddhism and began to read through the posts on the first page. I came across a recent post about "god" in Buddhism and it made me think. Up to this point i have not been religious in any way, but i feel that something is missing. I would like to know if Buddhism is right for me. I don't think of "god" like most other westerners. I don't believe that if a god exists he would be involved in our lives, or that some master plan is playing out. To be honest the whole idea of a god is pretty spotty with me and i believe that we make our own ways in life. That being said "it" all had to start somewhere. That somewhere would be the closest thing to god that i can think of.

I know that might all sound muddy, but if someone could tell me if that correlates with the beliefs in Buddhism i would greatly appreciate it. I would love to be able to possibly talk to someone in the chat room on their time. I live in the Appalachian mountains and to be honest people around here would say that this is blasphemous if i tried to ask around. So any help would be appreciated.

I would also like to add that i am very scientifically minded. I do believe in evolution through natural selection. Thought that might help a little.

Thanks[/quote


Your present situation is something like mine when I was young (30-40 years back). I have put in many experiences of mine on this site. You go thro them and decide if we are suitable for chatting. In case it is ok. We have to find some time zone which suits us both . If there is some system of group chatting, it will be still better
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Re: New to this

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 8:11 am

imkelly wrote:I know that might all sound muddy, but if someone could tell me if that correlates with the beliefs in Buddhism i would greatly appreciate it.


Theistic Buddhists are often shouted down, called stupid, ignorant, misunderstanding the texts, etc - especially on forums, sadly. I've even been told to "go join Hinduism" by one or two Buddhists who just cannot accept the belief in God with Buddhism. Thankfully here they have been okay so far, even if I seem to be one of the only ones out there.

There are some of us out there, though, but many of them are quiet or not on forums.

A lot of Buddhists say to me, "You can't believe in God and be a Buddhist, because Buddha denied a creator God!", even though I don't believe in a "creator" God, whatever that means. It can depend on what kind of God you believe in. There's a lot of difficulty with those three little letters: "god" can mean so many different things to different people. The idea of a Christian, Islamic or Jewish God, though, is not the kind I believe in, which usually seems to be conflated to the word God as though it has a monopoly on the term.

Kunjed Gyalpo (Sanskrit, Kulayarāja Tantra, English "All-Creating-King Tantra), a Tibetan text, has some interesting things to say about it. This Adi Buddha (Samantabhadra, there appear to be a bodhisattva Samantabhadra, and an Adi Buddha ("Primordial Buddha") called Samantabhadra. Confusing!) claims to be the root, seed, and core of all that exists:

"I am the core of all that exists. I am the seed of all that exists. I am the foundation of all that exists. I am the root of existence. I am 'the core', because I contain all phenomena. I am 'the seed', because I give birth to everything. I am 'the cause', because all comes forth from me. I am 'the trunk', because the ramificationsof every event sprout from me. I am 'the foundation', because all abides in me. I am called 'the root', because I am everything."

However, as we can see here, this Adi Buddha isn't exactly a creator, but the "emanator" of things. It looks to me as a supreme absolute. It has been argued by another member here that this is not any form of theistic Buddhism, but it's bodhicitta that "gives rise to everything when it is not recognized for what it actually is i.e. the nature of one's mind". That doesn't cut it for me, though personally. That's not what I see here at all.

If you want a group you'd feel welcome in as a theist, there's the Pure Land groups of Shonen and Honen (and Chinese sects), and there is the Jonang group, who have some fascinating philosophical views.
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Re: New to this

Postby PMTF » Tue May 03, 2011 8:42 am

imkelly wrote:To be honest the whole idea of a god is pretty spotty with me and i believe that we make our own ways in life. That being said "it" all had to start somewhere. That somewhere would be the closest thing to god that i can think of.

Hi friend Kelly

Buddhism teaches each of us has a human heart & this heart of ours has all kinds of feelings & emotions created by our thinking & experiences.

If you feel something is "missing" in your life, Buddhism can certainly help you, that is, if it suits you.

I myself began my interest in Buddhism because I felt there was something definitely missing in my life.

Buddhism teaches all happiness & suffering, harmony & disharmony, peace & unease, are created by our own mind.

There are many different kinds of Buddhism but they all share one basic purpose, which is to provide methods & techniques to overcome unsatisfactoriness & to develop well-being.

May you find contentment & fulfilment in your life

:anjali:
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Re: New to this

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue May 03, 2011 9:40 am

Keshin wrote:Theistic Buddhists are often shouted down, called stupid, ignorant, misunderstanding the texts, etc - especially on forums, sadly. I've even been told to "go join Hinduism" by one or two Buddhists who just cannot accept the belief in God with Buddhism. Thankfully here they have been okay so far, even if I seem to be one of the only ones out there.


First off, it should go without saying that no Buddhist, or anyone else, has any business mistreating you for your chosen beliefs. I'm sorry to hear you've had that experience. What a pity that some are so attached to their concepts of Buddhism that they'd use it as some ego game and get nasty with others with differing views about it. That said, when there no teaching in any tradition of Buddhism that supports the belief in any type of absolute god, and there are in fact core Buddhist teachings that directly contradict that type of belief, I don't see the sense or purpose or benefit to you in clinging to identifying as Buddhist. I mean, it's fine if that's what you wanna do. Doesn't hurt anyone or Buddhism.

But normally labels bear some correlation with what they're applied to; otherwise they lose all meaning. People who believe and follow what the Buddha taught are Buddhists, just like people who believe and follow what Jesus taught are Christians. This isn't about being exclusive; it's just common sense. For instance, one could really like just about everything Jesus taught and really jibe with that path, but believe that instead of God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster was Jesus's father and the creator of everything. But in that case, despite that person's affinity for 99% of the Christian path, and his feeling that he believes in Christianity, he's actually on his own path. If the Flying Spaghetti Monster is his ultimate truth and not the Christian God, what resemblance do his beliefs bear to Christianity? What does he need Christianity for? He can still practice all the rest of Christianity that he likes and finds meaningful without constantly arguing with Christians that they should consider him Christian too. You feel me? Why not just tell people, you are just really convicted in your own unique theistic ideas, but you find Buddhist methods beneficial, so you practice them?

Keshin wrote:Kunjed Gyalpo (Sanskrit, Kulayarāja Tantra, English "All-Creating-King Tantra), a Tibetan text, has some interesting things to say about it. This Adi Buddha (Samantabhadra, there appear to be a bodhisattva Samantabhadra, and an Adi Buddha ("Primordial Buddha") called Samantabhadra. Confusing!) claims to be the root, seed, and core of all that exists:

"I am the core of all that exists. I am the seed of all that exists. I am the foundation of all that exists. I am the root of existence. I am 'the core', because I contain all phenomena. I am 'the seed', because I give birth to everything. I am 'the cause', because all comes forth from me. I am 'the trunk', because the ramificationsof every event sprout from me. I am 'the foundation', because all abides in me. I am called 'the root', because I am everything."

However, as we can see here, this Adi Buddha isn't exactly a creator, but the "emanator" of things. It looks to me as a supreme absolute. It has been argued by another member here that this is not any form of theistic Buddhism, but it's bodhicitta that "gives rise to everything when it is not recognized for what it actually is i.e. the nature of one's mind". That doesn't cut it for me, though personally. That's not what I see here at all.

You're looking at an English translation of a book that is an excerpt of one tantra out of many, many tantras and commentaries of the Great Perfection. Those many, many other teachings make it quite clear that there is no absolute that is established whatsoever. This is not a disputed or controversial fact. That entire experiential practice of Dzogchen destroys the notion of a truly existent self or any creator or absolute emanator. What Dzogchen teaches points out is emptiness-awareness. It is perfectly in accord with the view of Madhyamaka, which you'll see if you eventually get introduced to all the rest of the Dzogchen texts available.

Anyhow, it's your business if that doesn't cut it for you. Whatever your path, may you find happiness, freedom from suffering, and may you discover your nature as it is on its own terms, beyond what anyone has to say about it.
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Re: New to this

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 10:07 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:Why not just tell people, you are just really convicted in being a theist, but you find Buddhist methods beneficial?

Well, apart from "God" and "soul", I don't see what the problem is. The fact I've spoken to a few important people (like some monks and Shin priests) who have been pretty supportive of my views, too, well, that works fine for me.

I acknowledge the Four Noble Truths
I follow the Noble Eightfold Path
I acknowledge the Three Marks of Existence*
I follow the Five Precepts

*I just have a slightly different opinion on what the atman of Buddha's time entailed (atman at Buddha's time was "I am this"), and a difference of opinion to many Buddhists over the belief in a "paramatman". Even then, I don't try to take up a preoccupation with self or God or tell people "this is" or "this is not" as preoccupation with Self or no-Self is never going to help one be liberated from samsara. Just "this is my view", and "this is why I feel it". There are people out there who call themselves Buddhists who smoke dope, have orgies, and drink liquor (three whom I know personally), and yet I'm the one who is harassed (not by you, but IRL :smile: ) about what I personally believe?

When it comes to say, going into Hinduism, it just isn't for me doctrinally. It's too complex.


You're looking at an English translation of a book that is an excerpt of one tantra out of many, many tantras and commentaries of the Great Perfection. Those many, many other teachings make it quite clear that there is no absolute that is established whatsoever. This is not a disputed or controversial fact. That entire experiential practice of Dzogchen destroys the notion of a truly existent self or any creator or absolute emanator. What Dzogchen teaches points out is emptiness-awareness. It is perfectly in accord with the view of Madhyamaka, which you'll see if you eventually get introduced to all the rest of the Dzogchen texts available.

I kind of prefer the shentong to rangtong, personally.
The sutras I'm most interested in are the Tathagathagarbha Sutras. You know, Mahayana Mahaprinirvana Nirvana Sutra, Srimala Sutra, etc.

The Kunjed Gyalpo is just one I've had some reading of, and like it.

I'm not so much interested, at this time, in the First and Second Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma. I can't follow those forms, personally.


Anyhow, it's your business if that doesn't cut it for you. Whatever your path, may you find happiness, freedom from suffering, and may you discover your nature as it is on its own terms, beyond what anyone has to say about it.

:anjali: And to you too. :smile:
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Re: New to this

Postby Sherab » Tue May 03, 2011 10:49 am

Keshin wrote:I don't see what the problem is.

I don't see any point using terms that are inherently and heavily loaded with reification tendencies. Reification of what? Reification of existence and non-existence.
The Buddha put in so much effort to help sentient beings get rid of such tendencies. Why bring into Buddhism such concepts like "God" and "soul" which inevitability carry such heavy reification baggages? Seems to me to be completely counteracting what the Buddha has worked so hard against.
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Re: New to this

Postby Keshin » Tue May 03, 2011 11:15 am

Sherab wrote:The Buddha put in so much effort to help sentient beings get rid of such tendencies. Why bring into Buddhism such concepts like "God" and "soul" which inevitability carry such heavy reification baggages? Seems to me to be completely counteracting what the Buddha has worked so hard against.


Thing is, are they the same as what Buddha denied the existence of?
Personally, I don't think so. I don't personally think they are the same thing as what Buddha denied the existence of.

If mine were, then I would plain and simply not be a Buddhist. :smile:
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Re: New to this

Postby Mr. G » Tue May 03, 2011 11:36 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:That said, when there no teaching in any tradition of Buddhism that supports the belief in any type of absolute god, and there are in fact core Buddhist teachings that directly contradict that type of belief...
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: New to this

Postby Mr. G » Tue May 03, 2011 11:38 am

imkelly wrote:Hello all, im kelly. I found this site by searching for information on Buddhism and began to read through the posts on the first page. I came across a recent post about "god" in Buddhism and it made me think. Up to this point i have not been religious in any way, but i feel that something is missing. I would like to know if Buddhism is right for me. I don't think of "god" like most other westerners. I don't believe that if a god exists he would be involved in our lives, or that some master plan is playing out. To be honest the whole idea of a god is pretty spotty with me and i believe that we make our own ways in life. That being said "it" all had to start somewhere. That somewhere would be the closest thing to god that i can think of.

I know that might all sound muddy, but if someone could tell me if that correlates with the beliefs in Buddhism i would greatly appreciate it. I would love to be able to possibly talk to someone in the chat room on their time. I live in the Appalachian mountains and to be honest people around here would say that this is blasphemous if i tried to ask around. So any help would be appreciated.

I would also like to add that i am very scientifically minded. I do believe in evolution through natural selection. Thought that might help a little.

Thanks


I think these are solid introductory books:

What Makes You Not a Buddhist by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition by Paul Williams
Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations by Paul Williams
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: New to this

Postby kirtu » Tue May 03, 2011 1:47 pm

imkelly wrote:Ok i believe i understand. This does seem to be something that i think could really work for me. Just for reference i was supposed to put "not involved in our lives" though that is not important. I was wondering if you guys could possibly point me towards some info that could help me in starting out. Thanks for the quick responses by the way.


Hi Kelly -

The lifestory of Shakyamuni Buddha - "Old Path, White Clouds", Thich Nhat Hahn, or one of the many biographies derived from the sutras online - right now the only one I can find is A young People's Life of the Buddha but there are others including several sutras that cover portions of Shakyamuni Buddhas life.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: New to this

Postby imkelly » Tue May 03, 2011 3:34 pm

Hey guys i would like to thank you all for all the quick replies. I don't have a lot of time to go through them all this morning, but i will later. Just wanted to show my appreciation. To ram peswani, thanks very much for the offer and i will defiantly check out your post and send you a message.

Kelly
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Re: New to this

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 03, 2011 4:37 pm

ram, don't take this the wrong way ;) , but you are not the best choice to present Buddhadharma to a newcomer :lol: . I think this new friend of ours has the right to previously know your views are very "original", to say the least. Not exactly mainstream Buddhadharma.
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Re: New to this

Postby LastLegend » Wed May 04, 2011 1:01 am

I practice Pure Land and I want to recommend Pure Land to you. Only through practicing Pure Land, you will experience Pure Land. Practice will cut through doubts, questions, and unnecessary talks...Pure Land is practicing reciting NAMO AMITABHA out loud or in your head, whichever method you prefer is up to you. Cultivating Pure Land requires FAITH, VOW, and of course PRACTICE (recitation)...these are just the basics, but practicing Pure Land is just like practicing any other form of Buddhism. Things such as vows and precepts need be integrated also.

Here are websites for you to explore:
http://www.amtbweb.org/tenrecitationmethod.html
http://www.quangduc.com/English/pureland/index.html

NAMO AMITABHA
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: New to this

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed May 04, 2011 1:35 am

How about not proselytize, leave him some room and let him decide? Give him some space to choose for himself, Last Legend.
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