Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

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Dugu
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Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Dugu » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:58 am

If you were a former Atheist, what is it about Buddhism that finally convince you to believe?

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby poto » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:31 am

I was an Atheist when I was younger and for much of my teenage years. Although, at the time it was probably more a rejection of Christianity. My parents attempted to raise me Christian, but at an early age I started to question things and didn't feel it was right for me.

To answer your question, my own personal experiences and realizations over the years fit with Buddhism to a degree that I could not ignore. I found the Buddhist teachings reflected many of the things I had come to know to be true. It just made sense.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby cooran » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:37 am

Hello Dugu,

The definition of an Atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of One Supreme Creator God.

Aren't all buddhists atheists?

metta
Chris
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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Guy » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:47 am

Hi Dugu,

For me Atheism (more accurately, Nihilism) came about as an aversion to monotheistic religions. No one tried to force their faith on me or anything, but there had been since I was quite young a feeling of ill-will, arrogance and even anger towards Christianity and it's followers. As I got older this strong negativity gradually faded from my mind and at some point I came across a series of video talks by the Dalai Lama on The Four Noble Truths and deep down I knew "This IS the Truth". I became hungry to hear more talks, read more, learn meditation and find out everything I could about Buddhism then it basically snowballed from there.

With Metta,

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:04 am

I was raised a strict atheist to the point that all religious discussion was forbidden in the house. When I became a teenager I rebelled and 'became' a Christian. I was even a salvation army soldier at one point. Then, one day, I stood back and analysed my beliefs and realised I didn't believe in ahlmahty gawd [sic]. I also reflected on whether it was possible to choose your beliefs and realised you can't (can you choose to believe the world is flat, for example). I still wanted to make sense of the world so I began reading about lots of world religions and Buddhism jumped right out at me.

I don't think I 'believe' in Buddhism, I have confidence it works. 'Believe' is a word I try to avoid. Do I believe there is suffering in life? Of course, because there is, how could anyone believe otherwise? Do I believe suffering is caused by attachment and desire and their opposites? Of course, because it is, how could anyone believe otherwise? Do I believe that cancelling the attachment will cancel the suffering? Of course, because it will, how can anyone believe otherwise? Do I believe following the eightfold path will end craving? Of course, because it will, how could anyone believe otherwise.

When people tell me 'I don't believe in Karma, why do you?' I ask them what Karma is. I tend to agree with them, their version of Karma isn't true. When I explain Kamma to them referencing the Pali Canon, they tend to agree (or stubbornly disagree because they believe if they agree they'll condemn their soul). They agree because it's true, how could it be otherwise?

I don't 'believe' in Buddhism. I have confidence in it. Because it's true. How could it be otherwise?

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Dugu » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:25 am

Chris wrote:Hello Dugu,

The definition of an Atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of One Supreme Creator God.

Aren't all buddhists atheists?

metta
Chris


Yes that is true in the basic sense. But the meaning has grown to include rejections of all form of supernatural beliefs, including religions all together for those who identify themselves as "Atheist".

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Dugu » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:31 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:I was raised a strict atheist to the point that all religious discussion was forbidden in the house. When I became a teenager I rebelled and 'became' a Christian. I was even a salvation army soldier at one point. Then, one day, I stood back and analysed my beliefs and realised I didn't believe in ahlmahty gawd [sic]. I also reflected on whether it was possible to choose your beliefs and realised you can't (can you choose to believe the world is flat, for example). I still wanted to make sense of the world so I began reading about lots of world religions and Buddhism jumped right out at me.

I don't think I 'believe' in Buddhism, I have confidence it works. 'Believe' is a word I try to avoid. Do I believe there is suffering in life? Of course, because there is, how could anyone believe otherwise? Do I believe suffering is caused by attachment and desire and their opposites? Of course, because it is, how could anyone believe otherwise? Do I believe that cancelling the attachment will cancel the suffering? Of course, because it will, how can anyone believe otherwise? Do I believe following the eightfold path will end craving? Of course, because it will, how could anyone believe otherwise.

When people tell me 'I don't believe in Karma, why do you?' I ask them what Karma is. I tend to agree with them, their version of Karma isn't true. When I explain Kamma to them referencing the Pali Canon, they tend to agree (or stubbornly disagree because they believe if they agree they'll condemn their soul). They agree because it's true, how could it be otherwise?

I don't 'believe' in Buddhism. I have confidence in it. Because it's true. How could it be otherwise?


Well put. :thumbsup: I purposely use that word 'believe' to see if anyone would get tackle it. You did :) What is your take on rebirth as you're a physicist?

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Individual » Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:23 am

Dugu wrote:If you were a former Atheist, what is it about Buddhism that finally convince you to believe?

For the past several years, before I was a Buddhist and afterwards, I've gone back and forth between being an Atheist and a believer in some kind of Theism or Animism. Now, I suppose I acknowledge both feelings: the deeply rooted wonder and mystery that intuitively makes me believe in spirits and magical ritual, and the rational, analytical part of me that knows these things are not objectively verifiable.

So, I don't believe in god(s) or magic, but from time to time, I'd like to pretend there are. And maybe there are. But there is no proof and a belief in such things without evidence is delusional.

You seem to suggest that Atheism and Buddhism are somehow opposed. They aren't.

As Chris pointed out, Buddhists already refute the notion of a monotheistic god. In addition to this, tee suttas describe devas. But it's entirely possible these are merely stories, as they are so wildly vivid, yet we haven't seen such devas, yakkhas, gandhabbas, asuras, nagas, pretas, garudas, etc., in our experience. It is possible, as some Hindus also believe, for such things to be personifications or metaphors for complex cosmic forces that we cannot yet understand. I find it absurd to blindly assume the existence of such things, though I am sympathetic to such beliefs as well.

Dugu wrote:
Mawkish1983 wrote:I was raised a strict atheist to the point that all religious discussion was forbidden in the house. When I became a teenager I rebelled and 'became' a Christian. I was even a salvation army soldier at one point. Then, one day, I stood back and analysed my beliefs and realised I didn't believe in ahlmahty gawd [sic]. I also reflected on whether it was possible to choose your beliefs and realised you can't (can you choose to believe the world is flat, for example). I still wanted to make sense of the world so I began reading about lots of world religions and Buddhism jumped right out at me.

I don't think I 'believe' in Buddhism, I have confidence it works. 'Believe' is a word I try to avoid. Do I believe there is suffering in life? Of course, because there is, how could anyone believe otherwise? Do I believe suffering is caused by attachment and desire and their opposites? Of course, because it is, how could anyone believe otherwise? Do I believe that cancelling the attachment will cancel the suffering? Of course, because it will, how can anyone believe otherwise? Do I believe following the eightfold path will end craving? Of course, because it will, how could anyone believe otherwise.

When people tell me 'I don't believe in Karma, why do you?' I ask them what Karma is. I tend to agree with them, their version of Karma isn't true. When I explain Kamma to them referencing the Pali Canon, they tend to agree (or stubbornly disagree because they believe if they agree they'll condemn their soul). They agree because it's true, how could it be otherwise?

I don't 'believe' in Buddhism. I have confidence in it. Because it's true. How could it be otherwise?


Well put. :thumbsup:

Yeah, well put.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Dugu » Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:36 am

Individual wrote:
You seem to suggest that Atheism and Buddhism are somehow opposed. They aren't.


That's not what I am suggesting actually. If one refers to themselves as Atheist, that is to say it's their main belief (no religion essentially), and if one refers themselves as Buddhist then their main belief includes the Dharma which has aspects of atheism in it. So my original question (put in another way) was what were the reasons one transition from Atheism into Buddhism? Hope that is more clear.

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Kare » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:13 am

Dugu wrote:If you were a former Atheist, what is it about Buddhism that finally convince you to believe?


It is perfectly possible to be both an Atheist and a Buddhist - just as it is perfectly possible to like both Beethoven and Miles Davis.
Mettāya,
Kåre

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:15 am

Dugu wrote:What is your take on rebirth as you're a physicist?
I 'believe' in cause and effect.
Causality is the cornerstone of the scientific method. I will die, my body will rot. My brain, when starved of oxygen, will cease to function so my mind will no-longer exist. Of course, neither my body or mind or anything else is actually 'me' or 'mine'. Where does the river end and the sea begin? I do 'believe' that the choices I make can have an effect long after my body has rotted and my mind has ceased. This 'me' will be dead.

I don't know what free will is. I understand it's required for volitional action, but the science I know doesn't allow room for volition. I do know from experience my choices, which I believe to be from free will, do yield results depending on their subjective moral intention. If I put it all together, my moral choices have an effect beyond the life of this body, but I don't understand what it is that allows for 'choice'. Punabbhava, as I understand it, is the idea that every birth has causes, and that the moral intention of those causes have an effect on the life of the being born. I don't think any 'thing' is reborn, but the new being takes the responsibility for the moral choices that brought about it's becoming, and continues to make its own moral choices until death. The mechanism by which this 'kammic stream' works is beyond me. I don't know.

Do I need to know? I have confidence my moral intention will have a direct impact on the future, whether for the life body or another being when my body has expired. I don't intend for there to be another being. I intend to attain unbinding. It's hard, but I believe you should always aim high. We have a responsibility, not just to our own kammic stream but to everyone and everything. I'm not 'agnostic' about rebirth, I accept it because I can see the rationale and I can appreciate how important it is for practice. I see arguements about whether it's a 'literal rebirth' or a 'metaphorical rebirth' and I shrug. Is there a difference? Does it matter? The subject of rebirth and anatta has been covered in depth by plenty of people and my background isn't really appropriate for me to comment.

So, yeah, I accept rebirth because I accept causality, which is the cornerstone of the scientific method. I believe in free will, which I can't explain in scientific terms. I guess I'm irrational :)

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:58 pm

Dugu wrote:If you were a former Atheist, what is it about Buddhism that finally convince you to believe?



I'm not sure what specificaly convinced me. Maybe it was because it made a lot of sense. All I know is that whenever I'm in doubt of my faith, I remember the profound happiness in the eyes of experienced practitioners.It reminds me that real, profound happiness is in the spiritual way and in no other place.

Metta
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby BlackBird » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:54 pm

Individual wrote:yet we haven't seen such devas, yakkhas, gandhabbas, asuras, nagas, pretas, garudas, etc., in our experience.


There are many good explanations for this, if you want to go digging around.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby notself » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:12 pm

I am an atheist and a Buddhist. I don't see any conflict. Where there is a conflict is in the minds of those who are Buddhists and believe in some sort of supreme being or enternal life.

I am convinced that kamma is part of existence and that rebirth of (continuation of) the processes of kamma (informational aspects of volitional action) is part of the natural processes of the universe. I don't see a conflict between atheism and rebirth. After all no soul or spirit is reborn.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby adamposey » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:10 pm

Dugu wrote:If you were a former Atheist, what is it about Buddhism that finally convince you to believe?


I had a situation as a child where I was just diametrically opposed to all organized religion. It wasn't that I didn't have the capacity to believe, in fact I once told a preacher who attempted to convert me to his brand of Christianity that I could be a Christian but I couldn't handle being in the same group as the rest of them. My opposition to religion has always been its institutions, not its beliefs. That being said I considered myself to be an agnostic, more than an atheist, and I operated along the lines that attempting to find god was like an ant trying to understand quantum physics. A useless exercise at best.

That being said I found Buddhism by accident when researching for a paper in my Yoga class. The four noble truths immediately stuck out at me, and I knew the first three were true logically. The fourth one is where I had to make a real inspection and see for myself, and after enough reading I came to the conclusion that the fourth truth must also be true. It was only at this part I started looking for a place to go study, etc., and it's been a process. But I can see it working in my life every time I meditate and see things a little bit more for how they are. I'm by no means a perfect person, and I am still working to break some very bad habits and curb some temptations (like alcohol) in order to help foster my practice. It's a process.

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:45 pm

Kare wrote:It is perfectly possible to be both an Atheist and a Buddhist - just as it is perfectly possible to like both Beethoven and Miles Davis.

Is it perfectly possible to be both a theist and a Buddhist? (I can predict the answer to this question!)

Mawkish1983 wrote:When people tell me 'I don't believe in Karma, why do you?' I ask them what Karma is. I tend to agree with them, their version of Karma isn't true.

When people tell me they don't believe in God, I tend to agree with them, their version of God isn't true.

(btw, I am not arguing in favor of theism.)
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Kare » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:56 pm

Jechbi wrote:
Kare wrote:It is perfectly possible to be both an Atheist and a Buddhist - just as it is perfectly possible to like both Beethoven and Miles Davis.

Is it perfectly possible to be both a theist and a Buddhist? (I can predict the answer to this question!)


I have friends who sincerely say it is possible. I have to admit, however, that personally I do not see how it can be. Maybe my own position as atheist and buddhist sets some limitations to my ability to understand this. But this sets no limits for friendship and cooperation between theist-buddhists and atheist-buddhists. Buddhism itself is neiter theistic nor atheistic. It is better described as non-theistic (ref. Helmuth von Glasenapp).

So - was your prediction correct?
Mettāya,
Kåre

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby pink_trike » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:57 pm

I grew up in a family where religion was completely absent....it wasn't acknowledged beyond noting that some people are religious. If my parents were asked "what do you think about religion" they would say "I don't think about religion". If asked "what is your opinion of religion" they would say "I don't have an opinion of religion". If asked about "heaven and hell" their reply would be "if it's true I'll deal with it then". But if asked what they thought about religious people demanding that everyone believe as they do, they would reply something along the lines that those people are insecure and immature.

Ive always been an agnostic - meaning I have no interest in any claims of supernatural "ultimate" knowledge. I find it ironic that people build a "buddhist" identity and then attach to it like a vice. I have an interest in the various theories about the electrical energies found in the natural world also but don't call myself an Electricist. Although when I was young I would identify as a "Buddhist" to others, it was a convenience of conversation - I no longer identify as "Buddhist" because I have no need for it and don't see the value of such an identity, especially when the mind is so hungry for identity. Imo, a "Buddhist" identity clouds the mind in the same way that any other constructed identity does.

Imo, belief in supernatural "ultimate knowledge" is incompatible with the Dharma as it (in theory) doesn't deal with such "unknowables", though many self-identified Buddhists have fetishized various supernatural hypothesis that purport to be answers to unknowables, and over time some of these fetishized hypothesis appear to have become incorporated into what is known as Buddhism. I'm interested in The Dharma, not "Buddhism".
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Jechbi » Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:55 pm

Kare wrote:So - was your prediction correct?

Nope, you blew me out of the water. Excellent answer, in my opinion. :anjali:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Anyone was an Atheist then cross over to Buddhism?

Postby Kare » Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:18 pm

pink_trike wrote:Ive always been an agnostic -


You know the definition of agnostic?

A theist is a person who believes, but does not think.
An atheist is a person who thinks, but does not believe.
An agnostic is a person who neither believes nor thinks.

(... ducks and runs ...) :mrgreen:
Mettāya,
Kåre


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