Sam Vara wrote:
tilt brilliantly wrote:The assumption of a god, self writ large, is a way of protecting oneself against the reality that constantly encroaches the assumed reality of our ignorance driven self.
but this looks like a statement of psychological fact. It may be true, and it may not be, for any sentient being capable of holding the beliefs in question. But why should I believe it to be true?
Why should you? Damdifino. Whether you do or do not is of no interest to me. I am simply looking at how this question is looked at within the Buddha's teachings.
Bhikkhus, what exists by clinging to what, by adhering to what does view of self arise? … When there is form, bhikkhus, by clinging to form, by adhering to form, view of self arises. When there is feeling…perception…voltional formations…consciousness, by clinging to consciousness, view of self arises. … Seeing thus… He understands: …there is no more for this state of being. – SN III 185-6
Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them. SN III 46
So, the question is what gives rise to a belief in a god, an omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos? Given that such a thing is defined pretty much in this mold by theistic religions, particularly the monotheistic versions: "That Worshipful Brahma, the Great God, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Organizer, the Protection, the Creator, the Most Perfect Ruler, the Designer and Orderer, the Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be, He by Whom we were created, He is permanent, Constant, Eternal, Unchanging, and He will remain so for ever and ever"
, what drives such a belief?
In the Brahmanically derived systems we find in one of the very few Upanishads that pre-date the Buddha, the Chandogya Upanishad, tat tvam asi You are That
. While variously interpreted by the various later Hindu schools, it certainly reflects a direct connexion between the atman, the "Inner Controller, and the ultimate divine, Brahman, That, also personified as Brahma.
Also from the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 1.4.10-11:
== 10. Verily, in the beginning this world was Brahman. It knew only itself
(atmanam): "I am Brahman!" Therefore it became the All. Whoever of
the gods became awakened to this, he indeed became it; likewise in the
case of seers (rsi), likewise in the case of men. Seeing this, indeed, the
seer Vamadeva began:-
I was Manu and the sun (surya)!
This is so now also. Whoever thus knows "I am Brahman!" becomes this
All; even the gods have not power to prevent his becoming thus, for he
becomes their self (atman).
So whoever worships another divinity [than his Self], thinking "He is
one and I another," he knows not. He is like a sacrificial animal for the
gods. Verily, indeed, as many animals would be of service to a man,
even so each single person is of service to the gods. If even one animal
is taken away, it is not pleasant. What, then, if many? Therefore it is
not pleasing to those [gods] that men should know this.
11. Verily, in the beginning this world was Brahman, one only. ==
The Buddha responds with one of most significant text in the whole of the suttas (SN IV 15):"Monks, I will teach you the all. And what is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds the nose and odors, the tongue and
tastes, the body and touch, the mind and mental phenomena. This is called the all. If anyone, monks, should speak thus: ' Having rejected
this all, I shall make known another all' --that would be a mere empty boast."
In the 83rd discourse of the Middle Length Sayings: "God [Brahma] truthfully answers [the questions of the Buddha] in succession: 'Good sir, those views I previously held are not mine; I see the radiance the world of God as passing; how could I say that I am permanent and eternal?'"
The Buddha states (Anguttara-Nikaya X 29): As far as the suns and moons extend their courses and the regions of the sky shine in splendour, there is a thousandfold world system. In each single one of these there are a thousand suns, moons, Meru Mountains, four times a thousand continents and oceans, a thousand heavens of all stages of the realm of sense pleasure, a thousand Brahma worlds. As far as a thousandfold world system reaches in other words, the universe], the Great God is the highest being. But even the Great God is subject to coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be.'
The interesting point here is that there is no thing
to be found that is not subject to coming-to-be and ceasing to-to-be.
Ratthaphala, in MN 82 ii 68, reports the Buddha as saying "The universe is without refuge, a Supreme God [Attaan.o loko anabhissaro]."
Where does the belief in a god come from, what drives it? Simply, I would say, working from the Buddha's teaching that what drives it is the precarious sense of self that we have. A divine protector, creator certainly is not needed according to the Buddha, and he certainly did not speak of such a belief in a favorable light.