What did the Buddha have to say about God?

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Satori
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What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby Satori » Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:05 am

Was he Atheist on this issue? Or Agnostic? Or did he not talk about it?

People say there is no God in Buddhism , and yet I heard stories of people being religiously Jewish and Buddhist , and stories of people being Christian and Buddhist. I have also read that in Japan, Gods or Kamis were interpreted as being manifestations of the Buddha, which sort of implies the Buddha is like a God - to those who accepted such a belief.

I am not saying this is wrong, but I would have thought there would be confusion, through mixing worldviews.

So what did the Buddha have to say about God?

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:12 am

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby Satori » Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:14 am



Thanks a lot, sorry I could not find this. :toast:

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby Digger » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:12 am

1) Some people who say they are some other religion plus Buddhist may be having a real hard time letting go of things that were deeply ingrained into them since their early childhood.

2) One thing the Buddha taught was to not bother speculating about things, especially things that don't further your way on the path.
He is different. He thinks.

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby Jason » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:12 pm

Satori wrote:Was he Atheist on this issue? Or Agnostic? Or did he not talk about it?

People say there is no God in Buddhism , and yet I heard stories of people being religiously Jewish and Buddhist , and stories of people being Christian and Buddhist. I have also read that in Japan, Gods or Kamis were interpreted as being manifestations of the Buddha, which sort of implies the Buddha is like a God - to those who accepted such a belief.

I am not saying this is wrong, but I would have thought there would be confusion, through mixing worldviews.

So what did the Buddha have to say about God?


Just to add my two cents, I happen to be of the opinion that Buddhism ultimately rejects the idea of a creator God. For one thing, the logic of dependent co-arising negates God because it precludes a first cause or a causeless cause. And then there’s this famous problem of evil passage from the Bhuridatta Jataka:

    We see those rules enforced before our eyes,
    None but the Brahmans offer sacrifice,
    None but the Khattiya exercises sway,
    The Vessas plough, the Suddas must obey.
    These greedy liars propagate deceit,
    And fools believe the fictions they repeat;
    He who has eyes can see the sickening sight;
    Why does not Brahma set his creatures right?
    If his wide power no limits can restrain,
    Why is his hand so rarely spread to bless?
    Why are his creatures all condemned to pain?
    Why does he not to all give happiness?

    Why do fraud, lies, and ignorance prevail?
    Why triumphs falsehood, truth and justice fail?
    I count your Brahma one of the unjust among,
    Who made a world in which to shelter wrong.
    Those men are counted pure who only kill
    Frogs, worms, bees, snakes or insects as they will,
    These are your savage customs which I hate,
    Such as Kamboja hordes might emulate.
    If he who kills is counted innocent
    And if the victim safe to heaven is sent,
    Let Brahmans Brahmans kill so all were well
    And those who listen to the words they tell.

So, essentially, Buddhism is non-theistic in view. Nevertheless, even in the Pali Canon, there are references to devas or what we might call 'heavenly beings.' However, devas (literally 'radiant ones'), which are often seen as gods when taken literally, are simply non-human beings who are more powerful and long-lived than ordinary humans, but by no means eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc.; but more importantly, they can also be viewed metaphorically as the indulgent and hedonistic aspects of our psychology (i.e., the parts that are addicted to sensual pleasures).

In addition, according to AN 3.61, the belief in a supreme being can be unskillful and interfere with Dhamma practice if it leads to a denial of the efficacy of karma (literally 'action') and a life of inaction:

    "Having approached the priests & contemplatives who hold that... 'Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... "Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation?"' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of a supreme being's act of creation. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views because of a supreme being's act of creation.' When one falls back on creation by a supreme being as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. This was my second righteous refutation of those priests & contemplatives who hold to such teachings, such views.

Moreover, in relation to the four noble truths and the practice of the noble eightfold path, the matter of the existence of God is irrelevant and, ultimately, a distraction to be avoided. That doesn't mean that people can't believe in God and still practice the Dhamma, especially the noble eightfold path, but it does mean that, at the very least, such a view can negatively impact the practice when held inappropriately.

Personally, I think Buddhism has always been what we might call a type of 'transcendent psychology,' and it's only been relatively recently (at least in the West) that its more technical terms have been understood and translated in ways that make this clear. I think this shift is due in no small part to the decades of excellent scholarship that has been brought to bear on the texts and the religious-historical context in which they took shape.

Regardless of how it's been popularized, at its core, Buddhism deals exclusively with one subject, that of human mental suffering. The Buddha himself made it clear that:

    "Both formerly and now, monks, I declare only stress and the cessation of stress.

That's not to say there aren't 'supernatural' concepts in Buddhism, or that local customs, deities and religious practices haven't found their way into Buddhism wherever it's been established. But rather than a pure system of thought or a strictly faith-based worship of the supernatural, a critical analysis of the earliest texts reveals a much more pragmatic and specialized method of mental training than most traditional Buddhists and Western converts realize—one that seeks to diminish and even eliminate suffering by radically changing the way the mind relates to experience.

So being an atheist, or even a theist for that matter, doesn't preclude one from practicing Buddhism as long as one has an open mind and is willing to seriously give some of these teachings a chance.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:10 am

Although we often point to various topics and then ask "but does it lead to liberation?", as if to say that there is no point talking about such things, it pays to keep in mind that for a large number of people, their own fixed views about these topics acts as an obstruction to the path to liberation, and as such, the Buddha talked to them about it, and so should we. For example, for those who believe that everything in this world happens due to God, then it is certainly worth discussing what the Buddha said about these things so that they can divest themselves of these wrong views, establish right view, and practice accordingly. Although we ourselves may not have this wrong view, it does not mean that others are also free of it.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Kim OHara
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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:12 am

Jason wrote:Just to add my two cents ...

Don't sell yourself short, Jason - that was an *excellent* post, worth far more than two cents.
:namaste:
Kim

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby Digger » Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:46 am

Isn't the Bhuridatta Jataka from the 13th century (not part of the Pali canon)? Is it still considered "authentic" for lack of a better word?
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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby 5heaps » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:27 pm

Satori wrote:So what did the Buddha have to say about God?
Buddha taught momentariness. this means no functioning object can endure for a second moment of its own accord. furthermore the first moment arises due causes and conditions.

therefore there is no such thing as an unchanging (ie. enduring), selfsupporting, functioning God.

however as some have pointed out, the cessation of our parts and of ourselves at the time of our final nirvana proves that a non-omnipotent omniscient creator exists. a creator in the sense that they can emanate limitlessly, but non-omnipotent in the sense that they cant take away our suffering and our causes for it
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:42 pm

5heaps wrote:
Satori wrote:So what did the Buddha have to say about God?
Buddha taught momentariness. this means no functioning object can endure for a second moment of its own accord. furthermore the first moment arises due causes and conditions.
Depends upon what is meant by momentariness. If one is talking about Abhidhamma/Abhidharma momentariness, no, the Buddha certainly did not teach that.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby 5heaps » Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:04 am

tiltbillings wrote:If one is talking about Abhidhamma/Abhidharma momentariness, no, the Buddha certainly did not teach that.
.. i guess since he didnt teach momentariness, he must have taught that things endure of their own accord....
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:27 am

5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:If one is talking about Abhidhamma/Abhidharma momentariness, no, the Buddha certainly did not teach that.
.. i guess since he didnt teach momentariness, he must have taught that things endure of their own accord....
Show us, using the Pali suttas, since this is a Theravadin forum, that the Buddha taught Abhidhamma/Abhidharma momentariness.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby 5heaps » Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:58 am

tiltbillings wrote:
5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:If one is talking about Abhidhamma/Abhidharma momentariness, no, the Buddha certainly did not teach that.
.. i guess since he didnt teach momentariness, he must have taught that things endure of their own accord....
Show us, using the Pali suttas, since this is a Theravadin forum, that the Buddha taught Abhidhamma/Abhidharma momentariness.
really? "All conditioned things are impermanent" (ie. anicca, inconstant)
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:14 am

5heaps wrote:[quote="tiltbillings]Show us, using the Pali suttas, since this is a Theravadin forum, that the Buddha taught Abhidhamma/Abhidharma momentariness.[/quote]really? "All conditioned things are impermanent" (ie. anicca, inconstant)[/quote]
Are you equating anicca with Abhidhamm/Abhdharma momentariness?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby 5heaps » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:19 am

tiltbillings wrote:
5heaps wrote:[quote="tiltbillings]Show us, using the Pali suttas, since this is a Theravadin forum, that the Buddha taught Abhidhamma/Abhidharma momentariness.[/quote]really? "All conditioned things are impermanent" (ie. anicca, inconstant)[/quote][/quote]Are you equating anicca with Abhidhamm/Abhdharma momentariness?[/quote][/quote][/quote][/quote][/quote][/quote][/quote]
its the same word. the Buddha said all conditioned things are impermanent/anicca/momentary

as the incomparable wikipedia says "The contemplation of impermanence (anicca-nupassana) refers to seeing conditioned phenomena arising and passing away while observing their individual characteristics."
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:13 am

5heaps wrote:quote]its the same word. the Buddha said all conditioned things are impermanent/anicca/momentary
Not really, not in the terms of the Abhidhamma/Abhidharma: "The doctrine of momentariness [khan.a/ks.an.a] is also a late addition to Theravada thought. " [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhidhamma_Pitaka ]

The study begins by examining early canonical and post-canonical Abhidharma literature, and von Rospatt demonstrates that although phenomena are frequently described as impermanent (anitya), they are not said to be momentary. He then discusses the doctrines of Hiinayaana traditions that accepted the doctrine of momentariness, arguing that the Vaatsputriiyas and Sa.mmatiiyas only accepted the momentariness of mental events and that in their earliest literature Theravaadins did not assert the doctrine of momentariness. The Sarvaastivaadins and related traditions, however, did assert that all conditioned entities are momentary. http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethi ... wer981.pdf


Momerntariness is not quite an accurate or appropriate word to necessarily use as a synonym of anicca. 5heaps statement would better stated this way: Buddha taught imperamanence. this means no functioning object can endure of its own accord.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Nov 06, 2010 3:54 am

"anicca" and "khana" are two different words, though the latter is inexplicably tied up with the former.
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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:50 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:"anicca" and "khana" are two different words, though the latter is inexplicably tied up with the former.
Yes, but they are not interchangeable words.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby cooran » Sat Nov 06, 2010 6:06 am

tiltbillings wrote:
5heaps wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Show us, using the Pali suttas, since this is a Theravadin forum, that the Buddha taught Abhidhamma/Abhidharma momentariness.
really? "All conditioned things are impermanent" (ie. anicca, inconstant)

Are you equating anicca with Abhidhamm/Abhdharma momentariness?


Hello Tilt,

Part of a discussion at DSG on Understanding Momentariness. It may be a little different to what you suppose:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... age/106148
read following posts at the foot of this post.

With metta
Chris
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Re: What did the Buddha have to say about God?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 06, 2010 6:38 am

cooran wrote:Hello Tilt,

Part of a discussion at DSG on Understanding Momentariness. It may be a little different to what you suppose:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... age/106148
read following posts at the foot of this post.

With metta
Chris
Thanks. This link rather nicely exemplifies when Abhidhamma goes wrong. The issue I am responding to, which is simply an historical one, is claim that the Buddha taught momentariness, but the idea of khan.a, momentariness, is not found in the suttas, and really is not found in the Theravada until it was introduced by Buddhaghosa nearly a thousand years after the Buddha's death.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson


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