Do Buddhist believe in god?

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Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:21 pm

I was just searching for something and noticed an interesting link (which I shall share elsewhere) but it linked to this.
[url=http://www.buddhanet.net/ans73.htm]Good Questions Good Answers with Ven. S Dhammika[/quote] wrote:Do Buddhist believe in god?

No, we do not. There are several reasons for this. The Buddha, like modern sociologists and psychologists, believed that religious ideas and especially the god idea have their origin in fear. The Buddha says:

"Gripped by fear men go to the sacred mountains,
sacred groves, sacred trees and shrines".

Dp 188

Primitive man found himself in a dangerous and hostile world, the fear of wild animals, of not being able to find enough food, of injury or disease, and of natural phenomena like thunder, lightning and volcanoes was constantly with him. Finding no security, he created the idea of gods in order to give him comfort in good times, courage in times of danger and consolation when things went wrong. To this day, you will notice that people become more religious at times of crises, you will hear them say that the belief in a god or gods gives them the strength they need to deal with life. You will hear them explain that they believe in a particular god because they prayed in time of need and their prayer was answered. All this seems to support the Buddha’s teaching that the god-idea is a response to fear and frustration. The Buddha taught us to try to understand our fears, to lessen our desires and to calmly and courageously accept the things we cannot change. He replaced fear, not with irrational belief but with rational understanding.

The second reason the Buddha did not believe in a god is because there does not seem to be any evidence to support this idea. There are numerous religions, all claiming that they alone have god’s words preserved in their holy book, that they alone understand god’s nature, that their god exists and that the gods of other religions do not. Some claim that god is masculine, some that she is feminine and others that it is neuter. They are all satisfied that there is ample evidence to prove the existence of their god but they laugh in disbelief at the evidence other religions use to prove the existence of another god. It is not surprising that with so many different religions spending so many centuries trying to prove the existence of their gods that still no real, concrete, substantial or irrefutable evidence has been found. Buddhists suspend judgement until such evidence is forthcoming.

The third reason the Buddha did not believe in a god is that the belief is not necessary. Some claim that the belief in a god is necessary in order to explain the origin on the universe. But this is not so. Science has very convincingly explained how the universe came into being without having to introduce the god-idea. Some claim that belief in god is necessary to have a happy, meaningful life. Again we can see that this is not so. There are millions of atheists and free-thinkers, not to mention many Buddhists, who live useful, happy and meaningful lives without belief in a god. Some claim that belief in god’s power is necessary because humans, being weak, do not have the strength to help themselves. Once again, the evidence indicates the opposite. One often hears of people who have overcome great disabilities and handicaps, enormous odds and difficulties, through their own inner resources, through their own efforts and without belief in a god. Some claim that god is necessary in order to give man salvation. But this argument only holds good if you accept the theological concept of salvation and Buddhists do not accept such a concept. Based on his own experience, the Buddha saw that each human being had the capacity to purify the mind, develop infinite love and compassion and perfect understanding. He shifted attention from the heavens to the heart and encouraged us to find solutions to our problems through self-understanding.

What do you think of the representation here?

personally I believe this misrepresents Theravada as there are gods found in the texts, how Buddhism Vissions Gods may not be in the same light, but that doesn't mean that they aren't included.
I will do a more detailed responce at a later point but just thought I would throw it out there for everyone to mull over.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:28 pm

Cittasanto wrote:personally I believe this misrepresents Theravada as there are gods found in the texts, how Buddhism Vissions Gods may not be in the same light, but that doesn't mean that they aren't included.
I will do a more detailed responce at a later point but just thought I would throw it out there for everyone to mull over.
Not much to mull over. The gods found in the suttas are kamma bound beings, which is considerably different from a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos, which the Buddha rejected.
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.

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:32 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:personally I believe this misrepresents Theravada as there are gods found in the texts, how Buddhism Vissions Gods may not be in the same light, but that doesn't mean that they aren't included.
I will do a more detailed responce at a later point but just thought I would throw it out there for everyone to mull over.
Not much to mull over. The gods found in the suttas are kamma bound beings, which is considerably different from a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos, which the Buddha rejected.

Yes but Brahma does believe he is the creator....
but what about how it represents Buddhist "beliefs" as shown in the texts?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:40 pm

Cittasanto wrote:Yes but Brahma does believe he is the creator....
but what about how it represents Buddhist "beliefs" as shown in the texts?


Other gods believed he was the creator and Brahma admits this and bluntly states he is not.

The texts clearly show that there is no creator and belief in such is called one of the wrong views.
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:48 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:personally I believe this misrepresents Theravada as there are gods found in the texts, how Buddhism Vissions Gods may not be in the same light, but that doesn't mean that they aren't included.
I will do a more detailed responce at a later point but just thought I would throw it out there for everyone to mull over.
Not much to mull over. The gods found in the suttas are kamma bound beings, which is considerably different from a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos, which the Buddha rejected.

Yes but Brahma does believe he is the creator....
but what about how it represents Buddhist "beliefs" as shown in the texts?
Yes; however, Brahma finally admits, in light of the Buddha's teachings, to the Buddha that he, Brahma, got it wrong.
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.

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Yana » Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:57 am

Hi everyone,

I think there are gods..like it's not that they DON"T exist...they do...just not the way people think they do...for example a god who forgives your sins OR a one and True God the Creator..

gods Do exist but we don't owe our salvation to them..we help ourselves.. :)
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:Yes; however, Brahma finally admits, in light of the Buddha's teachings, to the Buddha that he, Brahma, got it wrong.

Hi Tilt, David, Yana.
Yes, however characterizing Buddhism as Atheistic can be misleading.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:01 am

Cittasanto wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Yes; however, Brahma finally admits, in light of the Buddha's teachings, to the Buddha that he, Brahma, got it wrong.

Hi Tilt, David, Yana.
Yes, however characterizing Buddhism as Atheistic can be misleading.

Hi, Cittasanto,
Buddhism is atheistic to about the same extent that night skies are dark.
The Abrahamic religions are theistic to about the same extent that daytime skies are light.
I think we in the West are best off calling Buddhism atheistic, because it *is* atheistic in comparison to the dominant understanding of religion and theism in the societies we live in.

:namaste:
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:08 am

Cittasanto wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Yes; however, Brahma finally admits, in light of the Buddha's teachings, to the Buddha that he, Brahma, got it wrong.

Hi Tilt, David, Yana.
Yes, however characterizing Buddhism as Atheistic can be misleading.
We have recently had this discussion at great length already. It depends upon how one defines atheism. The Buddha certainly did not affirm theism, and if anything, he rejected the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:17 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hi, Cittasanto,
Buddhism is atheistic to about the same extent that night skies are dark.
The Abrahamic religions are theistic to about the same extent that daytime skies are light.
I think we in the West are best off calling Buddhism atheistic, because it *is* atheistic in comparison to the dominant understanding of religion and theism in the societies we live in.

:namaste:
Kim

hi Kim,
Richard Dawkins said something along the lines of "everyone is atheistic, it just depends on which Gods you reject"
Theism in its broadest sense is the belief that at least one god exists, so just because we happen to come from a predominantly Abrahamic religious area does not mean theism, as a term, does not cover more, i.e., deistic gods, & gods who are not creator gods as in the Abrahamic monotheistic or a pantheistic model.

so how Buddhism visions god/s (G or g) is one thing, and atheistic notions are another, Buddhism certainly accepts gods

Anyway off to work.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Ben » Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:20 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Yes; however, Brahma finally admits, in light of the Buddha's teachings, to the Buddha that he, Brahma, got it wrong.

Hi Tilt, David, Yana.
Yes, however characterizing Buddhism as Atheistic can be misleading.
We have recently had this discussion at great length already. It depends upon how one defines atheism. The Buddha certainly did not affirm theism, and if anything, he rejected the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos.

Yes, and if I am not mistaken he did that quite a number of times.
There is no doubt that the Buddha and his disciples did speak about different celestial beings which are recorded in the suttas. I think one needs to look at the role of gods in Buddhism and the role of god in Christianity/Judaism/Islam. While the vast majority of Buddhists in SE Asia do believe in celestial beings, they are not considered to be anything other than fellow beings in samsara, devoid of any salvific power over any other being.
Furthermore, Buddhists are not required to believe in a god, the belief in which, is the key to one's entry into a post-mortem rebirth in the company of that god.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:22 am

Cittasanto wrote:
Buddhism certainly accepts gods
Yes. That is something that has been covered here and with a far bit more nuance than you are showing. The gods that Buddhism "accepts" are kamma bound, mortal beings. Hardly putting the Dhamma into a theistic camp and certainly not excluding from being very broadly considered atheistic.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:04 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
Buddhism certainly accepts gods
Yes. That is something that has been covered here and with a far bit more nuance than you are showing.

I fail to see the point of such a statement tilt?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:42 pm

Ben wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:We have recently had this discussion at great length already. It depends upon how one defines atheism. The Buddha certainly did not affirm theism, and if anything, he rejected the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos.

Yes, and if I am not mistaken he did that quite a number of times.

Certainly but there are many kinds of gods other than an omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos, Thor for example was not considered any of these, Yet still a god.
Theism referes to more than just monotheistic ideas, and also covers beings who are not considered as the Abrahamic god.

There is no doubt that the Buddha and his disciples did speak about different celestial beings which are recorded in the suttas. I think one needs to look at the role of gods in Buddhism and the role of god in Christianity/Judaism/Islam.

Why?
wouldn't it be more appropriate to compare Buddhism with Theism in a general sense rathar than narrowing the spectrum to a known refutation of one kind of belief in a god?
An atheist today does not believe in any theistic notions of a god/s, whether pantheistic or monotheistic, it is oversimplifying the spectrum to narrow the field of view to monotheism of the Abrahamic faiths when there are more both pantheistic & monotheistic (Zoroastrianism).

While the vast majority of Buddhists in SE Asia do believe in celestial beings, they are not considered to be anything other than fellow beings in samsara, devoid of any salvific power over any other being.

I would like to know what salvific power hades had, or Manannán mac Lir?

Furthermore, Buddhists are not required to believe in a god, the belief in which, is the key to one's entry into a post-mortem rebirth in the company of that god.

I am not 100% sure what you mean here?
in case I do understand what you are saying,
It is my understanding that a being would rise up to a divine plane, or sink down to a state of deprivation if they had acted in a way which would lead to that destination regardless of belief. same with a pot of ghee, if the pot is broken the ghee would float to the top and the clay pot would sink
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:24 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Ben wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:We have recently had this discussion at great length already. It depends upon how one defines atheism. The Buddha certainly did not affirm theism, and if anything, he rejected the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos.

Yes, and if I am not mistaken he did that quite a number of times.

Certainly but there are many kinds of gods other than an omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos, Thor for example was not considered any of these, Yet still a god.
Theism referes to more than just monotheistic ideas, and also covers beings who are not considered as the Abrahamic god.
The Buddha is the teacher of god and humans. From a Buddhist perspective Thor would be no different from any of the other devas. The significant point is, which you seem to be missing, is that for whatever gods there are claimed to be and whatever might be claimed of them, from the Buddha's perspective these gods are at best kamma bound, mortal beings and there is no singular unchanging causal agent of the universe. While the Buddha redefines the gods as kamma bound, mortal beings, the epithet of theism does not meaningfully apply to the Buddha's teachings given that the gods have no unique, necessary role to play in the one's awakening -- thus, Buddhist atheism.
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.

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:02 pm

tiltbillings wrote:The Buddha is the teacher of god and humans. From a Buddhist perspective Thor would be no different from any of the other devas. The significant point is, which you seem to be missing, is that for whatever gods there are claimed to be and whatever might be claimed of them, from the Buddha's perspective these gods are at best kamma bound, mortal beings and there is no singular unchanging causal agent of the universe. While the Buddha redefines the gods as kamma bound, mortal beings, the epithet of theism does not meaningfully apply to the Buddha's teachings given that the gods have no unique, necessary role to play in the one's awakening -- thus, Buddhist atheism.


Deities are in Buddhism, there is an acceptance of their existence, how they are visioned is not relevant to whether Buddhism is or isn't theistic.
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1][2] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.[3][4][5]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism

and quit with the snide comments.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:12 am

Cittasanto wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The Buddha is the teacher of god and humans. From a Buddhist perspective Thor would be no different from any of the other devas. The significant point is, which you seem to be missing, is that for whatever gods there are claimed to be and whatever might be claimed of them, from the Buddha's perspective these gods are at best kamma bound, mortal beings and there is no singular unchanging causal agent of the universe. While the Buddha redefines the gods as kamma bound, mortal beings, the epithet of theism does not meaningfully apply to the Buddha's teachings given that the gods have no unique, necessary role to play in the one's awakening -- thus, Buddhist atheism.


Deities are in Buddhism, there is an acceptance of their existence, how they are visioned is not relevant to whether Buddhism is or isn't theistic.
Deities are, indeed, in Buddhism, and how they are envisioned by the Buddha is exactly to the point of how we understand the Buddha's teachings vis a vis deities.

Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1][2] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.[3][4][5]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism
Well, the deities of Buddhism, at their core, look a lot like any sentient being, and they can be quite deluded. So, from a Buddhist stand point the deities are hardly "deific" at all when compared to how deities are understood by other systems that deify their deities.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby Kamran » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:43 am

Many Buddhists do not believe in God. Some do.

Buddhism is atheist friendly :)

My understanding is that Buddhism is not a belief system, you don't have to believe in gods (or anything else).

Just to accept as a working hypothesis that you can develop the skills to end suffering, which is not hard to do once you see the benefits of meditation.

This is Unlike theistic religions where you will be sent to hell if you don't believe in god and his prophet(s).
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby sunyavadin » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:40 am

Cittasanto wrote: personally I believe this misrepresents Theravada as there are gods found in the texts, how Buddhism Vissions Gods may not be in the same light, but that doesn't mean that they aren't included.


I have noticed the Gods in the Pali Nikayas are very much like the pantheon of ancient Indian gods. The notion of 'Brahman', as distinct from 'The God Brahma', is not mentioned. There is also a mystical element in the early texts, for example the saying

There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.

(Ud 8.3)

I do know that a lot of Buddhists with Christian sympathies (and vice versa) refer to that, saying that this is a reference to mystical ideas of 'God' (note the quotes).

I do agree that the attitude of Buddhism is very different to (and preferable to) that of Christian monotheism. Personally, I am not atheist, but I don't relate to 'God' (what or whomever that might be) through the Bible or through the Christian church. But I am not hostile to them, either.
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:52 am

sunyavadin wrote:There is also a mystical element in the early texts, for example the saying


There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.

(Ud 8.3)

I do know that a lot of Buddhists with Christian sympathies (and vice versa) refer to that, saying that this is a reference to mystical ideas of 'God' (note the quotes).
The problem with taking that passage as referring to some sort of mystical thingie is to take it out of its context.

A couple of past postings that deal with this passage:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10378&p=159172&hilit=unborn#p159172

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=10965&p=166961&hilit=unborn#p166961
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.

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