Who is GOD in Buddhism?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby dragonwarrior » Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:12 pm

Hi guys, I've just graduated from a Christian high school. In my school, there are 15% of Buddhist students. All of the students must learn the religion lesson for 3 years, which in the end, we had to do the final test. In that test, the teacher asked me: Do you fear of God?
That was a tricky question for me, because I don't believe in God. It's sad to say, but the teacher also mocked Buddhism, when I said Buddhism doesn't teach to fear of God. Am I wrong? So based on my answer, I might got a bad score. :cry: Sometimes I could hardly explain what is 'God' in Buddhism to my friends. And actually, I don't even know whether we have a God. What is the concept of God in Theravadin? So, please explain to me. :thanks:
User avatar
dragonwarrior
 
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: somewhere

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:29 pm

Winny wrote:Hi guys, I've just graduated from a Christian high school. In my school, there are 15% of Buddhist students. All of the students must learn the religion lesson for 3 years, which in the end, we had to do the final test. In that test, the teacher asked me: Do you fear of God?
That was a tricky question for me, because I don't believe in God. It's sad to say, but the teacher also mocked Buddhism, when I said Buddhism doesn't teach to fear of God. Am I wrong? So based on my answer, I might got a bad score. :cry: Sometimes I could hardly explain what is 'God' in Buddhism to my friends. And actually, I don't even know whether we have a God. What is the concept of God in Theravadin? So, please explain to me. :thanks:

BUddhism teaches that in addition to the human realm and the animal realm there are also other realms. For example there are heaven realms and hell realms. The beings that live in the heaven realms are called devas and we might translate that as "angels" or "gods". These are beings that enjoy great pleasure, kind of like some Christians believe about their heaven. Also, some of these heaven beings are very powerful, kind of like Christian angels or like Greek gods. Buddhism differs from other religions in teaching that while heavenly beings may live for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years, they are still mortal and will eventually die and be reborn.

There is a scripture in which the Buddha speaks of a deva who mistakenly believes he created the universe. It seems to me therefore that the Buddhist belief regarding the Christian God is that god is a deluded deva who will eventually die and be reborn.

It seems odd to me to ask on a test "Do you fear God?" If you don't then you don't. If the school accepts non-Christians then there can't be a right or wrong answer to such a question. If the question was "Does a Christian fear God?" then you could demonstrate that you learned what they taught you by answering "yes".
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby karuna_murti » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:31 pm

There are gods, but they are also subject to death.
If you mean god as prima causa, the single cause of all being, then there is no such thing.
Theravadin have Brahma Baka though, which has wrong view that he is the single cause of other beings. Brahma Baka himself actually is not eternal, and at some point will die too.

Edit.
Ah, I just notice that you come from Indonesia. Don't confuse god with Udana VIII 3 which often told in Indonesia. Udana VIII 3 explain about Nibanna. In our country, the requirement for a religion is have a god. And at some point our elder make God = Nibanna so Buddhism can be accepted legally. Suffice to say that Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa (One God) in Buddhism doesn't mean a personal god.
User avatar
karuna_murti
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:19 am

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:17 pm

Winny wrote:What is the concept of God in Theravadin?

Take a look at this:

Susan Elbaum Jootla wrote:The Buddha explains that when our world system disintegrates, as it regularly does after extremely long periods of time, the lower sixteen planes are all destroyed. Beings disappear from all planes below the seventeenth, the plane of the Abhassara gods. Whatever beings cannot be born on the seventeenth or a higher brahma plane then must take birth on the lower planes in other remote world systems.

Eventually the world starts to re-form. Then a solitary being passes away from the Abhassara plane and takes rebirth on the plane of Maha Brahma. A palace created by his kamma awaits him there: "There he dwells, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And he continues thus for a long, long time." After ages pass, he becomes lonely and longs for other beings to join him. It just so happens that shortly after the brahma starts craving for company, other beings from the Abhassara plane, who have exhausted their lifespans there, pass away and are reborn in the palace of Brahma, in companionship with him.

Because these beings seemed to arise in accordance with the first brahma's wish, he becomes convinced that he is the almighty God: "I am the Great Brahma, the Vanquisher... the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being." The other brahmas, seeing that he was already present when they took birth in his world, accept his claim and revere him as their creator.

Eventually this misconception of a Creator God spreads to the human plane. One of the other brahmas passes away and is reborn here. He develops concentration and learns to recollect his previous life with Maha Brahma, but none of his lives before that. Recollecting that existence he recalls that Maha Brahma was considered the "father of all that are and are to be... permanent, stable, eternal." As he is unable to remember further back, he believes this to be absolute truth and propounds a theistic doctrine of an omnipotent Creator God.
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.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby genkaku » Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:30 pm

As far as I have been able to figure out, Buddhism does not teach that there is something or someone "else." If there is something or someone else, that is not Buddhism.

But this position is not just a matter of belief. Belief -- however useful it may be as a starting point -- implies by its nature that there is something or someone else. Because Buddhism does not teach that there is something else, it recommends various practices -- meditation among them -- that will allow the student to actualize beyond doubt what may be spoken with the lips or written on an Internet bulletin board page.

Just my two cents.

Best wishes.
User avatar
genkaku
 
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:14 pm
Location: Northampton, Mass. U.S.A.

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:32 pm

Hey


I was supposed to be taking a break from Dhammawheel but i had a quick glance today and seen this topic which relates to something i had just listened to which might be of interest


its a talk by Stephen Batchelor about Buddha, God and buddhanature

Really worth a listen

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/169/?p=1&q=

The talk itself is just called "god and buddhanature"

Metta
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3479
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby cooran » Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:24 pm

Jechbi wrote:
Winny wrote:What is the concept of God in Theravadin?

Take a look at this:

Susan Elbaum Jootla wrote:The Buddha explains that when our world system disintegrates, as it regularly does after extremely long periods of time, the lower sixteen planes are all destroyed. Beings disappear from all planes below the seventeenth, the plane of the Abhassara gods. Whatever beings cannot be born on the seventeenth or a higher brahma plane then must take birth on the lower planes in other remote world systems.

Eventually the world starts to re-form. Then a solitary being passes away from the Abhassara plane and takes rebirth on the plane of Maha Brahma. A palace created by his kamma awaits him there: "There he dwells, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And he continues thus for a long, long time." After ages pass, he becomes lonely and longs for other beings to join him. It just so happens that shortly after the brahma starts craving for company, other beings from the Abhassara plane, who have exhausted their lifespans there, pass away and are reborn in the palace of Brahma, in companionship with him.

Because these beings seemed to arise in accordance with the first brahma's wish, he becomes convinced that he is the almighty God: "I am the Great Brahma, the Vanquisher... the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being." The other brahmas, seeing that he was already present when they took birth in his world, accept his claim and revere him as their creator.

Eventually this misconception of a Creator God spreads to the human plane. One of the other brahmas passes away and is reborn here. He develops concentration and learns to recollect his previous life with Maha Brahma, but none of his lives before that. Recollecting that existence he recalls that Maha Brahma was considered the "father of all that are and are to be... permanent, stable, eternal." As he is unable to remember further back, he believes this to be absolute truth and propounds a theistic doctrine of an omnipotent Creator God.


Thanks Jechbi. :smile:

Yes, this is the Theravada understanding from the Buddha's teachings.

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7528
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby Ben » Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:28 pm

Hi Winny

I hope you did well in your final exams. I think you answered well. However, I am a little disheartened by the actions of your teacher - it would amount to religious discrimination in Australia and punishable by law.
Over the last week I have been thinking about how some people feel that they can mock the Buddha and Buddhism but the same people don't have the courage to mock Mohammad or Islam. But I think that it is our equanimity that is our strength.
Take care

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16073
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:00 pm

Greetings Ben,

Ben wrote:Over the last week I have been thinking about how some people feel that they can mock the Buddha and Buddhism but the same people don't have the courage to mock Mohammad or Islam. But I think that it is our equanimity that is our strength.


I think it's the perception that we're less likely to launch a jihad against them. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14657
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:29 am

most non buddhists ive met seem to think we worship a fat happy guy... so :shrug:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby Kare » Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:08 pm

Winny wrote:Hi guys, I've just graduated from a Christian high school. In my school, there are 15% of Buddhist students. All of the students must learn the religion lesson for 3 years, which in the end, we had to do the final test. In that test, the teacher asked me: Do you fear of God?
That was a tricky question for me, because I don't believe in God. It's sad to say, but the teacher also mocked Buddhism, when I said Buddhism doesn't teach to fear of God. Am I wrong? So based on my answer, I might got a bad score. :cry: Sometimes I could hardly explain what is 'God' in Buddhism to my friends. And actually, I don't even know whether we have a God. What is the concept of God in Theravadin? So, please explain to me. :thanks:


You have already got several good answers here. If you want to go deeper into this question, I would like to recommend two excellent books:

The first is Helmuth von Glasenapp, "Buddhism - A Non-Theistic Religion", which mainly discusses how Buddhism relates to the Indian gods at the time of the Buddha and later.

The second book is Gunapala Dharmasiri, "A Buddhist Critique of the Christian Concept of God", which, as the title implies, discusses how Buddhism relates to Christian concepts of God.

Both books are a little old, and you probably won't find them in you nearest bookshop. But a library, or a search on the internet, should be able to get them for you.
Mettāya,
Kåre
User avatar
Kare
 
Posts: 682
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:58 am
Location: Norway

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby Individual » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:37 pm

Winny wrote:Hi guys, I've just graduated from a Christian high school. In my school, there are 15% of Buddhist students. All of the students must learn the religion lesson for 3 years, which in the end, we had to do the final test. In that test, the teacher asked me: Do you fear of God?
That was a tricky question for me, because I don't believe in God. It's sad to say, but the teacher also mocked Buddhism, when I said Buddhism doesn't teach to fear of God. Am I wrong? So based on my answer, I might got a bad score. :cry: Sometimes I could hardly explain what is 'God' in Buddhism to my friends. And actually, I don't even know whether we have a God. What is the concept of God in Theravadin? So, please explain to me. :thanks:

God is a figment of various imaginations, which can only bring comfort when coupled with wholesome states of mind.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:10 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Ben,

Ben wrote:Over the last week I have been thinking about how some people feel that they can mock the Buddha and Buddhism but the same people don't have the courage to mock Mohammad or Islam. But I think that it is our equanimity that is our strength.


I think it's the perception that we're less likely to launch a jihad against them. 8-)


Speaking of that, there is a pretty good talk by Bhikkhu Bodhi on tolerance and the cartoons of Muhammad and I posted/embedded it over here as a sample of how to embed a video:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1642&p=21519#p21519
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8057
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby Ben » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:53 am

TheDhamma wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Ben,

Ben wrote:Over the last week I have been thinking about how some people feel that they can mock the Buddha and Buddhism but the same people don't have the courage to mock Mohammad or Islam. But I think that it is our equanimity that is our strength.


I think it's the perception that we're less likely to launch a jihad against them. 8-)


Speaking of that, there is a pretty good talk by Bhikkhu Bodhi on tolerance and the cartoons of Muhammad and I posted/embedded it over here as a sample of how to embed a video:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1642&p=21519#p21519


Thanks David
Rather than take this thread further off-topic, I'm going to start another thread on the topic of respect for the triple gem
Kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16073
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby dragonwarrior » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:34 am

:clap: :clap: :thumbsup:
Thanks a bunch for answering.. It seems so clear now.
Btw, non-Buddhists in Indonesia really got the wrong perceptions about Buddhism..
They think we are worshiping the Buddha Statue. Gosh :cookoo:
Some of them even think The Buddha is The God..
Anyway, I got 85 for the Christian lesson in the report card. haha pretty shocking coz I thought I might get worse..
Even though the teacher is a very fanatic person, but the new principal is a very tolerant person. :bow:

:namaste:
User avatar
dragonwarrior
 
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: somewhere

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby Ben » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:40 am

Cogratulations Winny!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16073
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby SleepyAndAwake » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:29 pm

I don't think it matters if there is or isn't a god... further that a Christian would mock anyone for what they believe is a preposterous display of closed mindedness and un-Christian behavior. Jesus asked us to love each other as ourselves, not pick each other apart. There shouldn't be any fear. Beating a dog doesn't make him love you. I think it would be pertinent, here, to point out that the Christians who wrote the bible also believed blindness and insanity to be cause by demonic possession (a giant, red flag blowing in the winds of ignorance).

Ask yourself this: if someone does a good deed for the reward of going to Heaven or fear of burning in Hell, does that make them a good person? Right people find ways to act rightly with or without the excuse of authority. I think that if there is a god he very explicitly did not tell us so we couldn't rightfully bully each other like that. I think the way we live our very short life spans is, and should be, free from the tyranny of knowing what's to happen after we die. The existence of a god is irrelevant.

So the Buddhist answer to your question is a resounding "I don't know or think it matters".
SleepyAndAwake
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:04 pm

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:02 pm

SleepyAndAwake wrote:Ask yourself this: if someone does a good deed for the reward of going to Heaven or fear of burning in Hell, does that make them a good person? Right people find ways to act rightly with or without the excuse of authority. I think that if there is a god he very explicitly did not tell us so we couldn't rightfully bully each other like that. I think the way we live our very short life spans is, and should be, free from the tyranny of knowing what's to happen after we die.


Blinded this world — how few here see clearly! Just as birds who've escaped from a net are few, few are the people who make it to heaven. — Dhp 174

I have seen beings who — endowed with bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct; who reviled noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — at the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. — Iti 70

I have seen beings who — endowed with bodily good conduct, verbal good conduct, & mental good conduct; who did not revile Noble Ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — at the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destination, the heavenly world. — Iti 71

Five blessings, householders, accrue to the righteous person through his practice of virtue: great increase of wealth through his diligence; a favorable reputation; a confident deportment, without timidity, in every society, be it that of nobles, brahmans, householders, or ascetics; a serene death; and, at the breaking up of the body after death, rebirth in a happy state, in a heavenly world. — DN 16

Whoever, with a rod, harasses an innocent man, unarmed, quickly falls into any of ten things: harsh pains, devastation, a broken body, grave illness, mental derangement, trouble with the government, violent slander, relatives lost, property dissolved, houses burned down. At the break-up of the body this one with no discernment, reappears in hell. — Dhp 137-140

And that is just a quick sample from the Buddha's teachings on the subject of heaven and hell. The Buddha in his wisdom knew there are people who benefit from such teachings and other people who have no more need for such teachings.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
User avatar
kc2dpt
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby Son of man » Sun Jul 26, 2009 2:48 pm

To answer, you really need to get the definition of "God" from your professor. If by "God" only implies "the unsurpassed wisdom and knowledge" then it's easy the Buddha is the "God" of Buddhism. However, if by "God" implies "creator of the universe" then "God" in Buddhism is "The law of cause and effect". For every attribute your professor includes in his definition of "God" you should be able to find an answer in Buddhism. If he says "God" is "love or compassion" then in buddhism "God" is within the Buddha and all the bodhisattvas. So if those are his only three aspects then God in Buddhism could also be thought of as a Trinity:

Buddha (the unsurpassed wisdom and knowledge)
The law of cause and effect (creator of the universe, intangible though it is)
In-dwelling the Buddha and all the bodhisattvas (love or compassion)
Son of man
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 4:10 am

Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Postby Son of man » Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:00 pm

Son of man wrote:To answer, you really need to get the definition of "God" from your professor. If by "God" only implies "the unsurpassed wisdom and knowledge" then it's easy the Buddha is the "God" of Buddhism. However, if by "God" implies "creator of the universe" then "God" in Buddhism is "The law of cause and effect". For every attribute your professor includes in his definition of "God" you should be able to find an answer in Buddhism. If he says "God" is "love or compassion" then in buddhism "God" is within the Buddha and all the bodhisattvas. So if those are his only three aspects then God in Buddhism could also be thought of as a Trinity:

Buddha (the unsurpassed wisdom and knowledge)
The law of cause and effect (creator of the universe, intangible though it is)
In-dwelling the Buddha and all the bodhisattvas (love or compassion)


I forgot to address the test-question: Do you fear of God?

You could answer something like "Understanding the law of cause and effect which is an aspect of God,the fear of God in buddhism would be the contemplation of the consequences of wrongful thoughts and actions." Now you could argue that is not really fear either but understanding, however, given that your professor is Christian and you want a good score, you might want to concede it is fear just to get on his good side.
Son of man
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 4:10 am

Next

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], mikenz66, paddington, Sanjay PS, WoodsyLadyM and 7 guests