Can A Buddhist believe in God?

Nowhere Man

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Well, it was only written by a couple of distinguished Buddhist scholars. Earl
Buddhism isn't a scholary practice. It's directness by which insight reveals the true nature by which we experience and live as living beings. ;0)

The commentary from Trycicle was, as I see it, referencing Buddhist cosmology by which the dieitfication of gods, demons, and ghosts including stages pertaining to heaven and hell realms are predominantly metaphorical in nature, and certainly not to be taken nor regarded in a literal context of the word.

The article, as an historical commentary, is not reflective of theism as it pertains to Buddhism, but as a result of integration by which engaged practice and indigenous traditions and beliefs meet.

Additionly, Trycicle imo has really gone off the path the past decades. It was really a good publication at one time. Now I don't really bother with it anymore.
 

earl

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I would agree that study of traditional Buddhist cosmology is largely irrelevant to Buddhist practice. As to whether Buddhists see it as solely metaphorical depends on the Buddhist. Far more likely for Western, "modernist" Buddhists to see it only as metaphor. Personally, while I don't necessarily embrace Buddhist cosmology, am also not a materialist and believe there are any number of immaterial realms. Earl
 

shunyadragon

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Or are they totally incompatible?

Not totally. The Source some call God(s) is not open to human speculation and definition like the Tao in Taoism. Any possible Source in Buddhist beliefs would an apophatic Source not describable as God(s).

Yes the existence of Gods and Divinities plagues some Buddhist sects, but by and large Buddhism is at best strongly agnostic.
 

Nowhere Man

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Not totally. The Source some call God(s) is not open to human speculation and definition like the Tao in Taoism. Any possible Source in Buddhist beliefs would an apophatic Source not describable as God(s).

Yes the existence of Gods and Divinities plagues some Buddhist sects, but by and large Buddhism is at best strongly agnostic.

When you notice the emptiness by which a person's perspective and views manifests, it becomes difficult looking back to see how a person can cling to theism respectively unless Buddhism serves more as a holistic practice coinciding with one's beliefs in deities and such.

These things just need to run their course I think.
 

Samana Johann

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Or are they totally incompatible?

Marcus, what ever "Buddhists" may believe, in regard of the teachings of the Buddha, faith or confidence that there are so called spontaneous born beings, that means Gods, Devas and all sorts of Non-Human and fine material beings, is actually part of what is called right view. You may take a look on the different planes of Existence.

The so called "God", the "Creator" can be found in the Great Brahma Realm:

One of this realm's most famous inhabitants is the Great Brahma, a deity whose delusion leads him to regard himself as the all-powerful, all-seeing creator of the universe (DN 11).

Generally is to say that the Buddha praised the veneration and paying of respect as well the offerings to Devas and Gods, since they are beings of great goodness and need to have performed a good amount on skillful deeds previous.
To call in mind the virtues that one has, which are the virtues of Devas, devatānussati is a practise to gain needed concentration for spiritual development.

Of course, like mentioned in the tread before, to believe in certain ideas and views of gods can be an obstactle and to believe that someone else is responsible for your actions, you welbeing or pain, is actually dangerous.

How ever, being a so called follower of the Buddha, does not nessesary requires that all is already known and seen.

In regard of ordination, people have followed other teachers, have to let go of them and its usuall to let there be a good amount of time between letting go old teacher and become ordained at least. So for a so called disciple of the Buddha, its actually not possible to stick to other teachers at the same time, may they be gods or humans.

No problem to still have gratitude and to venerate heavenly beings, they would be invited to any talk on Dhamma and ceremonies.

If there are still questions, feel free to ask.
 
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Nicholas Weeks

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Thanks to Samana Johann for focusing on the original question. The Digha Nikaya 11 sutta is very long, but here is what one of Buddha's disciples found out when meeting the Great Deva Brahmā:

"Then the Great Brahma, taking the monk by the arm and leading him off to one side, said to him, 'These gods of the retinue of Brahma believe, "There is nothing that the Great Brahma does not know. There is nothing that the Great Brahma does not see. There is nothing of which the Great Brahma is unaware. There is nothing that the Great Brahma has not realized." That is why I did not say in their presence that I, too, don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. So you have acted wrongly, acted incorrectly, in bypassing the Blessed One in search of an answer to this question elsewhere. Go right back to the Blessed One and, on arrival, ask him this question. However he answers it, you should take it to heart.'

The Blessed One is Bhagavan Buddha.

The Samana is also correct is pointing out that a traditional practice is meditating on the Devas as reminders of their virtue.
 

Samana Johann

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Nicholas, its good that you found out that even the Great Brahma, God, is actually devoted to the Bhagavata (The Blessed or Liberal One, the Buddha).

And what does it mean to recollect the virtues of the Gods and Devas?

"[Again, the Uposatha (Sabbat, Sunday, fastday) of the Noble Ones] is the cleansing of the mind through the proper technique. And how is the defiled mind cleansed through the proper technique?

"There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones recollects the devas, thus: 'There are the Devas of the Four Great Kings, the Devas of the Thirty-three, the Yama Devas, the Contented Devas, the devas who delight in creation, the devas who have power over the creations of others, the devas of Brahma's retinue, the devas beyond them. Whatever conviction they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of conviction is present in me as well. Whatever virtue they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of virtue is present in me as well. Whatever learning they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of learning is present in me as well. Whatever generosity they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of generosity is present in me as well. Whatever discernment they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of discernment is present in me as well.' As he is recollecting the devas, his mind is calmed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned, just as when gold is cleansed through the proper technique. And how is gold cleansed through the proper technique? Through the use of a furnace, salt earth, red chalk, a blow-pipe, tongs, & the appropriate human effort. This is how gold is cleansed through the proper technique. In the same way, the defiled mind is cleansed through the proper technique. And how is the defiled mind cleansed through the proper technique? There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones recollects the devas... As he is recollecting the devas, his mind is cleansed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned. He is thus called a disciple of the noble ones undertaking the Deva-Uposatha. He lives with the devas. It is owing to the devas that his mind is calmed, that joy arises, and that whatever defilements there are in his mind are abandoned. This is how the mind is cleansed through the proper technique.

Source: Muluposatha Sutta (AN 3.70) — Discourse on the Roots of the Uposatha
 

Nicholas Weeks

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This pondering on the Deva's is part of the Six (or Ten) Recollections. Here is Bhikkhu Bodhi giving a few comments on the practice:

Through the centuries the most popular meditation subjects among lay Buddhists have probably been the six recollections (anussati): of the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, morality, generosity, and the devas. AN 6:10 is an important canonical source for these meditations. Their themes are especially close to the hearts and everyday experiences of people living household lives in a culture imbued with Buddhist values. These meditation practices in turn enrich and uplift their lives, bringing them into closer spiritual contact with the ideals of religious faith. The first three are primarily devotional recollections that build upon confidence in the Three Jewels; but while they begin with faith, they temporarily cleanse the mind of defilements and conduce to sustained concentration. The meditation on moral discipline develops from one's observance of the precepts, a practice aimed at self-benefit; the recollection of generosity builds upon one's practice of giving, an altruistic practice; the recollection of the devas is a contemplation of the fruits of one's faith, morality, generosity, and wisdom as they mature in future lives.
 

Samana Johann

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Sadhu!

Its maybe worthy to point out, that in such a recollection on devas and gods, one does not merely pray or beg for support (some groups of "followers" of the Buddha have developed such), since one can only help one self at least and the Gods and Devas are no refuge since, even they might have great virtues, which are worthy to gain by one self, they, if not part of the Noble Sangha, are noy free of defilements. Speaking in Regard of Devanussati.
How ever, nevertheless, Gods and Devas, are of cause regarded as being of goodness (guṇa) and so worthy of veneration and offerings. Its maybe also worthy to point out, that ones parent are called the first Gods, while the highest gods (which of course could also be ones parents) are those who point out the way to heaven ond beyound, also called kalyāṇamitta, admirable friend.

Seeing nothing that would not really cause heavenly existence in the teachings of christianity, given that it was pointed out by a certain God, there is nothing wrong to venerate and offer to this extend to this God since he can be regarded as being of guṇa to that amount.
 

Geo

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Kind of interesting, that when I look up the modern and current threads and posts on the net, the majority say that Buddhism is largely atheistic.

Many people if they do not carefully read the teachings of Buddha, claim he did not believe in God. However, Gautama Buddha speaks of the Supramundane, (Lokattra, or Lukothra), or unconditioned, (Asankrata or Asamskrara?).
He refers to God as being the known, but unknowable, and that even the attempt to label the name God is insufficient to define the Absolute.

Below is from the Udana passage of the Kuddaka Nikaya: 30.
"There is oh monks Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed...
Were there not oh monks this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed.
Since their is, oh monks, .Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed therefore there is the born, originated, created , formed.

What is dependant that also moves.
What is independent does not move.

Where there is no movement, there is rest.
Where there is rest, there is no desire.
Where there is no desire there is neither coming or going, no ceasing to be, no further coming to be.
There is neither this shore nor, ( the world), nor the other shore, (Nibbana 31),
nor anything in between them.
32 Udana 8:3
 
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Cino

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Many people if they do not carefully read the teachings of Buddha, claim he did not believe in God. However, Gautama Buddha speaks of the Supramundane, (Lokattra, or Lukothra), or unconditioned, (Asankrata or Asamskrara?).
He refers to God as being the known, but unknowable, and that even the attempt to label the name God is insufficient to define the Absolute.

If by "God" you mean the God of Abraham, then no, the Buddha makes no references to him in the Sutras. In that sense, he did not believe in God.

If you mean some kind of first, primal being, then yes, he believed in that. But he went on to state that this being, in whose existence he believed, was itself deluded, believing it created the universe, when in reality it was just the first sentient being to observe the universe. Furthermore, this being, in the Buddha's belief, was subject to aging and death, just as every other being. So, upon careful reading of the Sutras, it is evident that his beliefs in God were not what a modern Western reader would recognize.

Finally, he bore the title, "best teacher of gods and humans", ... no devotee of any deity would ever presume such an attitude.
 
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Geo

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Cino -
"If by "God" you mean the God of Abraham, then no, the Buddha makes no references to him in the Sutras. In that sense, he did not believe in God."

Why would Buddha refer to the "God of Abraham", as such??
This is a derivative designation on the part of the receiver, not an actual reference.
As if the Almighty is not the God, or source of all, but rather is perceived as being particular to a certain Faith, or Religion.
Not the, "Absolute" which He is.
If He is perceived as one thing, or another by the Jews, it doesn't mean that He is such.

Did Buddha himself say...
"Human Nature is unreliable, but life is ruled by immutable law, and right action will always win in the end." ?

As well, not to be unkind, but from his own words he writes -
"When I have taught non-Self, fools uphold the teaching that there is no Self.
The wise know that it is conventional speech are are free from doubts.
When I have taught that the tathagata-garbha is empty, fools meditively cultivate [ the notion] that is means extinction [uccheda] , subject to destruction and imperfect.
The wise know that it is [actually] unchanging, stable, and eternal."

Cino, it seems strange that you perceive yourself as the, "Atheist mystic".
 
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Geo

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The form of Buddhism that is said to be non-theistic is Theravada, but
1. When a recent pope (John-Paul II?) remarked that Buddhists didn't believe in God, he got a letter of denial from the President and Prime Minister of Ceylon.
2. I once consulted a huge manual of Buddhism published by the Thai government. That stated at the beginning that, although Buddhists don't consider God a person, they do believe in a supreme being comparable to the Hindu Brahman. The author said that those westerners who claimed to be Buddhists and atheists had simply invented their own philosophy and mistaken it for Buddhism.
I don't think that the claimed opinion of Siddhartha Gautama is really relevant, since we don't actually have any text by him or contemporary with him.

I guess if you say something enough times, it will take hold and be popularized?

216343483_10157808113995216_5678465492393471659_n~3.jpg
 

Cino

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Why would Buddha refer to the "God of Abraham", as such??
This is a derivative designation on the part of the receiver, not an actual reference.
As if the Almighty is not the God, or source of all, but rather is perceived as being particular to a certain Faith, or Religion.
Not the, "Absolute" which He is.
If He is perceived as one thing, or another by the Jews, it doesn't mean that He is such.

Hold on, it is you trying to shoehorn the notions of Western monotheism onto the Buddha's teaching here. Therefore you don't get to ask me in surprised tones why the Buddha would be referring to the God of the monotheists, who is known, among other names, as the God of Abraham.

What is absolute to one faith may be irrelevant to another. The absolutes which the Buddha taught were: impermanence, not-self, and suffering. Doesn't sound in the least like the Absolute as referred to in your faith.

Cino, it seems strange that you perceive yourself as the, "Atheist mystic".

Strange, but true.

It also seems strange that you find my lack of faith disturbing. (supply the reference ;) ). Why does it challenge you so? I'm not going around saying it is strange that you believe in God, either.

Did Buddha himself say...
"Human Nature is unreliable, but life is ruled by immutable law, and right action will always win in the end." ?

Did he? where? My understanding of his teaching is that Right Action alone is not sufficient, you also need to develop the other seven factors of the noble eightfold path.

As well, not to be unkind, but from his own words he writes -
"When I have taught non-Self, fools uphold the teaching that there is no Self.
The wise know that it is conventional speech are are free from doubts.
When I have taught that the tathagata-garbha is empty, fools meditively cultivate [ the notion] that is means extinction [uccheda] , subject to destruction and imperfect.
The wise know that it is [actually] unchanging, stable, and eternal."

Here he is speaking about the Buddha-Womb, the potential for awakening. Since even the gods, even the highest being, can in principle awaken, this is a very different concept from God.
 
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