God in Buddhism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: March 5, 2015 at 9:47 am


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Gautama Buddha rejected the existence of a creator deity,[1][2] refused to endorse many views on creation[3] and stated that questions on the origin of the world are not ultimately useful for ending suffering.[4][5]

Buddhism, instead, emphasizes the system of causal relationships underlying the universe (prattyasamutpda or Dependent Origination) which constitute the natural order (dhamma) and source of enlightenment. No dependence of phenomena on a supernatural reality is asserted in order to explain the behaviour of matter. According to the doctrine of the Buddha, a human being must study nature (dhamma vicaya) in order to attain personal wisdom (prajna) regarding the nature of things (dharma). In Buddhism, the sole aim of spiritual practice is the complete alleviation of stress in samsara,[6][7] which is called nirvana.

Some teachers tell students beginning Buddhist meditation that the notion of divinity is not incompatible with Buddhism,[8] and at least one Buddhist scholar has indicated that describing Buddhism as nontheistic may be overly simplistic;[9] but many traditional theist beliefs are considered to pose a hindrance to the attainment of nirvana,[10] the highest goal of Buddhist practice.[11]

Despite this apparent nontheism, Buddhists consider veneration of the worthy ones[12] very important,[13] although the two main traditions of Buddhism differ mildly in their reverential attitudes. While Theravada Buddhists view the Buddha as a human being who attained nirvana or Buddhahood, through human efforts,[14] some Mahayana Buddhists consider him an embodiment of the cosmic Dharmakaya, born for the benefit of others.[15] In addition, some Mahayana Buddhists worship their chief Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara,[16] and hope to embody him.[17]

Some Buddhists accept the existence of beings in higher realms (see Buddhist cosmology), known as devas, but they, like humans, are said to be suffering in samsara,[18] and are not necessarily wiser than us. In fact, the Buddha is often portrayed as a teacher of the gods,[19] and superior to them.[20] Despite this there are believed to be enlightened devas.[21]

Some variations of Buddhism express a philosophical belief in an eternal Buddha: a representation of omnipresent enlightenment and a symbol of the true nature of the universe. The primordial aspect that interconnects every part of the universe is the clear light of the eternal Buddha, where everything timelessly arises and dissolves.[22][23][24]

As scholar Surian Yee describes, "the attitude of the Buddha as portrayed in the Nikayas is more anti-speculative than specifically atheistic", although Gautama did regard the belief in a creator deity to be unhealthy.[25] However, the Samaaphala Sutta placed materialism and amoralism together with eternalism as forms of wrong view.[25]

As Hayes describes it, "In the Nikaya literature, the question of the existence of God is treated primarily from either an epistemological point of view or a moral point of view. As a problem of epistemology, the question of God's existence amounts to a discussion of whether or not a religious seeker can be certain that there is a greatest good and that therefore his efforts to realize a greatest good will not be a pointless struggle towards an unrealistic goal. And as a problem in morality, the question amounts to a discussion of whether man himself is ultimately responsible for all the displeasure that he feels or whether there exists a superior being who inflicts displeasure upon man whether he deserves it or not... the Buddha Gotama is portrayed not as an atheist who claims to be able to prove God's nonexistence, but rather as a skeptic with respect to other teachers' claims to be able to lead their disciples to the highest good."[26]

Citing the Devadaha Sutta ('Majjhima Nikaya 101), Hayes remarks that "while the reader is left to conclude that it is attachment rather than God, actions in past lives, fate, type of birth or efforts in this life that is responsible for our experiences of sorrow, no systematic argument is given in an attempt to disprove the existence of God."[27]

In the Pli Canon the Buddha tells Vasettha that the Tathgata (the Buddha) was Dharmakya, the 'Truth-body' or the 'Embodiment of Truth', as well as Dharmabhuta, 'Truth-become', 'One who has become Truth.'[28][29]

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God in Buddhism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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March 5th, 2015 at 9:47 am

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