The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby Ben » Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:19 am

Hi Juan

Its nice to see you posting and I apologise I did not respond to your earlier post.
I'm in the middle of packing house and unfortunately I'm unable to give you the attention that your post deserves - at this point in time.
If I get some time over the next few days, I'll dig out some references that should elucidate the Theravadin (albeit from a Classical) point of view. That is, if it hasn't already been eloquently represented by some of our learned members.
Metta

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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby christopher::: » Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:28 am

Ben wrote:Hi Christopher
christopher::: wrote:I think anthropomorphism may be the issue here that keeps popping up. The traditional Christian, Hindu and Hebrew presentations of God are all highly... ...by John Seed; from THINKING LIKE A MOUNTAIN - TOWARDS A COUNCIL OF ALL BEINGS by John Seed, Joanna Macy, Arne Naess & Pat Fleming, New Society Publishers, Philadelphia, 1988


Thanks for posting the above. I think its very interesting but I have a problem with understanding how it actually relates to the Theravada. I mean no disrespect to you, but I am wondering whether you are trying to recast the Buddha's teaching to be in line with the view that you are sharing. To help me understand better, do you have any references from the Pali Tipitaka which validates your notion?Thanks

Ben


Hi Ben. The concept of anthropomorphism is relevent to discussions about religious conceptions of an entity called "God" imo, but no, i cannot say the issue relates specifically to the Theravada. I only raised this because we seem to have several similar discussions going on about "God" without a clear understanding of the great variety of ways in which that word is used and conceptualized by people in various traditions....

tiltbillings wrote:
The question of the utility of a god notion, whether one anthropomorphizes it or assumes it to be some vague. mysterious creative power, still obtains. It really explains nothing.


For Theravadin Buddhists these concepts may have little utility. Again, i simply raised the issue because when communicating with others it can be helpful to understand how the term God is conceptualized by people in different ways, in line with the points Mike just raised.

For you, it explains nothing.

For others, it explains everything.

For Christians, there is a Holy Trinity. Hindus have Brahmin, and Shiva. For Muslims there is Allah. Taoists have the Tao. For modern folks there are recent movements such as Deep Ecology, which have similarities with Native American world views concerning Nature as our Mother.

NonBuddhists get a sense of comfort, safety and support from these beliefs, which is similar to the way Buddhists go to refuge in the three jewels, imo.

That is my view, which I raise here because the concept of refuge is the topic we are discussing.

I do understand, its not meaningful for many here.

This is why religion is such a deeply personal matter, imo.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby Macavity » Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:38 am

clw_uk wrote:As of yet i have never heard or read an answer to this riddle by someone who believes in God/Ultimate being/One


I take it you haven't read much theistic literature then. Since this is a problem that every thinking theist has to wrestle with, naturally the literature on the subject is huge. I don't want to go off topic, so won't go into detail, but just try googling for 'theodicy'.
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:58 am

Macavity wrote:
clw_uk wrote:As of yet i have never heard or read an answer to this riddle by someone who believes in God/Ultimate being/One


I take it you haven't read much theistic literature then. Since this is a problem that every thinking theist has to wrestle with, naturally the literature on the subject is huge. I don't want to go off topic, so won't go into detail, but just try googling for 'theodicy'.



Hey


No argument answers the question without violating the riddle

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”


The traditional Chrisitian view is that God cant stop us from sining, thus negating a God

Since if there is a God he either is willing to prevent evil, but not able, Is he able, but not willing or Is he both able and willing

In which case then he is not omnipotent , malevolent or anept


Or if on a last and failing stand you say he is neither able nor willing

Then why call him God?



This applies to the Abrahamic faiths, however the above riddle does away with any kind of God view/belief



There is no answer to the problem of Evil/Suffering in relation to God since evil/suffering negates the existence of a God (or i should say makes it highly unprobable)

metta
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby christopher::: » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:13 am

Our Universe is filled with mysteries and riddles, for sure.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:16 am

clw_uk wrote:As of yet i have never heard or read an answer to this riddle by someone who believes in God/Ultimate being/One

Probably because there is no answer to it since the existence of suffering negates a loving God (and i would say God in general)

This is the sort of "Cartoon view of religions" that I was complaining about above.

While I have no particular interest in defending God, there are plenty of people out there who have some sort of answers. E.g. here:
http://www.religion-online.org/showchap ... 736&C=2479
http://www.philosophyforum.com/philosop ... #post10727
I would say it would depend on what one perceives God to be. Epicurus describes God as a 'He' and obviously separate from himself. A "somewhere out there" type of God. This is not how I perceive God to be so a direct answer to this question would be difficult, but here we go...

First, it's not God who creates or prevents evil, it's us... Mankind. We've created all the evil in the world and likewise we can prevent it. To place that burden on the unseen and unknown is silly IMHO. So God, not being able to prevent it doesn't fit my ideology either. Who or where is God and how so would God prevent something that mankind creates?

Impotent? Well, if you take a look at the complexity of creation and the sexed opposites of all that is created right down the cellular level, I would have to say that 'God' is quite potent.

People are funny. We hurt our neighbors, say mean words to our children, start wars based on religions... and then look to a deity in the sky and ask how come there is evil? Evil is as man has created it to be. If you embrace evil thoughts then your manifestations will match those thoughts. If people would just look around them and look in the mirror and take a close look at their own actions, they will quickly realize why there is evil. It's not God who is creating this evil it's man. Likewise, it's not God who is creating the good of man, it's man. We are creating beings and for some reason people just can't understand that. It's just so much easier to place the burden of responsibility on some unforeseen deity... what about looking within ourselves?

So long as people continue to blame God for the bad and evil in the world and not take responsibility for what man has created, we'll stay blind to that which is directly in front of us, beside us and within us.

We've created a God separate from ourselves just like we've created an Ego which is also separate from ourselves. Until we can step up to the plate and take responsibility for what we've created as a mankind, we will always ask questions in sheer blindness.

As a human being I know beyond a reasonable doubt that all the EVIL I have experienced in my own life is the evil I have created... but for a long time it was very easy to blame God.

It's very easy to come up with similar riddles about Buddhist thought:
  • "If there is no self what is the point of awakening?"
  • "If there is no self how can rebirth happen?".
  • "If there is no self why do I have to be good?"
To answer those questions takes a little bit of sophistication in Dhamma. The answers will make little impression on non-Buddhists, just as the Christian Theology arguments will make little impact on non-Christians. By all means don't agree with Christians, etc (I don't) but please don't assume that all followers of other religions do not have arguments of comparable sophistication...

Metta
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:19 am

christopher::: wrote:Our Universe is filled with mysteries and riddles, for sure.

:namaste:



I couldnt agree with you more :smile: . I look at the theories of black holes, worm holes and white holes and i feel blown away. However these things have evidence supporting them while the God hypothesis does not and i would say it isnt needed, as laplace said

"I have no need of that hypothesis"


I would also say it adds an unnatural and cruel aspect to existence


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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:26 am

Hey mike



It's very easy to come up with similar riddles about Buddhist thought:

"If there is no self what is the point of awakening?"
"If there is no self how can rebirth happen?".
"If there is no self why do I have to be good?"




If there is no self what is the point of awakening?"


There is dukkha, ideas of self add to that dukkha, going past "I" leads to peace. Being stuck in Self view is what leads to the above question

My answer would be, locate said "Self"

If there is no self how can rebirth happen?".


Doesnt apply to Buddhas teachings, however if you mean in terms of D.O. thats easier

When there is clinging there is a natural arising of the idea/thought/perception of "I", e.g. cling to the body and there is "I am the body"



If there is no self why do I have to be good?"


When there is understanding of Not-self there can be no "evil" since there is no selfishness, anger, hate, revenge, sadness, depression, want etc only peace. Once again someone stuck in self view asks the above "not self so I can do what I like


Your "riddles" carry no weight, Epicurus (or Sextus Empiricus) riddle does as it shows how there cannot be a loving God since if you assert such a being you cannot square it with the riddle, in short the answer to the riddle isnt "there is a God" but "there is no God" or at least "there is no loving God"



You can aruge logically for Buddhism, God you cannot thats why faith is stressed in Theistic religions and why the believers always fall back on "Its what i believe" which is all well and good on a personal level but in realistic terms it doesnt mean anything and doesnt match reality



While I have no particular interest in defending God, there are plenty of people out there who have some sort of answers


You sure about that, you seem to firmly oppose Atheistic arguments (such as painting them as "cartoon")
metta
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:31 am

christopher::: wrote:
For you, it explains nothing.

For others, it explains everything.


What does god explain? Why there is suffering? People claim god explains all sorts of things, but when pushed, and it often does not take much, as you have shown us, that the idea of god devolves into: god is a great mystery, we could never hope to understand the working, mind, nature of god, and on and on and on. In other words, god explains nothing.

God is a comfort food, but mostly god is a product of our need for security and protection in a universe that does not really care about us, despite the stories we try to tell ourselves otherwise, which is something the Buddha recognized, and which is why his teachings are so radical and why some try to find in them that which is not there - god.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:34 am

God is a comfort food, but mostly god is a product of our need for security and protection in a universe that does not really care about us, despite the stories we try to tell ourselves otherwise, which is something the Buddha recognized, and which is why his teachings are so radical and why some try to find in them that which is not there - god.



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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby appicchato » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:47 am

tiltbillings wrote:...in a universe that does really care about us...


More like a universe that (seemingly) does not really care about us...

And one more tidbit to ponder...the difference between 'no self' and 'not self''...
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:50 am

Hey mike

Taken from the link you gave

I would say it would depend on what one perceives God to be. Epicurus describes God as a 'He' and obviously separate from himself. A "somewhere out there" type of God. This is now how I perceive God to be so a direct answer to this question would be difficult, but here we go...


Seems to suggest that God is "in us". So God was in Hitler?


First, it's not God who creates or prevents evil, it's us... Mankind.


So God cant stop evil, if he can do anything then

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.



or if he is evil then

Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.


or if he is just lazy and inept then

Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?



or if he cant do either then

Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”



We've created all the evil in the world and likewise we can prevent it.


So i dont see a need for God

Laplace - "I have no need of that hypothesis (god)"



To place that burden on the unseen and unknown is silly IMHO


Why not, if he is so great why cant he do something, unless he cant do everything and so isnt God


So God, not being able to prevent it doesn't fit my ideology either.


Yet he argues that man makes evil and God cant stop it

Who or where is God and how so would God prevent something that mankind creates?


Because if there is a God he could have made it so there isnt evil

Impotent? Well, if you take a look at the complexity of creation and the sexed opposites of all that is created right down the cellular level, I would have to say that 'God' is quite potent.


Obvious Creationist view here but i dont think i need to go into that. However id God designed the universe then he orchestrated many mass extinctions on earth over millions of years, invented the Aids virus and Cancer


People are funny. We hurt our neighbors, say mean words to our children, start wars based on religions... and then look to a deity in the sky and ask how come there is evil? Evil is as man has created it to be. If you embrace evil thoughts then your manifestations will match those thoughts. If people would just look around them and look in the mirror and take a close look at their own actions, they will quickly realize why there is evil. It's not God who is creating this evil it's man.


Yes man makes Evil but if there is such a God why doesnt he make it so evil goes away, why doesnt he enlighten us all? After all he can do anything .....


Likewise, it's not God who is creating the good of man, it's man. We are creating beings and for some reason people just can't understand that. It's just so much easier to place the burden of responsibility on some unforeseen deity... what about looking within ourselves?


Its not placing the burden on God, its asking how can you believe there is a God when Nazi's gas 3 month old babies and work their mothers and fathers to death in labour camps?

So long as people continue to blame God for the bad and evil in the world and not take responsibility for what man has created, we'll stay blind to that which is directly in front of us, beside us and within us.


Ditch the God idea and you have full responsibilty

We've created a God separate from ourselves just like we've created an Ego which is also separate from ourselves. Until we can step up to the plate and take responsibility for what we've created as a mankind, we will always ask questions in sheer blindness.


Ego is anatta and God is anatta (buddhist hat off). He seems to argue that God is in us again, once again was God in Hitler when he was thinking about the Final Solution

As a human being I know beyond a reasonable doubt that all the EVIL I have experienced in my own life is the evil I have created... but for a long time it was very easy to blame God.


The problem of Evil isnt blaming God, its asking how can such evil exist if there is a God


Answer is there cant be a loving God (of god in general) because of evil/suffering

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”


As i said you cant believe in God and answer the riddle, the answe to the riddle can only be found in Atheism (or agnosticism)



metta
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby Macavity » Sun Aug 16, 2009 5:41 am

clw_uk wrote:No argument answers the question without violating the riddle


In fact there are lots of proposed solutions that don't "violate the riddle." Like I said, you don't seem to have done much research on how real, live, flesh-and-blood theists have in fact approached the problem. Here's a place to start...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodicy

But if you just want to smugly stick with your Richard Dawkins cartoon version of theism, then don't bother clicking.
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:44 am

Macavity wrote:But if you just want to smugly stick with your Richard Dawkins cartoon version of theism, then don't bother clicking.

It's OK, we can do proof by cartoon instead...
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby christopher::: » Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:41 am

Thanks for the helpful links, Mike and Macavity. It's easy to beat up on stereotypes, clw_uk. Harder to do some research and show respect for a wide variety of human beliefs and povs. For myself, the points Avery made the other day are important to keep in mind...

Avery wrote:You should keep in mind that being respectful of other religious people, even when you know they're wrong, will prepare you for:

1. Being respectful of people who are wrong in other ways, and thus resolving conflicts with them.

2. Keeping your cool when people criticize your own beliefs.

3. Learning how to properly approach Buddhists who don't fully understand Buddhism, and think Buddha was a god or that monks can divine the future.

This is true Dhamma.


:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:01 pm

Macavity wrote:
clw_uk wrote:No argument answers the question without violating the riddle


In fact there are lots of proposed solutions that don't "violate the riddle." Like I said, you don't seem to have done much research on how real, live, flesh-and-blood theists have in fact approached the problem. Here's a place to start...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodicy

But if you just want to smugly stick with your Richard Dawkins cartoon version of theism, then don't bother clicking.




Oh please the problem of evil has never been resolved and the above riddle is one in a number of perfectly reasonable questions to ask



The Book of Isaiah clearly claims that Yahweh is the source of at least some natural disasters:

“ ...I bring prosperity and create disaster: I, Yahweh, do all these things



So God drowns babies, not really soliving the problem of evil here

The book of Job is offered however this doesnt help either. God is so petty that he must have a bet with the devil to know if Job will remain faithful so he allows immense amount of suffering on Jobs family just to test him, he kills children just to test Job. Apart from the obvious fact that God should know that Job would remain faithful (otherwise he isnt an all knowing God) we can see that once again "God" comes across as childish and immoral


The Book of Job offers two different answers: suffering is a test, and you will be rewarded later for passing it;


Whats the point if God already knows everything he knows if you pass it or not

another that God in his might chooses not to reveal his reasons


"God moves in mysterious ways" which is a copout and doesnt answer the problem of evil



Proposed solutions

Free will



God's creation of persons with morally significant free will is something of tremendous value. God could not eliminate evil and suffering without thereby eliminating the greater good of having created persons with free will and who can make moral choices


So he is unable to stop evil and is thus not all powerful (and i would say inept). Also God can do anything so he could give creation free will without evil


Natural evils such as earthquakes and many diseases are sometimes seen as problems for a free will argument since they seem to not be caused by free will decisions. Possible reasons for natural evils using a free will argument include that they are caused by the free will of supernatural beings such as demons


Obvious dark age superstition. Once again if God is so powerful and loving why let these "demons" run around causing trouble, unless he cant do anything ....


that they are caused by the original sin which in turn is caused by free will,


However there was no Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden there was Evolution. There was then no "original sin" to pass down through the ages. Once again though if there was original sin, why couldnt God just forgive? Or was he unwilling to?

Spiritual development
Evil is sometimes seen as a test or trial for humans. Irenaeus of Lyons and more recently John Hick have argued that evil and suffering are necessary for spiritual growth. This is often combined with the free will argument by arguing that such spiritual growth requires free will decisions. A problem with this is that many evils do not seem to promote this. Examples include painful deaths of very young, innocent children and animals. Others enjoy lives of ease and luxury where there is virtually nothing that challenges them to undergo moral growth




The problem of evil is often phrased why do bad things happen to good people?. Some religions therefore answer that good people simply do not exist. For example, some forms of Christianity teach that all people are inherently sinful due to the fall of man and the original sin; for example, Calvinist theology follows a doctrine called federal headship, which argues that the first man, Adam, was the legal representative of the entire human race. A counterargument to the basic version of this principle is that an omniscient God would have predicted this, when he created the world, and an omnipotent God could have prevented it.


Except there was no Adam and no Fall.........



You cannot put together and all powerful, all knowing, all loving ever present creator God and the problem of Evil. The only way to get around it is to subtract from the idea of God in some way such as in Dystheism



Now from Buddhism

If the creator of the world entire
They call God, of every being be the Lord
Why does he order such misfortune
And not create concord?
If the creator of the world entire
They call God, of every being be the Lord
Why prevail deceit, lies and ignorance
And he such inequity and injustice create?
If the creator of the world entire
They call God, of every being be the Lord
Then an evil master is he, (O Aritta)
Knowing what's right did let wrong prevail!


Which is actually in line with this



Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”




As i said earlier the problem of evil does away with notions of an all powerful, loving etc God. So it does away with the common view of a God held by most



Chris

Thanks for the helpful links, Mike and Macavity. It's easy to beat up on stereotypes, clw_uk. Harder to do some research and show respect for a wide variety of human beliefs and povs. For myself, the points Avery made the other day are important to keep in mind...


I do show respect, i dont go into churches telling them they are all wrong and i dont go around trying to trash others beliefs for the fun of it. However this is a Buddhist website where the notion of God (big G) is held to be an erroneous view. All the arguments i have put forward would have been accepted by Buddha, i dont have a doubt about that



1. Being respectful of people who are wrong in other ways, and thus resolving conflicts with them.


Showing that the emperor has no clothes on an appropriate forum isnt disrespect


In general there seems to be a strange defense of Theism/Deism going up here

metta
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby Namu Butsu » Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:23 pm

Namaste,

[Moderator line edit] You seem to insist that I am saying that quantum physics proves Hinduism. That is not what I am saying. I do not even know if there is a God or if Sanatana dharma is truely the teaching that can reveal that truth. I am simply wanting a response that answers another concept other than the typical jewish, christian, and islamic concepts. But you cant do that, nor could you do that on the thread on the other forum. Why? Because you dont know their concept so you repeated the same mistakes.

Anyways thank you very much Mike. I enjoyed your response. And ben whenever you get time I would appreciate it. It is no worry.

I just want to make it clear to everyone I am confused but I still love buddhism and I am contemplating taking up the path. I just dont know right this minute.

-juan :guns:
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:30 pm

Hey



CLW_UK with all due respect I think you are acting out your egoic mind.


Rational thought doesnt mean clinging


You seem to insist that I am saying that quantum physics proves Hinduism


No you didnt say it proves hinduism but you suggested that quantum physics has something to do with Hinduism, all i said was we dont know enough about QP to make any judgements yet



That is not what I am saying. I do not even know if there is a God


There most likely isnt


if Sanatana dharma is truely the teaching that can reveal that truth.


Check out the Kalama Sutta



Why? Because you dont know their concept so you repeated the same mistakes


Then tell us what your/Hinduism conception of "God" is so we can answer you

metta
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby Namu Butsu » Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:32 pm

Namaste,

CLW_UK i already did. I posted two links that explain the concept from experts. I wanted someone who could take the time to read them and realize the hindu view and then perhaps give me a buddhist response to this. I already read the refutations to christians, jews, and muslims. I am fine with that it does refute the hell out of what they believe in, but the hindu concept is missing. Look at my post again and check out the links.

with metta
-juan
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Re: The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God.

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:35 pm

“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
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