God!

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Re: God!

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:55 pm

Justsit wrote:Some Buddhists enter the mandala through the Christian gate and proceed quickly; others, less so. You might be interested in some of their writings - Robert Kennedy Roshi, SJ, is a Jesuit priest and Zen master, author of "Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit;" William Johnston, "Christian Zen;" Lawrence Richardson, David Steindl-Rast, Thomas Merton (Trappist monk who actually ended up asking HH the Dalai Lama for Dzogchen teachings, but that's another story :smile: ), and others. You might also enjoy Thich Nhat Hahn's Living Buddha, Living Christ. It can be a difficult journey for those used to having answers presented rather than discovered. Letting go of "God" can be very scary, but it's kind of like removing a band-aid; some folks pull it off slowly and gently, and others just rip it and get it over with.
Best wishes,
Justsit
The mileage of "Christian Zen" varies, depending who you talk to. Philip Kapleau, Roshi was not a big fan of such an idea, but issues of "Christian Zen" are better discussed on such forums as Zen Forum International.

The idea of a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos - god - is not something that ever found favor within Buddhism from the Buddha onwards for reasons spelled in a number of msgs above. Any number of argument have been put forth against such an idea of a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos by various Buddhists during its history from the Buddha onwards.

The a question implied in the OP is if Buddhism can be practiced while believing in a god-notion and the answer to that is: sure. How one might reconcile god and Buddhism is an interesting question, but also equally interesting, does one need to reconcile the two in order to practice the Buddha's teachings? I would argue that the answer to that is: no. I suspect, however, if one's practice of Buddhism is successful, the idea of a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos will be let go.
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: God!

Postby octathlon » Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:58 pm

tiltbillings wrote:The a question implied in the OP is if Buddhism can be practiced while believing in a god-notion and the answer to that is: sure. How one might reconcile god and Buddhism is an interesting question, but also equally interesting, does one need to reconcile the two in order to practice the Buddha's teachings? I would argue that the answer to that is: no. I suspect, however, if one's practice of Buddhism is successful, the idea of a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos will be let go.


I agree, since after all, we keep practicing while still believing in all kinds of wrong view concepts, which (hopefully) diminish and are let go of as we progress. If we had to let go of all that stuff before starting to practice Buddhism, we'd never do it.
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Re: God!

Postby alan » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:51 am

Love your Blue Meanie avatar, tilt.
But I'd argue the opposite when you say the average person can hold a belief in "God" and still benefit from Buddhist practice.
Why? because whole-hearted belief and effort is required to get to even the most basic levels of meditation. And without that peace of mind, there will be little motivation to continue. The original fascination will inevitably fade...
In my case a thorough reading of Than's compilation of the basic suttas was inspirational.
Why practice, why read, if you harbor lingering feelings that there is a God? I can't.
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Re: God!

Postby Hanzze » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:09 am

Dear friends,

if we chance the word "god" with "heart/mind" and the word "believe, hope" with the word "faith" I guess both Christian and Buddhist can learn from each other. Its all about translation mixed with believe.

_/\_
with loving kindness
and hopefully not off topic :-)
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: God!

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:12 am

Hanzze wrote:Dear friends,

if we chance the word "god" with "heart/mind" and the word "believe, hope" with the word "faith" I guess both Christian and Buddhist can learn from each other. Its all about translation mixed with believe.
Except doing something like that really is meaningless.
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: God!

Postby alan » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:37 am

Don't mean to be a Blue Meanie, but let's face some facts. Christianity and Buddhism just don't mix.
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Re: God!

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:07 am

alan wrote:Don't mean to be a Blue Meanie, but let's face some facts. Christianity and Buddhism just don't mix.
"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

They may not mix, but that does not mean that an Xtian cannot do Buddhist practices.

("Don't mean to be a Blue Meanie" Yes, well, there is a fellow out there who thinks I am a dastardly doer of dirty deeds to the denizens of this forum, making me the bluest of Blue Meanies.)
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: God!

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:17 am

Hi alan,
alan wrote:Love your Blue Meanie avatar, tilt.
But I'd argue the opposite when you say the average person can hold a belief in "God" and still benefit from Buddhist practice.
Why? because whole-hearted belief and effort is required to get to even the most basic levels of meditation. And without that peace of mind, there will be little motivation to continue. The original fascination will inevitably fade...
In my case a thorough reading of Than's compilation of the basic suttas was inspirational.
Why practice, why read, if you harbor lingering feelings that there is a God? I can't.

You should have a look at some of the material my own teacher, SN Goenka, has produced. It should convince you otherwise.
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_q ... tions&aq=o
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: God!

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:20 am

I like your posts, Tilt, but where's the jackal?

Back to the point, how would we make the distinctive separation between mixing core beliefs as opposed to core practices? I mean anyone can practice Buddha's teachings, but the problem comes with the "God" angle, which is ultimately what the OP asked about.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir
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Re: God!

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:27 am

Truth is God - by S. N. Goenka

Not long after I started teaching Vipassana in India, a course was organized at Sevagram. This is the village founded by Mahatma Gandhi as a place for people to carry out his ideal of a simple life of service. Among those who participated in the course were several who had been close to Gandhiji in his lifetime. Near the end of the course one of these people, an elderly man, came to me and said, “Now at last I understand what Gandhiji was doing, after all these years!” And he told me the following story.

It had been the custom of Gandhiji to hold mass prayer meetings to which tens of thousands of people would come. At these meetings he would tell all the people to chant prayers or hymns and to clap their hands. But while they did so he would sit silently in front of them, with closed eyes and hands folded in his lap. He did not clap his hands not utter a word himself.

“One day,” this man told me, “I asked Gandhiji, ‘Why don’t you chant and clap with everyone? What are you doing as you sit there with closed eyes?’ He replied, ‘I am witnessing God within me.’

‘You witness God within yourself! That is wonderful! Please tell me what form God takes in your inner vision.’

‘Well, throughout my body I can sense change taking place, a constant flux or flow. This is the true nature of this body. I observe this truth. And for me this is God. Whether it is really true that there is a supreme God I cannot say, but there cannot be any doubt that truth is real. For me truth is supreme, truth is God. I experience this truth moment by moment within me.’”

Gandhiji had never even heard the word “Vipassana”, but he had spontaneously started practicing the technique. After all, what is Vipassana except observing the truth about ourselves, the truth of our ever-changing nature? And whoever observes this truth is naturally transformed by it to become a pure-minded person who is fit to experience ultimate truth.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: God!

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:28 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I like your posts, Tilt, but where's the jackal?

Back to the point, how would we make the distinctive separation between mixing core beliefs as opposed to core practices? I mean anyone can practice Buddha's teachings, but the problem comes with the "God" angle, which is ultimately what the OP asked about.
Sure. But if one does the practice, really does the practice, being open to the results of the practice, not holding to and results of the practice, we get to a point that looks something like this:

Jack Kornfield:

"The entire teaching of Buddhism can be summed in this way:

There is nothing worth holding on to.

If you let go of everything,

Objects

Concepts

Teachers

Buddha

Self

Memories

Life

Death

Freedom

Let go and all suffering will cease. The world will appear in its pristine self-existing nature, and you will experience the freedom of the Buddha."


"The spiritual path is never one of achievement; it is always one of letting go. The more we let go, the more there is empty and open space for us to see reality." --Ayya Khema
And to Kornfield's list we can certainly add God. While Right View supports the practice; the practice, when done properly, gives rise to Right View.
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: God!

Postby Hanzze » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:31 am

_/\_
Thanks for sharing that Ben
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: God!

Postby Viscid » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:47 am

Ben wrote:‘Well, throughout my body I can sense change taking place, a constant flux or flow. This is the true nature of this body. I observe this truth. And for me this is God. Whether it is really true that there is a supreme God I cannot say, but there cannot be any doubt that truth is real. For me truth is supreme, truth is God. I experience this truth moment by moment within me.’”


Hell yeah. Thanks for posting that.

Just as clinging to 'God' is Wrong View, I also think averseness to 'God' is Wrong View. I think one should adopt an attitude of investigation into all things without undue bias.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: God!

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:36 am

Viscid wrote:
Ben wrote:‘Well, throughout my body I can sense change taking place, a constant flux or flow. This is the true nature of this body. I observe this truth. And for me this is God. Whether it is really true that there is a supreme God I cannot say, but there cannot be any doubt that truth is real. For me truth is supreme, truth is God. I experience this truth moment by moment within me.’”


Hell yeah. Thanks for posting that.

Just as clinging to 'God' is Wrong View, I also think averseness to 'God' is Wrong View. I think one should adopt an attitude of investigation into all things without undue bias.


Sadhu!
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: God!

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:23 am

Justsit wrote:Some Buddhists enter the mandala through the Christian gate and proceed quickly; others, less so. You might be interested in some of their writings - Robert Kennedy Roshi, SJ, is a Jesuit priest and Zen master, author of "Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit;" William Johnston, "Christian Zen;" Lawrence Richardson, David Steindl-Rast, Thomas Merton (Trappist monk who actually ended up asking HH the Dalai Lama for Dzogchen teachings, but that's another story :smile: ), and others. You might also enjoy Thich Nhat Hahn's Living Buddha, Living Christ. It can be a difficult journey for those used to having answers presented rather than discovered. Letting go of "God" can be very scary, but it's kind of like removing a band-aid; some folks pull it off slowly and gently, and others just rip it and get it over with.
Best wishes,
Justsit

Merton's certainly IS a different story...having decided just before his early death as the result of an accident that he would become the student of a Dzogchen teacher, that would back inthe 60's almost certainly have resulted in his excommunication from the Catholic church..And in his letters to the theologian Rosemary Ruether he made it plain that he had abandoned the theistic view as found in post Great Schism Roman Catholicism.
Thich Naht Hahn in my view takes the primary colours of Buddhism and Christianity and mixes them into a khaki melange that neither decorates nor illuminates.
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Re: God!

Postby Justsit » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:07 pm

Agreed, PeterB.
For those just dipping their toes in Buddhist waters, though, sometimes it is reassuring to go gradually. Another analogy comes to mind - going swimming as a child. My brother would just run right off the end of the diving board, with a big rebel yell, right into the cold water, splashing and hooting. Me, I went to the shallow end steps and gingerly lowered myself in, one step at a time, suffering through every inch of icy water on my skin until I "got used to it."
Some folks might need the melange for a while.
:anjali:
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Re: God!

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:40 pm

Actually if you are sure of theory of Karma - cause and effect, you dont need a God, for irrespective of a GOD you will only reap what you sow, so where is God needed except for somebody's psycological comfort.

Thanks BEN for putting in that Gandhiji excerpt. Though this could be a seperate thread but, at times think that what Gandhiji did he could easily be a Future Buddha / Pacceca Buddha.

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Re: God!

Postby Jechbi » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:40 pm

Ben wrote:Truth is God - by S. N. Goenka

Not long after I started teaching Vipassana in India, a course was organized at Sevagram. This is the village founded by Mahatma Gandhi as a place for people to carry out his ideal of a simple life of service. Among those who participated in the course were several who had been close to Gandhiji in his lifetime. Near the end of the course one of these people, an elderly man, came to me and said, “Now at last I understand what Gandhiji was doing, after all these years!” And he told me the following story.

It had been the custom of Gandhiji to hold mass prayer meetings to which tens of thousands of people would come. At these meetings he would tell all the people to chant prayers or hymns and to clap their hands. But while they did so he would sit silently in front of them, with closed eyes and hands folded in his lap. He did not clap his hands not utter a word himself.

“One day,” this man told me, “I asked Gandhiji, ‘Why don’t you chant and clap with everyone? What are you doing as you sit there with closed eyes?’ He replied, ‘I am witnessing God within me.’

‘You witness God within yourself! That is wonderful! Please tell me what form God takes in your inner vision.’

‘Well, throughout my body I can sense change taking place, a constant flux or flow. This is the true nature of this body. I observe this truth. And for me this is God. Whether it is really true that there is a supreme God I cannot say, but there cannot be any doubt that truth is real. For me truth is supreme, truth is God. I experience this truth moment by moment within me.’”

Gandhiji had never even heard the word “Vipassana”, but he had spontaneously started practicing the technique. After all, what is Vipassana except observing the truth about ourselves, the truth of our ever-changing nature? And whoever observes this truth is naturally transformed by it to become a pure-minded person who is fit to experience ultimate truth.

Good post.

The point is not to reconcile doctrines, or to force Dhamma into Christianity or Christianity into Dhamma. The point is to apply the teaching for oneself according to one's ability and inclination, and also to encourage others when they express an interest in Dhamma instead of discouraging them.

When the Buddha criticized other faith systems, he did so from the perspective of a perfectly enlightened being, understanding the faculties of his intended audience, and out of compassion. But many of us are more likely to criticize other faiths from the perspective of our own ignorance, or our own feelings of aversion toward those faiths, or our greed for our own belief systems. We may not know how another person understands terms like "God" or how such ideas might fit into their background. When can fuel misunderstanding and discouragement if we turn a Dhamma discussion into a debate about God.

Each of has can only start where we are, and each of us is bound to change as practice deepens. Each of us can play a role in supporting and encouraging others.
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.
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Re: God!

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:35 pm

Jechbi wrote: When the Buddha criticized other faith systems, he did so from the perspective of a perfectly enlightened being, understanding the faculties of his intended audience, and out of compassion.
It was not just the Buddha who argued against the idea of a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos. The doctors of Buddhism throughout it history in India did so, which we see in such passages as these:

"The assumption that a God is the cause (of the world, etc.) is based on the false belief in the eternal self (atman, i.e. permanent spiritual substance, essence or personality); but that belief has to be abandoned, if one has clearly understood that everything is impermanent and subject to suffering." - Abhidharmakosha 5, 8 vol IV, p 19.

And as the 9th Century Indian Buddhist philosopher saint Dharmakirti so delicately said: "The belief in a world-creator... [is] ... the mark of the crass stupidity of witless men," (I would not agree with Dharmakirti’s sentiments.)

But many of us are more likely to criticize other faiths from the perspective of our own ignorance, or our own feelings of aversion toward those faiths, or our greed for our own belief systems. We may not know how another person understands terms like "God" or how such ideas might fit into their background.
Maybe there is criticism from such negative points of view, but let us also not forget that many who come to Buddhism in the West come out of theistic backgrounds and have been harmed by their childhood (or later) religions. It may not be inappropriate for them to take a critical look at ideas with which they have had conflicts, and it may not be a bad idea for them to look at notions such as a creator god in terms of what Buddhism has to say about the idea. Also, it may not be a bad idea to be able to counter Christian evangelical polemics directed at Buddhism.

Now, if a Christian comes here and is genuinely interested in Buddhist practice, we should not pretend that Buddhism is god-friendly, but we can point out that some aspects of Buddhist practice are not dependent upon belief and that such a Christiam may find benefit from such practices.

When[sic] can fuel misunderstanding and discouragement if we turn a Dhamma discussion into a debate about God.
That depends upon the context. In this thread viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6849 debate certainly is appropriate; in the thread we are presently in probably not so much.
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: God!

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:32 pm

I think its worth adding that the God who is not believed in by Buddhists is not believed in by quite a large proportion of Christians either...
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