God!

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tiltbillings
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Re: God!

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:05 pm

PeterB wrote: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...
That is, indeed, debateable. When one starts to push towards the basic principles of a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos then there is a great deal of overlap.

Also,

"That Worshipful Brahma, the Great God, the Omnipotent, the
Omniscient, the Organizer, the Protection, the Creator, the Most Perfect
Ruler, the Designer and Orderer, the Father of All That Have Been and
Shall Be, He by Whom we were created, He is permanent, Constant,
Eternal, Unchanging, and He will remain so for ever and ever."
- DN 24

this does cover a great deal.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: God!

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:46 pm

Interesting talk on this issue here by Ajahn Brahm


http://www.youtube.com/user/BuddhistSoc ... RutmoPEWaQ
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: God!

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:16 pm

Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:It was not just the Buddha that 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 ...
The fact that other people have done something in another context does not mean that it must be a good idea to do in this context. For people who come here with a curiosity about Dhamma and an interest in it, I personally think it can be counterproductive to offer up a simplistic description of God and then argue against that God, while assuming that's what the other person must believe. There are nuances of belief that we might not see, and regardless, we all have our own mistaken beliefs, and part of Dhamma practice is seeing these beliefs for what they are.

tiltbillings wrote:... 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.
You may be right in some cases, but that's not the issue here. In the case of individuals who come to discussion from the perspective of having been harmed, we can try to be compassionate and patient. If such individuals who have been harmed feel justified in projecting their sense of hurt onto debates with others, that can create problems. If one happens to be a person who has been harmed, and if one happens to encounter evangelical polemics, then one needs to be particularly careful about how one reacts.

tiltbillings wrote: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.
We also should not pretend that Buddhism is not god-friendly. I have rarely if ever encountered a teacher who would turn away a student who believes in God. Generally, in our context, Buddhism is a friendly religion even in the face of the diversity of viewpoints we find all around us.

tiltbillings wrote:In this thread viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6849 debate certainly is appropriate; in the thread we are presently in probably not so much.
In that thread the debate was more about whether your personal translation of a Pali text was superior to the translation of Ven. Bikkhu Bodhi. Of course it's always possible for us to choose to interpret texts according to our own preconceived notions.
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 Jechbi » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:19 pm

PeterB wrote: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...

Good point. We can't know the nuances of the paths that others might be following for themselves.
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 Parth » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:38 pm

Hey clw_uk,

That was a very nice talk / video of Ajahn Brahm. Really worth watching.

Regards

Parth

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Re: God!

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:27 pm

parth wrote:Hey clw_uk,

That was a very nice talk / video of Ajahn Brahm. Really worth watching.

Regards

Parth



Yes

I didn't agree with everything he said on it however I found it quite insightful how he describes engaging in talk about "God" with people who use that term
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: God!

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:54 pm

Jechbi wrote:Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:It was not just the Buddha that 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 ...
The fact that other people have done something in another context does not mean that it must be a good idea to do in this context. For people who come here with a curiosity about Dhamma and an interest in it, I personally think it can be counterproductive to offer up a simplistic description of God and then argue against that God, while assuming that's what the other person must believe. There are nuances of belief that we might not see, and regardless, we all have our own mistaken beliefs, and part of Dhamma practice is seeing these beliefs for what they are.
First of all, I am hardly offering a simplistic view of "God." And I am quite willing to engage whatever god that might be presented. Secondly, it depends upon the context, as I have said, as to what is said.

As for the nuances, if it is a debate, then it is up to the nuance holder to make the nuances known, but a basic notion that is common to the creator god religions is that there is a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos that acts in history/in time. That certainly can be addressed, and there is no reason to pretend that the Buddha and the Buddhism in general does not have something to say about it.

If a god believer wants to know if she can practice Buddhism while believing in a god, my answer is: ”Sure, but do keep in mind that a god, according to the Buddha, plays no role in one’s liberation, but outside of that, just do the practice and don’t hang on to any answer.” And I would wish her the greatest success in her practice.

tiltbillings wrote:... 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.
You may be right in some cases, but that's not the issue here.
It very well might be the issue for some here. You don’t know.

In the case of individuals who come to discussion from the perspective of having been harmed, we can try to be compassionate and patient. If such individuals who have been harmed feel justified in projecting their sense of hurt onto debates with others, that can create problems. If one happens to be a person who has been harmed, and if one happens to encounter evangelical polemics, then one needs to be particularly careful about how one reacts.
It is a useful thing for a former god-believer to carefully and critically examine one's beliefs, and debate can be a good way of doing that. I am not talking about getting into god-believers faces and telling that they are crassly stupid for their beliefs.

tiltbillings wrote: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 Christian may find benefit from such practices.
We also should not pretend that Buddhism is not god-friendly. I have rarely if ever encountered a teacher who would turn away a student who believes in God. Generally, in our context, Buddhism is a friendly religion even in the face of the diversity of viewpoints we find all around us.
Buddhism is not not god-friendly? Well, it is not god-friendly, either. If some one wants to genuinely explore the Buddha’s teachings, do the practice, read the suttas and other writings and be open to the challenge it all presents. I have no problem with that.

But there is also no problem with looking at the idea of god in its various guises from a Buddhist perspective, as well as other ideas. This has long, noble history within Buddhism and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this is important for some to do.

tiltbillings wrote:In this thread viewtopic.php?f=13&t=6849 debate certainly is appropriate; in the thread we are presently in probably not so much.
In that thread the debate was more about whether your personal translation of a Pali text was superior to the translation of Ven. Bikkhu Bodhi. Of course it's always possible for us to choose to interpret texts according to our own preconceived notions.
Of course it's always possible for us to choose to interpret texts according to our own preconceived notions.” I did -- and do -- claim -- and I have shown in great detail -- on the basis of careful textual exegesis (I do not do eisegesis) and on the basis of the Pali itself, that my translation is quite defensible. I do think, however, Ven Bodhi’s muted translation missed an important point that was encased in the vocabulary. I had done this translation long before Ven Bodhi’s translation came out. As much as we discussed the passage in question at length, your claim that what I did was eisegesis, which was rather insulting then as it is now, and it was not something that you were ever able to carefully show to be so.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: God!

Postby DhammaSeeker » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:05 pm

Hi,

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within and the lords prayer says Our father who art in heaven. This indicates he is saying God is within.

Jesus also said God helps those who help themselves. This indicates we must rely on ourselves.

In the book of John, it says in the beggining was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. The word has also been called the law (if i remember correctly?). Isn't karma the law...and karma exists as a law eternally (as far as i know, correct me if i'm wrong?)

The New Testemant also says God is spirit. The holy spirit is within the trinity of God head. The symbol for the holy spirit is a dove....in symbology dove can also stand for sexual desire's (at least in dreams). Kundalini could be thought of a sexual force and some gnostic christian schools openly call kundalini the holy spirit. The image of Buddha under the boddhi tree had him with a snake over his head, surely representing the kundalini, the serpent force.

I'm in the same position as the original poster and have been looking at Christianity in esoteric terms before deciding whether to reject it on the basis of what the church says.

It's interesting though saying that, the eastern orthodox church doesn't belive in inherited original sin, and also it believes in theosis, God became man so that man might become God.

Hope i have not steered off topic too much :embarassed: just thought i' d add a differrent perspective on Christianity.

peace

DS

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Re: God!

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:16 pm

DhammaSeeker wrote:Hi,

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within and the lords prayer says Our father who art in heaven. This indicates he is saying God is within.
You can't just take little bit of this and that, ignoring the larger contexts in which the little bits of this and that are embedded. Doing that does justice to nothing.

Jesus also said God helps those who help themselves. This indicates we must rely on ourselves.

In the book of John, it says in the beggining was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. The word has also been called the law (if i remember correctly?). Isn't karma the law...and karma exists as a law eternally (as far as i know, correct me if i'm wrong?)

The New Testemant also says God is spirit. The holy spirit is within the trinity of God head. The symbol for the holy spirit is a dove....in symbology dove can also stand for sexual desire's (at least in dreams). Kundalini could be thought of a sexual force and some gnostic christian schools openly call kundalini the holy spirit. The image of Buddha under the boddhi tree had him with a snake over his head, surely representing the kundalini, the serpent force.

I'm in the same position as the original poster and have been looking at Christianity in esoteric terms before deciding whether to reject it on the basis of what the church says.

It's interesting though saying that, the eastern orthodox church doesn't belive in inherited original sin, and also it believes in theosis, God became man so that man might become God.

Hope i have not steered off topic too much :embarassed: just thought i' d add a differrent perspective on Christianity.

peace

DS
And none of these bits and pieces, especially when taken in in their fuller contexts, really has anything to do with the Buddha's teachings. It kind of sort of in a way reads as an exercise is indicriminate conflation. And it is worth noting nowhere here have you actually said what "God" is or isn't. It is a perspective of your very selective reading of Christianity (among other things), which is fine as personal expression, though I suspect any number of Christians would take exception to some or much of what you are saying here. So do not generalize it.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: God!

Postby Jechbi » Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:28 am

tiltbillings wrote:... a basic notion that is common to the creator god religions is that there is a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos that acts in history/in time. That certainly can be addressed, and there is no reason to pretend that the Buddha and the Buddhism in general does not have something to say about it.
Don't forget ineffable. A challenge with trying to persuade someone else that their concepts and doctrines are a wrong orientation is that in order to try to do so, one needs to make the assumption that one understands how that other person uses those terms and applies those concepts and doctrines personally. Without mind-reading skills, one is unlikely to be able to know that. So such debates sometimes feature people talking past each other, not really understanding one another or hearing one another.

Apart from the doctrines and beliefs that any of us might hold, there is a deeper application of Dhamma as a path to apply for oneself. There's something to be said for the practice of trying to understand how viewpoints that appear to disagree with our own might on some level be complementary. The Buddha had that rare quality of being able to articulate Dhamma perfectly clearly. That's one of the things that made him the Buddha. The rest of us are not so fortunate, so I think it's worthwhile to listen very carefully to the doctrines professed by others and respect them. We might not know everything that lies underneath.

tiltbillings wrote:If a god believer wants to know if she can practice Buddhism while believing in a god, my answer is: ”Sure, but do keep in mind that a god, according to the Buddha, plays no role in one’s liberation, but outside of that, just do the practice and don’t hang on to any answer.” And I would wish her the greatest success in her practice.
I think that's a good answer.
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 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:04 am

Jechbi wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:... a basic notion that is common to the creator god religions is that there is a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos that acts in history/in time. That certainly can be addressed, and there is no reason to pretend that the Buddha and the Buddhism in general does not have something to say about it.
Don't forget ineffable.
But, of course, “ineffable” is a meaningless concept, given that such god believers have all sorts of concepts about the god that is beyond words/concepts, including being beyond words/concepts, and stating that it is beyond words is a knowledge statement about what is supposedly beyond such.

A challenge with trying to persuade someone else that their concepts and doctrines are a wrong orientation is that in order to try to do so, one needs to make the assumption that one understands how that other person uses those terms and applies those concepts and doctrines personally. Without mind-reading skills, one is unlikely to be able to know that. So such debates sometimes feature people talking past each other, not really understanding one another or hearing one another.
It is a challenge in which I have no interest, though I may have an interest in presenting a Buddhist analysis of the idea of a god, of a singular omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos that acts in history/in time. As for what idiosyncratic notions a person might hold about the idea of a god, it is up to them to articulate them as the context may require.

Apart from the doctrines and beliefs that any of us might hold, there is a deeper application of Dhamma as a path to apply for oneself. There's something to be said for the practice of trying to understand how viewpoints that appear to disagree with our own might on some level be complementary. The Buddha had that rare quality of being able to articulate Dhamma perfectly clearly.
The Buddha did not seem too keen on the idea of god as an explanation for one’s actions or much else and, it would seem, with good reason.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: God!

Postby Jechbi » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:But, of course, “ineffable” is a meaningless concept, given that such god believers have all sorts of concepts about the god that is ...

That is just the kind of generalization that I feel is counterproductive to Dhamma discussions about other religions. "God believers" are not a class of people who somehow are more prone to clinging to concepts, beliefs and doctrine than people who identify as "Buddhist."

And a path of practice is not about coming up with rock-solid "concepts" that can be explained to everyone's satisfaction. Nor is it about defending our concepts in debate and trying to show that our concepts are more correct than someone else's concepts. In addition, when people express their concepts, they use words (like "god") that may be understood differently by different people.

With regard to your notion that "ineffable" is meaningless:
"Nibbana names the transcendent and singularly ineffable freedom that stands as the final goal of all the Buddha's teachings."
Ven. Thanissaro Bikkhu discusses "the sense of total limitlessness that makes the experience of Unbinding totally ineffable."
"Our wonder at the infinite and ineffable is an intuition of Nibbana itself."

I've lost track of what point you're trying to make, Tilt, so unless you can clarify your point, I'm going to let you have the last word in this discussion. I don't want to distract further from the point of the OP, which seemed to be about whether it's possible to be a "Christian Buddhist." Obviously, for some people, that's a possible place to start, if they are Christians who want to hear the Dhamma and who give it appropriate attention. You may not regard them as real "Buddhists," but it's not really your call to make.
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 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:07 am

Jechbi wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:But, of course, “ineffable” is a meaningless concept, given that such god believers have all sorts of concepts about the god that is ...

That is just the kind of generalization that I feel is counterproductive to Dhamma discussions about other religions. "God believers" are not a class of people who somehow are more prone to clinging to concepts, beliefs and doctrine than people who identify as "Buddhist."
The problem here is that you are not responding to what I actually wrote. The above quoted comment of mine is responding specifically to the issue of ineffability claim in relationship to beliefs about a supposedly ineffable god, but you are reading into it stuff I did not say. I did NOT say that god believers are more prone to conceptual thinking than Buddhists, nor did I imply such. It would help that you try not to assume things about what I am saying; rather, it would be better if you respond to what it is that I AM saying. That would make for better, less problematic communication.

And a path of practice is not about coming up with rock-solid "concepts" that can be explained to everyone's satisfaction. Nor is it about defending our concepts in debate and trying to show that our concepts are more correct than someone else's concepts. In addition, when people express their concepts, they use words (like "god") that may be understood differently by different people.
That is all very well and good and all that, but sometime some people find it helpful to engage in a debate, given that a debate can help clarify one’s point of view and help understand another’s point of view. Debate is not for everyone, but if a person does not like debate, that does not mean that debate has no value or interest for others. If a person does not want to debate god or other things, fine. That is their choice, but if a person does not like debate, then I simply would recommend for that person not to engage in debate or even read an ongoing debate thread, since what is likely going to happen is unhappiness and lecturing the debaters and frowning and finger-shaking and the like.

With regard to your notion that "ineffable" is meaningless
Well, the taste of chocolate is ineffable, but I would have no problem with stating that “ineffable” carries no real meaning in a Buddhist context, as well. At best it is a conceptual way of trying to point to something that is supposedly beyond concepts, but the claim of ineffability can also be a way of trying to shut down conversation/debate/disagreement.

Baha’is like to say that “God” is an unknowable essence, but that is a statement of knowledge about “God,” which one really cannot have about something that is unknowable. But really it is a statement of belief about “God,” but not knowledge about “God.” If “God” were really an unknowable essence, one could not really if know that there is a god or not, much less refer to it as an unknowable essence. This is pretty much the problem with the claims of ineffability; it just gets confusing as what is really meant. As far as nibbana being ineffable, it is pretty much like the taste of chocolate, which is something we can find out for ourselves. As for theists, the variation of beliefs about the ability to know god are considerable, but we know what the Buddhists would say about that, even if you don’t think they should say it.

I've lost track of what point you're trying to make, Tilt, so unless you can clarify your point, I'm going to let you have the last word in this discussion.
You lost track for the simple reason you went off the rails, accusing me of saying something I did not say.

I don't want to distract further from the point of the OP, which seemed to be about whether it's possible to be a "Christian Buddhist." Obviously, for some people, that's a possible place to start, if they are Christians who want to hear the Dhamma and who give it appropriate attention.
I have already given my opinion this matter, which is an opinion I have long held.

You may not regard them as real "Buddhists," but it's not really your call to make.
Again, I have not said a thing about people being or not being “real ‘Buddhists”’ in this discussion, or any other. I don’t think in those terms, but you seem to want to argue with me about things I do not say. It is very strange.

Now, just to make it clear, debate is really only for those who wish to engage in it. I am not advocating beating up the idea of god every time it rears its head here (which I certainly have not done here) and I am certainly not advocating jumping on god believers who come here wondering about Buddhism, but if people want to discuss or debate the notion of god from a Buddhist perspective, that is a reasonable thing to do, even if it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Those who do not like it, do not need to read such threads and if they do, and don’t like it, they really are on shaky ground complaining about it.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson


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