Do Buddhist believe in god?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Cittasanto
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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:42 am

Zach wrote:Some throw the Baby out with the Bath water don't they ?
I would agree, but continue with "the laundry out with the washing water" allot more is thrown out than one idea i.e., the baby.
and even useful aspects of traditions which have one form of idea regarding divine beings or another can be ignored.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Way~Farer » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:44 am

Cittasanto wrote:What do you mean with 'element'.
The 'mystical element' I was thinking of is described in Consciousness Mysticism in the Discourses of the Buddha by Peter Harvey. This touches on the passage I mentioned, and also the passage on 'luminous mind' (Pabhassara Sutta).

I am disposed towards mysticism, generally - not everyone is -and I tend towards universalism. And I usually put quotes around 'God' which I hope conveys the idea that I am not literalistic in my interpretation of such issues.

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:48 am

Cittasanto wrote: Most people here, I believe, are not from a Buddhist Background, i.e.born Buddhists, so their cultural background belief in god/s have been dropped allong the way but rather than accept there are other views on divinity with their own nuances when talking about it everything is clumped together and denied based upon one conception which they happen to of inherited.
That certainly is not a safe assumption to make.
whereas Buddhism which is not, in most cases, part of the cultural backdrop for inheritance, is picked up then forced (to some degree) to fall in line with the previous denial of the inherited system.
Nor is this a safe assumption.
This is not saying that god/s are an essential part or absolutely useful for the ultimate goal of Buddhism, but a personal disbelief in divine beings is just that, a personal belief which, in my opinion, does not represent Buddhism whether Theravada or otherwise, which has an inclusive attitude here regarding divine beings, so it is not an atheistic "religion", rather a theistic "religion" in its widest sense as these beings are accepted.
The Buddha did, indeed, have an "inclusive attitude here regarding divine beings," but the Buddha also characterized these "divine beings" -- that pre-dated him -- in a way that was radically different from how the Brahmins characterized them. There is a good reason why the Brahmins characterized the Buddha and his teachings as atheistic. In the Gita, chapter XVI, 8:

'The universe," they say, "is without truth [asat that which open to destruction and change, without an atman/brahman, the Absolute within each of us],"
Without basis/unstable [having no solid ground apratis.t.ham], without a God;
Brought about by a mutual union,
How else? It is caused by lust alone.'


This is a good caricature of the Buddhist position, and certainly the Buddhist position is that the world is unstable, constantly in change, without a basis or essence - an atman/brahman, and is without a god, "Brought about by a mutual union," and "caused by desire," all of which could be used to describe the Buddhist position, but no one else of the time.

And the Gita goes on, XVI, 9:

Holding this view,
These men of lost souls, of small intelligence,
And of cruel actions, come forth as enemies
Of the world for it destruction.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Way~Farer » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:54 am

tiltbillings wrote:If Theravada is "not absolutist not essentialist" then there is no "The unconditioned, unborn." Awakening is -- by definition according to the Buddha -- freedom, liberation, from the conditioning of greed, hatred, and delusion; it is freedom. liberation, from any further rebirth.
I agree that 'the unborn' is not something to be reified or objectified. But I am also wary of what is described as ucchedavāda or nihilism. I think that 'liberation' is pointing at something beyond birth-and-death, not simply the absence of it. The Buddha awakens to something as well as from something, doesn't he?

I find I am mainly in agreement with Ñāṇa in the thread he started, Atheism is an Unskillful False Dhamma, but I don't intend to spend time debating the issue, as I realize it generates a lot of heat.

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:59 am

sunyavadin wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:If Theravada is "not absolutist not essentialist" then there is no "The unconditioned, unborn." Awakening is -- by definition according to the Buddha -- freedom, liberation, from the conditioning of greed, hatred, and delusion; it is freedom. liberation, from any further rebirth.
I agree that 'the unborn' is not something to be reified or objectified. But I am also wary of what is described as ucchedavāda or nihilism. I think that 'liberation' is pointing at something beyond birth-and-death, not simply the absence of it. The Buddha awakens to something as well as from something, doesn't he?
He awakens to freedom from greed, hatred, and delusion, which is a total transformation. Your "to and "from" is naught more, it seems, than a variation of is and is not, being and non-being.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:59 am

sunyavadin wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:What do you mean with 'element'.
The 'mystical element' I was thinking of is described in Consciousness Mysticism in the Discourses of the Buddha by Peter Harvey. This touches on the passage I mentioned, and also the passage on 'luminous mind' (Pabhassara Sutta).

I am disposed towards mysticism, generally - not everyone is -and I tend towards universalism. And I usually put quotes around 'God' which I hope conveys the idea that I am not literalistic in my interpretation of such issues.
OK,
do you mean God as a alternative designation of Dhamma (reality and all it encompases) not as any being, as found in deistic or even some depictions of Brahma?
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:32 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: Most people here, I believe, are not from a Buddhist Background, i.e.born Buddhists, so their cultural background belief in god/s have been dropped allong the way but rather than accept there are other views on divinity with their own nuances when talking about it everything is clumped together and denied based upon one conception which they happen to of inherited.
That certainly is not a safe assumption to make.
whereas Buddhism which is not, in most cases, part of the cultural backdrop for inheritance, is picked up then forced (to some degree) to fall in line with the previous denial of the inherited system.
Nor is this a safe assumption.
which assumption?
if you are talking about the cultural backdrop people are from, this may not be 100% representitive of every member, or represent their generational origins, place of birth... but... http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... rom#p22136" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Europe and the US are not Culturally Buddhist and the predominant view would be the default people assumel, and according to that one poll it is relatively reasonable to assume that.
but to assume the abrahamic god is the only conception is also not a safe assumption when talking in a general sense, something many here have done.
This is not saying that god/s are an essential part or absolutely useful for the ultimate goal of Buddhism, but a personal disbelief in divine beings is just that, a personal belief which, in my opinion, does not represent Buddhism whether Theravada or otherwise, which has an inclusive attitude here regarding divine beings, so it is not an atheistic "religion", rather a theistic "religion" in its widest sense as these beings are accepted.
The Buddha did, indeed, have an "inclusive attitude here regarding divine beings," but the Buddha also characterized these "divine beings" -- that pre-dated him -- in a way that was radically different from how the Brahmins characterized them. There is a good reason why the Brahmins characterized the Buddha and his teachings as atheistic. In the Gita, chapter XVI, 8:

'The universe," they say, "is without truth [asat that which open to destruction and change, without an atman/brahman, the Absolute within each of us],"
Without basis/unstable [having no solid ground apratis.t.ham], without a God;
Brought about by a mutual union,
How else? It is caused by lust alone.'


This is a good caricature of the Buddhist position, and certainly the Buddhist position is that the world is unstable, constantly in change, without a basis or essence - an atman/brahman, and is without a god, "Brought about by a mutual union," and "caused by desire," all of which could be used to describe the Buddhist position, but no one else of the time.

And the Gita goes on, XVI, 9:

Holding this view,
These men of lost souls, of small intelligence,
And of cruel actions, come forth as enemies
Of the world for it destruction.
without a god?
Buddhism, regardless of what others may say, has gods found within its cosmology, and how they are considered may be represented in this way by those who have god/s in a central roll, but this does not show a lack of divine being within Buddhism, conceived in a different way or not.
how Buddhism defines itself rather than individuals or other groups is what is important.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Way~Farer » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:35 am

Cittasanto wrote:do you mean God as a alternative designation of Dhamma (reality and all it encompases) not as any being, as found in deistic or even some depictions of Brahma?
My way of thinking about 'God' is as 'the Not'. The Pali character 'a' is the negative particle - as in not-born, not-become, not-manifest. The Udana says 'if it weren't for the not-born, the not-fabricated, the not-manifest, there would be no escape from the born, the fabricated, the manifest'. My interpretation is that this is pointing to 'unconditioned mind' as a state of being. This is a lot more like a 'Mahayana' understanding though, I acknowledge that.

I don't believe in 'believing', though. That is why I am studying Buddhism and practicing meditation. I do ask myself, 'If I was Christian, what would I do differently?' I can't see any answer to that. I am not very impressed by 'belief', per se. You have to walk the walk.
tiltbillings wrote:
sunyavadin wrote:The Buddha awakens to something as well as from something, doesn't he?
He awakens to freedom from greed, hatred, and delusion, which is a total transformation. Your "to and "from" is naught more, it seems, than a variation of is and is not, being and non-being.
There are positive descriptions of Nibbana in the Suttas also, even though they are not very frequent.

In the essay by Nyanoponika Thera, 'Buddhism and the God Idea', he says
The materialistic philosophy of annihilationism (ucchedavāda) is emphatically rejected by the Buddha as a false doctrine. The doctrine of kamma is sufficient to prove that Buddhism does not teach annihilation after death. It accepts survival, not of an eternal soul, but of a mental process subject to renewed becoming; thus it teaches rebirth without transmigration. Again, the Buddha's teaching is not a nihilism that gives suffering humanity no better hope than a final cold nothingness. On the contrary, it is a teaching of salvation (niyyanika-dhamma) or deliverance (vimutti) which attributes to man the faculty to realize by his own efforts the highest goal, Nibbana, the ultimate cessation of suffering and the final eradication of greed, hatred and delusion. Nibbana is far from being the blank zero of annihilation; yet it also cannot be identified with any form of God-idea, as it is neither the origin nor the immanent ground or essence of the world.
I mostly agree with that. But I think that 'the final goal' is something beyond conception and that it's a mistake to think we know what it is.
Last edited by Way~Farer on Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:59 am

Cittasanto wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: Most people here, I believe, are not from a Buddhist Background, i.e.born Buddhists, so their cultural background belief in god/s have been dropped allong the way but rather than accept there are other views on divinity with their own nuances when talking about it everything is clumped together and denied based upon one conception which they happen to of inherited.
That certainly is not a safe assumption to make.
whereas Buddhism which is not, in most cases, part of the cultural backdrop for inheritance, is picked up then forced (to some degree) to fall in line with the previous denial of the inherited system.
Nor is this a safe assumption.
which assumption?
Both the major assumptions you make in the two paragraphs I responded to. They are certainly not appropriate to my experience.
but to assume the abrahamic god is the only conception is also not a safe assumption when talking in a general sense, something many here have done.
I make no such assumption.
Cittasanto wrote:
tilt wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:This is not saying that god/s are an essential part or absolutely useful for the ultimate goal of Buddhism, but a personal disbelief in divine beings is just that, a personal belief which, in my opinion, does not represent Buddhism whether Theravada or otherwise, which has an inclusive attitude here regarding divine beings, so it is not an atheistic "religion", rather a theistic "religion" in its widest sense as these beings are accepted.
The Buddha did, indeed, have an "inclusive attitude here regarding divine beings," but the Buddha also characterized these "divine beings" -- that pre-dated him -- in a way that was radically different from how the Brahmins characterized them. There is a good reason why the Brahmins characterized the Buddha and his teachings as atheistic. In the Gita, chapter XVI, 8:

'The universe," they say, "is without truth [asat that which open to destruction and change, without an atman/brahman, the Absolute within each of us],"
Without basis/unstable [having no solid ground apratis.t.ham], without a God;
Brought about by a mutual union,
How else? It is caused by lust alone.'


This is a good caricature of the Buddhist position, and certainly the Buddhist position is that the world is unstable, constantly in change, without a basis or essence - an atman/brahman, and is without a god, "Brought about by a mutual union," and "caused by desire," all of which could be used to describe the Buddhist position, but no one else of the time.

And the Gita goes on, XVI, 9:

Holding this view,
These men of lost souls, of small intelligence,
And of cruel actions, come forth as enemies
Of the world for it destruction.
without a god?
Certainly without this god (DN 24): "That Worshipful God, 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." Certainly without a god/godhead -- omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos -- as characterized in the Upansihads or the Gita, not to mention the atman as characterized in the Upansihads or the Gita.
Buddhism, regardless of what others may say, has gods found within its cosmology, and how they are considered may be represented in this way by those who have god/s in a central roll, but this does not show a lack of divine being within Buddhism, conceived in a different way or not.
how Buddhism defines itself rather than individuals or other groups is what is important.
No one here is denying that there are "gods" found through out the suttas, but the gods, taken from the brahmanical pantheon, are certainly radically redefined so as to fit with the Buddha's understanding of reality, and many of them are characterized as becoming good Buddhists, as in the 83rd discourse of the Middle Length Sayings: "God/Brahma truthfully answers [the questions of the Buddha] in succession: 'Good sir, those views I previously held are not mine; I see the radiance the world of God as passing; how could I say that I am permanent and eternal?'"
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:05 am

sunyavadin wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:do you mean God as a alternative designation of Dhamma (reality and all it encompases) not as any being, as found in deistic or even some depictions of Brahma?
My way of thinking about 'God' is as 'the Not'. The Pali character 'a' is the negative particle - as in not-born, not-become, not-manifest. The Udana says 'if it weren't for the not-born, the not-fabricated, the not-manifest, there would be no escape from the born, the fabricated, the manifest'.
If there were no arahants where would the "not-born, the not-fabricated, the not-manifest" be?
There are positive descriptions of Nibbana in the Suttas also, even though they are not very frequent.
There are, but they exist within a broader context.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Ben » Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:20 am

And let us not forget the following:
Refutation of the Issaranimannana-hetu view
The Buddha declared "Monks, of these three views, there are some samanas and Brahmins who hold and set forth the following view: "All bodily and mentally agreeable sensations, all bodily and mentally disagreeable sensations and all indifferent sensations enjoyed by beings in the present existence are created by a supreme brahma or god".
I approach them and ask: "Friends, is it true that you hold and set forth this view: 'That all bodily and mentally agreeable sensations, all bodily and mentally disagreeable sensations, and all indifferent sensations enjoyed by beings in the present life are created by a supreme brahma or god'"
To this the samanas and brahmas reply, "Yes, venerable sir," Then I say to them "Friends if that be the case, there will be persons who, owing to the creation of a supreme brahma or god
1. will kill any living being,
2. will steal,
3. will tell lies,
4. will indulge in immoral sexual intercourse,
5. will slander,
6. will use harsh language,
7. will foolishly babble,
8. will be avaricious,
9. will maintain ill-will against others,
10. will maintain wrong views.
"Monks, indeed, in the minds of those who confidently and solely rely on the creation of a supreme brahma or god, there cannot arise such mental factors as desire-to-do and effort, as to differentiate between what actions should be done and what actions should be refrained from.
Monks, indeed, in the minds of those who cannot truly firmly differentiate between what actions should be done and what actions should be refrained from, and live without the application of mindfulness and self-restraint, there cannot arise righteous beliefs that are conducive to the cessation of defilements.
Monks this is the second factual statement to refute the heretical beliefs and views advanced by those samanas and brahmins who maintain that all sensations enjoyed by beings in the present life are created by a supreme brahma or god".

- Tika Nipata, in Sammaditthi Dipani, Ledi Sayadaw
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: which assumption?
Both the major assumptions you make in the two paragraphs I responded to. They are certainly not appropriate to my experience.
Please be more specific.
but to assume the abrahamic god is the only conception is also not a safe assumption when talking in a general sense, something many here have done.
I make no such assumption.
I am afraid I read the Abrahamic or brahma (of which I see no difference between) description in your first post which doesn't make reference to other forms of view on divine beings other than the Kammicly bound form found in Buddhism, and there are other views other than a first cause creator monotheistic god, which was my point there.
tilt wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: without a god?
Certainly without this god (DN 24): "That Worshipful God, 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." Certainly without a god/godhead -- omniscient, omnipotent, permanent, independent, unique cause of the cosmos -- as characterized in the Upansihads or the Gita, not to mention the atman as characterized in the Upansihads or the Gita.
I believe I have already explained there are other forms of god than this.
which is part of the answer to Buddhism being theistic or not.
tilt wrote:No one here is denying that there are "gods" found through out the suttas, but the gods, taken from the brahmanical pantheon, are certainly radically redefined so as to fit with the Buddha's understanding of reality,
and who is saying they are not?
but one aspect of theism does not encompass the whole of theism.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:19 pm

sunyavadin wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:do you mean God as a alternative designation of Dhamma (reality and all it encompases) not as any being, as found in deistic or even some depictions of Brahma?
My way of thinking about 'God' is as 'the Not'. The Pali character 'a' is the negative particle - as in not-born, not-become, not-manifest. The Udana says 'if it weren't for the not-born, the not-fabricated, the not-manifest, there would be no escape from the born, the fabricated, the manifest'. My interpretation is that this is pointing to 'unconditioned mind' as a state of being. This is a lot more like a 'Mahayana' understanding though, I acknowledge that.

I don't believe in 'believing', though. That is why I am studying Buddhism and practicing meditation. I do ask myself, 'If I was Christian, what would I do differently?' I can't see any answer to that. I am not very impressed by 'belief', per se. You have to walk the walk.
Ok, but this could be problematic communicating here, as there are particular conventions here and your view may not be understood properly in context, so any refutation or disagreement warranted or not could be exaggerated unwittingly, more so than with other members.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by kirk5a » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:27 pm

tiltbillings wrote:If Theravada is "not absolutist not essentrialist" then there is no "The unconditioned, unborn." Awakening is -- by definition according to the Buddha -- freedom, liberation, from the conditioning of greed, hatred, and delusion; it is freedom. liberation, from any further rebirth.
The Buddha also defined awakening as turning one's mind away from form, feeling, perceptions, formations, and consciousness - and towards the deathless element.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: Do Buddhist believe in god?

Post by Zach » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:49 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Zach wrote: Some throw the Baby out with the Bath water don't they ? There are many references to Gods within the Sutta's requesting Buddha to turn the wheel of Dharma, Granting him various protections and receiving teachings from him, It is important for those coming in from a monotheistic background to be able to eliminate delusions of a creator god as this could not fit in with Dependent origination but the Gods according to the system of the 6 realms seems perfectly reasonable beings enjoying marvelous forms based upon their Karma " After Death, After the break up of the body, Having performed good and virtuous deeds they will appear in the Good destination ( The higher realms) " :buddha1:
And we should not forget that these "gods" can be quite deluded.
Of course, With some exception to those who where students of Buddha. :buddha1:

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