Friday, June 8, 2018

Buddhism and God (cartoon)

Family Guy; Robot Chicken; Ven. Nyanaponika (Mr. Sigmund Feniger's Buddhism and the God-Idea), BuddhaNet via ATS; Dhr. Seven, Pat Macpherson, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Isn't the Buddha God? No, no way.
Contradictory views have been expressed in Western literature on the attitude of Buddhism toward the concept of God and gods.

From a study of the sutras or discourses of the Buddha preserved in the Pali language canon, it will be seen on the one hand that the God-idea, the idea of a personal deity (a Brahma, YHVH/Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah), an actual "creator God " conceived as eternal and omnipotent, is incompatible with the Buddha's teachings.

Aha! I am thy God. Worship me, sheep!
On the other hand, conceptions of an impersonal godhead (godhood, Brahman) of any description, such as world-soul, are -- ultimately speaking -- excluded by the Buddha's teachings on non-self (anatta), insubstantiality, the impersonal nature of all things.

In the fabled "Garden of Eden," what must it have been like for the first man and woman, the Adam (Adama race) and the Eve, the second woman after Lilith?

We come from space
In Buddhist literature, belief in a creator God (issara-nimmana-vada) is frequently mentioned and rejected, along with other causes incorrectly adduced to explain the origin of the world, for instance, a world-soul, time, nature, and so on.

God-belief, however, is placed in the same category as those morally destructive wrong views that deny the karmic results of our actions, assume a fortuitous origin of humans and nature, or teach absolute determinism (that everything is caused by karma or predetermined by fate, which is called fatalism).

Thou shalt not question Me!
These views are said to be altogether pernicious, having definite bad results due to their effect on ethical conduct here and now in this very life.
Theism, however, is regarded as a kind of karma-teaching insofar as it upholds the moral efficacy of actions -- the understanding that we do "reap as we sow."

Hence, a theist who leads a moral life may, like everyone else doing so, expect a favorable rebirth. One may possibly even be reborn in a heavenly world that resembles one's own conception of it (so religion is correct to that extent, except that no such world will actually be permanent). It will not be of eternal duration as he may have been promised by popular religions. Hell(s) are impermanent, too, though possibly of very long duration.

If, however, fanaticism induces one to persecute those who do not share one's beliefs, this will have grave karmic consequences for one's future destiny.

Fanatical attitudes, intolerance, and violence against others with different beliefs create unwholesome karma leading to moral degeneration and to unhappy rebirths.
Hi, I'm Shiva. I'll be one of your Gods.
Although belief in a God does not exclude a favorable rebirth, it is a variety of eternalism, a false affirmation of permanence rooted in the craving for eternal existence, and as such it is an obstacle to enlightenment and liberation.
Among the fetters (samyojana) that bind one to the Round of Rebirth, theism is particularly subject to those of personality-belief, attachment to rites and rituals as if they could produce enlightenment, and craving for fine-material (rupa loka) existence or for rebirth in heavens of the Sensual Sphere (kama loka), as the case may be.
"God? creates but you destroy?
As an attempt at explaining the universe, its origin, and our human situation on this plane, the God-idea was found entirely unconvincing by the Buddhist thinkers of old.

Through the centuries, Buddhist philosophers have formulated detailed arguments refuting the doctrine of a creator God. It should be of interest to compare these with the ways in which Western philosophers have refuted the theological proofs of the existence of God.
But for an earnest believer, the God-idea is more than a mere device for explaining external facts like the origin of the world. For a believer it is an article of faith that can bestow a strong feeling of certainty, not only as to God's existence somewhere out there, but as to God's consoling presence and closeness... More

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