Author Topic: Buddhism and atheism  (Read 482 times)

Offline dyanaprajna2011

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Buddhism and atheism
« on: November 14, 2018, 04:35:19 pm »
I apologize if this topic had come up before.
Me and my (ex) brother in law were discussing the concept of god in Buddhism. I argued that Buddhism is not atheistic, he argued that, practically, it is, regardless of the philosophy. So how is atheism viewed in Buddhism?
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Buddhism and atheism
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 05:22:41 pm »
I understand that the belief in the existence of "God" or gods is treated as not relevant to the practice of the path, except where it becomes an impediment to practice. Buddhist cosmology includes a multitude of realms aside from this earthly one, but believing in the physical reality of them is not a requirement for a sound buddhist practice since "here and now" is the important place and time.

In other words it may be an interesting topic of discussion but isn't worth spending too much time on, except to be eventually released from a possibly constricting belief.

As a non believer, I have enjoyed the debate in the past  (with a catholic friend, happy in his belief) and concluded that if we drop the God concept entirely, the rules and results of wholesome and unwholesome moral behaviour still apply, i.e. that immoral actions bring suffering and moral actions lay the conditions for the end of suffering. The definitions of morality and immorality are fairly consistent across the God/no God divide.

So believing doesn't mean you can't be practice the buddhist path, but eventually the question will probably fade in importance as buddhist practice bears its own fruit.

It doesn't take God to make it happen. So no worries either way.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Buddhism and atheism
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2018, 02:41:34 am »
I apologize if this topic had come up before.
Me and my (ex) brother in law were discussing the concept of god in Buddhism. I argued that Buddhism is not atheistic, he argued that, practically, it is, regardless of the philosophy. So how is atheism viewed in Buddhism?

It depends what you mean by "god", but to put it very crudely, you could say that Buddhism = Hinduism minus Atman and Brahman.   
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Buddhism and atheism
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2018, 04:19:42 am »
Unlike other 'religions' Buddhism does not need you to believe in the concept of God to be a Buddhist. Nor does it require you not to believe. Which is why you may hear that the concept isn't a useful thing to dwell on, and that it is probably best just to ignore it.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Chaz

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Re: Buddhism and atheism
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2018, 08:28:30 am »
I find it kinda interesting how Buddhism is regularly compared/contrasted with Atheism.  You never see comparisons with, say, Methodism, even though there are Buddhist communities where you'd swear you were in a Methodist church were it not for all the Buddhist statuary on the altar.

Anyway....

I don't really care about questions regarding the existence of God.   I don't care what Buddhism's stand on it is, either.  The way I see it, God doesn't factor into the 4NT or the N8FP.  In that light, what possible difference does a belief in the existence of god make?  None, of course.  If God makes no difference, why should I care?

God may exist and may not.  Doesn't make any difference to me.

I will say this, though, I find atheists and theists going after each other over beliefs both tedious and boring.

Offline KathyLauren

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Re: Buddhism and atheism
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2018, 05:38:27 pm »
It is all in the definitions.  What do you mean by 'atheist', and what do you mean by 'god'?

Atheism sometimes means a belief that there is no god, and sometimes it means that the person referred to does not subscribe to any religion.

When referring to a god, do you mean a monotheistic creator, as is found in Christianity and the other western religions, or do you mean any 'supernatural' deity?

Buddhism expressly does not believe in a creator, since a creator would have to inherently exist.  But it has no trouble accepting the existence of the other kind of gods.  They just are of no special importance.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Buddhism and atheism
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2018, 02:36:26 am »
I find it kinda interesting how Buddhism is regularly compared/contrasted with Atheism. 

I think Buddhas teachings would have been originally regarded as "atheistic" by the Brahmins, given his rejection of Atman/Brahman. 
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Buddhism and atheism
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2018, 04:42:18 am »
It's hard to generalise about Buddhist beliefs, but I have never read a theistic version with a personified creator myth. Where gods are mentioned as such, it is that they are to be pitied as having so much going for them that they never consider that they too need to become enlightened.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

 


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