Author Topic: Creator God in Buddhism  (Read 551 times)

Offline Dharma Flower

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Creator God in Buddhism
« on: August 14, 2018, 01:32:13 am »
Like Jainism and Taoism, Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. This doesn’t mean Buddhism is entirely atheistic, since Buddhism does teach the existence of a cosmic moral order (karma and the Dharma), as well as life after death.
 
As a non-theistic religion, Buddhism denies the necessity for a creator to the universe. While Big Bang cosmology might seem to suggest the universe’s beginning required a first cause, this isn’t exactly the case:

Quote
The Big Bang theory states that it is the point in which all dimensions came into existence, the start of both space and time.[33] Then, the question “What was there before the Universe?” makes no sense; the concept of “before” becomes meaningless when considering a situation without time.[33] This has been put forward by J. Richard Gott III, James E. Gunn, David N. Schramm, and Beatrice Tinsley, who said that asking what occurred before the Big Bang is like asking what is north of the North Pole.[33]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_argument#Big_Bang_cosmology

While many Buddhists regard Amida Buddha as their Higher Power (tariki), he is a symbolic expression for the boundless wisdom and compassion which pervades the universe (the Dharmakaya), rather than a creator or judge.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 01:39:17 am by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2018, 01:38:43 am »
While many Buddhists regard Amida Buddha as their Higher Power (tariki), he is a symbolic expression for the boundless wisdom and compassion which pervades the universe, rather than a creator or judge.

So is Amida Buddha an actual being, or just a symbol?
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Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2018, 01:43:27 am »
While many Buddhists regard Amida Buddha as their Higher Power (tariki), he is a symbolic expression for the boundless wisdom and compassion which pervades the universe, rather than a creator or judge.

So is Amida Buddha an actual being, or just a symbol?

Quote
For example, Shinran wrote: “Supreme Buddha is formless, and because of being formless is called jinen (naturalness). Buddha, when appearing with form, is not called supreme nirvana. In order to make it known that supreme Buddha is formless (emptiness), the name Amida Buddha is expressly used; so I have been taught.” Shinran and his school understand Amida to be a symbol for the Buddha-nature that all beings are universally endowed with. Because Amida’s light embraces all beings and never abandons anyone, all creatures without exception will be liberated from suffering and ignorance.
https://tricycle.org/magazine/essential-and-pure/

Quote
According to the stories contained in the sutras, this liberation for all is something that Amida accomplished ten kalpas ago—a time so ancient it is almost beyond reckoning. Shinran advanced his interpretation further, stating that “Amida seems to be a Bud­dha more ancient than kalpas as countless as the atoms of the universe.” This meant that Amida’s “vow” transcended history altogether and was thus timelessly true.

Shinran understood Amida as buddhanature. As he puts it, “Buddhanature is none other than Tathagata [Buddha]. This Tathagata pervades the countless worlds; it fills the hearts and minds of the ocean of all beings. Thus, plants, trees, and land all attain buddhahood.”
https://www.lionsroar.com/the-path-of-gratitude/

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2018, 02:20:58 am »
Oṃ amitābha hrīḥ was one of my favourite mantras back in the day, although I was actually given Om namo Amitabha Buddhaya. Amida Buddha was given to me by my teacher as part of my practice, as the Buddha of Infinite Light. As a science teacher I guess he thought I could connect more with an energy visualisation. The light stays with me after all these years, so he was probably right.

I like the way Amida Buddha asks you to visualise Earth as paradise, so there is no need for any Nirvana other than this one. The tension in the question about whether these are personifications of ideals are real Gods or not is useful to keep in mind when practicing. I think that people who need Gods can usefully take it that this one exists in some form, or those who don't need Gods any more can usefully use them as symbols.

Any fundamental reality can wait for death or enlightenment, whichever comes sooner.
“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: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2018, 09:43:08 am »
Like Jainism and Taoism, Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. This doesn’t mean Buddhism is entirely atheistic, since Buddhism does teach the existence of a cosmic moral order (karma and the Dharma), as well as life after death.
 
As a non-theistic religion, Buddhism denies the necessity for a creator to the universe. While Big Bang cosmology might seem to suggest the universe’s beginning required a first cause, this isn’t exactly the case:

Quote
The Big Bang theory states that it is the point in which all dimensions came into existence, the start of both space and time.[33] Then, the question “What was there before the Universe?” makes no sense; the concept of “before” becomes meaningless when considering a situation without time.[33] This has been put forward by J. Richard Gott III, James E. Gunn, David N. Schramm, and Beatrice Tinsley, who said that asking what occurred before the Big Bang is like asking what is north of the North Pole.[33]


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_argument#Big_Bang_cosmology

While many Buddhists regard Amida Buddha as their Higher Power (tariki), he is a symbolic expression for the boundless wisdom and compassion which pervades the universe (the Dharmakaya), rather than a creator or judge.

Yes, but there are still striking similarities with theistic belief systems, Christianity in particular.  You have the "service" as has been discussed in the past.  There is also  the similarity in Amida's Primal Vow and and Christian salvation though the blood atonement of Jesus.  There may not be a God, per se, but there is certainly a savior in Pure Land.  There is also the idea that Amida Buddha presiding over the Pure Land of Sukhavati being similar to Gods of the afterlife such as Egypt's Osiris and the Field of Reeds.

There's nothing wrong with those similarities.  In fact, I find such things fascinating and uplifting.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 09:51:17 am by IdleChater »

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2018, 01:19:31 am »
While many Buddhists regard Amida Buddha as their Higher Power (tariki), he is a symbolic expression for the boundless wisdom and compassion which pervades the universe, rather than a creator or judge.

So is Amida Buddha an actual being, or just a symbol?

Quote
For example, Shinran wrote: “Supreme Buddha is formless, and because of being formless is called jinen (naturalness). Buddha, when appearing with form, is not called supreme nirvana. In order to make it known that supreme Buddha is formless (emptiness), the name Amida Buddha is expressly used; so I have been taught.” Shinran and his school understand Amida to be a symbol for the Buddha-nature that all beings are universally endowed with. Because Amida’s light embraces all beings and never abandons anyone, all creatures without exception will be liberated from suffering and ignorance.
https://tricycle.org/magazine/essential-and-pure/

Quote
According to the stories contained in the sutras, this liberation for all is something that Amida accomplished ten kalpas ago—a time so ancient it is almost beyond reckoning. Shinran advanced his interpretation further, stating that “Amida seems to be a Bud­dha more ancient than kalpas as countless as the atoms of the universe.” This meant that Amida’s “vow” transcended history altogether and was thus timelessly true.

Shinran understood Amida as buddhanature. As he puts it, “Buddhanature is none other than Tathagata [Buddha]. This Tathagata pervades the countless worlds; it fills the hearts and minds of the ocean of all beings. Thus, plants, trees, and land all attain buddhahood.”
https://www.lionsroar.com/the-path-of-gratitude/

So is Amida Buddha an actual being, or just a symbol? 

I'm also puzzled by the description of Buddhanature - on the one hand it's just the Buddha, on the other something it's something which pervades the countless worlds?

I would appreciate it if you could answer questions straightforwardly in your own words, since the quotes you provide just raise more questions.
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2018, 04:01:51 pm »
So is Amida Buddha an actual being, or just a symbol?

Much like the Hindu scriptures distinguish between Brahman with attributes (relative truth) and Brahman without attributes (Ultimate Truth), the Tao Te Ching distinguishes between the nameless Tao and the named:

Quote
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.

The named Tao and the nameless Tao spring from the same ultimate source. The Tao would be entirely unknowable to limited beings such as ourselves without the use of human language, however inadequate it might be.

Please compare the above quote from the Tao Te Ching to the following words of Shinran Shonin:

Quote
The Supreme Buddha is formless, and because of being formless is called Suchness. The Buddha, when appearing with form, is not called the Supreme Nirvana. In order to make us realize that the true Buddha is formless, it is expressly called Amida Buddha; so I have been taught. Amida Buddha is the medium (relative truth) through which we are made to realize Suchness (Ultimate Truth).

Amida Buddha and the formless Dharmakaya spring from the same source, but differ in name. Without the name and form of Amida Buddha (as a upaya-symbol), the Ultimate Truth of Dharma-body would be inaccessible to unenlightened beings.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2018, 05:00:23 pm »

The Tao would be entirely unknowable to limited beings such as ourselves without the use of human language, however inadequate it might be.

Amida Buddha and the formless Dharmakaya spring from the same source, but differ in name. Without the name and form of Amida Buddha (as a upaya-symbol), the Ultimate Truth of Dharma-body would be inaccessible to unenlightened beings.

I respectfully disagree. That's like saying we have to settle for the pointing finger instead of the real moon, or reading the menu but not getting to eat the meal. Why rely on inadequate words or concepts, which can even get in the way, when it can be directly realized?

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
« Last Edit: August 15, 2018, 09:14:38 pm by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2018, 07:48:35 am »
In case anyone would like to learn more about the nature of Amida Buddha, I recommend the Essential Shinran by Alfred Bloom:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9729498-the-essential-shinran

There's little chance that I can explain it better than Shinran himself.

Regarding the original topic of this thread, while Amida Buddha may be considered a Higher Power, he is not a creator or judge:

IS THERE A GOD? A BUDDHIST ANSWERbyRev Taitetsu Unno
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-AN/an140493.pdf

Offline Chaz

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2018, 09:56:06 am »
In case anyone would like to learn more about the nature of Amida Buddha, I recommend the Essential Shinran by Alfred Bloom:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9729498-the-essential-shinran

There's little chance that I can explain it better than Shinran himself.

Regarding the original topic of this thread, while Amida Buddha may be considered a Higher Power, he is not a creator or judge:

IS THERE A GOD? A BUDDHIST ANSWERbyRev Taitetsu Unno
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-AN/an140493.pdf


I think you've titled this thread in a misleading way.  It's should be about "Creator God in Buddhism"  a fairly broad topic.  However, you seem content to limit your discussion to Pure Land which is only a subset/sect within a broader context of general Buddhism.  While others have taken a more generalist approach, you won't engage on that level  and you don't add anything to the discussion but to offer links or quotes, which is not discussion at all, really.

You also seem to be proselytizing, using techniques straight out of the old Jesus People playbook - to simply hammer away at people using scripture rather than testimony. 

People have asked you, repeatedly to please put your responses in your own words, and you just ignore the question. 

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2018, 01:39:04 am »
Regarding the original topic of this thread, while Amida Buddha may be considered a Higher Power, he is not a creator or judge:

So what is he, exactly?  An actual being, or just a symbol, or what exactly? 

And what does this have to do with the thread title, "Creator God in Buddhism"?
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Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Creator God in Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2018, 01:40:20 am »
Much like the Hindu scriptures distinguish between Brahman with attributes (relative truth) and Brahman without attributes (Ultimate Truth), the Tao Te Ching distinguishes between the nameless Tao and the named:

What does have to do with the topic? 
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

 


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