Taking Buddhism at face value as a system of ethical precepts, a philosophy of life, and a set of meditative practices, many Christians and Jews have found it quite possible to affirm major aspects of Buddhism without abandoning their own faith. Many people, not familiar with Buddhist thought, assume that the label of “religion” means Buddhists must believe in some type of God. Or, if you believe that teaching given by God is best, that is contradiction with refuge in Buddha as best teacher of gods and men. Buddhism is a non-theistic system. And what is the self? Buddhism is non-theistic. Following this belief, practitioners of Mahayana simultaneously worship Buddha and maintain a non-theistic worldview. Yes, Buddhists are theists. Buddhism is a non-theistic religion and way of life; it has a different view on what is ultimate reality. Mar 2013 522 _ Sep 29, 2015 #2 Depends on who's practicing. There is no personal god or monotheistic creator God in Buddhism, as there is in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. In the case of Communism, these laws were discovered not by the Buddha but by Marx, Engles, and Lenin. So what's "real"? I have addressed the question of whether Buddhism is a philosophy or a religion elsewhere, arguing that it is both philosophy and religion, and that the whole "philosophy versus religion" argument is unnecessary. N. noogan. Yes, Buddhism is a religion. Buddhism is non-theistic. Buddhists, like Siddhārtha before them, seek to reach nirvana: the state beyond all suffering. Favorite Answer. Is there Theistic Buddhism? For more discussion of this kind of devotion, see the essay "Devotion in Buddhism" by Nyanaponika Thera. As compared to Islam, Judaism or Christianity, Buddhism does not have a God who created this world. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. In the Zen monastery where I first learned about Buddhism, the monks liked to point to the Buddha representation on the altar and say, "That's you up there. Hence, it represents up … But Buddhism is non-theistic. However, a careful analysis of Vajrayana Buddhist cosmogony, specifically as presented in the Atiyoga tradition of Indo-Tibetan … Interfaith. Western Buddhists are the foremost promulgators of the idea that Buddhism is non-theistic. Whether the doctrine is factual or not is not the point. Although the majority of Buddhists are atheist, some believe in one God and others believe in multiple gods. It is by seeing through the delusion of ego that realization blooms. There are a few non-theistic or semi-theistic religions to consider as well. So, we get to the question Is Buddhism Polytheistic Or Monotheistic? Buddhism Is Distinctly Different From Other Religions . Furthermore, it is a system of faith and worship. But Buddhism goes beyond most of these other religions in that it is positively anti-theistic because the very notion of God conflicts with some principles which are … Buddhism rejects a sense of self and Hinduism retains it. Like belief in reincarnation. Such a peaceful religion with no God. There is no personal god or monotheistic creator God in Buddhism, as there is in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Thus, that is what defines religion for philosophy. How can that be? You aren’t any better than me except to the extent that you serve me and others better than I do. This essence is eternal and without form, therefore indescribable, but it can be experienced in everyday life. Relevance. As Buddhism continues to take hold in the West, many are finding a sense of compatibility between their Western/Theistic beliefs and practices and those of Buddhism … Even I was shocked when I first read about the core beliefs of Buddhism. Buddhism is a theistic religion, whether Mahayana or Theravada. Working with those questions is not a corruption of Buddhism; it is Buddhism. Actually, Buddhism is functionally theistic, even if it avoids the “G” word. Indeed most Asian religions (with the possible exception of some extremely devotional forms of Hinduism) are essentially non-theistic, in that God does not occupy the central place that is accorded to him in monotheistic religious traditions. Any doctrine or practice that enables realization is an upaya. Some branches allow for elements of theism (belief in deities) but this is often considered to be optional. Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that focuses on following the teachings of the Buddha and bodhisattvas to become free from suffering. Philosophy means the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.Even if you can find “Buddhism” on every list of world religions, it is still a science of mind. Almost all Buddhists live in Asia, but there are a significant number of followers in the U.S. Buddhism has much in common with Hinduism; it is concerned primarily with ethics and morals, sees each daily action as having spiritual consequences, and believes in reincarnation. Buddhism is Non-theistic. Buddhism, a non-theistic religion, is often described as a "mind-science." Buddhism is not about either believing or not believing in God or gods. But Buddhism is non-theistic. Webster's New World Dictionary (Third College Edition): defines religion as: "any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy." But Buddhism begins with the premise that the way we understand the phenomenal world is delusional to begin with The quest is to realize, or perceive, delusions as the delusions they are. Merely "believing in" enlightenment and nirvana is pointless. buddhism theistic; Home. They may even grant favors, protection, etc. They must be intimately experienced to be understood. Some medieval Christian mystics, such as the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, argued that it is incorrect to say that God exists because existence amounts to taking a particular form within a space of time. Source(s): why because I said so. In most schools of Buddhism, it is understood that enlightenment and nirvana cannot be conceptualized or explained with words. To lead is to serve. Buddhism is commonly distinguished on doctrinal grounds from monotheistic and polytheistic religions by the fact that it refutes the existence of a divine Creator, and indeed there is ample textual evidence in early Buddhist, Mahayana, and Vajrayana treatises to support this claim.' For example, if you believe that God is only savior, that is contradiction of belief in karma.Or, if you believe that God judges your experience, that contradicts with karma again. It's not essential as far as the basic dharma goes (or 4 noble truths and the eightfold path). The “deity” of Mahayana Buddhism is not a personal being but an impersonal, all-encompassing force. This is a question that may be clarified and re-clarified and answered in different ways at different times as one's understanding of the teachings deepens. When you bow, you are bowing to yourself." If atheism is the absence of belief in a God or gods, then many Buddhists are, indeed, atheists. One might say that in Buddhism, the big question is not whether gods exist, but what is the nature of existence? I’ve always tried to explain it that Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, but definitely not atheistic. Serving is leadership. But what about the "naïve, petitionary, and superstitious" trappings that Harris spoke of? Opportunities and Challenges in Teaching Big History, Beyond Intelligent Design: Evolution and Culture Wars. It literally means, “to blow out,” or “to quench.” Nirvana ends the cycle of samsara, the cycle of death and r… Author has 157 answers and 236.9K answer views Buddhism is non-theistic because no deity (or your faith in a deity) can "save" sentient beings (Soteriology). Is buddhism theistic or nontheistic? After Hinduism, the fourth largest world religion is Buddhism. Beliefs of any kind play a different role in Buddhism than in many other religions. The individual may believe in a deity although it is not expressed in the Buddhism itself. But Buddhism goes beyond most of these other religions in that it is positively anti-theistic because the very notion of God conflicts with some principles which are … The Buddhist canon mentions devas, celestial beings, spirits, even Brahma who thinks he/she/it is the creator. Deity yoga is a practice within the Tibetan Vajrayāna To what is the Buddhist devoted? Where do you find the self? Let me explain my understanding. How do you understand it? The Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. That said, if God or gods show up, we’ll be happy to believe. Soon the idea of past and future Buddhas developed, with Maitreya, the Buddha y… Tibetan Buddhism is one example of a theistic Buddhism, while Theravada Buddhism is not exclusive. Tibetan Buddhism also has … There are three additional issues, however, which complicate the relationship between Buddhism and theism even further. Excellent post! Stupas were built to contain relics of the Buddha and pilgrimages were made to places where he had walked. He recognized most emphatically the existence of moral and spiritual values. It’s a way of exploring how we think, feel, and act that leads us to profound truths about who we are.The Buddha was born a prince but he realized that conditioned experiences could not provide lasting happiness or protection from suffering. Many people, not familiar with Buddhist thought, assume that the label of “religion” means Buddhists must believe in some type of God. More so, Buddhism has sacred texts, temples, leaders, teachers. The translation of Bodhisattva into English is God and into Arabic is Allah The God is the creator and you are the creator of your present dream. That's an argument that many of us atheistic Buddhists can appreciate. The many mythological creatures and beings that populate Mahayana Buddhism art and literature are often called "gods" or "deities." If Buddha was not a god, why bow to Buddha-figures? 28 Answers. However, God is. 1 decade ago. For example, Sam Harris, a self-identified atheist who has expressed admiration for Buddhism, has said Buddhism should be taken away from Buddhists. Same goes for kami. Indeed most Asian religions (with the possible exception of some extremely devotional forms of Hinduism) are essentially non-theistic, in that God does not occupy the central place that is accorded to him in monotheistic religious traditions. Neither concept is right or wrong. Rather, the historical Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. Buddhism is a non-theistic tradition. But in Buddhism, merely believing in doctrines is beside the point. Buddhism is not, therefore, atheistic in the modern understanding which developed in the West as a reaction to theistic Christianity. Shortly after the Buddha's death, a devotional element formed within Buddhism. The Ultimate Goal of Buddhism Is Reaching Nirvana. What did they mean? Most of the time, it's more accurate for Westerners to think of the iconographic devas and bodhisattvas as archetypes rather than as supernatural beings. For this reason, Buddhism is more accurately called nontheistic rather than atheistic. As a religion, Buddhism is neither monotheistic nor polytheistic. Are these corruptions of the Buddha's teachings? Who are you? In Buddhism, we’re taught to bow with mutual respect, and self-respect. For this reason, the Buddha taught his disciples to cultivate devotional and reverential habits of mind. Many of us think of Buddhism as a practice-based psychology rather than a belief-based religion. The Sanskrit word for this is upaya, or "skillful means." Nontheistic religions are traditions of thought within a religious context—some otherwise aligned with theism, others not—in which nontheism informs religious beliefs or practices. For instance, like Buddhism, Communism is a religion based on natural laws, a non-theistic … On the other hand, the Buddha did not explicitly rule out the existence of a God or gods. Our hierarchical triangle is upside down. Further, these religions meet the 3rd and 4th criteria that give a system power to legitimize political orders and change history. Even in the nondevotional schools, such as Theravada or Zen, there are rituals that involve bowing and offering food, flowers, and incense to a Buddha figure on an altar. In other words, God is unnecessary in Buddhism, as this is a practical religion and philosophy that emphasizes practical results over faith in beliefs or deities. 1 decade ago. The Buddha himself rejected metaphysical speculation as a matter of principle, and his teachings focused entirely on the practical ways to end suffering. For example, a Buddhist might evoke the Bodhisattva of compassion in order to become more compassionate. After a very long, and perhaps still ongoing, battle with matters of faith, I feel that the teachings and practices are the most in line with how I feel I should be. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. Buddhism is so different from other religions that some people question whether it is a religion at all. The Buddha also plainly said that he was not a god, but was simply "awakened" to ultimate reality. Thus, devotion is not a "corruption" of Buddhism, but an expression of it. Thus while Buddhism includes … It entirely depends upon your understanding of a theistic religion and how you would describe an act of worship. Neither concept is right or wrong. Trungpa Rinpoche always described Buddhism as “non-theistic.” We aren’t a-theistic, he’d say—we don’t not believe in God, or gods. Privacy policy, Theism, Atheism and Non-Theism in Buddhism. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. But the Buddha figure also represents enlightenment itself and the unconditioned true nature of all things. One might bow just to show gratitude for the Buddha's life and practice. But in the end, for our practice, I maintain the question of God is not important. There’s the opposite nihilistic extreme — those who have studied a little about Buddhism — and assume that the Dharma of Buddha is atheistic or non-theistic. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! The Buddha has condemned godlessness by which He meant the denial of worship and renunciation, the denial of moral and social obligations, and the denial of a religious life. A similar form of functional … It maybe for Buddhist scholars and such, but asking and pondering these questions can be a distraction from our practice. The Buddha taught that the biggest barrier to realization is the notion that "I" am a permanent, integral, autonomous entity. In Mahayana Buddhism, which is the dominant form of Buddhism in China, Tibet, Nepal, Japan and Korea, all phenomena are empty of intrinsic existence. As Buddhism continues to take hold in the West, many are finding a sense of compatibility between their Western/Theistic beliefs and practices and those Serving is leadership. The Buddha said that doctrines should not be accepted just because they are in scripture or taught by priests. Rather, Buddhism affirms many forms of spirituality and belief in gods as means to elevate and improve worldly life. Anonymous. All Mythological Creatures, Great and Small, Buddhism: 11 Common Misunderstandings and Mistakes, The Buddhist Teachings of Self and No-Self, Nirvana and The Concept of Freedom in Buddhism. For Buddhists, the universe has a sacred non-personal essence that is the ground nature of all things. Theism, the view that all limited or finite things are dependent in some way on one supreme or ultimate reality of which one may also speak in personal terms.In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, this ultimate reality is often called God.This article explores approaches to theism in Western theology and philosophy.. Theistic views of God. There are three additional issues, however, which complicate the relationship between Buddhism and theism even further. It doesn't seem right to call that non-theistic to me, but it depends how you decide to define the term. For this reason, Buddhism is more accurately called nontheistic rather than atheistic. Modern Buddhism leaves a lot of room for personal beliefs, meaning that an individual can believe in god while still being a Buddhist. Yet, throughout Asia, it is common to find people praying to the Buddha or to the many clearly mythical figures that populate Buddhist iconography. In saying that the ideas of god that Hinduism retains are essentially metaphors for different energies and states of being, is it right to call it theistic if they didn't believe in corporeal beings such as an elephant god or gods with multiple hands but rather in them being representative. In Buddhism, we’re taught to bow with mutual respect, and self-respect. But Buddhism goes beyond most of these other religions in that it is positively anti-theistic because the very notion of God conflicts with some principles which are … Usually, when we ask if something exists we are asking if it is "real," as opposed to being a fantasy. edited 9 years ago Buddhism doesn't have a God, rather it has a broad and complex pantheon of gods. Since its creation, Buddhism has evolved into a wide variety of forms. For example, the central focus of most religions is one or many. Buddhism is a path to "waking up," or becoming enlightened, to a reality that is not consciously perceived by most of us. One school of Buddhist philosophy, Madhyamika, says that phenomena exist only in relation to other phenomena. Tibetan Buddhism teaches that through the systematic practice of its timeless methods, one's mind can be transformed into its highest potential of wisdom and compassion. Considering the arguments that scholars provide on whether Buddhism is theistic, atheistic or non-theistic, compatible explanations could be provided for all these three philosophical positions. It teaches that there are divine beings or gods, heavens and rebirths in its doctrine of saṃsāra, but it considers none of these gods as a creator or as being eternal. Buddhism is one of the biggest religions on earth. These religions are both universal and missionary. One doctrine agreed upon by all branches of modern Buddhism is that “this world is not created and ruled by a God.” {1} The Buddha himself rejected metaphysical speculation as a matter of principle, and his teachings focused entirely on the practical ways to end suffering. For these folks, Buddhism can be seen as supplementing and enriching their own theistic faith and practice. Buddhism doesn't have a God, rather it has a broad and complex pantheon of gods. God. Same goes for reincarnation. Atheism is associated with a materialistic doctrine that knows nothing higher than this world. You aren’t any better than me except to the extent that you serve me and others better than I do. Is Buddhism Polytheistic Or Monotheistic? Nevertheless, Buddhism has some of the outward trappings of a religion, such as temples, iconography, prayers and incense. Yet, throughout Asia, it is common to find people praying to the Buddha or to the many clearly mythical figures that populate Buddhist iconography. ‘Buddhism is a non-theistic religion that claims that suffering is unavoidable, and that the root of suffering is attachment, greed and desire.’ ‘Overall, based on my experience in both camps (theistic and non-theistic), I venture to claim that activists of either breed have a greater tendency to be "religious" rather than non-activists.’ Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that focuses on following the teachings of the Buddha and bodhisattvas to become free from suffering. Some theistic beliefs could contradict with Buddhist views. Western Buddhists are the foremost promulgators of the idea that Buddhism is non-theistic. What "exists"? Because God has no particular form and is outside of time, God, therefore, cannot be said to exist. Most people think that learning is the key to self-development It’s how we were raised – when we were young, we studied algebra, read history, and memorized the names of elements on the periodic table. Buddhism has many gods and set standards and ways of life. Buddhism is centered upon the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who came to be known as the Buddha — the enlightened one, or one who is awake — whereas Christianity is centered on the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ.Buddhism is a nontheistic religion or philosophy, i.e., it does not believe in a supreme creator being a.k.a. Whether or not it can be termed a religion is debatable—the etymology of the word ‘religion’ refers to God. To lead without serving is selfish and useless and silly. This sect came to be known as Sangha to distinguish it from other similar communities. It doesn't seem right to call that non-theistic to me, but it depends how you decide to define the term. Another, called Yogachara, teaches that things exist only as processes of knowing and have no intrinsic reality. Buddhism would not be considered a religion under this definition, because it is basically non-theistic: it does not generally involve worship of a supernatural entity. Buddhism would be so much better, Harris wrote, if it could be cleansed of the "naive, petitionary, and superstitious" trappings of religion altogether. Most people think that learning is the key to self-development It’s how we were raised – when we were young, we studied algebra, read history, and memorized the names of elements on the periodic table. Our hierarchical triangle is upside down. Buddhism is commonly distinguished on doctrinal grounds from monotheistic and polytheistic religions by the fact that it refutes the existence of a divine Creator, and indeed there is ample textual evidence in early Buddhist, Mahayana, and Vajrayana treatises to support this claim.' To lead is to serve. That is to say, they do not believe in the existence of a supreme being. Baha'i Forums. Now there are other questions, that you might think of. Like … Buddhism is essentially non-theistic. Some in the West dismiss these devotional and worshipful aspects of Buddhism as corruptions of the original teachings of the Buddha. … It's not just belief in gods that are irrelevant to Buddhism. While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion. The Buddha also plainly said that he was not a god, but was simply "awakened" to ultimate reality. Buddhism is non-theistic, which holds that everything in this world is the result of the combination of causes and conditions, not created by an eternal being as the Creator. It has millions of followers, not only in south and east Asia, but all over the world. Buddhism is a philosophy which does not include the belief in a creator deity, or any eternal divine personal being. Libraries have been filled with the answers to those questions. There’s the opposite nihilistic extreme — those who have studied a little about Buddhism — and assume that the Dharma of Buddha is atheistic or non-theistic. As a religion, Buddhism is neither monotheistic nor polytheistic. Buddhism “rejects the theological impulse,” the philosopher Owen Flanagan declares approvingly in The Problem of the Soul. While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion. He acclaimed the supremacy of the … She is the author of "Rethinking Religion" and has covered religion for The Guardian, Tricycle.org, and other outlets. In Buddhism, all doctrines are provisional and are judged by their skillfulness. We only believe in things that we can find to be true. Buddhism is Not a Theistic Religion . Is Buddhism atheistic? But Buddhism do not really specifically say there is an existence of an intelligence singular being that created everything and manipulated accordingly. I think many Western converts come, as you said, shedding their belief in a creator God. Buddhism is centered upon the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who came to be known as the Buddha — the enlightened one, or one who is awake — whereas Christianity is centered on the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ.Buddhism is a nontheistic religion or philosophy, i.e., it does not believe in a supreme creator being a.k.a. Understanding the difference requires looking deeply beneath the surface of Buddhist teaching and practice. Each individual is ultimately responsible for his own present and future happiness. But, again, just believing in them is not the point. But the nature of existence is something Buddhism looks at deeply and in a different way from the way people ordinarily understand "existence.". According to the Buddhist teachings, we are all … Buddhism is a non-theistic tradition. So, why does a Buddhist practice? it can be both. Buddhism is non-theistic, which holds that everything in this world is the result of the combination of causes and conditions, not created by an eternal being … While there is a more recent, modern trend to portray Buddhism as simply agnostic on the question of God, this is not the case if we are defining God as Christians (or even as Jews and Muslims) would use the word. Jul 2011 1,747 n ireland Sep 29, 2015 #1 I'm confused about this and have not found a definitive answer . Whether or not it can be termed a religion is debatable—the etymology of the word ‘religion’ refers to God. Anonymous. The origin of Buddhism points to one man, Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who was born in Lumbini (in present-day Nepal) during the 5th century BCE. Trungpa Rinpoche always described Buddhism as “non-theistic.” We aren’t a-theistic, he’d say—we don’t not believe in God, or gods. God. These are non-theistic religions. Some schools of Buddhism are deeply devotional. Indeed most Asian religions (with the possible exception of some extremely devotional forms of Hinduism) are essentially non-theistic, in that God does not occupy the central place that is accorded to him in monotheistic religious traditions. 8 0. For instance, like Buddhism, Communism is a religion based on natural laws, a non-theistic religion. While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Buddhism has been argued as perfectly theistic simply because it is based on the notion of nirvana and dharma and is thus guided by a moral law, and a focus on moral law is the basis of all religions. And, Buddhism is beyond religion. Pilgrims flock to stupas that are said to hold relics of the Buddha. We only believe in things that we can find to be true. In addition, about an estimated 488 million in the world practice Buddhism. Barbara O'Brien is a Zen Buddhist practitioner who studied at Zen Mountain Monastery. Certainly,  Buddhism in practice has many of the same "literal versus allegorical" issues one finds in other religions. These religions are both universal and missionary. Practice has many gods and set standards and ways of life a fundamentalist and! Buddha was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment of devotion, see essay! Non-Theistic worldview no concept of a theistic religion and way of life view... That non-theistic to me, but an impersonal, all-encompassing force t,. Are other questions, that you serve me and others better than me except the... But this is upaya, or `` skillful means. the Buddha but by Marx, Engles, and.. 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