Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Gods in Buddhism?

DaftChrisDaftChris Spiritually conflicted. Not of this world. Veteran
I know for the most part that Buddhism is atheistic. However, are there, in some cases, where there are Gods or Demi-gods in Buddhist schools?

Are there some cases where Gods from other religions are recognized?

Comments

  • SileSile Veteran
    There are many figures in Buddhism which look from the outside as if they are believed to be a solid god or deity. Because Buddhism teaches that everything is ultimately a projection of one's own mind, though, there isn't a solid, distinct "god" by Buddhist standards--because ultimately, there isn't anything in samsaric existence that is solid and distinct. Instead, it's the qualities of these deities that are meant to be focused on, to bring out those qualities in ourselves. Sort of like a heroic, inspirational example. Different deities inspire different qualities--compassion, healing, patience, swift assistance, etc. If you are working on a particular quality in yourself, you might choose to meditate on a deity that is described as having those qualities; in the end, though, the deity is really not some being outside yourself, but instead those qualities which already exist in yourself, and which you are nurturing.

    I notice that my view of a deity's role shifts about--when I'm feeling calm and safe, it's easier to think of the deity as being inseparable from myself; when I'm scared, I'm more likely to treat that deity as something outside myself that can help me. But one just tries to keep in mind that ultimately, the deity is a projection of the mind. That doesn't mean it's not a powerful force, though--the mind itself is extremely powerful, especially when trained and supported by a strong practice focusing on specific qualities.

    This is the view of my school, anyway - maybe others have some alternate views.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited October 2012
    DaftChris said:

    I know for the most part that Buddhism is atheistic. However, are there, in some cases, where there are Gods or Demi-gods in Buddhist schools?

    Are there some cases where Gods from other religions are recognized?

    In a sense. Early Buddhism seems to have incorporated the Brahmnanic/proto-Hindu pantheon and myths, but gives them a unique spin, transforming immortal gods into non-human beings who are more powerful and long-lived than ordinary humans, but by no means eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc. (e.g., see DN 1), and creation myths into Dhamma lessons (e.g., DN 27). In addition, they can also be viewed metaphorically as the indulgent and hedonistic aspects of our psychology (i.e., the parts that are addicted to sensual pleasures).

    Later Buddhist tradition also adopted other heavenly beings (i.e., god and goddesses) as dharma protectors and bodhisattvas.
  • The dharma tells us that there are 31 (or 33, cant remember ) realms of existence. Some of the realms are the abodes of gods/ deties / heavenly beings.
    So yes, it recognises ' gods' existence. But they are arrayed like the greeks, Roman gods, with a king and his ministers. So too is taoist and Hindu beliefs.

    The Buddha acknowledged their existence but tells us not to seek refuge with them, as they haven't extinguished all their cravings, mainly arrogance!
    This causes their good karma to eventually diminished, causing rebirth in thr lower realms.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited October 2012
    In the Vajrayana the Dharma protectors and Bodhisattvas are seen as having objective existence in some schools . Other schools see them as personifications. or as symbolic.
    I asked one of my teachers if Tara is real. " She is as real as you are " he replied.
    Which is more subtle than might at first be obvious.
  • What I heard was 'she knows she's not real'.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited October 2012
    That , and " all beings are provisional and arise with the conditions that cause their arising, you and even great Bodhisattavas , but while they and you have being they and you are relatively real ".
    Something like that perhaps.
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK Veteran
    Sile said:

    Because Buddhism teaches that everything is ultimately a projection of one's own mind....

    I'm not sure I agree with that. ;)
  • Sile said:

    There are many figures in Buddhism which look from the outside as if they are believed to be a solid god or deity. Because Buddhism teaches that everything is ultimately a projection of one's own mind, though, there isn't a solid, distinct "god" by Buddhist standards--because ultimately, there isn't anything in samsaric existence that is solid and distinct. Instead, it's the qualities of these deities that are meant to be focused on, to bring out those qualities in ourselves. Sort of like a heroic, inspirational example. Different deities inspire different qualities--compassion, healing, patience, swift assistance, etc. If you are working on a particular quality in yourself, you might choose to meditate on a deity that is described as having those qualities; in the end, though, the deity is really not some being outside yourself, but instead those qualities which already exist in yourself, and which you are nurturing.

    I notice that my view of a deity's role shifts about--when I'm feeling calm and safe, it's easier to think of the deity as being inseparable from myself; when I'm scared, I'm more likely to treat that deity as something outside myself that can help me. But one just tries to keep in mind that ultimately, the deity is a projection of the mind. That doesn't mean it's not a powerful force, though--the mind itself is extremely powerful, especially when trained and supported by a strong practice focusing on specific qualities.

    This is the view of my school, anyway - maybe others have some alternate views.

    What happens to go wrong when we are working with a healing diety and we only get more and more ill? Couldn't we experience rage at the deity for not healing us? Just an unpremeditated rage. Like say our child dies of illness? Many Christians lose faith at that point, for example. Or at least I have read some accounts.
  • Why would death not be healing if it came to that ? Perhaps there is a bigger picture ?
    JeffreySile
  • SileSile Veteran
    edited October 2012
    Jeffrey said:

    What happens to go wrong when we are working with a healing diety and we only get more and more ill? Couldn't we experience rage at the deity for not healing us? Just an unpremeditated rage. Like say our child dies of illness? Many Christians lose faith at that point, for example. Or at least I have read some accounts.

    Definitely possible. I've certainly heard this discussed among my Christian friends. The same rage is often directed at Western medicine, too, in my experience. Whether spiritual or medicinal or both, there are no guarantees possible in any conventional-level healing therapy.

    You may have noticed my barbed references to Alimta ;)

Sign In or Register to comment.