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Why do you believe in the existence of gods?

lobsterlobster Veteran
edited September 2013 in Buddhism Today
@Jeffrey gave a good answer to this, he finds it energising. Others also might find support in the sutras or in Yidam type practices and experiences.
Personally when they come to tea or doing 'possession by archetypes', I too find the suspension of disbelief is required. Would you trust the evidence of your own senses? I certainly would not . . . :wave:
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Comments

  • Not only are the gods empty of self, the one believing or disbelieving is also empty of self.
    lobsterTheEccentricVictorious
  • @Jeffery, but isn't the self based on a valid basis of imputation; conventionally speaking, whereas gods are like sky-hooks or unicorns; there's no valid basis for their existence?

    I mean I definitely exist in some mode, don't I? If I don't then no-one else does either, so why bother practising compassion for them?

    Confused.com
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Tosh said:

    I mean I definitely exist in some mode, don't I?

    Are you looking for your existence via validation of the perception of another?

    Not a very good methodology.

    Please describe the "valid" imputation whereby we can arrive at "self".


    Remember, it's not existence. It's the manner of appearing that you should be conserned with.

    Also, it's emptiness and not existence. Non-existence is nihilism - an extreme the Buddha refuted.



    David
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I'm still not seeing an answer as to why some people believe in gods.

    And if you believe in gods, why not believe in God?
  • For me Gods are to you what they are to you. If they are real to you then they are real. If they are not real to you then they are not.

    @Tosh, I don't know if they are like unicorns. When somebodies loved one is dying and I have nothing else I can do for them, then I pray for them to God or Buddha or Bodhisattvas. Is that real? It seems like it is a more important action than some 'real' things.
    EvenThirdKundo
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Jeffrey said:

    For me Gods are to you what they are to you. If they are real to you then they are real. If they are not real to you then they are not.

    ...

    No.

    Whether one wants to believe in gods or not -- or remain open-minded about it --, that's up to the individual.

    Despite one's opinion, either there are gods or there are not.

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited September 2013
    vinlyn said:

    I'm still not seeing an answer as to why some people believe in gods.

    And if you believe in gods, why not believe in God?


    By "believe in gods" do you mean the belief that gods actually exist?

    People believe in gods because they think they're real, they think they really exist somewhere. They believe that these gods will listen to prayer and act upon the lives of believers in a positive way.




  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I'm getting more at what is their evidence.
  • TheEccentricTheEccentric South east, UK Veteran
    I don't.
  • Wait are Buddhists suppose to believe in a god? Not having to believe in a god was one of the reasons I was drawn to Buddhism.
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    Tosh said:

    @Jeffery, but isn't the self based on a valid basis of imputation; conventionally speaking, whereas gods are like sky-hooks or unicorns; there's no valid basis for their existence?

    I mean I definitely exist in some mode, don't I? If I don't then no-one else does either, so why bother practising compassion for them?

    Confused.com

    I know you weren't asking me but I definitely hear you.

    I honestly think that those that claim we do not exist are still inside the box. We don't really exist as nouns because we are in a constant state of change but if we didn't bother to label things it would get pretty messy, pretty quick.

    Duality is our number one tool but we misuse it out of ignorance. We label processes as if they were static and forget that even we are just a process.

    I'm pretty sure you exist @Tosh. Temporarily to be sure, but to be temporary is to be.

    You just aren't "a" being.




    The_Dharma_Farmer
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    I don't think gods take up any space but not so sure that makes them any less real. Their effects on people seem real.

    I can remember things from dreams that don't take up any actual space but how could I remember something that never was?

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    I'm getting more at what is their evidence.

    Vin.....

    "Evidence" is largely relative. Different folks, different strokes. People who believe in God seem to think that they have all the evidence they need. You should ask ..... you live in the perfect town for that sort of research.

    Personally, I don't really care what someone believes or why. I don't see it as any of my business. I have my own practice to deal with.

  • Chaz said:


    Please describe the "valid" imputation whereby we can arrive at "self".


    Remember, it's not existence. It's the manner of appearing that you should be conserned with.

    @Chaz Okay, I remember being taught the two truths. The truth of the conventional and the truth of the ultimate. Both truths are entwined. We cannot say, oh the car doesn't exist, because when we cross a road, we'll get knocked over and killed by it.

    And conventional truths have a valid or invalid basis of imputation. For example my body is a valid basis of imputation for 'me'. Of course, ultimately, using wisdom if I go looking for 'me', I'll find I am empty of inherent existence.

    So, to my mind, positing a god, on no basis, sounds like an INVALID basis of imputation.

    You may actually get me looking through my text books which would not be a bad thing.
  • karmatib said:

    Wait are Buddhists suppose to believe in a god? Not having to believe in a god was one of the reasons I was drawn to Buddhism.

    There's many different types of Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism has deities, and Zen Buddhism doesn't. Some Buddhist sects are highly scholastic (Gelug for example) and others are very devotional (Pureland for example).

    I think it's about trying to find a good fit for our psychological leanings (I think).

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Tosh said:

    Chaz said:


    Please describe the "valid" imputation whereby we can arrive at "self".


    Remember, it's not existence. It's the manner of appearing that you should be conserned with.

    @Chaz Okay, I remember being taught the two truths. The truth of the conventional and the truth of the ultimate. Both truths are entwined. We cannot say, oh the car doesn't exist, because when we cross a road, we'll get knocked over and killed by it.

    And conventional truths have a valid or invalid basis of imputation. For example my body is a valid basis of imputation for 'me'. Of course, ultimately, using wisdom if I go looking for 'me', I'll find I am empty of inherent existence.

    So, to my mind, positing a god, on no basis, sounds like an INVALID basis of imputation.
    For you and I that woulod mos def be an inavlid imputation. However, most people have some sort of basis for their beliefs. You and I may not consider that "valid" but in all fairness our judgement should not inform what they believe.
    You may actually get me looking through my text books which would not be a bad thing.
    :rockon:
    Tosh
  • The need for Gods stems from many things. The need that someone had a loving heart to make us. The need to look up and have our answers in questions that are endless. But also the need for some that their is a higher authority then what we create ourselves.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    karmatib said:

    Wait are Buddhists suppose to believe in a god? Not having to believe in a god was one of the reasons I was drawn to Buddhism.

    That's where I see an inconsistency...perhaps.

  • I remember one Roshi's answer at being asked about whether she believed in Jesus.

    She said (with a twinkle in her eye) that she had no problem acknowledging any deity that asked for such recognition, even minor middle eastern ones. That all sentient life was worthy of being seen for what it was.
    Kundo
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    ourself said:

    ...
    I honestly think that those that claim we do not exist are still inside the box. We don't really exist as nouns because we are in a constant state of change but if we didn't bother to label things it would get pretty messy, pretty quick.

    Duality is our number one tool but we misuse it out of ignorance. We label processes as if they were static and forget that even we are just a process.

    I'm pretty sure you exist @Tosh. Temporarily to be sure, but to be temporary is to be.

    You just aren't "a" being.




    That was a very good explanation of the concept, in my view.

    Kundo
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Chaz said:

    vinlyn said:

    I'm getting more at what is their evidence.

    Vin.....

    "Evidence" is largely relative. Different folks, different strokes. People who believe in God seem to think that they have all the evidence they need. You should ask ..... you live in the perfect town for that sort of research.

    Personally, I don't really care what someone believes or why. I don't see it as any of my business. I have my own practice to deal with.


    I personally believe in God, and I have my reasons. I have a lot more difficulty believing in gods (note small g and plural) in the Buddhist sense. I don't see any evidence. I'm not closed minded about it. I can be convinced.
  • I don't believe in any gods because is not relevant to my life.
  • I believe in God as much as I believe in the Buddha or Ulysses. To me it is a simply a linguistic space allowing for discussion. In this sense, God, Buddha and any epic heroes are as real as the perception I have of the great hockey move I just witnessed or Capitalism or my hand.
  • @vinlyn, in a way you are right of course that regardless of what we believe they either exist or do not. My thinking was that if they are constructs of our own mind then in a sense they exist like a rainbow exists sorta.
    mfranzdorf
  • So . . . gods are like . . . Batman?
    Kind of?

    “People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed, but as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting.”
    The Dark Knight
    cptshrk
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    I personally believe in God, and I have my reasons. I have a lot more difficulty believing in gods (note small g and plural) in the Buddhist sense. I don't see any evidence. I'm not closed minded about it. I can be convinced.

    What "gods" are you speaking of? And what do you mean by "believing" in them?

    I may have something to offer that, but want to be sure about what you're trying to say.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    It's really nothing more than the original question -- Why do you believe in the existence of gods?

    I am talking about -- and I supposed others were --the various gods and other figures in Buddhist literature. If not, then I'm sure what people are talking about.
  • What about the naughty gods?
    Real? Mind states? Dimension Pureland or Impureland dwellers? Do you think them best left dead, dusty and discredited as empty? Useful boon granters? Can they help us overcome suffering if they are still insufferable Sumeru samsara dwellers?

    What is a gal to think? It does not bare thinking about . . .



  • As earth dwellers, asking why someone believes in gods is nothing but hypothetical. How could one possibly answer this ? What evidence could a human possibly produce that would satisfy anyone? It is a very seductive question though. Maddeningly so!
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited September 2013
    vinlyn said:

    It's really nothing more than the original question -- Why do you believe in the existence of gods?

    I am talking about -- and I supposed others were --the various gods and other figures in Buddhist literature. If not, then I'm sure what people are talking about.

    What "gods" in Buddhism?

    Are you talking about meditational deities such as Avalokiteshvara, Tara and so on, or are you referring to beings born into the so-called "god realms", Or Hindu gods mentioned in literature such as Brahma, Mara, etc? Dharmapalas (protectors) such as Mahakala or Shugden?
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Chaz said:

    vinlyn said:

    It's really nothing more than the original question -- Why do you believe in the existence of gods?

    I am talking about -- and I supposed others were --the various gods and other figures in Buddhist literature. If not, then I'm sure what people are talking about.

    What "gods" in Buddhism?

    Are you talking about meditational deities such as Avalokiteshvara, Tara and so on, or are you referring to beings born into the so-called "god realms", Or Hindu gods mentioned in literature such as Brahma, Mara, etc? Dharmapalas (protectors) such as Mahakala or Shugden?
    Chaz, why are you asking me the question I am asking??????????

    I'm trying to get the question defined.

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited September 2013
    Dude ....sorry .....

    I thought you were trying to find out why people believe in "gods" within a Buddhist context and I want to know just what gods you're talking about.

    For instance, you have the meditational deity Avalokiteshvara. Some folks would see that as a "god". Some people may believe that Avalokiteshvara physically exists. Some people "believe" in Aavalokiteshvara as the sambogakaya manifestation of skillfull compassion and "believe" that devotion to Avalokiteshvara practice brings with it certain blessings.

    So what I read into your question is that you're being a bit vague and I, for one, would like some clarification. "Believing" is something can mean different things in different situations to different people.

    But it may be, and probably is, that the OP that's vague and when one considers the source .....
  • You can discuss,argue or even fight over issues of existence of God/gods and afterlife all your life but it will hardly change opinion of others who think otherwise. Even Buddha avoided questions like these, branding them irrelevant to practice of Dhamma.

    Believing in them or not hardly matters to me because even if there are gods, they are bound by law of Kamma and not free to meddle into human affairs.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    ...

    Believing in them or not hardly matters to me because even if there are gods, they are bound by law of Kamma and not free to meddle into human affairs.

    Let's see, they may not exist but they are bound by the law of Kamma.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    And who stops them -- those who don't exist -- from meddling in human affiars?

  • While being raised in the Catholic faith I found that there was much effort and belief placed on external entities for hope and salvation, and that if I placed my faith in a specific being, I would be saved.

    While in the process of continuos suffering from my own life experiences I found a path that taught me to look within myself, that all the answer to all the questions were already known. One must truly believe in oneself before they can believe in a god. One must truly understand their own existence before they can understand the existence of a god.

    Look within yourself for the answers you seek. Reading books and scripture will give you knowledge, only Wisdom can come from within...

    Open you heart and free your mind and the Truth will be presented to you...

    Namaste
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I_AM_THAT said:

    While being raised in the Catholic faith I found that there was much effort and belief placed on external entities for hope and salvation, and that if I placed my faith in a specific being, I would be saved.

    While in the process of continuos suffering from my own life experiences I found a path that taught me to look within myself, that all the answer to all the questions were already known. One must truly believe in oneself before they can believe in a god. One must truly understand their own existence before they can understand the existence of a god.

    Look within yourself for the answers you seek. Reading books and scripture will give you knowledge, only Wisdom can come from within...

    Open you heart and free your mind and the Truth will be presented to you...

    Namaste

    I like the tone of what you say.

    But for each person it is an individual path, and I know people who are secure in their beliefs -- and operate on them -- in both directions (in terms of starting with a belief in God or gods, or in terms of learning about oneself first). I'm not sure they are necessarily two distinct processes.

    I'm not sure that wisdom comes from within. We, here, actually turn to the Dhamma and the Sangha, and the Buddha for wisdom (as well as other places). What comes from within is the ability to process external information.

    And, let's face it, we've all met a ton of people who have no ability whatsoever to process wisdom or even the most basic every day decisions about life.

    I_AM_THATKundo
  • @riverflow That is simply the best I have ever seen stated regarding that subject, and I completely agree.
    riverflow
  • The Buddhist concept of God is different from the Theistic religions. In Buddhism, we believe in samsara, the wheel of life that contains 6 realms. We as humans belong to the 3rd realm, the human realm.

    Within this wheel of life, there is something called the God realm. These gods that reside in this realm could be superior, some can even help humans which you will see many Taoists pray to these gods for protection, wealth etc. However, due to the nature of the gods is still in samsara, what you ask for you will need to pay a price or take a certain vow in return for the favor. These gods cannot bring you to enlightenment because they themselves are in samsara.

    So the idea of God in Buddhism is totally different... for example in Christianity, God is ultimate and doing God's work will liberate you and bring you to the gates of heaven. In Buddhism, no such thing. Enlightenment must be acquired by you and you alone... of course with the help of your Guru.

    Some people would also confuse Buddhism as poly-theistic religion. See, the concept of God is present in Buddhism but God is not who we pray to. In fact, contrary to what many Buddhists themselves belief, we do not pray to the Buddhas. So the presence of Buddhas (multiple like Tara, Tsongkhapa, Shakyamuni, etc) is to show us the path of enlightenment, we pray not to the statue, but to the quality of the Buddhas that we aspire to attain.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Queen said:

    ...In Buddhism, we believe in...

    If you read almost any thread on this forum on any topic, you'll find that an all inclusive statement such as "In Buddhism. we believe in..." just doesn't work and is innaccurate.

  • It may not work on this forum, but if biblical and sutta passages are examined there are exclusive references being made.

    For instance, though some may think differently about why the Buddha made the statement that one should not considered other ideas as being conducive to a religious life or a solution to suffering, the early Pali texts provide information about the religious milieu of his time which were basically forms of sassatavada (being or eternalism) or ucchedavada (non-being or annihilationism), so from this understanding it is clear that the statement is actually based on an exclusive idea that the truth of any other theory is not allowable as they are one and all heretical and incompatible with his doctrine.

    I have read an excerpt from the Samyutta-Nikaya where ucchedavada for example is considered a wicked heresy, and this linked online copy refers to it as an evil supposition.

    accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.085.than.html

    However, if following a gradual path to enlightenment this is understandable as to why one must first begin with exclusiveness.
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    I don't think gods have any power over those who have awakened but I have a sneaky feeling those who have awakened are helping God to wake up.

    I may not be the best example of a westerner because when I use the term "God" it means the universe itself in a process of self discovery.







  • I don't think gods have any power over those who have awakened but I have a sneaky feeling those who have awakened are helping God to wake up
    Or come into being and stop all this suffering. God creation is a tricky business, I may give it a go next year. One has to start somewhere . . . strangely enough it starts in the mud of samsara . . .

    This is the prayer of each:
    You are the source of my life.
    You separate essence from mud.
    You honor my soul.
    You bring rivers from the
    mountain springs.
    You brighten my eyes.
    The wine you offer
    takes me out of myself
    into the self we share.
    Doing that is religion.

    Rumi

    riverflow
  • Jeffrey said:

    Not only are the gods empty of self, the one believing or disbelieving is also empty of self.

    Jeffrey, tell us how you know we are all empty of a self without first knowing what the self is that we are, supposedly, empty of!

  • Yes, that's what Nagarjuna said, @Blondel. He also said "how can we establish the unconditioned if we cannot establish the conditioned".. Nagarjuna negated both self empty and other empty.
  • BlondelBlondel Veteran
    edited September 2013
    This requires some honesty. How many of you have actually read the Devatâ-samyutta of the Samyutta-nikaya or even know of it?
  • @Blondel, no I have not read that. How does that fit into the discussion?
  • Jeffrey said:

    Yes, that's what Nagarjuna said, @Blondel. He also said "how can we establish the unconditioned if we cannot establish the conditioned".. Nagarjuna negated both self empty and other empty.

    How, for example, do you know what non-white means without first knowing what white is? Or how can you know what unfriendly means without first knowing what friendly means? How do you know what fool's gold is without first knowing what gold is?
  • Jeffrey said:

    @Blondel, no I have not read that. How does that fit into the discussion?

    In it the Buddha is having a conversation with the gods. Incidentally, I personally find the OP—especially the subject title—to be irreverent.
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