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Buddhism in relation to pantheism and atheism

Quick question about definitions. I read that some schools of Buddhism would be considered atheism because it neglects the concept of an embodiment of God. In pantheism, God is the fundamental nature of reality, which is prominent in Hinduism.

Would Buddhism be accurately defined as atheistic because of no embodiment of God, or would pantheism suffice as one's path toward spiritual enlightenment? Or do definitions not matter?

Interested in hearing what you guys have to say!

Much Metta

Comments

  • edited May 2010
    As far as I know Buddhism does teach of the existence of gods, which it calls 'devas', beings that live on a higher spiritual plane and experience only joy..... but which are still subject to eventual death. Buddhism just doesn't teach of a 'creator' god, so it doesn't really fit with what atheism is meant to imply. It doesn't deny that such a creator may exist, but rather teaches that it doesn't matter to the goal of liberation to speculate either way.

    Basically the gods in Buddhism only matter to teach us how they too are impermanent and afflicted by dukkha of some sort (because of ignorance). They aren't in control of us, can't grant anyone salvation, or anything else as far as I know. So terms like atheism and pantheism and the like are all sorta "Not Applicable" to Buddhism, which is more a tool (or method of awakening) than a religion. Buddhism is unique in comparison to other religions that those words would actually apply to.

    At least.... I'm pretty sure. :) Buddhism isn't so easy to define, and using labels only leads to misunderstandings or misconceptions about Buddhist practice.

    Namaste
  • DeshyDeshy Veteran
    edited May 2010
    [quote=Javelin;107636]As far as I know Buddhism does teach of the existence of gods, which it calls 'devas', beings that live on a higher spiritual plane and experience only joy..... but which are still subject to eventual death. [/quote]

    As far as I know, this is a mere mental state. When you are happy and joyful you are temporary in the Godly mental realm which eventually passes away.
  • thickpaperthickpaper Veteran
    edited May 2010
    [QUOTE=InmostLight;107635]Quick question about definitions. I read that some schools of Buddhism would be considered atheism because it neglects the concept of an embodiment of God. In pantheism, God is the fundamental nature of reality, which is prominent in Hinduism.

    Would Buddhism be accurately defined as atheistic because of no embodiment of God, or would pantheism suffice as one's path toward spiritual enlightenment? Or do definitions not matter?

    Interested in hearing what you guys have to say!

    Much Metta[/QUOTE]

    My thoughts:

    There are various kinds of Buddhism, some have divine beings others do not.

    Dharma itself is atheistic in the sense that it doesn't contain any theistic concepts. This doesn't mean that Buddhism has to be atheistic.

    I think the Buddha was at an athiest but his teachings are for everyone.

    namaste
  • edited May 2010
    Thanks for the responses. I've been reading a bit about pantheism and could see how it could relate to some, depending on one's definition of 'God'. Contrary to how (most) would see Hinduism as either polytheistic, pantheistic, or neither (non-dualities), Buddhism doesn't address the term 'God', so I'm interested in how people would relate the oneness of existence - the nature of being and enlightenment with comprehensive understanding to the ideas of pantheism. I suppose that 'pantheism' is just a term, just as 'God' is and can mean so many things. The theist sees God in a different way that a non-theist would, as a Jewish man sees God in a different way than a Muslim.



    [QUOTE]
    So terms like atheism and pantheism and the like are all sorta "Not Applicable" to Buddhism, which is more a tool (or method of awakening) than a religion. Buddhism is unique in comparison to other religions that those words would actually apply to.[/QUOTE]
    Hmm, many would actually see Buddhism as being more religions, especially in the more traditional schools. But again, depends on definition of 'religion'. My dictionary claims it's "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods" which I don't believe is applicable in this case.

    [QUOTE]
    At least.... I'm pretty sure. :) Buddhism isn't so easy to define, and using labels only leads to misunderstandings or misconceptions about Buddhist practice.[/QUOTE]
    That's what I love about Buddhism, it can be so open to how you interpret the dharma! Words can mean too many different things!
  • edited May 2010
    [url]http://newbuddhist.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5914[/url]
  • edited May 2010
    I say that Buddhism is both. Pantheism is Atheism. Pantheism uses "God" as a metaphor to describe the greatness and divinity of the Universe, but denies any sort of personal being or deity.

    As far as people who say Buddhism is compatible with an eternal creator God, I say nay.

    From AccesstoInsight:

    "From a study of the discourses of the Buddha preserved in the Pali canon, it will be seen that [B]the idea of a personal deity, a creator god conceived to be eternal and omnipotent, is incompatible with the Buddha's teachings.[/B] On the other hand, conceptions of an impersonal godhead of any description, such as world-soul, etc., are excluded by the Buddha's teachings on Anatta, non-self or unsubstantiality. ... In Buddhist literature, [B]the belief in a creator god (issara-nimmana-vada) is frequently mentioned and rejected[/B], along with other causes wrongly adduced to explain the origin of the world." - Nyanaponika Thera (Theravada Monk)

    Source: [url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/godidea.html[/url]



    .
  • edited May 2010
    [quote=InmostLight;107635]it neglects the [B]concept[/B] of an embodiment of God.[/quote]

    That is precisely it. All kinds of concepts come and go. Atheism doen't quite cover it because your still giving attention to God Concepts, just in an negative way. Non-theism is closer to the mark. Theism and athiesm are not dwelled on in practice.
  • thickpaperthickpaper Veteran
    edited May 2010
    [QUOTE=Richard Herman;107677]That is precisely it. All kinds of concepts come and go. Atheism doen't quite cover it because your still giving attention to God Concepts, just in an negative way. Non-theism is closer to the mark. Theism and athiesm are not dwelled on in practice.[/QUOTE]

    One could make a pretty compelling case that the Buddha was an Antithiest, a la Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennet etc, and that he was reacting against the very Theistic cultural system of the time...
  • edited May 2010
    [quote=thickpaper;107679]One could make a pretty compelling case that the Buddha was an Antithiest, a la Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennet etc, and that he was reacting against the very Theistic cultural system of the time...[/quote]Thats a good point, the concept of not-Self is an antidote to notions of Self after all.


    But not like Dawkins or Hitchen.. oy. These men, especially Dawkins, are Materialists, and not particularly sophisticated ones at that. Hitchens is a clown, ......but he would be fun at a dinner party.
  • thickpaperthickpaper Veteran
    edited May 2010
    [QUOTE=Richard Herman;107682]But not like Dawkins or Hitchen.. oy. These men, especially Dawkins, are Materialists, and not particularly sophisticated ones at that. Hitchens is a clown, ......but he would be fun at a dinner party.[/QUOTE]


    I think they are more functionalist than cure materialist, especially Dennet.

    I think Hitchen's simple response to p[pascals wager is not the repsonce of a clown...

    If you are interested in new atheism the common sense atheism blog is very good - and critical of Dawkins et al...

    I think the Buddha was a functionalist to, the first! And greatest!

    namaste

    (PS for some reason I cannot private message you)
  • edited May 2010
    [quote=thickpaper;107684]I think they are more functionalist than cure materialist, especially Dennet.

    I think Hitchen's simple response to p[pascals wager is not the repsonce of a clown...

    If you are interested in new atheism the common sense atheism blog is very good - and critical of Dawkins et al...

    I think the Buddha was a functionalist to, the first! And greatest!

    namaste

    (PS for some reason I cannot private message you)[/quote]
    There is a qualitative difference between the practice of Buddhism and the ideas of Dawkins. The experiential nature of Buddhist practice is beyond his ken. Most Atheists seem to have crude negations of crude Gods. There are some magnificent and profoundly subtle notions of God that I really respect, though they are IMO in error.

    anyway I'll change the setting on the PM.
  • thickpaperthickpaper Veteran
    edited May 2010
    [QUOTE=Richard Herman;107687]There is a qualitative difference between the practice of Buddhism and the ideas of Dawkins. [/QUOTE]

    Completely agree. Don't forget Dawkin's (or any of them, as I understand it) are not having a go at Buddhism, but at the damage done to the world by the acutely theistic religions.

    namaste
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