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gods in buddhism

SJDR21SJDR21 Puerto Rico New

Are buddhist practitioners allowed to have gods? My friends ask me often this question since buddhism is non-theocentrical (wich i have explained many times) but they still have questions on what I can and cant have and that got me wondering about that.
Thanks a ton in advance for your help!

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    There are Gods in Buddhism. It's just that (a) they are more representative of specific benevolent, beneficial and positive qualities we as Buddhists, aspire to develop and (b) they are as impermanent as we are.
    Even Gods are in the Samsaric 6 Realms of Existence, and they too, move on at some point....

    lobsteryagr
  • mosquitomosquito Explorer

    But what does it mean to "have gods" in the first place? Because it's hard to say anyone has anything at all.

    As I see it, Buddhism is about being realistic, the most realistic we can be, just in this very moment where we actually are.

    So, it is also about - clinging to views, ideas and opinions, if they present themselves. And examining them for what they are. And examining the nature of this clinging. And when the views, ideas opinions fade out - it's about not keeping them anymore. Thus, all the time being very realistic.

    But if one wants to keep some opinions, one is allowed, sure. Still - it's good to observe what happens, when one keeps them. Just in this very moment. What one really keeps. That's it.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @SJDR21 said:
    they still have questions on what I can and cant have and that got me wondering about that.
    Thanks a ton in advance for your help!

    Could you explain that further? What do you (they) mean by "what you can and can't have"? Is belief in a deity about having something? I'm not following.

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    @SJDR21 said

    Are buddhist practitioners allowed to have gods? My friends ask me often this ...

    There is no "allowed" or "not allowed", there is only the path. If God is standing in the path, perhaps he will travel with you for a while before he gets tired and drops out.

    I personally held on to a rather general belief in God for some time after becoming Buddhist, and would even pray to the old boy for guidance, and even for material assistance on occasion. The former was always forthcoming, the latter, never.

    In time it seemed to me that God was only a certain place in my own mind. Now If someone asks me, do you believe in God, I hardly know how to answer. If I say yes, that would not be correct, and if I say no, that's not right either, but silence is not usually a viable option.

    I believe in something, but I wouldn't call it God - some version of that usually pops out of my mouth.

    DhammaDragonHozan
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    One my friends, a staunch Catholic, once told me:
    "In all cultures throughout history, one finds adoration of a god. That has to mean god exists."

    "No," I answered. "To me, this only means that man has always needed to believe in a god."

    Some people believe in a god as a father-figure substitute.
    The fact that some people need the comfort of a belief in a god, is no proof that a god actually exists.
    To me, the fact that Buddhadharma has proved such an infallible self-help method to cope skilfully with dukkha while leaving the god variable out, is enough proof that the notion of a god is not needed to lead a peaceful, self-fulfilled life.

    KeromeHozan
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited May 9

    @SJDR21 said:
    Are buddhist practitioners allowed to have gods?

    Is that what you mean--are Buddhists allowed to believe in a deity, or deities? Insofar as Buddhism is basically psychology, to which belief or non-belief in a Supreme Being, or Creator, is irrelevant, I would say "yes, why not?" As long as you observe the Buddhist precepts, practice mindfulness and non-attachment to ego and material things, cultivate compassion, and follow the Eightfold Path, I don't see why not.

    But if you're talking about believing in a personal savior, that might get problematic. Save you from what? Buddhism is a path where we learn to save ourselves from suffering, stress, etc. So it depends on what you and your friends have in mind, OP. Clarification would really be helpful.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Loved all the great comments!

    There are people who are Christian Buddhists. And Pagan Buddhists. And other kinds of Buddhists. Whatever works to get you through but one key part of Buddhism is investigation and eventually that should bring you around (probably repeatedly) to what God/gods mean to you and how they fit into your Buddhist practice. That doesn't mean everyone arrives at the same answer, of course. It is hard to completely let go of things we are raised with, so some of that follows us when we try out new paths. The longer we go down another path, the farther we get from the ones we are indoctrinated with (or otherwise choose later in life).

    For me personally, God tends to become a problem because usually there is an intention of hoping/wishing/praying to someone else to save us. But that job is on us. We save ourselves. No one else can save us, we can't save anyone else. From life, that is. As a Tibetan practitioner, there are gods and goddesses aplenty. But not nearly in the same vein. You do not pray to them to save you. You use them as a visual to strengthen those traits in yourself so you can save you.

    lobsterDhammaDragonHozan
  • HozanHozan Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:
    One my friends, a staunch Catholic, once told me:
    "In all cultures throughout history, one finds adoration of a god. That has to mean god exists."

    "No," I answered. "To me, this only means that man has always needed to believe in a god."

    Some people believe in a god as a father-figure substitute.
    The fact that some people need the comfort of a belief in a god, is no proof that a god actually exists.
    To me, the fact that Buddhadharma has proved such an infallible self-help method to cope skilfully with dukkha while leaving the god variable out, is enough proof that the notion of a god is not needed to lead a peaceful, self-fulfilled life.

    Awesome @DhammaDragon . Completely agree. Its one of the reasons why Buddhism suits me so well. Personal accountability. My freedom from dukkha my own responsibility. For me its The Path.

    DhammaDragon
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    @Hozan said:
    Its one of the reasons why Buddhism suits me so well. Personal accountability. My freedom from dukkha my own responsibility. For me its The Path.

    Personal accountability: there's a notion some people struggle with.
    And yes, I am free to choose, but not free from the consequences of my actions.
    My choice, my dukkha or sukha...
    πŸ‰πŸ’•πŸ™

    Hozan
  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @karasti said:
    Loved all the great comments!

    For me personally, God tends to become a problem because usually there is an intention of hoping/wishing/praying to someone else to save us. But that job is on us. We save ourselves. No one else can save us, we can't save anyone else. From life, that is. As a Tibetan practitioner, there are gods and goddesses aplenty. But not nearly in the same vein. You do not pray to them to save you. You use them as a visual to strengthen those traits in yourself so you can save you.

    The gods and goddesses in TB aren't real, though. They're understood to be symbolic. Do ordinary Tibetan herders and other common folk believe they're real? IDK, but all of that imagery had always been explained to me as purely symbolic; just a mechanism we use in meditation to advance our understanding of certain principles. The pantheon of Buddhas, now I think those are taken to be real; Buddhas of the past, present and future. But Buddhas aren't deities.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Dakini Yes, that is what I meant by they are used to strengthen traits in ourselves. I didn't finish explaining what I meant by that very well! My teacher has never taught them as real "out there" beings that we are attempting to speak with or channel or any other such thing. Just focusing on those qualities they embodied to build them in ourselves. I don't think I have ever had a teacher claim they were real, but I know there are teachers out there who do and some of the senior students of my teacher come pretty close to that definition (and they are modern city folks who have professional jobs and so on). They pray for healing from various gods and goddesses attempt to make deals with them and so on.

    Tara1978
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Do ordinary Tibetan herders and other common folk believe they're real?

    You mean the plebs as opposed to the elite tantricas? 🀐

    The answer is as with any religion. Degrees of unfolding possibilities.
    As a sophisticated, educated Western user of Yidam practice [lobster expresses renowned impartial humility] it is my duty to educate these lhama herders, yak farmers and potential trump worshippers. πŸ‘©β€πŸŒΎ
    https://studybuddhism.com/en/tibetan-buddhism/tantra/buddhist-tantra/buddhist-deity-or-mickey-mouse-what-s-the-difference

    As an embodiment of the Yidam 'Mi Key' or Kroncha (Holy Rat) at times, o:) I recently went past my local Temple. Ensured Ganesha was getting his millk bath and ration of coconuts and bananas and a flower garland ...

    He was fat, putting on weight and a happy Holy Doll ...
    Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    For me Buddhist practice is about seeing things as they really are, and that invariably involves challenging comforting beliefs like "God".

    DhammaDragonHozanDakiniFosdick
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    For me Buddhist practice is about seeing things as they really are, and that invariably involves challenging comforting beliefs like "God".

    My thoughts exactlyπŸ‘πŸ™πŸ‰

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    For me Buddhist practice is about seeing things as they really are, and that invariably involves challenging comforting beliefs like "God".

    Indeed.☸🍨🍦( couldnt find a neopolitan emoji)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    <3

    Hindu gods are on display at my local Theravadin Temple, Ganesha is considered a protector.

    We can differentiate between external and internal deities. For example Buddha is NOT a god but many forms of Buddhism have elevated him to this status. Pureland Buddhism for example has magickal post corpse retirement homes for devotees. O.o

    Individually our deities may be malevolent or beneficial 'spirits'/arisings that share our being ... 🎭πŸ‘₯πŸ‘½πŸ‘ΉπŸ‘»πŸ˜Œβ€οΈ

    Fosdick
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Ok, going to close this temporarily until our OP comes back with some response and/or input. @SJDR21 , just send me a private message to re-open and will happily do so....

    Thanks all. :)

This discussion has been closed.