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Is everyone here an atheist?
I've been visiting the atheist/agnostic sub forum in City-Data, and part of the problem I see there (as I have seen over the years) is that there are some very unpleasant atheists. Those are the ones I seem to remember. But, of course, most are fine, pleasant people.
I think the hesitation comes about due to how non-atheists (and I guess some Atheists too ) understand the term ... To put it plain and simple Atheism means is Without a god..., however this does not mean being void of any/all spiritual beliefs...
There are Buddhist Atheists, Christian Atheists, Jewish Atheists and from what I gather they don't feel the need for any unproven supernatural being's commandment, for them to show Metta towards fellow sentient beings...nor do they expect any form of reward or punishment from a god when their time comes...
"I'm an Atheist in that I don't recognise an absolute personal deity...But I'm not philosophically atheistic because I don't deny Ultimate Reality !"
@yagr, yes, exactly! That was what I was trying to get across. Thank you for being so much better with your words! That is definitely the implication that I often hear as well. They might as well suggest they worship satan and sacrifice small children because many people equate the 2.
hi shoshin.that quote,ultimate reality ,came to mind the dharma-key-awe.
Read the post fully. Even self-declared atheists often believe in something - if not god, then something else. The need to believe in something is always there inside.
That is my experience too, but the perception that atheists are cold (to put it gently) is still pretty common. Which is why I often dodge the question by saying, I keep an open mind or something of the sort.
Technically, that's true. Atheism is simply the absence of belief in god. Which means you can be an atheist and still believe in ultimate reality. But is it really atheism when this ultimate reality has become your new god?
I see where you are coming from... however it's just a convenient label of which I use in its raw sense "A" without "theism" god/s... meaning I don't rely upon and nor do I believe in any supernatural entity/force, and how others choose to define it, is up to them...In saying this, Ultimate Reality is in a sense Super Natural ....
And I simply define Ultimate Reality as "how things are" without the trappings/baggage ...It's nothing special ...unless that is, one chooses to make it so...
Good. I'd hate to think you were speaking for others.
That's the problem with these threads. We can only speak for ourselves. When general or sweeping statements are made (and no, this is not directed at you Grackle) then we miss the point (although these threads almost always get contentious. Why they keep coming up I have no idea).
After several years with some woolly-minded Quakers I became a born-again atheist. All praise to Saint Dawkins...
Well, in this particular case, I started the thread because I suddenly (and I mean suddenly) found myself at a turning point where, at the very least, I have completely turned my back on the theism of Christianity. Deism, perhaps. But more probably atheism. And I wondered how everyone else felt about the issue of atheism.
One of the things that I have found all too often on various forums -- not just forums that deal with religion -- is that all too many feel that their path is the only path...which has so many of the issues that theistic religions have to begin with. Particularly at a time when my perception has been that "organized religion" is weakening and people (at least in the U.S.) are turning more toward "personal religion".
As to why these threads keep coming up...I find nothing new on New Buddhist that wasn't around when I was here last go around. However, as old members sometimes drop out, and new members sometimes drop in, viewpoints sometimes evolve, both as a group and for individuals.
@vinlyn said, "all too many feel that their path is the only path..."
The simple answer is ...
If I don't believe in what you believe in ( give definition of a god/supernatural being/force) ..this makes me an Atheist and if you don't believe in what I believe in ( give different definition of a god/supernatural being/force) .... this makes you an Atheist...
So I guess we're all a bunch of heathens and we're all going to each other's hells in a handbasket
It's a bit stronger than that. The -"ism" in atheism means it is a disbelief, not just an absence of belief.
Sure, an atheist could believe in all sorts of "non-god" things. However in my experience atheists generally tend to be skeptical about beliefs for which they see no real evidence.
As for "ultimate reality", I think it is the new-age version of "God".
Sure, there is that need. Some recognise that need as a hindrance, and are able to move beyond it, to seek truth rather than just comfort.
What I struggle to understand is why people with some kind of God belief choose to explore Buddhism, which is essentially a non-theist tradition. Wouldn't Hinduism be a more obvious choice? Hinduism does at least involve a God belief, and there are options like Advaita Vedanta.
"No God, no Brahma can be found, no maker of this wheel of life, just bare phenonema roll on, dependent on conditions all." Visuddhimagga
A non-theistic path such as Buddhism allows a believer in God/dess/Divinity to focus on bettering themselves (as in my case) or focusing on the teachings rather than the teacher.
Just my 0.02
I think it is because any other theistic tradition is seen as unfaithful, like a cheating spouse, while embracing Buddhism is more like having a platonic friendship.
Some people choose to leave theism behind. I do think many people have difficulty with the idea of a non-theist religion. But concepts like Pure Land Buddhism have some popularity, perhaps it is seen as a halfway house.
Hinduism is too colourful, too Eastern, too pagan for most people who have had a Western education I think.
To add to what @Kerome said, I think Buddhism is a lot more mainstream than Hinduism. A lot of people coming from a god-based upbringing, or even just society, are overwhelmed at the idea of so many gods as Hinduism has. The whole idea if very foreign and difficult to wrap ones mind around. And there are, in most areas of the US anyways, vastly fewer Hindu centers and teachers to get help from in understanding it. Many even somewhat larger (say over 50k) cities have Buddhist groups, not so with Hinduism. I have studied it some, but I also find it difficult. I learn quite well on my own, but without someone that has a strong basis in the culture and philosophy to bounce things off of or confirm, it is too much for me. I prefer to study and understand myself. Most, however, do not, which is always so very odd to me!
Often times the idea of a universal consciousness comes from practicing dharma and is not baggage from another religion or whatever.
This sounds like he's strictly talking about a creator deity. Notice the use of Brahma and not Brahman. Brahman is the universal consciousness but Brahma is the creator aspect or god.
Buddhism denies Brahman/universal consciousness. Just saying.
Lol. You mean you do. Nice try though.
"Buddhism denies..." What do you mean by that?
There is no mention of Brahman or universal consciousness or ultimate reality in Buddhism. Buddha negated all concepts. Shunyata.
So did the Buddha.
does a lack of mention automatically mean a denial? There was probably no mention of AIDS, or the internet, either, but that shouldn't mean Buddhism or Buddha denied them.
And actually in some areas of Buddhism there is a lot of talk of ultimate truth and reality.
And you assume that that is the position of all Buddhists?
Ah well, it seems we have a range of imponderables ...
So let me add my experience.
I came from a secular Sufi tradition. Not much Allah or training for Jihad, Quran bashing or whirling in white kilts, dervish style.
At the time I was completely comfortable with a monotheistic central mysticism BUT it was completely ignored anyway. We focussed on study, stories and feedback on texts and stories of the great masters of the path.
Such a secular, non Islamic path is part of some traditions with great masters like Rumi who welcomed Buddhists, Pagans, Christians, Jews and transcended the usual limitations of an Islamic orthodoxy circle.
Now that I am a Buddhist, I have a choice, 'Bend the knee' (GOT reference) or let the Godly gods and their fire breathing dragons drag on as they prefer/require/feel fit ... Mind bending far more important ...
oops ... should be ...
OM MANI PEME HUM
or better still
Increase in Love - Dervish saying ... that will do fine ...
So which Buddhist schools teach "universal consciousness"? I don't know of any. I'm not even sure what "universal consciousness" means, it sounds like panpsychism or something?
Like ultimate and conventional truth?
Yes, that rings true. I came across this kind of attitude in the Quakers.
Sunyata is certainly unforgiving when it comes to absolutes and universals.
No, you have to do better than that. Please cite a source that refutes universal consciousness where it differs from a first cause.
No changing the goal posts. Which ones refute it?
You're probably bright enough to glean what is meant by universal consciousness so I don't think you're being genuine, sorry.
So you can't name any Buddhist schools which teach "universal consciousness", and you can't explain what it actually is. OK.
It's an odd thing when people get upset that others don't buy into the same stuff.
Atheism is just another thing that happens when people cling to or reject views.
Myself, I like to keep the wonder alive and though there are some views I simply can't find sense in, agnosticism is the way for me.
It is hard to determine what anyone means when no one defines it, lol. Often things have a brief, set definition (in the dictionary) but once you get into how we feel about it and our experience of it, that definition shifts quite a lot.
Wikipedia redirects Universal Consciousness with Universal Mind In the intro, Buddhism comes up immediately, interestingly.
It seems to me that the brand of Buddhism TNH teaches delves into this a bit. Interbeing and interconnectedness of all things, to me, implies some sort of universal consciousness that connects us all, underlying wisdom and our human experience.
For me, it makes sense that our streams of consciousness are bits of something else. Nothing ever disappears, so when we are liberated, where does that stream of consciousness "go"? It seems to me it would return to the universe in some sense, thus returning to a collective consciousness on a universal level. Like water droplets that gather to form a cloud. Not saying this is a Buddhist teaching but when I asked my teacher he didn't have an answer and didn't say "no, that's not how it works." There are plenty of things I believe that don't fit neatly into Buddhism, but they also don't work against it and fall within the imponderable that none of us have answers for.
@SpinyNorman Yes, related to the same thing. The same way there are 2 truths, there are 2 "realities". The one we experience, and the one that's actually happening.
How can somebody not get the gist of what is meant by universal consciousness when they've been studying Buddhism for years?
@SpinyNorman, the onus is not on me to find schools that do not deny a kind of universal consciousness but I'd go with pretty much all of them. I never claimed it is a Buddhist teaching but that the idea can come about through exploring the dharma.
My point is that the idea is not always baggage from other religions as some would have us believe.
If Buddhism teaches universal consciousness (it doesn't), then it wouldn't be Buddhism anymore. It'd be Hinduism.
There is no mention of an Abrahamic god either. Doesn't mean buddha denied it. The buddha probably accepted this god as supreme.
I think you are trying to change the goal posts. You claimed that Buddhism denies universal consciousness or mind (it doesn't) so you were asked to provide a source that denies it outright while making the distinction between it and a first cause or creator deity (which Buddha did deny).
I don't have a dog in the race but I'd need something a bit more than your opinion to take your view seriously unless you can admit that it is indeed just your opinion.
Even the agnostic can't just sit on the fence....they have to choose ...
Um Agnostic-Theist ? Or Agnostic-Atheist ? ..
I found that the article simply reinforced my reluctance to choose in order to communicate which I am to someone else. As I said in an earlier post within this thread, there is not a neat and clean definition of God that is easily referenced, and certainly none with any type of universal appeal.
I certainly reject the Abrahamic God out of hand, and for many, that would make me an atheist. Once we get past any type of anthropomorphic definition, if one attaches the idea of 'Creator' to a god, then it is possible that the Big Bang is the Creator and atheism would then deny physics. The idea of a Universal Consciousness is appealing to me. As I've stated here before, probably ad nauseum, that I live with a sort of miniature model of such within my own psyche based on my DID, and it's lovely to think that my life is a model for existence. However, even if a Universal Consciousness exists, I've seen nothing that would suggest that there is nothing beyond that; nothing to suggest that Universal Consciousness is not a creation of a Creator.
So, in the event that I've muddied the waters too much in my musings, without a definition of God, I can't tell you (or myself) if I am agnostic or atheist.
I see four possible ways of viewing Universal Consciousness that miss the mark.
That there is a Universal Consciousness and you believe in it.
That there is a Universal Consciousness and you don't believe in it.
That there is not a Universal Consciousness and you don't believe there is.
That there is not a Universal Consciousness and you do believe there is.
All of these are only views and are all wrong. Believing that they are all wrong is just a view too and not it.
Eh, I guess views are the raft. So maybe ignore me and carry on.
That isn't actually true though.
Even if we think one view makes more sense than the rest, that doesn't make it into a belief unless we believe it to be true. If we believe it to be true then we are not agnostic.
To be agnostic is to not cling to or outright deny the possibility of any views of any deities but to admit that we don't have enough information to come to an informed conclusion. That's it. No complicating mental gymnastics needed.
I am an (omni)theistic leaning agnostic but although I see how it all makes sense, I don't fool myself into believing I know anything. And make no mistake, if one thinks they know whether or not there are deities and won't admit the possibility of being wrong, they are fooling themselves.
Yeah I'm pretty sure the Buddha didn't accept HaShem/Yaweh as supreme. He might have acceptedthe beliefs of his upbringing, and I'm pretty sure they weren't Judaic.
The point is - we don't know. And it shouldn't matter because, to my understanding, the Buddha didn't dwell on it and instructed his followers not to either.
I am in the "it really doesn't matter to me at all one way or the other " school.... As
If God exists? Hurrah! If God doesn't exist? Hurrah! As someone much wiser than I, once said : It doesn't matter whether God exists or not; the important thing is to live your life as if S/he did."
Voltaire cleverly wrote, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary for us to invent him."