From what I understand, the core of Buddhism have the notion of no-God, no personal salvation, etc. Buddha did mentioned how he didn’t believe in God, and that if God is real and the source of goodness, where did all the bad come from. Yet, Buddha is a great icon in the world of Eastern philosophy and for a peace and loving religion. But is Buddha didn’t believe in God, how did he became God-like, awaken, and a loving perspective on the world, if he wanted to be seperate from God. Did God gave him wisdom for not believing in him or what?
Have you separated from the Eatser Bunny?
If “God” does not exist, as Buddhism posits, how can one separate from him?
Buddha gained enlightenment and separated from the illusion.
IIRC, there is room for gods in Buddhism, but they’re also subject to samsara etc. In Buddhism, there’s no ultimate god in the Abrahamic sense.
Well, let me disabuse you of a few misconceptions, if I may.
There are numerous sects within Buddhism, and some of them do involve belief in God(s), or even in the idea that faith in the Buddha can provide salvation. So I’m going to answer your questions from a strictly Theravadan perspective – arguably the oldest Buddhist sect, and the one that remains closest to his original teachings (in my opinion).
Regarding the existence of God, or lack of existence of God, Buddha offers no answer. Nor does he provide answers regarding such matters as the origin of the universe, the nature of time, and so on. So, in fact, contrary to your claim, Buddha never mentioned (at least to my knowledge) that he “didn’t believe in God.” (Fact is, historically, the Buddha almost certainly did believe in “Gods,” although they weren’t “God” in the Christian sense, of course).
Nor did Buddha become “Godlike,” at least not in the sense that I suspect you’re implying. Rather, Buddha became enlightened. And for him (and his followers), enlightenment means that he discovered how to escape the previously inescapable wheel of karmic suffering.
You know how Christianity promises it followers an eternal afterlife in paradise? Well, then, dig this: fundamentally, Buddhism offers its followers total oblivion and non-existence after death. That’s because the main problem Buddhism seeks to solve is not, “How do I come closer to God?”, but rather, “How do I escape from an eternal life of suffering and pain?”
Hinduism, you know, is predicated on the idea of reincarnation – an eternal spirit, constantly damned to return to an illusionary world of suffering by the immutable laws of karma. Buddha believed that he had found a way around those laws, which he called “the middle path.” By following the middle path between extremes, he argued, you could free yourself from the bonds of karma, and then, after death, you would achieve “nirvana” – which is extinguishment, or non-existence. Basically, what he offers is freedom from suffering (which, in its turn, is caused by “tanha,” or grasping [attachment]; which, in its turn, is caused by ignorance).
So, then, these are Buddha’s “Four Noble Truths”:
[ul][li]Existence is suffering (dukkha);[/li]
[li]Suffering (dukkha) is caused by attachment (tanha);[/li]
[li]There is an escape from suffering;[/li]
[li]That escape is the eightfold way, or “middle path.”[/ul][/li]
Back to your question: Buddha achieved enlightenment on his own, without the help of any God, by sitting under the Bodhi tree in deep meditation for 40 days and nights. He believed that ultimately, all conscious beings are responsible for their own enlightenment (no God, regardless of whether or not she exists, can offer you an escape from suffering). For that reason, belief in God is actually rather irrelevant in Buddhism, which doesn’t focus so much on faith as it does on practice. Practice Buddhism, and you will eventually achieve enlightenment (says the B-man, anyway), regardless of what (or who) you believe in.
Does that help any?
Good post Mr. Svinlesha.
I think its quite possible to hold a belief in God and also practice Buddhism. Its difficult to reconcile the idea of Nirvana and ideas of heaven though. I beleive Buddhists view heaven as a temporary repreive as the self still exists (bad). However I wonder if you can’t view Nirvana, not as extinguishment of the self, but as the self dissolving into God, as in the Yogic/mystic traditions.
Could anyone more up on Buddhism correct me on that?
I think it would probably be possible to view (a version of) the Christian idea (the spirit returns to God who gave it) and the Buddhist one as flawed expressions of the same fundmental truth; it goes without saying though, that not everybody would be happy with such a reconciliation.
Let me try to rephrase the buddhist perspective from a Zenperspective.
We are all nothing more than this thing, this underlying reality or energy that is sometimes called “God”. Each of us is an expression of this indescribeable, unexplainable thing. Thus we are all god already; an eternal joyus and pure expression of the “suchness” of things( or tathagata as buddha called it.)
But we don’t see this because we have these delusions, one of which is that we are a separate “self”. Once we become awake and can see that the self is only an illusion, we see that this underlying unknowable truth IS us. We are it. Or rather, there is no I or we but rather just One non-thing. If you call this god, then we are God. Once one sees this, there are no longer any concepts of separteness such as good and bad, here and there, god and not-god.
So Buddha, being fully awake, would not have labled things good or bad, or separate from himself. It just doesn’t make any sense from the enlightened perspective.
Not easy to grasp, but if it was easy, we woulnd’t need buddhas to guide us.