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10/20/2010

A Tautology of Buddhist Theology



A Buddhist can be a Theist.
A Buddhist can be an Atheist.
A Buddhist can be both an Atheist and a Theist.
A Buddhist can be neither an Atheist nor a Theist.




A Buddhist can be a Theist.
According to the Mahayana Buddhist cosmology, there are gods, including a God that has dominion over this particular universe.

The Pureland School of Buddhism in particular and many devotional aspects of Buddhism emphasize faith in omnipotent and omnipresent Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on high.

A Buddhist can be an Atheist.
Orthopraxic rather than orthodoxic, a Buddhist focuses on testing hypotheses in practice rather than adhering to a requisite system of belief.

A Buddhist, particularly that of the Zen tradition, does not have to believe in any Buddha, Bodhisattva, god, godhead or anything divine.

A Buddhist can be both an Atheist and a Theist.
A Buddhist can have faith in a God or god-like being, in gods, or in the divine, any of which is the One within and without. Each and every being embodies the One and the One connects us all; to the point there is no more boundary between the self and the One.

The Mahayana Buddhist cosmology describes heavens where gods reside and hells for the fallen. Heaven or hell can be an experience afterlife as well as a present state of mind. In a mindstate of bliss, we are in heaven, here on earth. In a mindstate of torture, we are in hell.

A Buddhist can be neither an Atheist nor a Theist.
One just is. . .

So that reminds me, I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well, are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist? He said, "Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord? He said, Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are your Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.

2 comments:

  1. Buddhists (Theravada and Mahayana alike) would reject both a big G God and a One. They would reject these concepts just as the Buddha did.

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  2. When it comes to creationism, the Buddha often used the parable of a person shot with an arrow. Time is too precious to dwell on the who, how, and why of sling. Time is better spent focusing on the practice of uprooting the arrows of greed, hatred and delusion. Though in the Buddist Canon there are descriptions too of how this world began according to the Buddha.

    The Mahayana cosmology includes the Triyastrimsha Heaven, there Lord Sakyra lords over our world; this is understood to be a parallel to the Christian God. However, the Buddhist cosmology is much bigger and much smaller than that. Bigger in that the Buddha describes many more heavens, gods and universes; smaller in that every realm or every being is merely in our mind.

    And yet the mind can be infinite too. That's where any and all conceptual constructs are let go (reject connotes more violent emotion to me). So that's alright, Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists emulate the Buddha and let go of these concepts.

    As I write, I'm getting a even better sense of why the Buddha never responded to this type of questions. Words seem convoluted and circular in any attempted response, don't they? Hence a tautology.

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