As Buddhism continues to take hold in the West, many are finding a sense of compatibility between their Western/Theistic beliefs and practices and those of Buddhism … The Buddha also plainly said that he was not a god, but was simply "awakened" to ultimate reality. Another, called Yogachara, teaches that things exist only as processes of knowing and have no intrinsic reality. While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment. You aren’t any better than me except to the extent that you serve me and others better than I do. But, again, just believing in them is not the point. There is no personal god or monotheistic creator God in Buddhism, as there is in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Buddhism Is Distinctly Different From Other Religions . Tibetan Buddhism is one example of a theistic Buddhism, while Theravada Buddhism is not exclusive. Buddhism is centered upon the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who came to be known as the Buddha — the enlightened one, or one who is awake — whereas Christianity is centered on the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ.Buddhism is a nontheistic religion or philosophy, i.e., it does not believe in a supreme creator being a.k.a. More so, Buddhism has sacred texts, temples, leaders, teachers. Of course, devotion requires an object. The Buddha himself rejected the idea of a creator god, and Buddhist philosophers have even argued that belief in an eternal god is nothing but a distraction for humans seeking enlightenment. To lead is to serve. For these folks, Buddhism can be seen as supplementing and enriching their own theistic faith and practice. Buddhism would be so much better, Harris wrote, if it could be cleansed of the "naive, petitionary, and superstitious" trappings of religion altogether. Buddhism rejects a sense of self and Hinduism retains it. There are three additional issues, however, which complicate the relationship between Buddhism and theism even further. Such a peaceful religion with no God. Neither concept is right or wrong. Some in the West dismiss these devotional and worshipful aspects of Buddhism as corruptions of the original teachings of the Buddha. To lead is to serve. it can be both. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. For this reason, Buddhism is more accurately called nontheistic rather than atheistic. God. Is there Theistic Buddhism? Many people, not familiar with Buddhist thought, assume that the label of “religion” means Buddhists must believe in some type of God. For instance, like Buddhism, Communism is a religion based on natural laws, a non-theistic … Buddhism is a non-theistic tradition. On the other hand, the Buddha did not explicitly rule out the existence of a God or gods. Buddhism has many gods and set standards and ways of life. Libraries have been filled with the answers to those questions. Buddhism is Non-theistic. But the nature of existence is something Buddhism looks at deeply and in a different way from the way people ordinarily understand "existence.". The many mythological creatures and beings that populate Mahayana Buddhism art and literature are often called "gods" or "deities." The “deity” of Mahayana Buddhism is not a personal being but an impersonal, all-encompassing force. Merely "believing in" enlightenment and nirvana is pointless. It is by seeing through the delusion of ego that realization blooms. It can be either, depending on the person. Privacy policy, Theism, Atheism and Non-Theism in Buddhism. It teaches that there are divine beings or gods, heavens and rebirths in its doctrine of saṃsāra, but it considers none of these gods as a creator or as being eternal. Any doctrine or practice that enables realization is an upaya. In addition, about an estimated 488 million in the world practice Buddhism. Some medieval Christian mystics, such as the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, argued that it is incorrect to say that God exists because existence amounts to taking a particular form within a space of time. In the case of Communism, these laws were discovered not by the Buddha but by Marx, Engles, and Lenin. Buddhism is Not a Theistic Religion . Buddhism is commonly distinguished on doctrinal grounds from monotheistic and polytheistic religions by the fact that it refutes the existence of a divine Creator, and indeed there is ample textual evidence in early Buddhist, Mahayana, and Vajrayana treatises to support this claim.' It's not essential as far as the basic dharma goes (or 4 noble truths and the eightfold path). Rather, Buddhism affirms many forms of spirituality and belief in gods as means to elevate and improve worldly life. The Buddha has condemned godlessness by which He meant the denial of worship and renunciation, the denial of moral and social obligations, and the denial of a religious life. Yes, Buddhists are theists. To what is the Buddhist devoted? Baha'i Forums. But Buddhism is non-theistic. Western Buddhists are the foremost promulgators of the idea that Buddhism is non-theistic. There are a few non-theistic or semi-theistic religions to consider as well. In saying that the ideas of god that Hinduism retains are essentially metaphors for different energies and states of being, is it right to call it theistic if they didn't believe in corporeal beings such as an elephant god or gods with multiple hands but rather in them being representative. Answer Save. Some theistic beliefs could contradict with Buddhist views. Pilgrims flock to stupas that are said to hold relics of the Buddha. Buddhism is essentially non-theistic. Buddhism is not, therefore, atheistic in the modern understanding which developed in the West as a reaction to theistic Christianity. After Hinduism, the fourth largest world religion is Buddhism. Barbara O'Brien is a Zen Buddhist practitioner who studied at Zen Mountain Monastery. For this reason, Buddhism is more accurately called nontheistic rather than atheistic. Our hierarchical triangle is upside down. For example, the central focus of most religions is one or many. I think many Western converts come, as you said, shedding their belief in a creator God. Author has 157 answers and 236.9K answer views Buddhism is non-theistic because no deity (or your faith in a deity) can "save" sentient beings (Soteriology). Buddhism is a non-theistic religion and way of life; it has a different view on what is ultimate reality. Many people, not familiar with Buddhist thought, assume that the label of “religion” means Buddhists must believe in some type of God. Most of the time, it's more accurate for Westerners to think of the iconographic devas and bodhisattvas as archetypes rather than as supernatural beings. Modern Buddhism leaves a lot of room for personal beliefs, meaning that an individual can believe in god while still being a Buddhist. Considering the arguments that scholars provide on whether Buddhism is theistic, atheistic or non-theistic, compatible explanations could be provided for all these three philosophical positions. One might say that in Buddhism, the big question is not whether gods exist, but what is the nature of existence? In Buddhism, the devas are also trapped in the cycle of rebirth and are not necessarily virtuous. Each individual is ultimately responsible for his own present and future happiness. Yes, Buddhism is a religion. What did they mean? Most people think that learning is the key to self-development It’s how we were raised – when we were young, we studied algebra, read history, and memorized the names of elements on the periodic table. However, a careful analysis of Vajrayana Buddhist cosmogony, specifically as presented in the Atiyoga tradition of Indo-Tibetan … However, it is not a theistic … Interfaith. But Buddhism goes beyond most of these other religions in that it is positively anti-theistic because the very notion of God conflicts with some principles which are … Whether or not it can be termed a religion is debatable—the etymology of the word ‘religion’ refers to God. Forums. Anonymous. These religions are both universal and missionary. The origin of Buddhism points to one man, Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who was born in Lumbini (in present-day Nepal) during the 5th century BCE. The individual may believe in a deity although it is not expressed in the Buddhism itself. Some schools of Buddhism are deeply devotional. Buddhism is non-theistic, which holds that everything in this world is the result of the combination of causes and conditions, not created by an eternal being … Although the majority of Buddhists are atheist, some believe in one God and others believe in multiple gods. Buddhism is one of the biggest religions on earth. Beliefs of any kind play a different role in Buddhism than in many other religions. Thus while Buddhism includes … Buddhism is a path to "waking up," or becoming enlightened, to a reality that is not consciously perceived by most of us. Who are you? A similar form of functional … Like belief in reincarnation. Philosophy means the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.Even if you can find “Buddhism” on every list of world religions, it is still a science of mind. Relevance. Buddhism doesn't have a God, rather it has a broad and complex pantheon of gods. The Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. Even I was shocked when I first read about the core beliefs of Buddhism. It was and still is fascinating for me. But Buddhism begins with the premise that the way we understand the phenomenal world is delusional to begin with The quest is to realize, or perceive, delusions as the delusions they are. But Buddhism goes beyond most of these other religions in that it is positively anti-theistic because the very notion of God conflicts with some principles which are … For instance, like Buddhism, Communism is a religion based on natural laws, a non-theistic religion. As a religion, Buddhism is neither monotheistic nor polytheistic. This is a question that may be clarified and re-clarified and answered in different ways at different times as one's understanding of the teachings deepens. Nevertheless, Buddhism has some of the outward trappings of a religion, such as temples, iconography, prayers and incense. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. Source(s): why because I said so. It doesn't seem right to call that non-theistic to me, but it depends how you decide to define the term. Serving is leadership. Buddhism is a non-theistic tradition. As compared to Islam, Judaism or Christianity, Buddhism does not have a God who created this world. Following this belief, practitioners of Mahayana simultaneously worship Buddha and maintain a non-theistic worldview. According to the Buddhist teachings, we are all … Rather than the founder of a new religion, Siddhartha Gautama was the founder and leader of a sect of wanderer ascetics (Sramanas), one of many sects that existed at that time all over India. The Buddha also plainly said that he was not a god, but was simply "awakened" to ultimate reality. Let me explain my understanding. In Buddhism, we’re taught to bow with mutual respect, and self-respect. Excellent post! Serving is leadership. So, we get to the question Is Buddhism Polytheistic Or Monotheistic? But what about the "naïve, petitionary, and superstitious" trappings that Harris spoke of? Western Buddhists are the foremost promulgators of the idea that Buddhism is non-theistic. God. Indeed most Asian religions (with the possible exception of some extremely devotional forms of Hinduism) are essentially non-theistic, in that God does not occupy the central place that is accorded to him in monotheistic religious traditions. Neither concept is right or wrong. buddhism theistic; Home. In other words, God is unnecessary in Buddhism, as this is a practical religion and philosophy that emphasizes practical results over faith in beliefs or deities. Because God has no particular form and is outside of time, God, therefore, cannot be said to exist. You aren’t any better than me except to the extent that you serve me and others better than I do. Deity yoga is a practice within the Tibetan Vajrayāna The Buddhist canon mentions devas, celestial beings, spirits, even Brahma who thinks he/she/it is the creator. And, Buddhism is beyond religion. So what's "real"? For this reason, the Buddha taught his disciples to cultivate devotional and reverential habits of mind. Deity yoga is a practice within the Tibetan Vajrayāna tradition. We only believe in things that we can find to be true. Buddhism is Non-theistic. Are these corruptions of the Buddha's teachings? How do you understand it? I have addressed the question of whether Buddhism is a philosophy or a religion elsewhere, arguing that it is both philosophy and religion, and that the whole "philosophy versus religion" argument is unnecessary. A. aidan. But Buddhism is non-theistic. A similar form of functional … Most religions are defined by their beliefs. Most people think that learning is the key to self-development It’s how we were raised – when we were young, we studied algebra, read history, and memorized the names of elements on the periodic table. Understanding the non-theistic nature of Buddhism When we talk about Buddhism, it is neither polytheistic nor monotheistic. Which means that Buddhism has not God or deities. That said, if God or gods show up, we’ll be happy to believe. As Buddhism continues to take hold in the West, many are finding a sense of compatibility between their Western/Theistic beliefs and practices and those He acclaimed the supremacy of the … There are three additional issues, however, which complicate the relationship between Buddhism and theism even further. That is to say, they do not believe in the existence of a supreme being. Is buddhism theistic or nontheistic? Theism, the view that all limited or finite things are dependent in some way on one supreme or ultimate reality of which one may also speak in personal terms.In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, this ultimate reality is often called God.This article explores approaches to theism in Western theology and philosophy.. Theistic views of God. Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that focuses on following the teachings of the Buddha and bodhisattvas to become free from suffering. So, why does a Buddhist practice? How can that be? One might bow just to show gratitude for the Buddha's life and practice. 1 decade ago. Tibetan Buddhism teaches that through the systematic practice of its timeless methods, one's mind can be transformed into its highest potential of wisdom and compassion. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Webster's New World Dictionary (Third College Edition): defines religion as: "any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy." Buddhism is so different from other religions that some people question whether it is a religion at all. Many of us think of Buddhism as a practice-based psychology rather than a belief-based religion. It might be shocking fro some of you. That's an argument that many of us atheistic Buddhists can appreciate. If Buddha was not a god, why bow to Buddha-figures? Whether or not it can be termed a religion is debatable—the etymology of the word ‘religion’ refers to God. Shortly after the Buddha's death, a devotional element formed within Buddhism. In Buddhism, we’re taught to bow with mutual respect, and self-respect. Atheism is associated with a materialistic doctrine that knows nothing higher than this world. All Mythological Creatures, Great and Small, Buddhism: 11 Common Misunderstandings and Mistakes, The Buddhist Teachings of Self and No-Self, Nirvana and The Concept of Freedom in Buddhism. 8 0. Usually, when we ask if something exists we are asking if it is "real," as opposed to being a fantasy. Buddhism “rejects the theological impulse,” the philosopher Owen Flanagan declares approvingly in The Problem of the Soul. Since its creation, Buddhism has evolved into a wide variety of forms. When you bow, you are bowing to yourself." Some Buddhists are theists and others are atheists. This sect came to be known as Sangha to distinguish it from other similar communities. Almost all Buddhists live in Asia, but there are a significant number of followers in the U.S. Buddhism has much in common with Hinduism; it is concerned primarily with ethics and morals, sees each daily action as having spiritual consequences, and believes in reincarnation. Buddhism, a non-theistic religion, is often described as a "mind-science." While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment. Buddhism is non-theistic. Where do you find the self? It has millions of followers, not only in south and east Asia, but all over the world. Indeed most Asian religions (with the possible exception of some extremely devotional forms of Hinduism) are essentially non-theistic, in that God does not occupy the central place that is accorded to him in monotheistic religious traditions. edited 9 years ago Buddhism doesn't have a God, rather it has a broad and complex pantheon of gods. Taking Buddhism at face value as a system of ethical precepts, a philosophy of life, and a set of meditative practices, many Christians and Jews have found it quite possible to affirm major aspects of Buddhism without abandoning their own faith. Jul 2011 1,747 n ireland Sep 29, 2015 #1 I'm confused about this and have not found a definitive answer . But in the end, for our practice, I maintain the question of God is not important. If atheism is the absence of belief in a God or gods, then many Buddhists are, indeed, atheists. Working with those questions is not a corruption of Buddhism; it is Buddhism. It is quite clear that Buddhism has no concept of a creator. There is no personal god or monotheistic creator God in Buddhism, as there is in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Whether the doctrine is factual or not is not the point. While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion. Buddhism is non-theistic. Further, these religions meet the 3rd and 4th criteria that give a system power to legitimize political orders and change history. Even in the nondevotional schools, such as Theravada or Zen, there are rituals that involve bowing and offering food, flowers, and incense to a Buddha figure on an altar. While there is a more recent, modern trend to portray Buddhism as simply agnostic on the question of God, this is not the case if we are defining God as Christians (or even as Jews and Muslims) would use the word. What's "fantasy"? We only believe in things that we can find to be true. No gods, no beliefs, yet Buddhism encourages devotion. Our hierarchical triangle is upside down. For more discussion of this kind of devotion, see the essay "Devotion in Buddhism" by Nyanaponika Thera. However, God is. Favorite Answer. However, it is a way of life. Although it is a popular religion, not many people know its core beliefs. The Buddha taught that the biggest barrier to realization is the notion that "I" am a permanent, integral, autonomous entity. Buddhists, like Siddhārtha before them, seek to reach nirvana: the state beyond all suffering. Opportunities and Challenges in Teaching Big History, Beyond Intelligent Design: Evolution and Culture Wars. They may even grant favors, protection, etc. Buddhism is commonly distinguished on doctrinal grounds from monotheistic and polytheistic religions by the fact that it refutes the existence of a divine Creator, and indeed there is ample textual evidence in early Buddhist, Mahayana, and Vajrayana treatises to support this claim.' One school of Buddhist philosophy, Madhyamika, says that phenomena exist only in relation to other phenomena. This religion is based on … Furthermore, it is a system of faith and worship. She is the author of "Rethinking Religion" and has covered religion for The Guardian, Tricycle.org, and other outlets. Nontheistic religions are traditions of thought within a religious context—some otherwise aligned with theism, others not—in which nontheism informs religious beliefs or practices. But the Buddha figure also represents enlightenment itself and the unconditioned true nature of all things. Is Buddhism Polytheistic Or Monotheistic? Is Buddhism atheistic? After a very long, and perhaps still ongoing, battle with matters of faith, I feel that the teachings and practices are the most in line with how I feel I should be. And what is the self? Yet, throughout Asia, it is common to find people praying to the Buddha or to the many clearly mythical figures that populate Buddhist iconography. I’ve always tried to explain it that Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, but definitely not atheistic. Mar 2013 522 _ Sep 29, 2015 #2 Depends on who's practicing. Buddhism is not about either believing or not believing in God or gods. Same goes for reincarnation. … Stupas were built to contain relics of the Buddha and pilgrimages were made to places where he had walked. Trungpa Rinpoche always described Buddhism as “non-theistic.” We aren’t a-theistic, he’d say—we don’t not believe in God, or gods. In Mahayana Buddhism, which is the dominant form of Buddhism in China, Tibet, Nepal, Japan and Korea, all phenomena are empty of intrinsic existence. The Buddha himself rejected the idea of a creator god, and Buddhist philosophers have even argued that belief in an eternal god is nothing but a distraction for humans seeking enlightenment. What "exists"? Buddhism has been argued as perfectly theistic simply because it is based on the notion of nirvana and dharma and is thus guided by a moral law, and a focus on moral law is the basis of all religions. Like … Trungpa Rinpoche always described Buddhism as “non-theistic.” We aren’t a-theistic, he’d say—we don’t not believe in God, or gods. For example, Sam Harris, a self-identified atheist who has expressed admiration for Buddhism, has said Buddhism should be taken away from Buddhists. One doctrine agreed upon by all branches of modern Buddhism is that “this world is not created and ruled by a God.” {1} The Buddha himself rejected metaphysical speculation as a matter of principle, and his teachings focused entirely on the practical ways to end suffering. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Buddhism is a non-theistic system. There’s the opposite nihilistic extreme — those who have studied a little about Buddhism — and assume that the Dharma of Buddha is atheistic or non-theistic. It doesn't seem right to call that non-theistic to me, but it depends how you decide to define the term. Soon the idea of past and future Buddhas developed, with Maitreya, the Buddha y… These religions are both universal and missionary. Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that focuses on following the teachings of the Buddha and bodhisattvas to become free from suffering. Buddhism is centered upon the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who came to be known as the Buddha — the enlightened one, or one who is awake — whereas Christianity is centered on the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ.Buddhism is a nontheistic religion or philosophy, i.e., it does not believe in a supreme creator being a.k.a. This essence is eternal and without form, therefore indescribable, but it can be experienced in everyday life. Thus, that is what defines religion for philosophy. It entirely depends upon your understanding of a theistic religion and how you would describe an act of worship. In most schools of Buddhism, it is understood that enlightenment and nirvana cannot be conceptualized or explained with words. 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