DreamBliss

Could someone explain the Buddhist belief system to me?

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There are strains of Christianity where God is both transcendent and imminent, and there are strains where God wills that all will eventually be saved, and hell is really just a purgatory. Sometimes these strains converge in a form that is orthodox, e.g. in the work of Saint Gregory of Nyssa. Generally the Eastern church fathers, and not Augustine and his followers, are the best people to turn to for Christian theology. For a modern theologian of this type, see David Bentley Hart (who also happens to be conversant and sympathetic with Buddhist and other non-Christian metaphysical systems).

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Well ... while the laughter subsides.

 

Buddhism and God don't mix really - and I think that the best response from a Buddhist to the 'is there a God' questions is - 'mu' as in the Zen koan about dogs and buddha-nature i.e. I refute the question..  Apart from anything else you have no idea what the questioner has in mind when they say the word God - so it's hard to answer.  They might mean some kind of controlling supreme being who sits on a cloud and directs human sexual habits - or they might mean a mysterious and ineffable source or whatever.

 

I've probably said before that Buddhism does not really make efforts to provide ontological solutions but concerns itself with how to liberate yourself from suffering.  Maybe in the abhidharma there is some ontology - but then that is not the Buddha's words - and maybe in some sects like the Great madhyamika there's some belief in an existent and therefore something like a 'real' being or state of being - but otherwise it is neither affirmed or denied since it is not appropriate to the soteriological issue.

 

or this is how it seems to me this morning at least :)

 

 

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In at least some streams of classical theism it is not proper to speak of God as ‚Äúexisting‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúbeing‚ÄĚ. A ‚Äúcontrolling supreme being‚ÄĚ would just be one creature among the others, even if at the top of the chain, and not God.¬†
 

Check out On the Divine Names by Dionysius the Areopagite and the Ambigua by Maximus the Confessor.

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12 hours ago, Apech said:

Buddhism and God don't mix really - and I think that the best response from a Buddhist to the 'is there a God' questions is - 'mu' as in the Zen koan about dogs and buddha-nature i.e. I refute the question..  Apart from anything else you have no idea what the questioner has in mind when they say the word God - so it's hard to answer.  They might mean some kind of controlling supreme being who sits on a cloud and directs human sexual habits - or they might mean a mysterious and ineffable source or whatever.

 

Yes, the word "God" comes with much cultural baggage and many Buddhists, especially Western Buddhists, react by totally closing themselves off form deeper insights. From my own experience, I'd call this God question a matter of semantics. Underneath, we are all dealing with the same reality.  Hence I have no problems equating the word "God" with the term "Buddha Nature".  I recently came across this succinct way of explaining by Chan Buddhist, Ming Zhen Shakya in her book The Seventh World of Chan Buddhism:

 

"In Chan, the psychic matrix is called the Buddha Nature, the Original Face, Mind, or the Self. This Self is the core and essence of our being, at once its totality and that part of it which is divine. In Western societies people are used to referring to this divinity as God. Buddha Nature may therefore be referred to as God providing it is not regarded as a supreme being which exists external to the individual, except as it exists in all other living individuals. The facts of creation are simply outside our area of spiritual interest, at least in the beginning stages of spiritual life. Chan Buddhism is non-dualistic. We do not believe that there is God and man. We believe that there is God in man."

 

Earlier on she writes: 

 

"As to supreme beings, the Buddha acknowledged the existence of many Buddhas, Mahasattvas, Bodhisattvas, Celestial Kings, and an assortment of godlike mythic creatures who reposed in Nirvana's Tushita Heaven, the locus of the Eighth and Ninth Worlds. All such beings were encountered by those individuals who attained exalted spiritual states. He did not embrace, however, any great cosmic god of gods who was endowed with personality, will, and a secret and somewhat prejudiced agenda. He saw no god who created and destroyed at his pleasure the people, places and things of our universe. The cosmic ground of all being was The Void, the Tenth World, the destination of the ego-emptied practitioner who had completed his blissful tour of the Eighth and Ninth Worlds. For any of religion's practical purposes, the great god of Buddhism is the Buddha Nature which can be said to exist only in conscious, thinking creatures. (Does a stone have Buddha Nature? No. Does an amoeba have Buddha Nature? No. Does a dog have Buddha Nature? Maybe. Does a dolphin or a whale have Buddha Nature? Count on it.)

 

Again, as there is no wilful, exterior great god, there is no wilful, interior petty god, i.e., no individual ego that directs its own precious destiny. Dispelling the notion that in reality each human being is a separate, autonomous self is perhaps the single most important aim of Buddhist discipline."

 

(I present these opinions only for the purposes of discussion on this forum that relies on words. My main motivation for writing this post is to support what I interpret as SirPalomides perspective. I know Apech is thoroughly versed in all things Buddhist and will have his own well-informed perspective on this. Personally, I prefer silence on such topics because it's only something that becomes anything more than intellectual knowledge through ineffable inner experience. But silence doesn't transmit well on a web forum.)

Edited by Yueya
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Does a stone have Buddha Nature? No.

 

Not a hylozoist Chan Buddhist then?

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1 hour ago, Apech said:

Not a hylozoist Chan Buddhist then?

 

Apparently she is not. When I read that about what does and doesn't have Buddha Nature I baulked at her certainty. 

 

Incidendly, Jung's term "Collective Unconscious" is another term for this God / Buddha Nature concept. Could also be called "Collective Soul" or "Collective Psyche".  (But I hesitate to add anything here as I know Buddhists like nothing better than to argue doctrinal interpretations, and words such as "God" and "soul' are trigger words for them. Like waving a red rag at a bull.)   

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9 hours ago, Yueya said:

 

Apparently she is not. When I read that about what does and doesn't have Buddha Nature I baulked at her certainty. 

 

Incidendly, Jung's term "Collective Unconscious" is another term for this God / Buddha Nature concept. Could also be called "Collective Soul" or "Collective Psyche".  (But I hesitate to add anything here as I know Buddhists like nothing better than to argue doctrinal interpretations, and words such as "God" and "soul' are trigger words for them. Like waving a red rag at a bull.)   

 

 

I'm not particularly recommending reading this book:

 

https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/how-buddhism-acquired-soul/https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/how-buddhism-acquired-soul/

 

but it has an interesting thesis in that when Buddhism was translated into Chinese (which was a fairly rigorous process) the concept of 'shen' became thought of as an agent in samsara - a soul in other words and this was equated to buddha-nature (an idea which is prevalent in Yogacara for instance but not in early Buddhism).  Even though this view was later 'corrected' it never really went away.

 

I think perhaps the collective unconscious could be something like the Alaya-vijnana (the substrate or storehouse consciousness - again of Yogacara philosophy).

 

 

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I don’t know how much that can be blamed on Chinese terminology- obviously Indian Buddhist metaphysicians felt the need to correct the misunderstanding in their own ranks. And while Buddhism does refute the idea of an abiding self there is also the clear understanding that individual mind streams are not divided or combined over countless ages. That is to say, one death leads to one rebirth- eg one human gets reborn as one animal, which gets reborn as one hungry ghost, which gets reborn as one x. So while the content of this mind stream alters moment by moment, the chain of thoughts/ rebirths remains discrete. As I recall the alaya consciousness is sometimes distinguished as collective alaya versus individual alaya.

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22 minutes ago, SirPalomides said:

I don’t know how much that can be blamed on Chinese terminology- obviously Indian Buddhist metaphysicians felt the need to correct the misunderstanding in their own ranks. And while Buddhism does refute the idea of an abiding self there is also the clear understanding that individual mind streams are not divided or combined over countless ages. That is to say, one death leads to one rebirth- eg one human gets reborn as one animal, which gets reborn as one hungry ghost, which gets reborn as one x. So while the content of this mind stream alters moment by moment, the chain of thoughts/ rebirths remains discrete. As I recall the alaya consciousness is sometimes distinguished as collective alaya versus individual alaya.

 

 

The book is a doctrinal thesis and therefore rigorous in its research.

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On 12/31/2019 at 10:49 AM, Apech said:

 

Well ... while the laughter subsides.

 

 

Nearly finished.

 

When I've stopped, I'll run another Buddhism 101 for the newbies including why Buddhism doesn't exclude anything (even God).

 

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33 minutes ago, gatito said:

 

Nearly finished.

 

When I've stopped, I'll run another Buddhism 101 for the newbies including why Buddhism doesn't exclude anything (even God).

 

 

 

Instead you could give us a breakdown of the Mo Pai system.

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I think you'll find Buddhism 101 to be more than adequate. rotfl.gif

 

 

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12 hours ago, gatito said:

I think you'll find Buddhism 101 to be more than adequate. rotfl.gif

 

 

 

OK.  Then I wonder if anyone would like to purchase a quantity of copper wire?  Reasonable rates apply.

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Some interesting points here Apech, which I'll treat with the respect they deserve:

 

On 12/31/2019 at 10:49 AM, Apech said:

Well ... while the laughter subsides.

 

Buddhism and God don't mix really - and I think that the best response from a Buddhist to the 'is there a God' questions is - 'mu' as in the Zen koan about dogs and buddha-nature i.e. I refute the question..  Apart from anything else you have no idea what the questioner has in mind when they say the word God - so it's hard to answer.  They might mean some kind of controlling supreme being who sits on a cloud and directs human sexual habits - or they might mean a mysterious and ineffable source or whatever.

 

I've probably said before that Buddhism does not really make efforts to provide ontological solutions but concerns itself with how to liberate yourself from suffering.  Maybe in the abhidharma there is some ontology - but then that is not the Buddha's words - and maybe in some sects like the Great madhyamika there's some belief in an existent and therefore something like a 'real' being or state of being - but otherwise it is neither affirmed or denied since it is not appropriate to the soteriological issue.

 

or this is how it seems to me this morning at least :)

 

 

As it's been a few years since I've chosen to discuss the world through the lens of Zen, I'll refresh my memory before I respond to them as a (Zen) Buddhist.

 

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On 11/2/2012 at 8:10 PM, DreamBliss said:

Specifically as I understand it the Buddhist belief system is in the Anatman, and this was done intentionally by Buddha to get people to think outside the Hindu/Yogic system where the Higher Self is called the Atman.

 

I guess what I would like to know is does the Buddhist belief system believe in God, and if so, what form is God for them? It seems in the Hindu/Yogic system God is you, me, each of us living sperately physically but all connected to the Source through our Higher Selves. We are all little peices of God and are at the same time God. I think I get what they say. But I would like to know what the Buddhist belief system says.

 

The reason I am asking this is because I come from the Christain belief system, and I am rapidly coming to the point where I will have to figure out where I stand. Is God some man on a throne somewhere? Is God merely the energy that we all have a part of inside that gives us life and is commonly referred to as The Source? Or is God me, or rather am I God? For whatever reason God decided to shoot a part of Himself off into this physical reality to live in my physical body. Or is God perhaps all of these and more, or none of these?

 

I have to make a choice in order to pursue my spiritual development. If I stick with my Christain beliefs then I can go no further. God may or may not be connected to me, I may or may not be connected to others, God may or may not be the source that connects us all and gives us life. This is as far as I can go in the Christain faith. Because if I start saying I am God I am in direct conflict with the Bible and the belief system of the Christian faith. It is, literally for me at this point in my development, hell or high water. Once I start calling myself God, if I am wrong, if the Christian faith is right, then I consign myself to an eternity of suffering in hell for blasphomy among other things. Do you see my predicament?

 

At some point I have to step off the narrow way and risk the jungle that waits beyond. Well in reality I have stepped off, and now it's a matter of turning my back on it and leaving it behind. I can't think of myself as a Center of Consiousness, and move beyond my body, within my former religion. I mean I moved beyond the religion itself but retained some of its beliefs. It is those I have to leave behind.

 

All this is compounded by the fact that I now see the truth about religion in general. It is a control, a leash, a cage, a collar. You can't find freedom in a belief, it is your beliefs that entrap you. Some of that entrapment is good. Your religion tells you that murdering someone is bad, well then you won't be going around killing folks. Your belief to respect life, to not kill, is stronger than any law. But in most other ways these constraints are bad, because they can be used to keep you blind, deaf and dumb to the truth so others can control you. It is apt that the Bible describes people as sheep...

 

Anyhow I think understanding the Buddhist viewpoint here will aid me in figuring out what mine will be. One of the main three, or perhaps a different one entirely. We'll see. I appreciate your help. Also let me be perfectly clear, I'm not posting this to challenge or belittle anyone's views on God. I didn't start this thread to argue. Just to hear a viewpoint. So feel free to share, I for one will welcome and appreciate it.

 

Thank you -

- DreamBliss

 

Buddhism can be looked at as a belief system on the one hand and as a practice on the other - some would argue that the Belief system can also be a practice - I would argue otherwise - true practice requires at least the mindset of non-investment in Belief/Faith. Though practice can lead to loss of Belief / Faith systems - which would indicate proper practice and openness.

 

(I do not consider myself an expert in Buddhism from any historical perspective nor from any belief perspective)

 

Buddhism as taught by Buddha's asks that one not believe but rather do due diligence to Inner practice and find your answers - your Self. The teaching is essentially one of pointing to practices and how one thinks and behaves in order to free oneself from the trance of Samsara - that which finds us lost and with a consistent awakening to dissatisfaction in life (often coined as Suffering - though this is a poor choice of a word for the lay person and in general).

 

The last paragraph could be said to be true of most if not all Indian originated practice based spiritual teachings.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 03.11.2012 at 7:10 AM, DreamBliss said:

Buddhist belief system believe in God,

 

No.

 

The whole idea of buddhism is formed around liberation of mind and hence liberation of all the suffering and arising things in the mind perception.

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42 minutes ago, Spotless said:

 

 

Buddhism as taught by Buddha's asks that one not believe but rather do due diligence to Inner practice and find your answers - your Self.

 

 

This is perhaps the perspective of the Kalama Sutta and maybe some other texts, where the Buddha exhorts seekers to examine teachers and  practices critically, before committing to them. But the Buddha, as we meet him in the sutras, clearly does have a large body of doctrines that are not to be lightly set aside by his committed disciples, including some very specific, and exhaustively pronounced, doctrines about cosmology, karma, and rebirth. The significance, in practice, of these doctrines, is often not immediately apparent in public presentations of Chan or Vipassana meditation- in those cases they are more like the hidden support for what seem like very plain and commonsense teaching. In more involved schools, e.g. Vajrayana, the practices are often unintelligible without these doctrinal foundations.

 

Perhaps realized practitioners feel themselves increasingly unchained from these dogmatic boundaries but nothing I've seen in the sutras, or Nagarjuna, Fazang, Tsongkhapa, Dogen, etc, suggests that Right View is ever dispensable.

Edited by SirPalomides
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feel free to put things on the shelf (as in reserving making a final judgement) until you may come to experience them and gain some understanding....which should be applicable for any religion or path.

 

the following is somewhat of a mind blower:

 

"Whatever can be conceptualized is therefore relative, and whatever is relative is Sunya, empty. Since absolute inconceivable truth is also Sunya, Sunyata or the void is shared by both Samsara and Nirvana. Ultimately, Nirvana truly realized is Samsara properly understood."  Nagarjuna

 

the following is from me and not Buddhist as far as I know:

No-thing is not nothing

 

the following is from Taoism's T.T.C.:

"Only nothing can enter no-space"

 

Btw, belief and faith have their place...good luck

Edited by old3bob
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One can read all sorts of teaching and delve deep into practice and not have any Belief IN the doctrine and teachings. One can engage in the deepest practice having not set aside a single note from a teaching or Belief system - while not being in Belief of even one sentence.

 

Belief is in the past and is an illusion - that is not to say that one cannot consider the apparent offerings of a Belief system and it may be that going through the motions of Belief while not IN Belief has very real and considerable benefits - not simply on a placebo effect.

 

The mundane level of any teaching is the Religion - the Belief. Some go no further - and some have gone further in spite of the Belief system. Religion is mundane teaching set in trance dogma - with a hint toward escape and a heap toward solidarity.

 

 

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I'd say that blind faith and blind belief are problematic,  but not so when faith and belief are built upon 1st hand experience that grows.

Edited by old3bob
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First hand experience teaches many things - upper most - it can show us how our assumptions and beliefs expect something often very far from what was experienced and teach us to put beliefs in an increasingly flexible wrapper.

 

Experience also strengthens the bonds we have to our inner gyroscope - but at the same time it can strengthen positioning and one-sided-ness. It is easy to become prey from ones own beliefs and like a slot machine using the strength of Intermittent Positive Reinforcement - one can easily be cemented into a premature death of rigidified patterns.

Edited by Spotless
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In science one can "believe in the current paradigms" of understanding - but the belief in them is always a hinderance with regard to new emerging conflicting paradigms. Whereas one can work within existing paradigms while not being IN belief of them - and this will make one a truly real scientist rather than one in which "science" and existing paradigms are a religion.

 

This is splitting hairs - but they are real hairs and not simply semantics.

 

Ask yourself - if you were not invested in Beliefs would it destroy your enjoyment of them?

 

How many times have "your" Beliefs sat as walls to the expansion of Self within and without?

 

What is the difference between your prior Beliefs and the Beliefs you now "possess" (that now possess you)?

 

You can constantly upgrade your Beliefs and defenses and entrenchment - just keep in mind that a thousand sages have said "I know nothing" yet no one takes them as fools. 

 

 

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