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Feanorcurufinwe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 03:10 PM
Original message
Are atheism and buddhism compatible?
Edited on Sat Apr-24-04 03:33 PM by Feanorcurufinwe
Am I just misunderstanding, or is there no 'God' concept in Buddhism? Can you be an atheist and a Buddhist?

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amazona Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 03:14 PM
Response to Original message
1. yes but the buddha was more likely an agnostic
The famous quote has the Buddha saying: "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."


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lazarus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 04:46 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. atheism isn't a belief
Some atheists believe there isn't a god, some don't.

All atheists are lacking a belief in god, which is what makes them atheist.
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RebelOne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 05:04 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. This atheist does not believe in any god or any deity.
But of course, I do believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
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Feanorcurufinwe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 05:12 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. I don't usually believe in things I can't perceive
Edited on Sat Apr-24-04 05:13 PM by Feanorcurufinwe
but if I can perceive their effects, like electricity or gravity, I can believe them, similarly I can believe in abstract concepts or ideas that can't be perceived but only have reality as at thought concept, e.g. the Pythagorean Theorum. Then again, I never believed in ghosts until I lived in a haunted house.

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Devlzown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
2. People often say
that Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. The goal of Buddhism is to achieve enlightenment by extinguishing the craving for all things. Maybe the craving for a god is one of those things.
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Commie Pinko Dirtbag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-26-04 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #2
18. That was (if I may say so) Zen.
Reminds me of a quote of the book Contact when people were going to speak to a Buddhist monk. Paraphrasing:

Person A: But DO they or DON'T they believe in God, anyway?
Russian guy: It would seem their God is so great He doesn't have a need for existence.
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 04:00 PM
Response to Original message
3. Excellent Question - Buddhist and Christian/Jew/etc is very easy
Edited on Sat Apr-24-04 04:05 PM by papau
to be. I do not see how it would clash with a religion like Atheism, except of course the atheist would say theirs is not a faith - a belief in what can not be proved - and would claim to "know" that "oneness" was not "God".

I think you could have some great discussions with agnostics.

Indeed this is a great discussion with anyone, anytime!

Have fun!

peace

:-)
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soleft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 04:01 PM
Response to Original message
4. You can be anything and be a Buddhist
There are Christian Buddhists, Jewish Buddhists, atheist Buddhists.
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junker Donating Member (403 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 04:20 PM
Response to Original message
5. sure, but bear in mind - shaktimuni buddha got it.
there is no faced-entity god. It is like in so many understandings (jain, sihkism) only 'the mind' with a big damn nama, and we are all little nama/rupa combo's.

my problem with 'faced-being' gods has always been the gender issue. If god is a 'he' then who 'he' be doing with his stick-and-two-berries, eh? And if god ain't doing no-body with the equipment, then why the hell 'he' done got it, eh?

this is just the start of the list i-and-i be carrying over to de' dred. And some som-bitch gonna be answering me then be sure.
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
8. The teachings of Buddhism
Make no demands of a god being necissary. In fact it even suggests that as Buddhism advances any concepts of god may start to wane in a believer. The idea of the Buddha is that the Buddha is just some guy that "Got it". Thus many people can be Buddha. If they have found some great insite into the world they are Buddha.
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Nay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 08:11 PM
Response to Original message
10. Certainly true for me. I'm an atheist who follows Buddhist tenets.
Buddha never talked about any supreme, supernatural beings. He just talked about each of us becoming enlightened through our own efforts.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 09:20 PM
Response to Original message
11. I love the way people define Buddhism as fits their needs.
Yet they deny to christians the right to do the same. It comes up in ths area, buddhism, in stark relief.

Buddhism, as practiced in Tibet and other areas, is a deeply superstitious religion, filled with tales and fears of demons and minor deities that interfere in people's lives.

It is only the highly rarified form of intellectualized buddhism that is so atheist-agnostioc friendly. And this is the form of buddhism that has travelled to our culture. This is actually normal and natural. Any religion has its popular level of understanding and the higher, intellectual level of understanding. Within its own culture, the majority of people will adhere to the popular, low-brow level of understanding. The buddhism that has been picked up and transferred to western culture is the most intellectual form of Buddhism. There are similarly intellectual and enlightened forms of christianity, but since christianity is the majority religion here, the majority of itsb adherents practice a superstitious and ridiculous form of christianity. This is the form you all are familiar with, and it has prejudiced you to reject the very idea that there is a better form of of christianity. But you accept the intellectualized form of buddhism because you are ignorant of the real nature of buddhism as practiced by the common people in majority buddhist societys.
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Feanorcurufinwe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. However 'intellecualized' the Christianity, it requires faith
in the divinity of Christ.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 08:51 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Thats your formulation, your terms.
What is "divinity?" What is Jesus' real relationship to what we refer to, in our ignorance, as "god?" It is not anathema to christian faith to view all terms such as "son of god" and the like as metaphors, and highly imperfect metaphors. It is not too far a stretch to suggest that the christian conception of "god" refers to that mysterious something within everyone and shared by everyone, that something that is responsible for love and hope and mindfulness. It would not get you drummed out of my church to say that your interpretation of "christ" would be to say that he was closer to god than the rest of us and thus was figuratively the son of god and, in the sense that god is in everyone, he was god. My church has a saying, serve god in everyone, since god is in everyone, every good deed you do for another person is something you do for god. So what I mean is, do I have to have "faith" in the "divinity" opf Jesus? Well, it depends, on the meaning of faith, which at the highest level is nothing more than the acceptance that there are things you cannot "know," and the definition of "divinity."
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Feanorcurufinwe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-04 08:57 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. No, it's not
it's I thought most Christian's define themselves, perhaps I'm wrong, but it's up to them, not to me, to say.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-26-04 09:27 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. Your response is illuminating.
I was just trying to point out that there is no valid distinction between the nature of Buddhist beleif and the nature of christian beleif on the basis that christians must have faith in the existence of a deity. You respond by saying that your formulation of what christians must beleive is based on how most christians define themselves.

Thats the issue I have been trying to address, and doing it badly. It is true that the majority of christians beleive in a literal, anthropomorphic deity and that christ is literally the "son" of this deity and also co-equal with it.

But the majority of Buddhists also beleive in deities, a whole pantheon of deities and demons and what could be called angels. Tantric and Tibetan and Chinese and Korean and Japanese forms of buddhisms all have multiple deities.

What I was suggesting is that when a religious beleif system is transplanted from one culture to another and the means of transmission is literate and intellectual (thats how Buddhism has been transmitted to our culture, as the result of study and scholarship) then the form of the religion transmitted will be the most intellectualized and "highest" form, without the more obviously silly superstitions. There is an intellectual filter in what we see of Buddhism.

Taking this suggestion one step further, I would suggest that there are philosophies of christian beleif, not outside the mainstream of liberal christianity, that are similar in their understanding of the nature of divinity to Buddhism. In other words, if you were a Tibetan intellectual whose first introduction to christianity was through recent liberal intellectual works of theology and philosophy, your impression of christianity would be very different and much more favorable. Just as most intellectual and liberal americans have a more favorable impression of buddhism, because their knowledge of it is a knowledge from intellectual sources of buddhist theology at its highest levels.

But if our hypothetical Tibetan intellectual were to learn christianity from Falwell and a crowd of pointy headed fundies, he would have a different view. And if American intellectuals learned their buddhism from a group of illiterate superstitious villagers, they would likewise have a different view.
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Feanorcurufinwe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-26-04 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. You seem to want to avoid the simple basic point
that Christians really do think Christ is God. That is the whole point of the religon.
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patcox2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-26-04 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. I am not avoiding it, I am responding to it.
And pointing out that its a lot more complicated, and that you can't draw a huge divide between buddhism and christianity based on that one simplistic formulation of one doctrine.

Christians beleive God is in everyone, that everyone is god-like. And from that its not a far leap to the idea that a particularly enlightened person is more in touch with, has more of, the nature of God within him or her, and from that its not a stretch to say that such a person is "the son of god." And we all exist eternally anyway, its just that we experience time in linear fashion. One who is fully enlightened would arguably experience all time always, which to us might seem to be god-like. The Gnostics beleive that all people (souls) are just pieces of god, seperated from and longing to reconnect with God, and the influence of gnosticism is not dead. Its not simple, its not literal, its transcendant and unknowable and any verbal formulation is per se wrong if understood literally, yet you keep pushing that one very simplistic formulation in a literal fashion. So what I guess I am suggesting is that the meaning of the words "jesus is god" is not clear cut, and has lots of room for variation in individual belief.

I assume you are asserting that christianity differs radically from buddhism because christians beleive christ is god and buddhists do not beleive Buddha is god. I am just saying that you have that perception because you are comparing vulgar, common, simplistic christian beleif to intellectualized buddhism. If you compared intellectual, philosophical christian theology, I suggest only that you would not find such a great distinction, nor would you find such a distinction with pantheistic buddhism and its multiple deities, thats all. I am suggesting that there are valid mainstream christian ways of looking at the issue of Christ's divinity which are not far at all from the way buddhists look at the issue of the nature of the buddha. There are, for christ's sake, non-crackpot, serious christian thinkers who beleive christ may actually have studied buddhism, which reached pretty near to palestine, I believe being present in Persia at that time.

I have read books by catholic monks about the compatibility of buddhism with christianity, and I have read books by buddhist priests on the same topic (Living Buddha, Living Christ is a good one). Its not outlandish to beleive that the differences aren't so great.


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Feanorcurufinwe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-26-04 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. I'm sorry but
your assertions are not consistent with reality.


It is a simple fact that Christianity is based on the divinity of Christ. Pretending that this is just a matter of 'definition' or is an oversimplification of Christianity is mere sophistry.


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physioex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 09:53 PM
Response to Original message
13. Yes..not a single human was killed in the name of either beliefs....
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