If There's No God in Buddhism, Are Buddhists Atheists?
Our columnist explains why not.
10/11/2004 03:56:03 PM
Anarchy, I'm surprised that you would say that one can't be a "true" Buddhist if they are also atheist (no capitalization necessary). Buddhism teaches us not to attach to beliefs of any sort. And, while some people may profess to be atheists just to spite others who are theists, an honest atheist simply chooses not to believe in an omnipotent creature that governs the Earth. Honest atheists have come to this conclusion by observing reality and, seeing no basis for believing in such a creature, don't. It's similar to not believing that Brittany Spears is a piece of pizza. These observations have nothing to do with being a Buddhist per se, as the Buddhist philosophy specifically promotes a way of thinking that accepts ideas without attaching permanance to them. So, atheism and theism are simply ideas to Buddhists, not realities. -Turil
03/30/2004 08:58:10 PM
This is something that has to be said in the west which shames the Buddhism of the east. Buddhism is not Atheistic in anyway. Even if it;s Angnostic many cultures including Thailand and China include the polytheistic traditions. Jainism is also not Atheistic. I'd also like to speak to the Lama telling him that Buddhism is traditionally transtheistic is both senarios transtheism believes that both the naturre of God tracsned the doctrines of traditional theology and that even though the Gods exists they are on anothe rplain of life working out their dharma; they are impersoanl Gods but they do exists. One is not a true Buddhism if they are also an Atheist, end of story.
12/28/2003 02:17:08 PM
There's a distinction between pain and suffering and rather than teaching that suffering is caused by actions in former lives, Buddhism teaches that suffering is caused by greed, anger and ignorance. In short by clinging to the idea of a permanant, solid self.
04/14/2003 09:02:09 PM
I believe a majority of our suffering is caused by ourselves, unfortunately I belive that a degree of suffering that we must endure is unexpectedly brought on from uncontrollable outside sources. In turn, it is these outside sources of suffering that teach us how to deal with and overcome the suffering that we cause ourselves. That is a great challenge.
09/04/2001 12:04:29 PM
According to Buddhism suffering is caused by deeds commited in past lives. However not all suffering is caused by past/bad karma. The is one thing that controls our suffering, our mind. This is what sees the world and creates who and what we are.
04/25/2001 10:46:00 PM
They should not be treated as meening less. They should be used as lessons and insight and there fore the exact oppisite of meaningless.
12/11/2000 09:46:08 PM
If things like suffering (and everything else) exist only in our minds and are therefore to be treated as meaningless, then isn't that thought itself to be treated as meaningless.
09/12/2000 03:06:19 AM
yes, we create our own suffering because it is we who choose how to deal with people and events. we can actually suffer in the middle of a joyous celebration, and similarly we can be happy in the midst of a difficult crisis. it is all about how we choose to learn and accept the lessons and wisdom embedded in each happening in our lives.
09/09/2000 06:34:14 PM
The problem is that yes, you just CHOOSE to change or let go or whatever, but you can't FORCE yourself to make that choice. Maybe that's where the idea of an external God who "gives you grace" comes from. I believe that we do create our own suffering in the Buddhist sense, and I have experienced being able to just "let go" of something and the instantaneous peace which followed. Unfortunately, it usually doesn't work that way, and I don't know any way to MAKE it happen, and believe that we can't MAKE it happen. So how do we do it? Ah, that's the mystery.
09/02/2000 06:41:50 PM
I know I create my own suffering. When I make the choice to change, then I can stop suffering. God energy is inside me to change my circumstances or I can choose to wallow in misery feeling like a victim. Even in the most extreme cases of suffering, there is always a way out if one goes inward and finds the way. But sometimes I need the suffering for my own growth to a higher consciousness. Sometimes I suffer many times at the same thing before I learn how I created that problem, and thus can begin to change the pattern.
08/31/2000 05:22:04 AM
Suffering, like all other descriptions, doesn't exist in the world; it exists in our language. We create our own suffering--and the suffering of others. Our ability to communicate is a creative tool of immense power. The child has not eaten for 3 days and is happy playing with his friends. Who says he suffers?
08/21/2000 12:27:25 PM
Just like anything, if we didn't suffer we wouldn't know how wonderful it would be to triumph and really appreciate it... I feel the same about death. You don't really know how to live until you know how to die... It is how we look at these circumstances in our lives. If I looked at everything that I had been through in my life as suffering, I would be hurting right now. I choose to see the positive in the situations I have come through and know that I am stronger and will continue my journey...
08/19/2000 04:17:48 AM
Certainly. Just watch your'self.' I started picking up on Zen, about 45 years ago. After 2 or 3 years, I decided: "Life = Suffering" could be changed to; "Life = Struggle." Not so! Now, in my 71st year, I realize, that a great amount of suffering, was self-inflicted, but not all. The Buddha had it right, He taught, "Suffering,-- and the end of Suffering." I still suffer, not 'struggle,' and wonder, sometimes, about the next equation; "Death = ? So Be It.
08/06/2000 04:00:37 PM
Nobody can escape suffering, because it's originated by birth, sickness, old age and death. Even in the happiest of existences eventally we have to suffer. Nevertheless, we create all our unhappiness, because it doesn't come from the things in themselves, but from the beliefs we entertain about them. The more we believe, the more we experience psychological suffering. Anyway, the most difficult thing is to let go tre grasping to the beliefs that cause unhappiness. This is what is called vindicativity.
08/04/2000 03:49:00 PM
Suffering is created by the influence of both internal reactions and external influences. People are capable of creating suffering both within themselves and upon others. They are also capable of alleviating suffering within themselves and from others. Some people create there own suffering by how they deal with situations, while others are suffering from harsh external circumstances. It is a balance between how severe the external influence is and how severe our internal reaction is to it. Some people create their own internal suffering, when the external situation is actually not that harsh.
08/03/2000 09:23:59 PM
Buddhism doesn't recognize a god because it's not a religion. If you had read the article, you would have seen the Lama discuss how Buddhism is an agnostic tradition, a philosophy or way of life that neither confirms or refutes the existence or nature of a god.
08/03/2000 05:22:29 PM
I believe that as human beings, we were given the power of reasons and effect in this world, so therefore there has to be a higher power to give us this ability and the power and to make us accountable for what we do with this gift of life and authority. Buddaism from my point of view, is a teaching of virtues and how to accomplish them, the problem I have with Buddaism is that they don't reconize God as the First Cause. But like science and everything else which is good for the soul, I feel that the principles of Buddaism is more effect when its use with God instead of God. But then again, we do live in a imperefect .
08/03/2000 01:53:03 PM
Yes! And it's not just about reward and punishment or karma. Suffering is about the unhappiness we create in ourselves, for example when we create certain expectations and then we are disappointed if they aren't met. Craving status, wealth, sex, power all the worldly things we think or are told will make us happy. These are another kind of suffering. 1) Because we make ourselves unhappy until we achieve them and 2) their "happiness" is fleeting, leaving us wanting more. There are so many ways in which we create our own suffering, and I am thankful that Buddha's teachings are spreading worldwide to show people the way to lasting happiness.
08/03/2000 06:12:05 AM
I'm not religious. The notion that the reasons to behave ethically are so God will reward you when you die, or to avoid the wrath of karma are too esoteric. But still, even simple transgressions such as saying something just to win an arguement or taking the last piece of cake are (at least occasionally) followed by a sense of embarassment, that it just wasn't worth it. The thief who does $3000 damage to a car to steal a $200 stereo creates his own suffering. Yet we still need laws against murder!