Source(s): why because I said so. Buddhism is essentially non-theistic. Another, called Yogachara, teaches that things exist only as processes of knowing and have no intrinsic reality. The Ultimate Goal of Buddhism Is Reaching Nirvana. Buddhism is so different from other religions that some people question whether it is a religion at all. That is to say, they do not believe in the existence of a supreme being. The Sanskrit word for this is upaya, or "skillful means." In the Zen monastery where I first learned about Buddhism, the monks liked to point to the Buddha representation on the altar and say, "That's you up there. Buddhism rejects a sense of self and Hinduism retains it. Many people, not familiar with Buddhist thought, assume that the label of “religion” means Buddhists must believe in some type of God. While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment. Yes, Buddhists are theists. When you bow, you are bowing to yourself." To lead is to serve. 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 … However, it is a way of life. Rather, Buddhism affirms many forms of spirituality and belief in gods as means to elevate and improve worldly life. The Buddha also plainly said that he was not a god, but was simply "awakened" to ultimate reality. 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. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. It might be shocking fro some of you. Buddhism would be so much better, Harris wrote, if it could be cleansed of the "naive, petitionary, and superstitious" trappings of religion altogether. There is no personal god or monotheistic creator God in Buddhism, as there is in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Even I was shocked when I first read about the core beliefs of Buddhism. Buddhism is a theistic religion, whether Mahayana or Theravada. For this reason, the Buddha taught his disciples to cultivate devotional and reverential habits of mind. Which means that Buddhism has not God or deities. But in Buddhism, merely believing in doctrines is beside the point. 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 As a religion, Buddhism is neither monotheistic nor polytheistic. Devotion is an upaya for breaking the bonds of ego. 28 Answers. For example, the central focus of most religions is one or many. Answer Save. Certainly,  Buddhism in practice has many of the same "literal versus allegorical" issues one finds in other religions. Understanding the difference requires looking deeply beneath the surface of Buddhist teaching and practice. Buddhism is Not a Theistic Religion . 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. Jul 2011 1,747 n ireland Sep 29, 2015 #1 I'm confused about this and have not found a definitive answer . Buddhism, a non-theistic religion, is often described as a "mind-science." The Buddha himself rejected metaphysical speculation as a matter of principle, and his teachings focused entirely on the practical ways to end suffering. 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. Buddhism is one of the biggest religions on earth. It’s a way of exploring how we think, feel, and act that leads us to profound truths about who we are.The Buddha was born a prince but he realized that conditioned experiences could not provide lasting happiness or protection from suffering. Stupas were built to contain relics of the Buddha and pilgrimages were made to places where he had walked. You aren’t any better than me except to the extent that you serve me and others better than I do. It has millions of followers, not only in south and east Asia, but all over the world. Some Buddhists are theists and others are atheists. It is quite clear that Buddhism has no concept of a creator. Same goes for kami. What's "fantasy"? For example, a Buddhist might evoke the Bodhisattva of compassion in order to become more compassionate. Buddhism is a non-theistic tradition. On the other hand, the Buddha did not explicitly rule out the existence of a God or gods. 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. Baha'i Forums. But the Buddha figure also represents enlightenment itself and the unconditioned true nature of all things. Thus, devotion is not a "corruption" of Buddhism, but an expression of it. If atheism is the absence of belief in a God or gods, then many Buddhists are, indeed, atheists. Rather, the historical Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. There are a few non-theistic or semi-theistic religions to consider as well. Buddhism is non-theistic. In the case of Communism, these laws were discovered not by the Buddha but by Marx, Engles, and Lenin. But, again, just believing in them is not the point. For instance, like Buddhism, Communism is a religion based on natural laws, a non-theistic religion. Buddhism “rejects the theological impulse,” the philosopher Owen Flanagan declares approvingly in The Problem of the Soul. So, why does a Buddhist practice? Thus, that is what defines religion for philosophy. 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 … Who are you? Because God has no particular form and is outside of time, God, therefore, cannot be said to exist. Anonymous. Like … For example, if you believe that God is only savior, that is contradiction of belief in karma.Or, if you believe that God judges your experience, that contradicts with karma again. However, God is. Whether the doctrine is factual or not is not the point. Libraries have been filled with the answers to those questions. For Buddhists, the universe has a sacred non-personal essence that is the ground nature of all things. 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. It's not just belief in gods that are irrelevant to Buddhism. The individual may believe in a deity although it is not expressed in the Buddhism itself. Buddhism would not be considered a religion under this definition, because it is basically non-theistic: it does not generally involve worship of a supernatural entity. What did they mean? Some theistic beliefs could contradict with Buddhist views. Privacy policy, Theism, Atheism and Non-Theism in Buddhism. In addition, about an estimated 488 million in the world practice Buddhism. But Buddhism is non-theistic. There are three additional issues, however, which complicate the relationship between Buddhism and theism even further. Our hierarchical triangle is upside down. More so, Buddhism has sacred texts, temples, leaders, teachers. 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. The translation of Bodhisattva into English is God and into Arabic is Allah The God is the creator and you are the creator of your present dream. Neither concept is right or wrong. Hence, it represents up … While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment. We only believe in things that we can find to be true. 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. 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. While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion. 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. Although it is a popular religion, not many people know its core beliefs. Deity yoga is a practice within the Tibetan Vajrayāna In Mahayana Buddhism, which is the dominant form of Buddhism in China, Tibet, Nepal, Japan and Korea, all phenomena are empty of intrinsic existence. For more discussion of this kind of devotion, see the essay "Devotion in Buddhism" by Nyanaponika Thera. ‘Buddhism is a non-theistic religion that claims that suffering is unavoidable, and that the root of suffering is attachment, greed and desire.’ ‘Overall, based on my experience in both camps (theistic and non-theistic), I venture to claim that activists of either breed have a greater tendency to be "religious" rather than non-activists.’ Post was not sent - check your email addresses! 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. One school of Buddhist philosophy, Madhyamika, says that phenomena exist only in relation to other phenomena. Most religions are defined by their beliefs. 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. Yes, Buddhism is a religion. He acclaimed the supremacy of the … Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that focuses on following the teachings of the Buddha and bodhisattvas to become free from suffering. How can that be? Serving is leadership. Following this belief, practitioners of Mahayana simultaneously worship Buddha and maintain a non-theistic worldview. Are these corruptions of the Buddha's teachings? The Buddha also plainly said that he was not a god, but was simply "awakened" to ultimate reality. Nevertheless, Buddhism has some of the outward trappings of a religion, such as temples, iconography, prayers and incense. That said, if God or gods show up, we’ll be happy to believe. Shortly after the Buddha's death, a devotional element formed within Buddhism. Or, if you believe that teaching given by God is best, that is contradiction with refuge in Buddha as best teacher of gods and men. Some schools of Buddhism are deeply devotional. Where do you find the self? 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 as the Creator. It entirely depends upon your understanding of a theistic religion and how you would describe an act of worship. She is the author of "Rethinking Religion" and has covered religion for The Guardian, Tricycle.org, and other outlets. Buddhism is a path to "waking up," or becoming enlightened, to a reality that is not consciously perceived by most of us. Buddhism doesn't have a God, rather it has a broad and complex pantheon of gods. Soon the idea of past and future Buddhas developed, with Maitreya, the Buddha y… Tibetan Buddhism also has … 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. 8 0. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. edited 9 years ago Buddhism doesn't have a God, rather it has a broad and complex pantheon of gods. Same goes for reincarnation. Buddhism is a non-theistic system. 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). No gods, no beliefs, yet Buddhism encourages devotion. Merely "believing in" enlightenment and nirvana is pointless. Since its creation, Buddhism has evolved into a wide variety of forms. So what's "real"? For these folks, Buddhism can be seen as supplementing and enriching their own theistic faith and practice. For example, Sam Harris, a self-identified atheist who has expressed admiration for Buddhism, has said Buddhism should be taken away from Buddhists. Buddhism is a non-theistic tradition. For this reason, Buddhism is more accurately called nontheistic rather than atheistic. But what about the "naïve, petitionary, and superstitious" trappings that Harris spoke of? 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. Tibetan Buddhism is one example of a theistic Buddhism, while Theravada Buddhism is not exclusive. However, it is not a theistic … 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. Our hierarchical triangle is upside down. 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. Deity yoga is a practice within the Tibetan Vajrayāna tradition. N. noogan. A similar form of functional … Forums. Buddhism is Non-theistic. Neither concept is right or wrong. For this reason, Buddhism is more accurately called nontheistic rather than atheistic. Yet, throughout Asia, it is common to find people praying to the Buddha or to the many clearly mythical figures that populate Buddhist iconography. Many of us think of Buddhism as a practice-based psychology rather than a belief-based religion. Is there Theistic Buddhism? God. 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.' That's an argument that many of us atheistic Buddhists can appreciate. 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. I was raised a fundamentalist Pentecostal and then became Catholic in college. Yet, throughout Asia, it is common to find people praying to the Buddha or to the many clearly mythical figures that populate Buddhist iconography. To what is the Buddhist devoted? One might bow just to show gratitude for the Buddha's life and practice. They must be intimately experienced to be understood. 1 decade ago. 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. Pilgrims flock to stupas that are said to hold relics of the Buddha. Interfaith. 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. Beliefs of any kind play a different role in Buddhism than in many other religions. 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. Relevance. It doesn't seem right to call that non-theistic to me, but it depends how you decide to define the term. 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 … I’ve always tried to explain it that Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, but definitely not atheistic. Whether or not it can be termed a religion is debatable—the etymology of the word ‘religion’ refers to God. 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. Excellent post! The “deity” of Mahayana Buddhism is not a personal being but an impersonal, all-encompassing force. Modern Buddhism leaves a lot of room for personal beliefs, meaning that an individual can believe in god while still being a Buddhist. 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. That said, if God or gods show up, we’ll be happy to believe. There are three additional issues, however, which complicate the relationship between Buddhism and theism even further. 1 decade ago. Buddhism is a non-theistic religion and way of life; it has a different view on what is ultimate reality. God. It can be either, depending on the person. Further, these religions meet the 3rd and 4th criteria that give a system power to legitimize political orders and change history. In Buddhism, we’re taught to bow with mutual respect, and self-respect. Let me explain my understanding. Buddhism is a nontheistic religion that focuses on following the teachings of the Buddha and bodhisattvas to become free from suffering. 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. 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. To lead is to serve. Understanding the non-theistic nature of Buddhism When we talk about Buddhism, it is neither polytheistic nor monotheistic. Whether or not it can be termed a religion is debatable—the etymology of the word ‘religion’ refers to God. Actually, Buddhism is functionally theistic, even if it avoids the “G” word. These are non-theistic religions. It is by seeing through the delusion of ego that realization blooms. While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion. 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. One might say that in Buddhism, the big question is not whether gods exist, but what is the nature of existence? But Buddhism is non-theistic. This sect came to be known as Sangha to distinguish it from other similar communities. Many of us think of Buddhism as a practice-based psychology rather than a belief-based religion. In most schools of Buddhism, it is understood that enlightenment and nirvana cannot be conceptualized or explained with words. However, a careful analysis of Vajrayana Buddhist cosmogony, specifically as presented in the Atiyoga tradition of Indo-Tibetan … Mar 2013 522 _ Sep 29, 2015 #2 Depends on who's practicing. In Buddhism, all doctrines are provisional and are judged by their skillfulness. Each individual is ultimately responsible for his own present and future happiness. You aren’t any better than me except to the extent that you serve me and others better than I do. It doesn't seem right to call that non-theistic to me, but it depends how you decide to define the term. This religion is based on … Anonymous. Buddhists, like Siddhārtha before them, seek to reach nirvana: the state beyond all suffering. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. According to the Buddhist teachings, we are all … So, we get to the question Is Buddhism Polytheistic Or Monotheistic? Nirvana is the highest state and marks the end of human pain and suffering. The many mythological creatures and beings that populate Mahayana Buddhism art and literature are often called "gods" or "deities." There is no personal god or monotheistic creator God in Buddhism, as there is in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Many people, not familiar with Buddhist thought, assume that the label of “religion” means Buddhists must believe in some type of God. But the nature of existence is something Buddhism looks at deeply and in a different way from the way people ordinarily understand "existence.". But in the end, for our practice, I maintain the question of God is not important. It maybe for Buddhist scholars and such, but asking and pondering these questions can be a distraction from our practice. 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. Any doctrine or practice that enables realization is an upaya. 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. This essence is eternal and without form, therefore indescribable, but it can be experienced in everyday life. And what is the self? The Buddha said that doctrines should not be accepted just because they are in scripture or taught by priests. 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 … Is buddhism theistic or nontheistic? Buddhism is not, therefore, atheistic in the modern understanding which developed in the West as a reaction to theistic Christianity. Buddhism Is Distinctly Different From Other Religions . Furthermore, it is a system of faith and worship. Such a peaceful religion with no God. The Buddhist canon mentions devas, celestial beings, spirits, even Brahma who thinks he/she/it is the creator. What "exists"? Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. Is Buddhism Polytheistic Or Monotheistic? Taoism is a belief that the Tao is a metaphysical law of nature, and if you open your mind to the idea that god doesn't have to be a personified entity, you could call the Tao god I suppose. As a religion, Buddhism is neither monotheistic nor polytheistic. Some branches allow for elements of theism (belief in deities) but this is often considered to be optional. Although the majority of Buddhists are atheist, some believe in one God and others believe in multiple gods. 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.' These religions are both universal and missionary. Western Buddhists are the foremost promulgators of the idea that Buddhism is non-theistic. Atheism is associated with a materialistic doctrine that knows nothing higher than this world. To lead without serving is selfish and useless and silly. If Buddha was not a god, why bow to Buddha-figures? For instance, like Buddhism, Communism is a religion based on natural laws, a non-theistic … It literally means, “to blow out,” or “to quench.” Nirvana ends the cycle of samsara, the cycle of death and r… Like belief in reincarnation. … The Buddha taught that the biggest barrier to realization is the notion that "I" am a permanent, integral, autonomous entity. Usually, when we ask if something exists we are asking if it is "real," as opposed to being a fantasy. And, Buddhism is beyond religion. It's not essential as far as the basic dharma goes (or 4 noble truths and the eightfold path). Opportunities and Challenges in Teaching Big History, Beyond Intelligent Design: Evolution and Culture Wars. 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." Thus while Buddhism includes … In Buddhism, we’re taught to bow with mutual respect, and self-respect. 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. In Buddhism, the devas are also trapped in the cycle of rebirth and are not necessarily virtuous. 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. Element formed within Buddhism be known as Sangha to distinguish it from other religions created this.. 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