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Featured To what extent was Gautama Buddha a theist or an atheist?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Dawnofhope, Jun 3, 2019.

?
  1. Yes

    36.0%
  2. No

    28.0%
  3. Perhaps

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. We can't possibly know

    8.0%
  5. I don't know

    4.0%
  6. This poll doesn't reflect my thinking

    24.0%
  1. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    I have put it into words clearly easily enough: @paarsurrey is coming from a fantasy-world construct that he confuses with atheism, probably due to his Islaamic background.

    That is, unfortunately, fairly typical.

    And because that construct is so divorced from reality, it is difficult for me to second guess what he is talking about. I have tried on many a thread and I consider myself fairly good at that. But the obstacles are formidable and I do not expect to suceed very often at all.

    What? !?


    Eh. I don't think so.
     
  2. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Nothing about what he said in this thread is factually incorrect. You're statements are baseless. If I were saying things like this, I would be ashamed.

    It seems like you are unable to articulate or present evidence of the logical problem with what Paarsurrey said in this thread. Why don't you simply admit that you were wrong, then we can be done with this issue and move on. It's really easy.

    Here's how it would sound.

    "Ya know what, maybe I was wrong about what Paarsurrey said. Based on the definition of Atheism, Apatheism, Theism, and what Buddha Gautama said, Buddha was not an Atheist."

    Maybe you are making up your own definition of Atheism? That would explain it.

    What is your definition of Atheism? Are you able to articulate it? Maybe you yourself are lacking an understanding of non-theism? Or Atheism... Or maybe Apatheism. Maybe you are lacking knowledge of Buddha Gautama?

    You said, you believe Buddha was Apatheistic.

    Can you provide a quote from Buddha Gautama which supports the idea that Buddha did not care whether gods exist or not?

    If you can't or won't, I think that says a lot.
     
    #122 dybmh, Jun 4, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
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  3. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Indeed. Because it is way too confused to reach even that level.

    Hardly.

    Well, I am not.

    There is no logical problem to be considered. And for that reason, I can't be wrong nor right while commenting what he said.
     
  4. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    It is really a matter of paying attention to the Dharma. I do not want to make it appear more complicated than it is, and I think that you should be ashamed of making such an attempt.
     
  5. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    :facepalm:

    First you cited a logical problem. Now when asked for evidence, there is no logical problem.

    Oh right, his background is the problem. And the imaginary fantasy world you have assigned to him.

    Aha. From the outside, Luis, It looks like you are lacking facts to back up your claim that Buddha was an Apatheist. There's a euphemism that describes this behavior.

    A person who speaks like this is ... talking from their rear-end. Or blowing smoke... you can choose which one fits best. I think they both fit.
     
  6. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Think what you will. I will give your judgement all due worth.
     
  7. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    Theism/atheism--just unask the question and free your mind from that box.
     
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  8. paarsurrey

    paarsurrey Veteran Member

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    Was Buddha a Theist?

    I understand that Buddha went to heaven to meet his mother and after meeting her he came back to this world. It means he believed in heaven and hell and heaven he had experienced also.
    Theism/Skepticism/Agnosticism/Atheism people don't believe in heaven and hell, so Buddha was not a Skeptic/Agnostic/Atheist. Right, please

    I give an excerpt and link of Sutra which does mention heaven and hell (several times in the linked Sutra):

    "At that time, Shakyamuni Buddha said to the Dharma Prince, Bodhisattva, Mahasattva, Manjushri, "As you regard these Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, ghosts and spirits from this land and other lands who are now gathered in the Trayastrimsa Heaven, do you know their number?"
    Manjushri said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, even if I were to measure and reckon with my spiritual powers for a thousand eons I would not be able to know their number."
    The Buddha told Manjushri, "Regarding them with my Buddha Eye, I also cannot count them all. Those beings have been taken across, are being taken across, will be taken across, have been brought to accomplishment, are being brought to accomplishment, or will be brought to accomplishment by Earth Store Bodhisattva, throughout many eons."
    Manjushri said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, throughout many eons I have cultivated good roots and my wisdom was certified as unobstructed. When I hear what the Buddha says, I immediately accept it with faith.
    But Sound-hearers of small attainment, gods, dragons, and the rest of the Eightfold Division, and beings in the future who hear the Thus Come One's true and sincere words will certainly harbor doubts.
    Even if they receive the teaching most respectfully, they will still be unable to avoid slandering it.
    My only wish is that the World Honored One will proclaim for everyone what practices Earth Store Bodhisattva did. Tell us what vows he made while on the level of planting causes that now enable him to succeed in doing such inconceivable deeds."
    The Buddha said to Manjushri, "By way of analogy suppose that each blade of grass, tree, forest, rice plant, hemp stalk, bamboo, reed, mountain, rock and mote of dust in a Three Thousand Great Thousand-World System were a Ganges River.
    Then suppose that each grain of sand in each of those Ganges Rivers were a world and that each mote of dust in each of those worlds were an eon. Then suppose each mote of dust accumulated in each of those eons were itself an eon. The time elapsed since Earth Store Bodhisattva was certified to the position of the Tenth Ground is a thousand times longer than that in the above analogy. Even longer was the time he dwelled on the levels of Sound-hearer and Pratyekabuddha."
    Buddhist Sutra - Ksitigarbha Sutra

    So, no, Buddha was not a Skeptic/Agnostic/Atheist/Non-Theist, please. Right, please?
    Others may differ with me with reasons and arguments, no harm.

    Regards
     
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  9. Kartari

    Kartari Active Member

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    Hi Adrian,

    The Buddha's teachings are fundamentally non-theistic or apatheistic, rather than atheistic. Buddhism is not at all concerned with any or all gods, or whether or not they may exist. Instead, Buddhism is focused on addressing the causes of dukkha (often translated as "stress," "suffering," or "dissatisfaction") and the cessation of those causes. You can find references to several kinds of supernatural entities including gods in various texts. But it's a distraction to regard them as teachings on the reality or unreality of said beings. In fact, the references in all cases can be easily taken as purely allegorical without affecting their substance. I think it's largely a subjective matter of speculation to say whether the Buddha himself was either a theist or an atheist. What can be said definitively is that the Buddha himself advised against such speculation as being counterproductive to the path he taught. As you've mentioned in your OP, this is the point the "poisoned arrow" sutta makes (MN 63: Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta).

    Peace.
     
    #129 Kartari, Jun 5, 2019
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  10. Kartari

    Kartari Active Member

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    To add, there is on the other hand a very broad spectrum of traditions that fall under the banner of Buddhism. Buddhism is extraordinarily diverse, far more so than many people realize in my experience. This is because the Buddha's original teachings have traveled far and wide throughout Asia and beyond; and, wherever it's gone, it's proved itself to be quite adaptable. Not only has Buddhism clothed its core tenets in the vast array of religious-cultural contexts and pantheons of gods it's found itself coexisting with, but it has even emphasized or de-emphasized various key principles to better fit in. For instance, if you explore any given Chinese Buddhist sect's teachings, you'll not only find that Buddhism and Daoism in particular have borrowed heavily from one another in their principles, but that various Confucian and Daoist deities were adapted to fit into Buddhism (and vice versa). But these same principle changes and deities do not appear in, for instance, Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Each religious culture it came and assimilated into has adapted it to make it fit in better with that culture.

    I bring this up because I believe this leads to confusion for outsiders when they try to figure out whether the Buddha was theistic or not. You will find many Buddhists who believe in various deities throughout the Buddhist world. But when one studies Buddhism's origins in Nepal and how it historically spread from there to the rest of Asia and beyond, one comes to the conclusion that first there were the core teachings of the Buddha (those concerning the causes and cessation of dukkha), which are fundamentally non-theistic or apatheistic. And then this core of Buddhism has taken on various "cultural exteriors," becoming more appealing to the locales it's integrated itself into, with slews of additional texts and teachings that come from the particular culture's vantage point.

    This actually adds to the idea that Buddhism is non-theistic or apatheistic at its core. Were Buddhism concerned with the reality or unreality of gods, wouldn't there have been at least some degree of consistency in the deities that Buddhist scriptures choose to reference across all cultures? Instead, as a whole, it seems to use the local deities of wherever it's gone more as happenstance allegorical teaching tools. A cookie-cutter approach of sorts with respect to deities: simply pop out and in whichever deities happen to be popular in a given locale, as long as the underlying core tenets of Buddhism (i.e. dukkha, the cessation of dukkha, anatta, impermanence, etc.) are taught as closely to the original context as possible.
     
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  11. Dawnofhope

    Dawnofhope Veteran Member
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    Thank you for both posts. They are very informative. I have strong family ties to Japan which has Shintoism and Buddhism as their main religions. The Japanese people as a whole are not atheists and nor are their religions. I really like what you have to say about how Buddhism has adapted itself to many different cultures. That is certainly true in Japan where Shintoism and Buddhism co-existed in harmony for a thousand years.

    I am a Baha'i Faith and although we are classified as an Abrahamic Faith, we believe God is an unknowable essense. Once we delve into the mystical side the similarities with the so-called Dharmic Faiths becomes apparent.

    Baha'is view the Buddha as a Manifestation of God, which at first glance appears contradictory given the Buddha's apparent apatheistic stance. I would elaborate further but best to remain 'undeclared' as my Teachers did.
     
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  12. Dawnofhope

    Dawnofhope Veteran Member
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    I appreciate the contribution you have made to this thread and I agree the Buddha was no atheist.
     
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  13. siti

    siti Well-Known Member

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    May I ask where Buddha "was clear" about this?
     
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  14. atanu

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    Buddha’s teaching focusses on permanent removal of pain. Towards this the ultimate goal is attainment of Nirvana, which is beyond the mind-senses. Does any variety of atheism accept Nirvana?
     
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  15. siti

    siti Well-Known Member

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    ...removal of suffering I think - and if one's suffering results from attachment to deities, atheism might very well BE nirvana.
     
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  16. paarsurrey

    paarsurrey Veteran Member

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    But any ignorant person may/could become Atheist, can an ignorant person attain nirvana/salvation, please?

    Regards
     
  17. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Ignorance permeates the planet, Paar. Neither atheist or theist is immune.
     
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  18. atanu

    atanu Member
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    I do not think so.

    PS: Are you serious?
     
    #138 atanu, Jun 5, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
  19. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Please correct me if I am wrong... anyone...

    Nirvana is the culmination of a spiritual path that ends the cycle of life-suffering-death-rebirth? When a person reaches this summit of spiritual enlightenment their mortal physical life ends regardless of their physical condition?

    I understand that Buddhists may differ on whether this Nirvana is literal or firgurative.

    The question is, what did Buddha Gautama say about it? Is it possible to tell whether or not he expected a person's mortal life to end literally or figuratively?
     
  20. siti

    siti Well-Known Member

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    You don't think so...well that seals it then!

    PS - deadly!
     
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