Tu Viện Quảng Đức105 Lynch Rd, Fawkner, Vic 3060. Australia. Tel: 9357 3544. quangduc@quangduc.com* Viện Chủ: TT Tâm Phương, Trụ Trì: TT Nguyên Tạng   

03. Buddhism and the God-idea

06/05/201109:51(Xem: 2091)
03. Buddhism and the God-idea


Bhikkhu Shravasti Dhammika


Buddhism and the God-idea


Do Buddhist believe in god?

No, we do not. There are several reasons for this. The Buddha, like modern sociologists and psychologists, believed that religious ideas and especially the god idea have their origin in fear. The Buddha says:

"Gripped by fear men go to the sacred mountains,
sacred groves, sacred trees and shrines
". -- Dp 188

Primitive man found himself in a dangerous and hostile world, the fear of wild animals, of not being able to find enough food, of injury or disease, and of natural phenomena like thunder, lightning and volcanoes was constantly with him. Finding no security, he created the idea of gods in order to give him comfort in good times, courage in times of danger and consolation when things went wrong. To this day, you will notice that people become more religious at times of crises, you will hear them say that the belief in a god or gods gives them the strength they need to deal with life. You will hear them explain that they believe in a particular god because they prayed in time of need and their prayer was answered. All this seems to support the Buddha's teaching that the god-idea is a response to fear and frustration. The Buddha taught us to try to understand our fears, to lessen our desires and to calmly and courageously accept the things we cannot change. He replaced fear, not with irrational belief but with rational understanding.

The second reason the Buddha did not believe in a god is because there does not seem to be any evidence to support this idea. There are numerous religions, all claiming that they alone have god's words preserved in their holy book, that they alone understand god's nature, that their god exists and that the gods of other religions do not. Some claim that god is masculine, some that she is feminine and others that it is neuter. They are all satisfied that there is ample evidence to prove the existence of their god but they laugh in disbelief at the evidence other religions use to prove the existence of another god. It is not surprising that with so many different religions spending so many centuries trying to prove the existence of their gods that still no real, concrete, substantial or irrefutable evidence has been found. Buddhists suspend judgement until such evidence is forthcoming.

The third reason the Buddha did not believe in a god is that the belief is not necessary. Some claim that the belief in a god is necessary in order to explain the origin on the universe. But this is not so. Science has very convincingly explained how the universe came into being without having to introduce the god-idea. Some claim that belief in god is necessary to have a happy, meaningful life. Again we can see that this is not so. There are millions of atheists and free-thinkers, not to mention many Buddhists, who live useful, happy and meaningful lives without belief in a god. Some claim that belief in god's power is necessary because humans, being weak, do not have the strength to help themselves. Once again, the evidence indicates the opposite. One often hears of people who have overcome great disabilities and handicaps, enormous odds and difficulties, through their own inner resources, through their own efforts and without belief in a god. Some claim that god is necessary in order to give man salvation. But this argument only holds good if you accept the theological concept of salvation and Buddhists do not accept such a concept. Based on his own experience, the Buddha saw that each human being had the capacity to purify the mind, develop infinite love and compassion and perfect understanding. He shifted attention from the heavens to the heart and encouraged us to find solutions to our problems through self-understanding.

But if there are no gods how did the universe get here?

All religions have myths and stories which attempt to answer this question. In ancient times, when many simply did not know, such myths were adequate, but in the 20th century, in the age of physics, astronomy and geology, such myths have been superseded by scientific fact. Science has explained the origin of the universe without recourse to the god-idea.

What does the Buddha say about the origin of the universe?

It is interesting that the Buddha's explanation of the origin of the universe corresponds very closely to the scientific view. In the Aganna Sutta, the Buddha described the universe being destroyed and then re-evolving into its present form over a period of countless millions of years. The first life formed on the surface of the water and again, over countless millions of years, evolved from simple into complex organisms. All these processes are without beginning or end, and are set in motion by natural causes.

You say there is no evidence for the existence of a god. But what about miracles?

There are many who believe that miracles are proof of god's existence. We hear wild claims that a healing has taken place but we never get an independent testimony from a medical office or a surgeon. We hear second-hand reports that someone was miraculously saved from disaster but we never get an eye-witness account of what is supposed to have happened. We hear rumours that prayer straightened a diseased body or strengthened a withered limb, but we never see X-rays or get comments from doctors or nurses. Wild claims, second-hand reports and rumours are no substitute for solid evidence and solid evidence of miracles is very rare.

However, sometimes unexplained things do happen, unexpected events do occur. But our inability to explain such things does not prove the existence of gods. It only proves that our knowledge is as yet incomplete. Before the development of modern medicine, when people didn't know what caused sickness people believed that god or the gods sent diseases as a punishment. Now we know what causes such things and when we get sick, we take medicine. In time when our knowledge of the world is more complete, we will be able to understand what causes unexplained phenomena, just as we can now understand what causes disease.

But so many people believe in some form of god, it must be true.

Not so. There was a time when everyone believed that the world was flat, but they were all wrong. The number of people who believe in an idea is no measure of the truth or falsehood of that idea. The only way we can tell whether an idea is true or not is by looking at the facts and examining the evidence.

So if Buddhists don't believe in gods, what do you believe in?

We don't believe in a god because we believe in man. We believe that each human being is precious and important, that all have the potential to develop into a Buddha – a perfected human being. We believe that human beings can outgrow ignorance and irrationality and see things as they really are. We believe that hatred, anger, spite and jealousy can be replaced by love, patience, generosity and kindness. We believe that all this is within the grasp of each person if they make the effort, guided and supported by fellow Buddhists and inspired by the example of the Buddha. As the Buddha says:

"No one saves us but ourselves,
No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path,
But Buddhas clearly show the way". -- Dp 165

Gửi ý kiến của bạn
Tên của bạn
Email của bạn
28/02/2014(Xem: 4465)
Every man must have a religion especially one which appeals to the intellectual mind. A man failing to observe religious principles becomes a danger to society. While there is no doubt that scientists and psychologists have widened our intellectual horizon, they have not been able to tell us our purpose in life, something a proper religion can do.
28/02/2014(Xem: 3776)
Every student of Buddhism must be interested in a coorect notion of Nirvana,the goal of this religious effort.Naturally this has puzzled many serious minds.Sir Edwin Arnold,in his preface to "The Light of Asia" expresses the "firm conviction that a third of mankind would never have been brought to believe in blank abstractions,or in Nothingness as the issue and the crown of Being." Yet what is it?
28/02/2014(Xem: 5416)
Ajahn Brahmavamso (known to all as Ajahn Brahm) was born in London in 1951. He came from a working - class background, but won a scholarship to Cambridge, graduating with a Masters in Theoretical Physics. He became disillusioned because he felt that these great scientists knew everything about the universe out there, but nothing about their own minds Having been interested in Buddhism since age 17...
28/02/2014(Xem: 4510)
Chanting is very common to any religion. Buddhism is no exception in this regard. However, the aim and purpose of chanting is different from one religion to another. Buddhism is unique in that it does not consider chanting to be prayer. The Buddha in many ways has shown us to have confidence in our own action and its results, and thereby encouraged us to depend on no one but ourselves.
28/02/2014(Xem: 5230)
Books on Buddhism often state that the Buddha's most basic metaphysical tenet is that there is no soul or self. However, a survey of the discourses in the Pali Canon -- the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings -- suggests that the Buddha taught the anatta or not-self doctrine, not as a metaphysical assertion, but as a strategy for gaining release from suffering.
28/02/2014(Xem: 4398)
The two crucial aspects of the Buddha's Awakening are the what and the how: what he awakened to and how he did it. His awakening is special in that the two aspects come together. He awakened to the fact that there is an undying happiness, and that it can be attained through human effort.
28/02/2014(Xem: 3839)
The Buddha was like a doctor, treating the spiritual ills of the human race. The path of practice he taught was like a course of therapy for suffering hearts and minds. This way of understanding the Buddha and his teachings dates back to the earliest texts, and yet is also very current.
28/02/2014(Xem: 4086)
There are three fundamental modes of training in Buddhist practice: morality, mental culture, and wisdom. The English word morality is used to translate the Pali term sila, although the Buddhist term contains its own particular connotations. The word sila denotes a state of normalcy, a condition which is basically unqualified and unadulterated.
28/02/2014(Xem: 3835)
According to the Buddhist monastic code, monks and nuns are not allowed to accept money or even to engage in barter or trade with lay people. They live entirely in an economy of gifts. Lay supporters provide gifts of material requisites for the monastics, while the monastics provide their supporters with the gift of the teaching.
28/02/2014(Xem: 4031)
This year, at the summer retreat, Vien Tu and Minh Hanh, the two novice monks, took turns to prepare the congee offering each evening. Many Buddhists were curious to know why the congee was offered but not the cooked rice or others. This article is writing about the congee services to the spirits.
facebook youtube google-plus linkedin twitter blog
Nguyện đem công đức này, trang nghiêm Phật Tịnh Độ, trên đền bốn ơn nặng, dưới cứu khổ ba đường,
nếu có người thấy nghe, đều phát lòng Bồ Đề, hết một báo thân này, sinh qua cõi Cực Lạc.

May the Merit and virtue,accrued from this work, adorn the Buddhas pureland,
Repay the four great kindnesses above, andrelieve the suffering of those on the three paths below,
may those who see or hear of these efforts generates Bodhi Mind, spend their lives devoted to the Buddha Dharma,
the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Quang Duc Buddhist Welfare Association of Victoria
Tu Viện Quảng Đức | Quang Duc Monastery
Senior Venerable Thich Tam Phuong | Senior Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang
Address: Quang Duc Monastery, 105 Lynch Road, Fawkner, Vic.3060 Australia
Tel: 61.03.9357 3544 ; Fax: 61.03.9357 3600
Website: http://www.quangduc.com ; http://www.tuvienquangduc.com.au (old)
Xin gửi Xin gửi bài mới và ý kiến đóng góp đến Ban Biên Tập qua địa chỉ:
quangduc@quangduc.com , tvquangduc@bigpond.com