The Buddhist Attitude to God

“If the creator of the world entire
They call God, of every being be the Lord
Why does he order such misfortune
And not create concord?

If the creator of the world entire
They call God, of every being be the Lord
Why prevail deceit, lies and ignorance
And he such inequity and injustice create?

If the creator of the world entire
They call God, of every being be the Lord
Then an evil master is he, (O Aritta)
Knowing what’s right did let wrong prevail!”

From The Buddhist Attitude to God

“The Buddha argues that the three most commonly given attributes of God, viz. omnipotence, omniscience and benevolence towards humanity cannot all be mutually compatible with the existential fact of dukkha (suffering or un-satisfactoriness)…A fundamental Buddhist belief is that all phenomena without exemption (including all animate beings) have three essential characteristics. These are dukkha (explained above), anicca (impermanence), and anattá (insubstantiality, “no-soul”). The attributes of God are not consistent with these universal marks of existence. Thus God must be free from dukkha; he must be eternal (and hence not subject to anicca); finally he must have a distinct unchanging identity (and therefore lack the characteristic of anattá).”

From The Buddhist Attitude to God

If God exists, and he/she/it is omnibenevolent as the teachings of the christian church have us belive, then what about evil? Suffering? The Devil? The Common Cold? Why would he create all of these things that are meant to harm us, cause us pain, and kill us painfully?

Forget Human evilness – let’s talk about cancer and TB and Tsunami’s!

Just some things I am currently pondering…

13 thoughts on “The Buddhist Attitude to God”

  1. heh heh heh<br /><br />I like to think of myself rather as one of the few on this planet that has ultimately evolved beyond the need for scary stories of the underworld to ensure I do the right thing for my fellow beings on this planet.<br /><br />Doesn’t following a religion merely because you are afraid what might happen if you don’t seem to be the more foolish approach?<br /><br />Throughout my life I have chose my course of action based on my studies of the world, its history, its science, and yes, even theology. What I have discovered is the only path for me. In fact, my website drones on and on why I feel as I do.<br /><br />I have moved beyond being frightened what God will do to me if I don’t believe in him. You see, viewing all religion for what it truly is, man-made, removes all of that excess baggage from my psyche and allows me to move on to bigger and better things, like trying to figure out Linux! :)

  2. I think most of us have, for various reasons, let someone we love suffer when we could intervene.<br /><br />The simplist example being disciplining a child because they are doing something dangerous or wrong. Other examples would be letting someone try something and fail because we knew it was needed for growth even though it would cause pain. <br /><br />If one accepts the Christian postulate of an immortal soul and an eternal reward than Earthly suffering and even to an extent earthly happiness matter very little. The fact that someone is killed in a Tsunami may seem like a tradgedy to us, but not to God.<br /><br />I find this viewpoint to at least be internally consistant.<br /><br />As to Mystic Knights comments, I have always found atheism to be a very foolish belief system. Simply put, there is no margin in it. <br /><br />If you are right, you get nothing<br />If you are wrong, you presumably get Hell<br /><br />If a believer is right, they get Heaven<br />If a believer is wrong, they get nothing<br /><br />:)

  3. Sure, and a large purple chicken laid the Earth, and we have lived in chaos ever since.<br /><br />The problem with deity discussions is it always assumes the existence of some mystical being, or beings, that are on some separate plane of reality and playing with man-kind on Earth like some twisted cosmic role-playing game.<br /><br />There is no God, no Goddess, no large purple chicken that decides the fate of mankind. It is a natural order of things that plays by the rules that have evolved along with the universe in which we live.<br /><br />Just because we cannot understand how the universe works does not mean some super-being must have created it all.<br /><br />I know many folks enjoy the serenity of believing that there surely must be something more to life then just that we live and die. There must be some heavenly place where we will all go and have BBQ’s with our ancestor’s when we cease to exist here on our little patch of dirt.<br /><br />The truth is, and always will be, we’re here on Earth alone without a nasty super-being with a ‘tude we can’t figure out, to brown-nose for the purpose of gaining entrance to the pearly gates.<br /><br />Of course, this is just my opinion…I could be wrong. :)

  4. I think that happyiness is the ultimate goal. Each of us must be responsible for our own happiness. We also must do what we can to spread happiness.<br /><br />"I saw young children who have lost their hands. I asked one how, and he said by sword, by the Janjaweed [militia]" – from <A HREF="http://www.blogger.com/r?http%3A%2F%2Fdavejustus.blogspot.com%2F2005%2F01%2Fdarfur-genocide.html%23comments">Justus For All</A>If a person, with the means and ability to stop this kind of action, were to stand by and allow it to happen, would that not be condoning via non-action, or at the very least neglect?<br /><br />If a person could have simply given a warning about the Tsunami, and saved countless thousands of lives, and chose not to – how would that person be judged in world opinion if that fact came out?<br /><br />And yet people accept an omnipotent God standing by and not doing anything. And they say He Loves Us most of all.<br /><br />The book of Job is an excellent example of this. God allowed a follower of his to loose his family, livelihood, everything. On a <B>bet</B>. If a person were to do half of what happened to Job to someone and the police were to find out, they would be in some pretty serious trouble.<br /><br />But that was just "testing his faith". Cannot God see inside of us, what we truly are and believe? Why then must he "test our faith" with trials and tribulations?<br /><br />I cannot believe that God is so small, callous and immature as this. This is why the only thing that I can believe is, if he does exist, that he is not omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. That he is bound by the same laws of the universe that we are. <br /><br />Perhaps he is on a different plane of existence, perhaps he has powers that are incredible, but he cannot know everything that is going to happen, and cannot have the power to effect the entire universe at the snap of a finger.

  5. If making all people happy and contented is a good thing, then you would be correct in my opinion.<br /><br />I fall back on the idea that being given happiness and contentment is not in fact good for us or in fact desirable.<br /><br />An interesting (and entertaining) exploration of this idea can be found in Orson Scott Card’s The Worthing Saga. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

  6. There are other issues with an omni-whatever deity as well. The Problem of Evil is just one that sticks hardest for me. If God were no Omni then, these logical problems keep coming up.<br /><br />Even in a fictional game world – no one is Omni. As the game progresses, things happen that the GM (god?) did not plan for. There is also randomness. Diffrent story completly.<br /><br />The Christian God is said to be All-Knowing, and All-Powerful<br /><br />If He knows everything, then he already knows the outcome of every event ever to happen and that will happen. If he is All-Powerful, then He has the ability to change outcomes.<br /><br />With His All-Knowing, he would already know the outcome of His changes, making picking the path that would lead to all people being happy and content trivial.<br /><br />And, yet, he does not. There is senseless killing, and more importantly, senseless suffering happening each and every day.<br /><br />If He has the knowledge and the power, why does He not fix it?<br /><br />I posit that he does not have the knowledge and power to fix it. I do not feel that He is as cruel as having that knowledge and power and not using it would make him.<br /><br />Anyways, off my soapbox ;)

  7. The Problem of Evil as it is called requires a Omnipotent God who is Good. Therefore, Polytheists would never encounter this problem in their theosophy as Polytheism generally means several gods, none of which are omnipotent.

  8. I wonder if being a polytheist is why I rarely find myself pondering things of this nature. <br /><br />I don’t really believe in "evil," and I certainly don’t believe in "The Devil" (though I do believe that the a Christian god exists.) I just never find myself wondering why the gods allow or visit "evil" upon mortals. I’m not entirely sure why.<br /><br />Though I suspect that also believing in a form of predestination and reincarnation probably has something to do with that as well.

  9. This is of course a question that has long puzzled theologists. To me, it doesn’t seem all that difficult in that the answer is that what we percieve as ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ is evil only from our current, mortal perspective.<br /><br />As an example: I know that you are a GM for role playing games. In this activity, you are the ‘God’ of the world you create. I am sure that even though you are probably a ‘Good’ GM, you visit calamities and misfortune on the poor people of your created world. Even though you may wipe out entire planets with a whim, this is a ‘Good’ thing because it makes the world interesting and enjoyable for the players of your game.<br /><br />If you think about yourself as God, the players as immortal, eternal souls, and the characters as the mortal bodies those souls temporalily live in you should be able to easily see how what appears as ‘evil’ to the characters is in fact good for the players. Role-playing in a world without conflict, where nothing bad ever could or would happen would not be a very worthwhile experience.<br /><br />Now, I don’t know if we are here simply for the ‘fun’ of it or if there is more to it than that (I strongly suspect the latter) but I can certainly see at even that level how ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ can be quite different depending on one’s perspective.<br /><br />Of course having ‘evil’ things happen to you and doing evil are two different things and may have entirely different consequences from an eternal perspective.

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