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.' However, it is a way of life. Furthermore, it is a system of faith and worship. 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." That is to say, they do not believe in the existence of a supreme being. Buddhism is essentially non-theistic. Any doctrine or practice that enables realization is an upaya. On the other hand, the Buddha did not explicitly rule out the existence of a God or gods. Same goes for kami. Soon the idea of past and future Buddhas developed, with Maitreya, the Buddha y… Like belief in reincarnation. It doesn't seem right to call that non-theistic to me, but it depends how you decide to define the term. One might say that in Buddhism, the big question is not whether gods exist, but what is the nature of existence? 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. For these folks, Buddhism can be seen as supplementing and enriching their own theistic faith and practice. Some theistic beliefs could contradict with Buddhist views. Deity yoga is a practice within the Tibetan Vajrayāna In addition, about an estimated 488 million in the world practice Buddhism. Buddhism is Not a Theistic Religion . But the Buddha figure also represents enlightenment itself and the unconditioned true nature of all things. For this reason, Buddhism is more accurately called nontheistic rather than atheistic. The Buddha taught that the biggest barrier to realization is the notion that "I" am a permanent, integral, autonomous entity. Some in the West dismiss these devotional and worshipful aspects of Buddhism as corruptions of the original teachings of the Buddha. 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. That said, if God or gods show up, we’ll be happy to believe. 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. To lead is to serve. These religions are both universal and missionary. This religion is based on … A similar form of functional … Serving is leadership. 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. However, it is not a theistic … It maybe for Buddhist scholars and such, but asking and pondering these questions can be a distraction from our practice. It has millions of followers, not only in south and east Asia, but all over the world. Libraries have been filled with the answers to those questions. Source(s): why because I said so. 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. While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment. But the nature of existence is something Buddhism looks at deeply and in a different way from the way people ordinarily understand "existence.". One might bow just to show gratitude for the Buddha's life and practice. For more discussion of this kind of devotion, see the essay "Devotion in Buddhism" by Nyanaponika Thera. Buddhism is so different from other religions that some people question whether it is a religion at all. 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. If Buddha was not a god, why bow to Buddha-figures? 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. There are a few non-theistic or semi-theistic religions to consider as well. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. The Buddhist canon mentions devas, celestial beings, spirits, even Brahma who thinks he/she/it is the creator. The Buddha also plainly said that he was not a god, but was simply "awakened" to ultimate reality. Are these corruptions of the Buddha's teachings? Rather than the founder of a new religion, Siddhartha Gautama was the founder and leader of a sect of wanderer ascetics (Sramanas), one of many sects that existed at that time all over India. 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. 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 think many Western converts come, as you said, shedding their belief in a creator God. Yet, throughout Asia, it is common to find people praying to the Buddha or to the many clearly mythical figures that populate Buddhist iconography. One doctrine agreed upon by all branches of modern Buddhism is that “this world is not created and ruled by a God.” {1} The Buddha himself rejected metaphysical speculation as a matter of principle, and his teachings focused entirely on the practical ways to end suffering. Like … What's "fantasy"? He acclaimed the supremacy of the … In most schools of Buddhism, it is understood that enlightenment and nirvana cannot be conceptualized or explained with words. Some schools of Buddhism are deeply devotional. Whether the doctrine is factual or not is not the point. So, why does a Buddhist practice? Buddhism has many gods and set standards and ways of life. 28 Answers. These religions are both universal and missionary. Privacy policy, Theism, Atheism and Non-Theism in Buddhism. Although it is a popular religion, not many people know its core beliefs. Interfaith. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. Buddhism is a path to "waking up," or becoming enlightened, to a reality that is not consciously perceived by most of us. But in Buddhism, merely believing in doctrines is beside the point. They may even grant favors, protection, etc. Merely "believing in" enlightenment and nirvana is pointless. Devotion is an upaya for breaking the bonds of ego. God. Rather, the historical Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. You aren’t any better than me except to the extent that you serve me and others better than I do. 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. Buddhism is a non-theistic tradition. 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. Some branches allow for elements of theism (belief in deities) but this is often considered to be optional. 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. Our hierarchical triangle is upside down. While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion. Actually, Buddhism is functionally theistic, even if it avoids the “G” word. It is quite clear that Buddhism has no concept of a creator. While there is a more recent, modern trend to portray Buddhism as simply agnostic on the question of God, this is not the case if we are defining God as Christians (or even as Jews and Muslims) would use the word. Atheism is associated with a materialistic doctrine that knows nothing higher than this world. And what is the self? We only believe in things that we can find to be true. Whether or not it can be termed a religion is debatable—the etymology of the word ‘religion’ refers to God. We only believe in things that we can find to be true. There’s the opposite nihilistic extreme — those who have studied a little about Buddhism — and assume that the Dharma of Buddha is atheistic or non-theistic. But Buddhism is non-theistic. Each individual is ultimately responsible for his own present and future happiness. it can be both. Western Buddhists are the foremost promulgators of the idea that Buddhism is non-theistic. Following this belief, practitioners of Mahayana simultaneously worship Buddha and maintain a non-theistic worldview. Pilgrims flock to stupas that are said to hold relics of the Buddha. This essence is eternal and without form, therefore indescribable, but it can be experienced in everyday life. Buddhism is not, therefore, atheistic in the modern understanding which developed in the West as a reaction to theistic Christianity. Is Buddhism atheistic? The Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. Modern Buddhism leaves a lot of room for personal beliefs, meaning that an individual can believe in god while still being a Buddhist. 8 0. 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. Nirvana is the highest state and marks the end of human pain and suffering. Buddhism, a non-theistic religion, is often described as a "mind-science." The Buddha said that doctrines should not be accepted just because they are in scripture or taught by priests. It might be shocking fro some of you. A similar form of functional … Buddhism is non-theistic. However, God is. So, we get to the question Is Buddhism Polytheistic Or Monotheistic? It entirely depends upon your understanding of a theistic religion and how you would describe an act of worship. edited 9 years ago Buddhism doesn't have a God, rather it has a broad and complex pantheon of gods. For example, the central focus of most religions is one or many. While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment. 1 decade ago. Jul 2011 1,747 n ireland Sep 29, 2015 #1 I'm confused about this and have not found a definitive answer . Thus, devotion is not a "corruption" of Buddhism, but an expression of it. One school of Buddhist philosophy, Madhyamika, says that phenomena exist only in relation to other phenomena. She is the author of "Rethinking Religion" and has covered religion for The Guardian, Tricycle.org, and other outlets. For this reason, Buddhism is more accurately called nontheistic rather than atheistic. Most religions are defined by their beliefs. 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. Opportunities and Challenges in Teaching Big History, Beyond Intelligent Design: Evolution and Culture Wars. Rather, Buddhism affirms many forms of spirituality and belief in gods as means to elevate and improve worldly life. Is Buddhism Polytheistic Or Monotheistic? But Buddhism do not really specifically say there is an existence of an intelligence singular being that created everything and manipulated accordingly. 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