Problem of God in Buddhism
Over the years, differences have occurred in the concept of the Buddhism and the immediate belief about God. This has been prompted by the different emergent sects of Buddhism beliefs and understandings that give varying interpretations of the original Buddha ideologies (Denise et al, 86). Different comparisons have also been given in order to clearly extrapolate on the origin of the idea. In his meditation under the tree of wisdom and in his later teachings, Gautama’s main concept do not consider the omniscience and omnipotent nature of the super beings as does other religions.
The concept of personal God therefore, does not fit into the Buddhist system of religion and is strongly pantheistic. Though Gautama did talk about gods, heavens, hell and beings, his three teachings emphasized that all of them were mortal and did not posses any extra powers (David & Paul, 34). This paper explores the concept of God in Buddhism with a view of establishing the reasoning behind the concept after inception and later development.
Tracing the prevailing circumstances that led to the different ideological beliefs of the system, the paper evaluates these teachings in the dynamic world. Finally, to establish the reason behind the major vagueness of the Buddha concepts, comparison with other religion setting is also clearly established. Historical background According to Helmut & Yudhishthir (96) Buddhism originated in India as an offspring of Hinduism at around 500 BC. Brought up in Himalaya (current day Nepal) by his father who was the ruler of the land, Gautama’s life was surrounded with wealth and pleasures.
However, the site of an old man, a beggar, a sick man and a dead man distressed his life and he therefore left the prestigious lifestyle and went to the jungle where he studied the scriptures and turned to a life of meditation under the fig tree “tree of wisdom. ” Claiming to have found the answers to suffering, Gautama began his ‘Buddhism’ teaching ministry that fast gained audience from the people who had been greatly disillusioned by the Hinduism religion. Buddha never claimed to be a deity during his teachings, however his followers worship him as a deity over seven hundred years later.
Over these years, the original concept was partially lost resulting to the vagueness in the ideology understanding by the people (Cavan, 29-31). Currently, Buddhism is the domain of religion in the eastern world. It remains the predominant religion in Japan, Korea, China and the rest of the South East Asia. All over the world, the religion has fast spread with vast migration of the Asian communities especially during the World War I and II. US has over 300, 000 Buddhists and presently dominating in some of the regions like Hawaii. The basic teachings of Buddhism.
Gautama, the founder of Buddhism sought to answer the main questions on pain and suffering by the people during their lives. Holding the main belief of reincarnation from his previous Hindu upbringing, the belief led to another question on how the rebirth cycle is broken. To begin with, Gautama believed that in the earth there is pain and suffering that are omnipresent in nature to the human beings life. All the occurrences in life requires struggling as the birth and death are achieved through suffering. Sickness and old age too are very painful in thought and occurrence to the left people as well as the dying ones.
Though used as the major examples that Gautama encountered, all the achievements in human beings life have been associated with stress either directly or indirectly for their successful completion. Suffering as indicated by Gautama, is either physiological or physical depending on the individual present situation (Denise et al, 87). According to the second noble truth in addressing the mystery, Gautama believed that the main source of suffering is the desire through craving for wealth, self enjoyment and other forms of happiness that result to life difficulties.
People’s satisfaction can never be met as they are hierarchical in nature and all the people in their different social levels have different requirements. The craving therefore can never be satisfied as they are rooted in ignorance for all the people as they ceaselessly search for major satisfaction (Cavan, 36-37). The third and the forth noble truth indicate that the truth acts as the main end of suffering to the above problems. Once a person is able to remove the different desires, the suffering stops and the person must renounce any thoughts like lust, cruelty and bitterness.
Some scholars indicate that there is little concerns for god in the satisfaction of the major and minor needs by the people. As a result of the initial teachings an individual is expected to have the correct behavior that emphasize on abstinence from stealing, all forms of killing and sexual immorality. Evil qualities must be eliminated and good moral qualities developed alongside the existing ones. Meditation as the final step must be contemplated as the major act of overcoming sensation of pleasure or pain. Through meditation, one attains the state of perfection necessary to achieve the peace and eternal bliss (Hans, 595).
The law of cause and effect (Karma). Karma refers to the law of cause and consequence in life of a person where ones actions are directly related to the results of his life. One must undergo the major process of birth and rebirth until he gets to the point at which he breaks the cycle. What will be in the next life depends on the current individuals actions. Unlike the Hinduism where different classes of people have no chances of changing the situation, one can change the rebirth cycle irrespective of the class one is born to.
As a result, the individual person has greater control of the destiny of the immediate life after death. Our mind are like the grain field that positive or virtuous actions sow seeds that result to future happiness or increased suffering. Acting as the basement of the Buddhism in the regions of occurrence, this law acts as the main source for morality and thus sanctity from the people. Though closely similar to Christianity which highlights punishment with fire at hell, Buddhism does not specify the particular type of effects that one would get.
To add to that, all the negative impacts of the people under the Christianity believe are sent to the punishment after judgment of their deeds by God. This judgment however is missing in the Buddha teachings which do not explain when and how it will be determined if the different individuals were good or bad (Todd, 97).. The role of punishing, destroying, creating and rewarding is solely taken by nature that is totally impartial and has no bias and makes no ‘deals” with no one. All the people who develop the good traits are positively rewarded regard less of their religious affiliations.
To achieve this state by the people, they uphold high dignity either from fear or direct understanding and thus compliance (Jan van Lin, 81). Transmigration (Samsara). This concept holds that everything in ones life is in birth and rebirth cycle and that people do not have souls. According to the Buddha teachings, the overall existence of an individual’s soul is fully illusionary. The teachings also emphasized that no eternal movement a human being substance or patrt that goes through the rebirth cycle. The set of an individual feelings present at moments and the karma are passed on leading to another individual ‘rebirth.
‘ The new individual though different, resemble the previous one in many respects depending on the personality that he exhibited previously. Buddhism therefore, gives a direct and simplistic transition that is free of supernatural human beings influence for it’s effective passage. It indicates a clear sense of freedom from bondage by all rounds of mortality (Robert, 18). Nirvana “Blowing out. ” Unlike the heaven concept in Christianity given by God, Nirvana is an eternal state of being where the law of karma and as well as the rebirth cycle ends. Sounding like annihilation, Gautama never gave a clear description of the state.
This acts as the eternal hope of the Buddhists believers. The final state of the being that people pass to also have no indication of interference from God or gods. This section have derived larger controversies and lead to development of more sects in the Buddhism belief in the areas of ancient origin as well as internationally. This state is described as having no water or earth and the light and air are also absent. Time, space, ideation too are absent and the impacts of passing away, dying and the cause and effects impacts are also non-existent (Hans, 596-597).
Being likened to the period before the earth was created, the situation has been referred to as a creation of peoples minds by the scholars. Buddhism and creation theories In all the sects of Buddhism, the powers of creation, judgment and salvation are not ascribed to and is greatly indifferent towards the theories of creation. All the origin of existence has been ascribe to samsara. As indicated earlier, Buddha never expressly said that there is no creator. His teachings focus is mainly centered on the impacts and effects that their belief have on the theories of creation and a creators have on human mind.
Critical examination of every belief is done to ensure that their belief is not easily washed away by unnecessary debates. The law of nature therefore acts to establish independent origin of all the occurrences. To avoid the question of the initial origin the things that would result to further questions of who created the creator, Buddhists believe that mortality is a self-contained system and no beginning can be seen or assumed. Everything in the world is considered to be as a result of the forces of nature and nobody can control it (Jan van Lin, 83).
Though there is great struggle to attain Buddhahood, striving to be a god or a God in monotheistic context is senseless as strong sense between divinity and humanity is emphasized. Being born in Human realms is considered best for realizing total enlightenment while being born as a God gives an individual too much pleasure subjective to distractions that may hinder serious meditation (Robert, 19). Taking greatly from the Buddhism, different versions of Hinduism and Christianity have different godhead like Vedanta, but in Buddhism they are considered as disadvantageous in the attainment of Nirvana.
The only supremacy that is highlighted in Buddhism is gnosis arashants that indicates those worth of offering. They are considered to have good virtues, and struggles for enlightenment and have over time victoriously achieved gnosis to obtain Nirvana. To add to that, the western belief that character and traits of an individual are genetically inherited are no acceptable, however the essential inheritance is considered to be karmic. On the other hand Christianity upholds greatly to the theories of creation with such great Godly belief like the origin of life and everything that lives in it.
Unlike Buddhism, all the human beings existence attribute themselves to the likeness of the eternal God. They indicate that they are forms of the beings that are similar to God as they were formed in his image and likeness. The bible refers to them as part of the supernatural beings as they were derived from God. “In the beginning was word, and the word was with God and the word was God himself. ‘ Spiritualism and the occult While Buddhism as indicated earlier does not encourage great involvement with these matters, some beings dwell in higher realms and happier than others while others exist much lower and live miserably.
These beings are nevertheless real and therefore without exception and belong to samsara ‘birth-and-death’ thereby making their stay temporary or permanently according to human standards. In this case, there is no contradiction as the realm one is born to depends on an individual Karma (Todd, 96-97). Rebirth being likened to the ordinary death is desired in the Buddhism belief as it acts to take one to the desired Nirvana not controlled that is not controlled by god. Again it is considered as a change or deviation and meant to avoid the Christian appearance of the terms. God in early Buddhism.
During his teachings after the immediate inception, Buddha stated clearly that “belief and reliance’ in supreme being increases lack of efforts and action in ones undertakings that would lead to direct consequences according to the law. As Buddha went to the priests to inquire about the existence and their experiences with God, he realized that they had themselves never seen Brahma. This is therefore not a denial of the existence of Brahma, but possibly meant to indicate folly of the religious teachers and leaders who were strongly involved in leading others into what they never understood.
Comparing him with other religious leaders of the world, it forms a clear similarity as majority of them also believe mainly what they heard and read in the written scriptures. The bible indication of creation from the beginning lacks the comprehensive indication of the source of the things that God created while Gods origin himself remains a mystery (David & Paul, 34-35). God as a manifestation of mind. According to the Buddhas, the notion of Sovereign God is a total manifestation of the mind that has no clear basis and can be an impediment of the of the people’s faith.
Instead of the supreme God with the ability to control everything, the Sutra speaks of creative minds that are able to uphold reality, truth and exact knowledge necessary for helping the people in the specific generation. Arguing of the God manifestation being unfair in his consideration for rewarding and punishing the people, the Buddhas point out that major occurrences are out of his control as he cannot according to his description destroy the innocent. Natural disasters are acts of nature that cannot be controlled by any being.
Biblical storm that was calmed by Christ however brings more criticism that these forces are easily controlled by God (Helmut & Yudhishthir, 113-114). The notion of causation, atoms, succession, inheritance, and primary elements are considered to be the make ups of personality that should not be exaggerated for the same reason of reducing the direct focus to the Buddhas believes and focus to improving their immediate relationship and actions that would be later rewarded. Conclusion. The concept of personal God does not fit into the Buddhist system of religion and is strongly pantheistic.
However, large vagueness is still eminent as major concepts assume similarity in the application of different concepts that define and dictate the mode of the beliefs. From the origin of the belief, it is clear that the notion of the term God is minimal as Buddha was greatly moved by the call to address the immediate suffering of the people who had strongly been stressed by Hinduism. Moving from the kingly setting of his father’s home, the founder ensured that he sought intervention that would assist the people in overcoming the great suffering that they encountered.
Though some scholars indicate that Buddhism lack of reference to the word God as only change of terms to ensure that their difference is maintained, this is however wrong as the origin of Christianity, Buddhism and other religions took place in a time when the beliefs were far apart in their regions of occurrence (Hans, 597-598). With clear indications that the rewarding system is through the natural means that are completely impartial in application, the belief emphasis that it do not recognize and or appreciate any being to be considered having the ability to control the occurrences.
Though it do not refute of such beings occurrences, it differs with them as it considers all of them to be mortal. Considering the nature to be the most powerful element that is involved with creation and all the occurrences of the world in direct activities that guide major events, all the sects on Buddhism are bonded to ensure that their common goal of ensuring that the people are comfortable and accountable to their activities is maintained.
While other scholars regard Buddhism as a way of escaping the reality in tracing the initial origin of the different things including the human beings, this is not justified in that no other religion has been able to find the initial origin of the human beings. They therefore engage in the immediate debates that are unnecessary and counter[productive without major results. Having split from Hinduism, majority of the scholars have been trying to associate the origin defined and associating it with Hinduism as Buddha was born and brought up in a Hindu setting and therefore bound to have it’s great influence.
This is however not applied as Buddha moved out in search for wisdom that was acquired through meditation. Though, this cannot be fully denied, it is clear that his teachings were strongly unique. With recent increase in the number of the Buddhist all over the world, the concept will continue being vague as it is distributed by the different sects that have already caused the present misunderstanding. Work cited page Cavan, Wood, Buddhism. New Jersey: Heinemann, 2002. David, Lim & Paul De Neui, Communicating Christ in the Buddhist World. Washington:William Carley Library, 2007.
Denise, Lardner C. , John Tully & John Carmody, Religion, the Great Questions: The Great Questions. Seabury Press: Miami, 2006. Hans, Kung, Does God Exist? : An Answer for Today. Doubleday: New York, 1998. Helmut, Anheier & Yudhishthir Raj Isar, Conflicts and Tensions. New York: Sage, 2007. Jan van Lin, Shaking the Fundamentals: Religious Plurality and Ecumenical Movement. Shanghai: Rodopi, 2002. Robert, Spence, Eastern Monachism. Charleston: BiblioBazaar LLC, 2008. Todd, Moody, Does God Exist? : A Dialog. London: Hackett Publishing press, 1996.Sample Essay of Eduzaurus.com