Optagon Publications
  Did The Buddha believe in God?
 

Excerpt from Optagon’s From Microbits to Everything: Universe of the Imaginator (Vol 2):

 

…within Buddhism,  in  the  most  famous  of  its  scriptures,  the Dhammapada(47), the Buddha clearly espouses a belief in a supreme Creator. Buddha,  contrary  to  being  an  atheist  or  a  person  who  never  answered  or avoided    answering    the  question  of  God’s  existence,  as  present  day Buddhist sects and most Western and Eastern scholars portray, also believed in One God:


 

        Who   is   capable   of   praising   one    like    a   coin  of  finest

        gold,  one  whom  the  knowing  praise  after  finding  him

        impeccable, controlled,  intelligent,  insightful,  ethical,  and

        composed day in and day out? Even the gods(48) praise such

        a one, even the Creator [brahmuna] (17:9,10).(49)


 

In  the   Sutta-Pitaka  which  is  part of the Tripitaka texts,  translated by T.W .  R.  Davids  of  the  Buddhist  Pali  Text  Society,  the  Buddha  has categorically  stated,  in the Tevigga Sutta,   that he  had  a  relationship  with  the Creator  and  they  should  listen to  him  and  follow  his  ways ,  since  they  too want to know how to relate to the Creator.


 

        …to  the  Tathagat  [the  fully  enlightened  person]  when

        asked  touching  the  path  which  leads  to  the  world  of

        Brahma  [the  Creator],  there  can  be  neither  doubt nor

        difficulty.  For  Brahma  I  [do]  know  Vashetta  [the young

        Brahmin  the  Buddha  was  addressing],  and  the  world of

        Brahma and the path that leads to it. Yes, I know it ever as one

        who has entered the Brahma world, and has been born within

        it!(50)


 

To  paraphrase, Buddha is saying that: “Vashetta, I know, as an enlightened person  that the path to God has certainty and is  easy. I know God and the path that leads to God, since I am part of God’s creation.” Buddha also believed in hell, a paradisiacal state in the next life, and the accountability of deeds in the hereafter:


 

        One  who  speaks  untruth  goes  to  hell,  as  does  one 

        who claims  not  to  have  done  what  he  has  in  fact 

        done. Both become  equal  after  death,  people  of  base 

        deeds  in the hereafter. (22:1)

        When a person long absent from home returns safely

        from afar, relatives, friends, and well-wishers rejoice at his

        return. In  the  same  way,  when  one  who  has  done  good 

        is gone from this world to the beyond, his good deeds receive

        him, like relatives receiving a returning loved one. (16:11, 12)

 

  

In the book  Outline  of  Mahayana   (Chapter IX) D.T.  Suzuki  explains  that God is referred to by the term Dharmakaya-Buddha or the religious object of Buddhism. In fact in a Tibetan  text, the Dharmakaya is  described with eight  attributes, which  are: Sameness,  Depth, Everlastingness,  Oneness, Harmony, Purity, Radiance, and Enjoyment [some of which are explained as]:

 

 

       Sameness, because the Dharmakayas of all Buddhas are

       not  different.

       Depth, because it is ineffable.

       Everlastingness, because it has no beginning or end.

       Oneness, because the Dharmadhatu (Absolute Reality)

       and Transcendent Awareness (are not different).

       Harmony, because it is  beyond positive and negative poles.

       Purity, because it is free from the three taints of hatred, greed,

       and delusion.

       Possessing enjoyment, because with its wealth of qualities

       it is the basis of all enjoyment.(51)

 

 

Suzuki  elaborates  that  “The  Dharmakaya  assumes  three  essential aspects: intelligence (prajna), love (karuna) and will (pranidhanabala).” In fact, Professor Robert F. Thurman, Columbia University, who is  also a Buddhist monk,  passionately emphasizes that: “Buddha not only believed  in God, he knew God. There were numerous atheists in Buddha’s  time  – the Charvaka materialists –   and  the  Buddha  specifically   critiqued  their  lack  of  belief in    any      spiritual  reality.”(52) In    a    chapter    entitled:      “The      Differing  Viewpoints of Buddhism and the Other World Religions regarding Ultimate Reality” William Stoddart, in his book, Outline of Buddhism,  explains  that  the true    Buddhist  belief    is  really  theistic,  but  that  the  existence  of  Ultimate Reality  (i.e.  God)  who  is  both  immanent  and  transcendent,  has  been misunderstood because  of the emphasis  of the  immanence component.   In fact, Thurman    emphasizes  that  Islam  clearly  depicts  the  physical inconceivability  of  God,  in  that  there  is  nothing  like  God  and  that Buddhism,  if understood correctly,  has one and the same goal. It  is easy to see how the emphasis of the Buddha on the non-corporeality of God has led to many erroneously believing that there is no God in Buddhism.

 

47. Thomas Cleary (Translator), (1995), Dhammapada: The

       Sayings of Buddha.

48. Deva in the original Pali; this likely refers to the created angels

       or the good spirit entities.

49. Thomas Cleary (Translator), (1995), Dhammapada: The

       Sayings of Buddha.

50.  Muller, F. Max, (1881),  The Sacred Books of the East, p. 186.

51.  Guenther, Herbet (Translator), (1970), The Jewel Ornament of

        Liberation, p.264-5.

       http://www.kheper.net/topics/Buddhism/dharmakaya.htm 

52.   Henry,  Gray  (Editor),  (1997),  Islam  in  Tibet  and  the 

         Illustrated  Narrative: Tibetan Caravans,pp. 35-37.

 
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