QUESTION: Hi Justin
I really liked you answers, many of them thoughtful and have answered many questions I had.
However one question I like to ask is concerning the Buddha's statements regarding "God". The culture of that time was predominantly Hindu culture with its Hindu gods. Now how is that beleif system different from the Christian concept of God, and do the Buddha's statements about the Hindu gods apply to the concept of the Christian God? Or is he taling about the religion of the day?
see this quote
"Gripped by fear people go to sacred mountains, sacred groves, sacred trees and shrines.
ANSWER: Hi "whoever you are",
Since the monotheist religions always claim that their respective Gods are the Only true God, then we can easily conclude that whenever we discuss the concept of "god" in our own interpretations, the "belief system" will automatically be different from their beliefs. So there is no issue on arguing, and trying to convince one another of each claim. To put it simply, take the Christian God; they believe that this is the Only God. But ironically they cannot register a "copyright" to this claim simply because they themselves have not seen it and can only describe in their own way. Same as other monotheistic religions. If there is really only One God, then only one of that type of religion can be right! But is there such a God?
To the Western mind, when the concept of god is discussed it is inevitably linked to the Christian God. But why must this be so? Before Christianity came into being, the Asian people had had already their concept of spiritual beings and gods. So why must we always bring the Christian God to compare and confuse ourselves? If one wants to believe in the Christian God so be it. It is a sheer waste of valuable time to compare or to rationalize and hope to find a common solution that what one believes is passable or agreeable with someone else's God.
Coming back to your question, the Buddha existed long before Christianity took roots. So of course he was referring to the Indian belief system. What the Buddha said about "gods" had nothing to do with the Christian concept. For the lack of a better English term, the word "gods" is used when the Buddha talked about terrestial beings. The closest to the Christian creator God is the Hindu god "Brahma". These terrestial beings have some powers over worldly affairs, and they may help or hinder human interactions. That's all. A better term for these "gods" would be deities or angels. In Buddhist parlance, they are called "deva" in Pali language.
Hope this helps. You have a happy day.
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QUESTION: Dear Justin
I agree with you, and have for a long time, that all the religions cannot be right, and each religion has a different description and attributes of what that religion's "God".
You mention that " What the Buddha said about "gods" had nothing to do with the Christian concept." The question remains though if the Judaic concept of God, the God of Isaac, the God of Abraham, existed before the Buddha, and if the Buddha had any knowledge of this concepts? Was the concept of a non-Hindu God, and creator of the universe a concept that the Buddha was unaware of? If he was aware of such a concept did he comment on it at all?
I am not talking about the existence of "God" but the Judaic concept of creator God, and why it is meaningless to discuss this concept in Buddhism, is it because the concept was never entertained by the Buddha or Buddist thought?
So is it correct to say that the Buddha did not say the Judaic God did not exist because he was not aware of the concept?
Thanks for returning. Let me put it in a very simple question. "If one is discussing about the art of carpentry, why waste time talking about how to swim?" The Judaic God concept or any other god concept has nothing to do with the teachings of the Buddha. Why bother about other people's beliefs and interpretations? The problem with foolish humans is that they will try to convince and rationlize that their beliefs are always and totally correct and that the others are wrong. Add intolerance into their mindset and we have what we are witnessing in the world today.
The Buddha's teachings are very direct. He merely pointed out the true nature of existence, and how to live a peaceful and meaningful life. It is up to the individual to decide. Why waste our time to indulge in matters that are of no concern with us, knowing that we will never resolve those issues? Do not chase after other people's shadows.
Be happy. Make life simple by not complicating unnecessary self-inflicting details.
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QUESTION: Dear Justin
I understand what you say.
"He merely pointed out the true nature of existence" . There is another site that says :
"A Buddha is not hindered by ignorance, but is omniscient (knows everything)."
He must have been all knowing to know the true nature of existence and that the true nature of existence, the universe, the cycle of life, of universes coming into being and disappearing, in all of it there was no God to be found and He does not exist.
Or he had potential access to such knowledge of the existence of God but did not take that path?
What do you think?
The Buddha had confirmed that there is no such "creator all-powerful" GOD who creates and controls us. There are only "gods" or beings who exist in other realms. These we call generally deities or angels. In Buddhist term it is called "deva".