Sunday, 30 December 2012
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I'm practicing Buddhism actually. I like Buddha a lot. But I'm also interested in Gnosis. What I'm confused about Buddha's teaching is that there isn't a personal God in Buddha's teachings. However, I noticed there are so many things in common between Buddhism and Gnosis. And I read the article Gnostic Buddha on this website. So if there is a God, why doesn't Buddha avoid this God-idea?

Thanks. I really want an answer to this question.

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9 years ago
·
#2810
Accepted Answer
Although many people say that Buddhism denies the existence of God, this is a mistatement and misunderstanding of what the Buddha taught. Specifically, Buddhism does not accept the idea of an original "Creator God" that existed before anything else existed. However, this appearance of conflict between Buddhism and other traditions is really just a mental construct. When you look at the realities that all religions points towards, there is no conflict. Buddhists DO believe in "gods," they just use other words for this.

There came five Brâhmins, who asked Buddha Shakyamuni to settle their discussion. One said, "Sir, my book says that God is such and such, and that this is the way to come to God." Another said, "That is wrong, for my book says such and such, and this is the way to come to God"; and so the others. He listened calmly to all of them, and then asked them one by one, "Does any one of your books say that God becomes angry, that He ever injures anyone, that He is impure?" "No, Sir, they all teach that God is pure and good." "Then, my friends, why do you not become pure and good first, that you may know what God is?"

Question: You have said that according to Buddhist philosophy there is no Creator, no God of creation, and this may initially put off many people who believe in a divine principle. Can you explain the difference between the Vajrayana Primordial Buddha and a Creator God?

14th Dalai Lama: I understand the Primordial Buddha, also known as Buddha Samantabhadra, to be the ultimate reality, the realm of the Dharmakaya-- the space of emptiness--where all phenomena, pure and impure, are dissolved. This is the explanation taught by the Sutras and Tantras. However, in the context of your question, the tantric tradition is the only one which explains the Dharmakaya in terms of Inherent clear light, the essential nature of the mind; this would seem imply that all phenomena, samsara and nirvana, arise from this clear and luminous source. Even the New School of Translation came to the conclusion that the "state of rest" of a practitioner of the Great Yoga--Great Yoga implies here the state of the practitioner who has reached a stage in meditation where the most subtle experience of clear light has been realized--that for as long as the practitioner remains in this ultimate sphere he or she remains totally free of any sort of veil obscuring the mind, and is immersed in a state of great bliss.

We can say, therefore, that this ultimate source, clear light, is close to the notion of a Creator, since all phenomena, whether they belong to samsara or nirvana, originate therein. But we must be careful in speaking of this source, we must not be led into error. I do not mean chat there exists somewhere, there, a sort of collective clear light, analogous to the non-Buddhist concept of Brahma as a substratum. We must not be inclined to deify this luminous space. We must understand that when we speak of ultimate or inherent clear light, we are speaking on an individual level.

Likewise, when we speak of karma as the cause of the universe we eliminate the notion of a unique entity called karma existing totally independently. Rather, collective karmic impressions, accumulated individually, are at the origin of the creation of a world. When, in the tantric context, we say that all worlds appear out of clear light, we do not visualize this source as a unique entity, but as the ultimate clear light of each being. We can also, on the basis of its pure essence, understand this clear light to be the Primordial Buddha. All the stages which make up the life of each living being--death, the intermediate state, and rebirth--represent nothing more than the various manifestations of the potential of clear light. It is both the most subtle consciousness and energy. The more clear light loses its subtlety, the more your experiences take shape.

In this way, death and the intermediate state are moments where the gross manifestations emanating from clear light are reabsorbed. At death we return to that original source, and from there a slightly more gross state emerges to form the intermediate state preceding rebirth. At the stage of rebirth, clear light is apparent in a physical incarnation. At death we return to this source. And so on. The ability to recognize subtle clear light, also called the Primordial Buddha, is equivalent to realizing nirvana, whereas ignorance of the nature of clear light leaves us to wander in the different realms of samsaric existence.

This is how I understand the concept of the Primordial Buddha. It would be a grave error to conceive of it as an independent and autonomous existence from beginningless time. If we had to accept the idea of an independent creator, the explanations given in the Pramanavartika, the "Compendium of Valid Knowledge" written by Dharmakirti, and in the ninth chapter of the text by Shantideva, which completely refutes the existence per se of all phenomena, would be negated. This, in turn, would refute the notion of the Primordial Buddha. The Buddhist point of view does not accept the validity of affirmations which do not stand up to logical examination. If a sutra describes the Primordial Buddha as an autonomous entity, we must be able to interpret this assertion without taking it literally. We call this type of sutra an "interpretable" sutra.

As fora "personal God," as you mentioned, in tantric Buddhism, it is called "yidam."

"Do not worry; cultivate the habit of being happy." - Samael Aun Weor

9 years ago
·
#2810
Accepted Answer
Although many people say that Buddhism denies the existence of God, this is a mistatement and misunderstanding of what the Buddha taught. Specifically, Buddhism does not accept the idea of an original "Creator God" that existed before anything else existed. However, this appearance of conflict between Buddhism and other traditions is really just a mental construct. When you look at the realities that all religions points towards, there is no conflict. Buddhists DO believe in "gods," they just use other words for this.

There came five Brâhmins, who asked Buddha Shakyamuni to settle their discussion. One said, "Sir, my book says that God is such and such, and that this is the way to come to God." Another said, "That is wrong, for my book says such and such, and this is the way to come to God"; and so the others. He listened calmly to all of them, and then asked them one by one, "Does any one of your books say that God becomes angry, that He ever injures anyone, that He is impure?" "No, Sir, they all teach that God is pure and good." "Then, my friends, why do you not become pure and good first, that you may know what God is?"

Question: You have said that according to Buddhist philosophy there is no Creator, no God of creation, and this may initially put off many people who believe in a divine principle. Can you explain the difference between the Vajrayana Primordial Buddha and a Creator God?

14th Dalai Lama: I understand the Primordial Buddha, also known as Buddha Samantabhadra, to be the ultimate reality, the realm of the Dharmakaya-- the space of emptiness--where all phenomena, pure and impure, are dissolved. This is the explanation taught by the Sutras and Tantras. However, in the context of your question, the tantric tradition is the only one which explains the Dharmakaya in terms of Inherent clear light, the essential nature of the mind; this would seem imply that all phenomena, samsara and nirvana, arise from this clear and luminous source. Even the New School of Translation came to the conclusion that the "state of rest" of a practitioner of the Great Yoga--Great Yoga implies here the state of the practitioner who has reached a stage in meditation where the most subtle experience of clear light has been realized--that for as long as the practitioner remains in this ultimate sphere he or she remains totally free of any sort of veil obscuring the mind, and is immersed in a state of great bliss.

We can say, therefore, that this ultimate source, clear light, is close to the notion of a Creator, since all phenomena, whether they belong to samsara or nirvana, originate therein. But we must be careful in speaking of this source, we must not be led into error. I do not mean chat there exists somewhere, there, a sort of collective clear light, analogous to the non-Buddhist concept of Brahma as a substratum. We must not be inclined to deify this luminous space. We must understand that when we speak of ultimate or inherent clear light, we are speaking on an individual level.

Likewise, when we speak of karma as the cause of the universe we eliminate the notion of a unique entity called karma existing totally independently. Rather, collective karmic impressions, accumulated individually, are at the origin of the creation of a world. When, in the tantric context, we say that all worlds appear out of clear light, we do not visualize this source as a unique entity, but as the ultimate clear light of each being. We can also, on the basis of its pure essence, understand this clear light to be the Primordial Buddha. All the stages which make up the life of each living being--death, the intermediate state, and rebirth--represent nothing more than the various manifestations of the potential of clear light. It is both the most subtle consciousness and energy. The more clear light loses its subtlety, the more your experiences take shape.

In this way, death and the intermediate state are moments where the gross manifestations emanating from clear light are reabsorbed. At death we return to that original source, and from there a slightly more gross state emerges to form the intermediate state preceding rebirth. At the stage of rebirth, clear light is apparent in a physical incarnation. At death we return to this source. And so on. The ability to recognize subtle clear light, also called the Primordial Buddha, is equivalent to realizing nirvana, whereas ignorance of the nature of clear light leaves us to wander in the different realms of samsaric existence.

This is how I understand the concept of the Primordial Buddha. It would be a grave error to conceive of it as an independent and autonomous existence from beginningless time. If we had to accept the idea of an independent creator, the explanations given in the Pramanavartika, the "Compendium of Valid Knowledge" written by Dharmakirti, and in the ninth chapter of the text by Shantideva, which completely refutes the existence per se of all phenomena, would be negated. This, in turn, would refute the notion of the Primordial Buddha. The Buddhist point of view does not accept the validity of affirmations which do not stand up to logical examination. If a sutra describes the Primordial Buddha as an autonomous entity, we must be able to interpret this assertion without taking it literally. We call this type of sutra an "interpretable" sutra.

As fora "personal God," as you mentioned, in tantric Buddhism, it is called "yidam."

"Do not worry; cultivate the habit of being happy." - Samael Aun Weor

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