The Buddha and God - Buddha did not deny God's existence

The Buddha and God
Buddha did not deny God's existence. He denied the limited perceptions about what that existence is.

9/24/2006 6:35 AM

re burl's comments...

thanks for the excellent research and commentary.... but again, it goes to semantics in India, in its theological history and etc.

The"Great God"you referred to is clearly a reference to Indra...who is called the"King of the gods."

In Western theology there is a list of 13 archangels and that list has a hierarchy of power. I think the more well known ones like Michael and Gabriel are about half-way down the list. Indra refers to the being at the top of that hierarchy. I forgot his Western name, I know a couple of the ones near the top are Sandalphon and Metatron (sorry, spelling may be off a bit).

What the Buddha was discussing was that even Indra, who is just slightly shy of full liberation, still exists within the karmic wheel. This is the same comment that Christ made about John the Baptist - that he had no rival among men, but in Heaven was still not a"full member"of the host of perfected beings. It is some stage of advanced spiritual development...there is moksha (Sanskrit), which is liberation and allows the being not to reincarnate. Then there is a higher experience called self-realisation - I think the Sanskrit is"siddhi."That is, so-called full"perfection."

Yes, the Buddha did mock the religion as it was practiced by these"Pharisees"of his day - these faux ascetics. But he did not mock the real ascetics...and it is quite a challenge, wading through the Vedantic theological subtleties to see the differences.

And the other statements you made, about Buddha and God are also in this context....the difference being him commenting on the limited views about God...that is true. He is not denying God's existence. He is denying the limited perceptions about what that existence is.

And he is going into complex Vedantic theological subtleties to do so. One really has to be quite versed in, say, the difference between Kali and Parvati (who are the same being) to understand the emphasis, metaphor and illustrative value to the teaching.

That is why the phrase"Great God"seems to refer to the Supreme Being, when those in India at the time of his teaching would immediately recognize this as a reference to Indra.

You know, in the same way that if someone in New York referred to the"lord"of the Yankees...they would know it is a sarcastic reference to George Steinbrenner and not a reference to the deity that the Yankees worshipped. One has to know the culture of theology in India, the culture of theology in popular view in India at the time, the culture of theology of the true ascetics in India at the time, and the culture of the (fadistic and cult-like) faux ascetics of the time, in that era, in India. Unfortunately, it really is that complex to fully understand the references.

In India there is a pervasive kind of superstition based religion and then there is, say, the priesthood's version of religion. And the difference is like the difference between Santeria and Christianity. It is that dramatic.

The ascetics in India have always included some"survivalist"kind of well as deeply religious hermits.

The Buddha's audience was familiar with all these distinctions and since he was speaking to them, and not a modern audience, he did not necessarily reference everything and in great detail.

So, unfortunately, unwinding the mess of it all can be pretty complex, that example of Indra is one of the ones that I am familiar with. I am sure that there are hundreds which I am not, yet which convey a far different meaning than one that can easily be gleaned with a modern eye that does not have these references.

The Buddha was very anti-Fundamentalist, if you will. It was a response to those crazy"survivalist"kind of ascetics, the crazy"Santeria-like"religious practices of the common people, and the limited and folksy kind of worship of God (like, say, some nice church going lady in the Midwest). In his attempt to fight these trends, he used strong metaphor and language. But he was not denying God's existence. Then, beyond that, he was trying to pass on a very advanced meditative attitude which did not want to"Affirm or deny." People have, understandably, taken this to mean a denial of God's existence. But that is throwing out the baby with the bathwater and not his intent. He was just trying to throw out"Fundamentalism," "survivalism," "Santeria," and"folksy religion."



nnn123 9/24/2006 12:59 PM

from the Sermon at Benares....

"As long as in these four noble truths, my due knowledge and insight with the three sections and twelve divisions was not well purified, even so long, monks, in the world with its gods, Mara, Brahma, its beings with ascetics, brahmins, gods and men, I had not attained the highest enlightenment. This I recognized."

Now, what you say is true, that the Buddha was teaching about the weaknesses of the various religious practices of his day. However, the above does not say that Mara (that is, say, Satan) and Brahma (the Supreme Being) do not exist. It merely is implying that as long as the Buddha held fast to these ideas and conceptions that were the cultural vogue of the religion of his day, he was getting nowhere. It is not a negation of the existence of these beings.

Just because there is a plane of consciousness in which there are no forms, does not mean forms can't exist, don't exist and it does not mean that God as a being does not exist.

And, in the world outside of Buddhism, we have the testimony of Sri Krishna and all the Hindu saints, Moses and all the Jewish saints, Christ and all the Christian saints, and Mohammad and all the Islamic saints. And this is the testimony of thousands of people, over the course of thousands of years, expressing the existence of God. Are they all simply lying? Are they all simply deluded? There is absolutley no evidence to suggest either, quite the opposite.

We can see this is the modern example of Mahatma Ghandi. He said that he heard a voice from God which directed him when to fast and for how long. Was he deluded? No, he was not deluded. He lived virtually his entire life in the public eye and never exhibited any mental illness. Was he lying? Again, his life is a shining example of some of the most extreme honesty ever exhibited in a human being.

And, then, the assertions of all those hundreds of saints, over the course of thousands of years.

No. The Buddha discovered the same reality that these saints discovered, but from a different path and methodology - and he used different language to describe these experiences. This is the testimony of the Indian saint Sri Ramakrishna, who practiced the paths of all the world's major religions and personally realised the goal of them all, and testified as to these goals being the same. And, as far as his veracity goes, he and his followers were recognized by Ghandi. Some of the Western followers later included Aldous Huxley, Dag Hammarskold - he had a very broad influence.

There was some mysticism in the United States in the time of Emerson and mentions of the East. But it did not take hold. Swami Vivekananda, of the Sri Ramakrishna mission, came to the US (and Britain) around the turn of the century and is one of the first, if not the first practitioner of Eastern religion to really establish a foothold in the West. Everyone of us with interests in Buddhism owes him a debt (and by the way, even though he was a Hindu, his favorite saint was the Buddha).



10/10/2006 1:02 PM

re questions..

How does the"supreme god"concept fit into the Buddha's insight of impermanence?

It is about form and non-form. To attain to the state of nirvana, one must transcend all form. You can read more about this if you read the relationship between Sri Ramakrishna and Totapuri. Totapuri was a wandering non-dualist monk. Sri Ramakrishna was a devotion saint, who decided to personally practice the disciplines of all the major religions to see if they produced the same result, including non- dualist practices.

So, a form is a limited construction. But Sri Ramakrishna said, that if consciousness is an ocean, if some takes a form as an iceberg, that does not mean it is distinct from the ocean (the direct quote is much better).

If one is meditating and trying to break through the final boundary and release oneself into nirvana, it is there that attachment to form becomes a problem.

People have interpreted this to mean that Buddha said God did not exist. They are wrong.

How does the"supreme god"concept fit into the Buddha's insight of non-self?

English words are a big problem...self can mean ego, self can mean a subtler and higher state of can read more in Sri Yukteswar's work on the similarities between Christian and Hindu mysticism...

there is the mind, the intuitive mind, the overmind.. the astral body, the casual body and then, beyond that..

the"non-self"Is not a negation of soul, it is a negation of the limited connection of ego to soul, which is not the true (or unlimited) being.

How does the"supreme god"concept fit into the Buddha's insight of dependent origination?

I need a scriptural reference for this, and least two pages on either side of the discussion, not just a quick quote...

If someone wants to be a theist then be a theist. Why try to fit theism into Buddhism? I really don't understand.

The problem is, is that people meditate and gain some clarity and think it is nirvana. Others go farther and gain some light during meditation and think it is nirvana. Other go farther and get to a place where they can truly transcend many negative qualities and have light and compassion and all kinds of spiritual qualities...and yet, it is not nirvana. The problem is that people accept limitation. They don't try for the highest branch because the stop at a limited experience.



10/10/2006 1:02 PM

Buddha stopped a charging elephant with a look. Christ walked on water. Even Gandhi had an appendectomy without anesthetic. If we can't do these things, why do we assume that we have achieved the highest rung of the spiritual ladder?

That is the problem, because people truly don't know what the goal is...they look around the room, everyone else doesn't know what the goal is and the result is accommodating to limitation.

Whereas, the deists, with many of their own faults, to be sure, tend to believe that unless they see a vision of angels and talk with God, that they aren't quite there yet. They have faith that there is something beyond their own experience and don't assume to try and take others experience and re-interpret it to mean only what they have seen, felt and heard.

The disciples of Christ saw him resurrect a dead man, walk on water and etc. They also felt his overwhelmingly love and gentleness and compassion. These people lived. It was not a myth. The disciples of the Buddha had similar experiences around him. But somehow when we hear that the Buddha stopped an elephant, we think it must be a metaphor. No, he had occult power, he had mastery over the animal kingdom and he possessed all 8 of the occult powers of an illumined sage. Now they are not the goal, but unless we have them, we are not a fully illumined being.

No, nirvana is not a mood, it is not"being here now"or whatever else. If you enter into nirvana, you can come back to the real world and walk on water, resurrect dead people and on. If you can't do that, it is not because that was cutesy mythological language, it is because there is something far, far, far, far, beyond our own experience.

So, what is the point. The point is to keep trying hard on the path, because we are not there yet.

Take every single human quality of goodness and truth. We can examine ourselves. If we are not perfected in every single quality, we are not there yet.

In my monastic community there were a few people who not only did not get angry, they had never experienced what anger was, even in their mind.

Sri Ramakrishna said that he had never had a single thought of lust in his entire life. Not once.

It is said that the Virgin Mary's power and purity was such that in her presence, during her life, no one was ever able to even think a thought of lust around her - the force of her being chased it all away.

These saints - Buddhist or Christian or whatever...are just far, far, far beyond the kinds of"be here now"discussions...these are beings who can cure others of any disease they choose, beings who can solve any problem in any arena... Swami Vivekanada was once reading the Encyclopedia Britanica. Someone asked him what he read. He answered," which page"He had read the entire work, in one sitting and memorized the entire 30 volumes or whatever. And, when asked, he could recite the entire thing.

These beings are infinite and their abilities are infinite and that is the star to which we should aspire, not just being able to be calm or clear or strong or whatever else.


The fulfillment of the promised divine eschatological instruction
“The original meaning of the word ‘apocalypse’, derived from the Greek apokalypsis, is in fact not the cataclysmic end of the world, but an ‘unveiling’, or ‘revelation’, a means whereby one gains insight into the present.” (Kovacs, 2013, 2) An apocalypse (Greek: apokalypsis meaning “an uncovering”) is in religious contexts knowledge or revelation, a disclosure of something hidden, “a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities.” (Ehrman 2014, 59)
Shri Mataji
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi (1923-2011) was Christian by birth, Hindu by marriage, and Paraclete by duty.
“The Paraclete will come (15:26; 16:7, 8, 13) as Jesus has come into the world (5:43; 16:28; 18:37)... The Paraclete will take the things of Christ (the things that are mine, ek tou emou) and declare them (16:14-15). Bishop Fison describes the humility of the Spirit, 'The true Holy Spirit of God does not advertise Herself: She effaces Herself and advertises Jesus.' ...
It is by the outgoing activity of the Spirit that the divine life communicates itself in and to the creation. The Spirit is God-in-relations. The Paraclete is the divine self-expression which will be and abide with you, and be in you (14:16-17). The Spirit's work is described in terms of utterance: teach you, didasko (14:26), remind you, hypomimnesko (14:26), testify, martyro (15:26), prove wrong, elencho (16:8), guide into truth, hodego (16:13), speak, laleo (16:13, twice), declare, anangello (16:13, 14, 15). The johannine terms describe verbal actions which intend a response in others who will receive (lambano), see (theoreo), or know (ginosko) the Spirit. Such speech-terms link the Spirit with the divine Word. The Spirit's initiatives imply God's personal engagement with humanity. The Spirit comes to be with others; the teaching Spirit implies a community of learners; forgetful persons need a prompter to remind them; one testifies expecting heed to be paid; one speaks and declares in order to be heard. The articulate Spirit is the correlative of the listening, Spirit-informed community.
The final Paraclete passage closes with a threefold repetition of the verb she will declare (anangello), 16:13-15. The Spirit will declare the things that are to come (v.13), and she will declare what is Christ's (vv. 14, 15). The things of Christ are a message that must be heralded...
The intention of the Spirit of truth is the restoration of an alienated, deceived humanity... The teaching role of the Paraclete tends to be remembered as a major emphasis of the Farewell Discourses, yet only 14:26 says She will teach you all things. (Teaching is, however, implied when 16:13-15 says that the Spirit will guide you into all truth, and will speak and declare.) Franz Mussner remarks that the word used in 14:26, didaskein, "means literally 'teach, instruct,' but in John it nearly always means to reveal.” (Stevick 2011, 292-7)
Stephen E. Witmer, Divine instruction in Early Christianity   
F. B. Meyer, Love to the Utmost Robert Kysar, John, the Maverick Gospel 
Danny Mahar, Aramaic Made EZ Lucy Reid, She Changes Everything
David Fleer, Preaching John's Gospel: The World It Imagines Berard L. Marthaler, The Creed: The Apostolic Faith in Contemporary Theology
George Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament In Spirit and Truth, Benny Thettayil
Jesus and His Own: A Commentary on John 13-17 Marianne Meye Thompson, The God of the Gospel of John
Eric Eve, The Jewish Context of Jesus' Miracles D. R. Sadananda, The Johannine Exegesis of God: an exploration into the Johannine understanding of God
Michael Welker, God the Spirit Georg Strecker, Theology of the New Testament
Tricia Gates Brown, Spirit in the writings of John Michael Welker, The work of the Spirit: pneumatology and Pentecostalism
Robert Kysar, Voyages with John: Charting the Fourth Gospel John F. Moloney, The Gospel of John
Harvey Cox, The Future of Faith Robert Kysar, John
Robert E. Picirilli, The Randall House Bible Commentary George Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament 
“The teaching of the Paraclete, as the continuation of Jesus' teaching, must also be understood as the fulfillment of the promise of eschatological divine instruction.”
Stephen E. Witmer, Divine instruction in Early Christianity

“Jesus therefore predicts that God will later send a human being to Earth to take up the role defined by John .i.e. to be a prophet who hears God's words and repeats his message to man.”
M. Bucaille, The Bible, the Qur'n, and Science

“And when Jesus foreannounced another Comforter, He must have intended a Person as distinct and helpful as He had been.”
F. B. Meyer, Love to the Utmost

“The Paraclete has a twofold function: to communicate Christ to believers and, to put the world on trial.”
Robert Kysar, John The Meverick Gospel

“But She—the Spirit, the Paraclete...—will teach you everything.”
Danny Mahar, Aramaic Made EZ)

“Grammatical nonsense but evidence of the theological desire to defeminize the Divine.”
Lucy Reid, She Changes Everything

“The functions of the Paraclete spelled out in verses 13-15... are all acts of open and bold speaking in the highest degree.”
David Fleer, Preaching John's Gospel

“The reaction of the world to the Paraclete will be much the same as the world's reaction was to Jesus.”
Berard L. Marthaler, The Creed: The Apostolic Faith in Contemporary Theology

Bultmann calls the “coming of the Redeemer an 'eschatological event,' 'the turning-point of the ages.”
G. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament

“The Paraclete equated with the Holy Spirit, is the only mediator of the word of the exalted Christ.”
Benny Thettayil, In Spirit and Truth

“The divine Paraclete, and no lessor agency, must show the world how wrong it was about him who was in the right.”
Daniel B. Stevick , Jesus and His Own: A Commentary on John 13-17

Stephen Smalley asserts that “The Spirit-Paraclete ... in John's Gospel is understood as personal, indeed, as a person.”
Marianne Thompson, The God of the Gospel of John

“The Messiah will come and the great age of salvation will dawn (for the pious).”
Eric Eve, The Jewish context of Jesus' Miracles

“The remembrance is to relive and re-enact the Christ event, to bring about new eschatological decision in time and space.”
Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda, The Johannine Exegesis of God

“The Spirit acts in such an international situation as the revealer of 'judgment' on the powers that rule the world.”
Michael Welker, God the Spirit

The Paraclete's “Appearance means that sin, righteousness, and judgment will be revealed.”
Georg Strecker, Theology of the New Testament

“While the Spirit-Paraclete is the true broker, the brokers they rely on are impostors.”
T. G. Brown, Spirit in the writings of John

“The pneumatological activity ... of the Paraclete ... may most helpfully be considered in terms of the salvific working of the hidden Spirit.”
Michael Welker, The work of the Spirit

“The pneuma is the peculiar power by which the word becomes the words of eternal life.”
Robert Kysar, Voyages with John

“The gift of peace, therefore, is intimately associated with the gift of the Spirit-Paraclete.”
Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of John

“This utopian hope, even when modestly expressed, links Jesus and the prophets to a much wider history of human longing.”
Harvey Cox, The Future of Faith

“Because of the presence of the Paraclete in the life of the believer, the blessings of the end-times—the eschaton—are already present.”
Robert Kysar, John

“They are going, by the Holy Spirit's power, to be part of the greatest miracle of all, bringing men to salvation.”
R. Picirilli, The Randall House Bible Commentary

“The Kingdom of God stands as a comprehensive term for all that the messianic salvation included... is something to be sought here and now (Mt. 6:33) and to be received as children receive a gift (Mk. 10:15 = Lk. 18:16-17).”
G. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament

“But today is the day I declare that I am the one who has to save the humanity. I declare I am the one who is Adishakti, who is the Mother of all the Mothers, who is the Primordial Mother, the Shakti, the desire of God, who has incarnated on this Earth to give its meaning to itself; to this creation, to human beings and I am sure through My Love and patience and My powers I am going to achieve it.

I was the one who was born again and again. But now in my complete form and complete powers I have come on this Earth not only for salvation of human beings, not only for their emancipation, but for granting them the Kingdom of Heaven, the joy, the bliss that your Father wants to bestow upon you.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh
December 2, 1979—London, UK

“I am the one about which Christ has talked... I am the Holy Spirit who has incarnated on this Earth for your realization.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh
New York, USA—September 30, 1981

“Tell all the nations and tell all the people all over the Great Message that the Time of Resurrection is here. Now, at this time, and that you are capable of doing it.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh
Cowley Manor Seminar, UK—July 31, 1982

“This is the transformation that has worked, of which Christ has talked, Mohammed Sahib has talked, everybody has talked about this particular time when people will get transformed.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Chistmas Puja, Ganapatipule, India—25 December 1997

“The Resurrection of Christ has to now be collective Resurrection. This is what is Mahayoga. Has to be the collective Resurrection.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Easter Puja, London, UK—11 April 1982

“Today, Sahaja Yaga has reached the state of Mahayoga, which is en-masse evolution manifested through it. It is this day�s Yuga Dharma. It is the way the Last Judgement is taking place. Announce it to all the seekers of truth, to all the nations of the world, so that nobody misses the blessings of the divine to achieve their meaning, their absolute, their Spirit.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
MAHA AVATAR, ISSUE 1, JUL-SEP 1980 (Date and place unknown)

“The main thing that one has to understand is that the time has come for you to get all that is promised in the scriptures, not only in the Bible but all all the scriptures of the world. The time has come today that you have to become a Christian, a Brahmin, a Pir, through your Kundalini awakening only. There is no other way. And that your Last Judgment is also now.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi

“You see, the Holy Ghost is the Mother. When they say about the Holy Ghost, She is the Mother... Now, the principle of Mother is in every, every scripture — has to be there. Now, the Mother's character is that She is the one who is the Womb, She is the one who is the Mother Earth, and She is the one who nourishes you. She nourishes us. You know that. And this Feminine thing in every human being resides as this Kundalini.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Radio Interview Oct 01 1983—Santa Cruz, USA

“It is the Mother who can awaken the Kundalini, and that the Kundalini is your own Mother. She is the Holy Ghost within you, the Adi Shakti, and She Herself achieves your transformation. By any talk, by any rationality, by anything, it cannot be done.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi

“She is your pure Mother. She is the Mother who is individually with you. Forget your concepts, and forget your identifications. Please try to understand She is your Mother, waiting for ages to give you your real birth. She is the Holy Ghost within you. She has to give you your realization, and She's just waiting and waiting to do it.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Public Program Mar 22 1981—Sydney, Australia

“The Kundalini is your own mother; your individual mother. And She has tape-recorded all your past and your aspirations. Everything! And She rises because She wants to give you your second birth. But She is your individual mother. You don't share Her with anybody else. Yours is a different, somebody else's is different because the tape-recording is different. We say She is the reflection of the Adi Shakti who is called as Holy Ghost in the Bible.”

THE MOTHER: Messiah-Paraclete-Ruh-Devi
Press Conference July 08 1999—London, UK

The Great Goddess is both wholly transcendent and fully immanent: beyond space and time, she is yet embodied within all existent beings; without form as pure, infinite consciousness (cit) ... She is the universal, cosmic energy known as Sakti, and the psychophysical, guiding force designated as the Kundalini (Serpent Power) resident within each individual. She is eternal, without origin or birth, yet she is born in this world in age after age, to support those who seek her assistance. Precisely to provide comfort and guidance to her devotees, she presents herself in the Devi Gita to reveal the truths leading both to worldly happiness and to the supreme spiritual goals: dwelling in her Jeweled Island and mergence into her own perfect being.” (Brown, 1998, 2)

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