SuttaCentral

Does God(s) Exist and Does it Matter?

If you find you can’t believe in deities, how about remaining agnostic fttb and accepting them as metaphorical instances of the good qualities they instantiate?

That can enable a meditator to bring those good qualities into their practice, and also free up a little more time for meditating on wholesome qualities rather than debating the existence of beings who are wholly or mainly invisible. I won’t contribute my personal opinion because I have no proper proof to offer.

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SN56.10
Mendicants, don’t engage in all kinds of unworthy talk, such as…talk about the departed… and talk about being reborn in this or that state of existence. Why is that? Because those discussions aren’t beneficial or relevant to the fundamentals of the spiritual life. They don’t lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment.

When you discuss, you should discuss: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering’. …

That’s why you should practice meditation …”
:pray: :nerd_face: :laughing: :joy: :pray:

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I think of non-human beings (e.g. devas) as a natural extension of our taxonomic systems.

E.g. we have only looked at a small percentage of the Earth’s oceans, we are far away from a full understanding of even the biological diversity on earth, so there’s no reason to assume there isn’t even more diversity of life and consciousness to be discovered.

I don’t think non-human beings exert special control, are creators, or are very concerned about the affairs of human beings though, as is typically thought in deistic religions.

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It seems the idea of atheism doesn’t fit in well with Buddhism according to EBTs. But ‘non-theist religion’ is suitable for Buddhism.

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It might be instructive to read about how God(s) come(s) into being…

DN1
There comes a time when, after a very long period has passed, this cosmos contracts. As the cosmos contracts, sentient beings are mostly headed for the realm of streaming radiance. There they are mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the sky, steadily glorious, and they remain like that for a very long time.

There comes a time when, after a very long period has passed, this cosmos expands. As it expands an empty mansion of Brahmā appears. Then a certain sentient being—due to the running out of their life-span or merit—passes away from that host of radiant deities and is reborn in that empty mansion of Brahmā. There they are mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the sky, steadily glorious, and they remain like that for a very long time.

But after staying there all alone for a long time, they become dissatisfied and anxious: ‘Oh, if only another being would come to this state of existence.’ Then other sentient beings—due to the running out of their life-span or merit—pass away from that host of radiant deities and are reborn in that empty mansion of Brahmā in company with that being. There they too are mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the sky, steadily glorious, and they remain like that for a very long time.

Now, the being who was reborn there first thinks: ‘I am Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Undefeated, the Champion, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord God, the Maker, the Author, the Best, the Begetter, the Controller, the Father of those who have been born and those yet to be born. These beings were created by me! Why is that? Because first I thought:

“Oh, if only another being would come to this state of existence.” Such was my heart’s wish, and then these creatures came to this state of existence.’

And the beings who were reborn there later also think: ‘This must be Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Undefeated, the Champion, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord God, the Maker, the Author, the Best, the Begetter, the Controller, the Father of those who have been born and those yet to be born. And we have been created by him. Why is that? Because we see that he was reborn here first, and we arrived later.’

And the being who was reborn first is more long-lived, beautiful, and illustrious than those who arrived later.

It’s possible that one of those beings passes away from that host and is reborn in this state of existence. Having done so, they go forth from the lay life to homelessness. By dint of keen, resolute, committed, and diligent effort, and right focus, they experience an immersion of the heart of such a kind that they recollect that past life, but no further.

They say: ‘He who is Brahmā—the Great Brahmā, the Undefeated, the Champion, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord God, the Maker, the Author, the Best, the Begetter, the Controller, the Father of those who have been born and those yet to be born—is permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, remaining the same for all eternity. We who were created by that Brahmā are impermanent, not lasting, short-lived, perishable, and have come to this state of existence.

The Realized One understands this: ‘If you hold on to and attach to these grounds for views it leads to such and such a destiny in the next life.’ He understands this, and what goes beyond this. Yet since he does not misapprehend that understanding, he has realized extinguishment within himself. Having truly understood the origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape from feelings, the Realized One is freed through not grasping.

These are the principles—deep, hard to see, hard to understand, peaceful, sublime, beyond the scope of reason, subtle, comprehensible to the astute—which the Realized One makes known after realizing them with his own insight. And those who genuinely praise the Realized One would rightly speak of these things.

:slightly_smiling_face:
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to create Him - Voltaire

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Hi faujidoc1,

Mendicants, don’t engage in all kinds of unworthy talk…

Sure, but you could paste that quote in most threads in this forum then… do you want a forum with only one post that discusses only the origin and cessation of suffering? That’d be a bit sad :wink:

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… And lose out on the companionship of my spiritual friends? Never!!!

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:
:heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart:
:pray: :pray: :pray:

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This better. It’s probably the same intention.

“He perceives gods as gods.9 Having perceived gods as gods, he conceives gods, he conceives [himself] in gods, he conceives [himself apart] from gods, he conceives gods to be ‘mine,’ he delights in gods. Why is that? Because he has not fully understood it, I say.”

Excerpt From
The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha
Nanamoli & Bodhi


This material may be protected by copyright.
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Yes… MN1 pretty much makes the Buddha’s idea of God/s and their place in the scheme of things clear!
:pray:

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It’s all made up in the mind. We perceive. And we create these things.

Yes, indeed… It is all in the Mind, but in more ways than one! Considered another way, it all depends on the plane at which the process of Conciousness gets conditioned to settle. Given a particular set of habits of Namma, the nominal Self will acquire the appropriate Rupa, ranging from Animal through Human to that of a God.

DN15
There are seven planes of consciousness and two dimensions. What seven?

There are sentient beings that are diverse in body and diverse in perception, such as human beings, some gods, and some beings in the underworld. This is the first plane of consciousness.

There are sentient beings that are diverse in body and unified in perception, such as the gods reborn in Brahmā’s Host through the first absorption. This is the second plane of consciousness.

There are sentient beings that are unified in body and diverse in perception, such as the gods of streaming radiance. This is the third plane of consciousness.

There are sentient beings that are unified in body and unified in perception, such as the gods replete with glory. This is the fourth plane of consciousness.

There are sentient beings that have gone totally beyond perceptions of form. With the ending of perceptions of impingement, not focusing on perceptions of diversity, aware that ‘space is infinite’, they have been reborn in the dimension of infinite space. This is the fifth plane of consciousness.

There are sentient beings that have gone totally beyond the dimension of infinite space. Aware that ‘consciousness is infinite’, they have been reborn in the dimension of infinite consciousness. This is the sixth plane of consciousness.

There are sentient beings that have gone totally beyond the dimension of infinite consciousness. Aware that ‘there is nothing at all’, they have been reborn in the dimension of nothingness. This is the seventh plane of consciousness.

Then there’s the dimension of non-percipient beings, and secondly, the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

A more appropriate line of enquiry for the OP to pursue might be …

What is the process by which sentient beings get reborn as Gods, Animals or Humans? How do they acquire their respective views of Self? What is the danger in holding to those views? And what is the escape?
:pray: :grin: :pray:

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You know I have seen commentaries the opinion vary in India. Some says these gods don’t exist in reality we just event it in our mind. It’s like kids that believe in fairytales. It happens. They act as they see one. Talk with them. Say you sitting on it. Etc. But as they call it fairytale it was probably an idea that was born by looking at Tv or listening to books. So that’s when we perceive. Like reading suttas about gods. And saying now that they exist. The kid will get angry. If you say the fairytale doesn’t exist. She will say. I see it! It’s right next to you! Buddha was supposed reborn as a fairytale. :man_shrugging: don’t ask me

Indeed! That is exactly why the Blessed One has said…

MN74
A sensible person reflects like this: ‘I have the view that I believe in some things and not in others. Suppose I obstinately stick to this view and insist that, “This is the only truth, other ideas are silly.” Then I’d argue with two people—an ascetic or brahmin who believes in everything, and an ascetic or brahmin who believes in nothing. And when there’s arguing, there’s quarreling; when there’s quarreling there’s anguish; and when there’s anguish there’s harm.’ So, considering in themselves the potential for arguing, quarreling, anguish, and harm, they give up that view by not grasping another view. That’s how those views are given up and let go.

A mendicant whose mind is freed like this doesn’t side with anyone or fight with anyone. They speak the language of the world without misapprehending it.

:pray:

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Not like that for me. I try to stay in middle. Things are just created by the mind. Many things exist then. But since it’s created by the mind. This whole mass suffering. Then there is no need to think they are real and be sensitive. There is the only one instance I believe that Buddha explains a traditional belief as unreal. So depending on how you explain it. And what is the intention. Like I believe Buddha had good intentions to helping the low in faith have faith in keeping precept to aim for higher goal that they can move forward in the path towards Enlightenment. And he used old terms to explain rebirth possibilities. A heaven in reality doesn’t have a name. But it needs to be used to explain them.

That sounds like a good approach if one doubts the existence of deities but is trying to follow the Buddha’s teachings in spite of that. I believe in the existence of deities and find reflecting on them and their qualities helpful to cleansing the mind as taught in AN 3.70. Because of the effectiveness of that practice and other practices my belief has deepened.

"A corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort. And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? It’s when a noble disciple recollects the deities: ‘There are the Gods of the Four Great Kings, the Gods of the Thirty-Three, the Gods of Yama, the Joyful Gods, the Gods Who Love to Create, the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others, the Gods of Brahmā’s Host, and gods even higher than these. When those deities passed away from here, they were reborn there because of their faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom. I, too, have the same kind of faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom.’ As they recollect the faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom of both themselves and those deities, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. It’s just like cleaning dirty gold by applying effort.

And how is dirty gold cleaned by applying effort? With a furnace, flux, a blowpipe, and tongs, and by applying the appropriate effort. That’s how dirty gold is cleaned by applying effort. In the same way, a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort."
AN 3.70

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That’s my impression, too, and brought it up in a previous discussion with @Gabriel.

Not sure about this given that the EBTs talk about the Gods who control the creation of others, and there are many instances in the EBTs where deities seem to be concerned about human affairs and sometimes intervene. That said, the belief that God or some other deity has supreme control over our world as some believe seems inconsistent with the EBTs and Dhamma.

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Another possibility is that the Abrahamic God does exist (possibly who the ancient Brahmins referred to as Brahma) but this deity doesn’t have the exact same qualities Abrahmic religions ascribe to him. And even among followers of those religions, there are disagreements about “God’s” qualities.

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Trough Buddhism History they kept using Peta World but Buddha say

“When, O monks, an untaught worldling says that in the great ocean there is a (bottomless) pit,[[1]] he speaks about something unreal and not factual.[[2]]‘The (bottomless) pit,’ O monks, is rather a name for painful bodily feelings. When an untaught worldling is afflicted by painful bodily feelings, he worries and grieves, he laments, beats his breast, weeps and is distraught. He is then said to be an untaught worldling who cannot withstand the bottomless pit and cannot gain a foothold in it. But when a well-taught noble disciple[[3]]is afflicted by painful bodily feelings, he will not worry nor grieve and lament, he will not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. He is then said to be a noble disciple who can withstand the bottomless pit and has gained a foothold in it.”

So this maybe happened to all the various Hindu Mythology

This lost teaching and accidentally in The Canon

From AccessToInsight

It might be interesting to delineate in which realm the Buddhist gods exist - if they exist at all. Humans and animals exist in a very specific shared interpersonal space: My mom can tell me that she saw a friend of mine at the mall - I can then confirm the details with my friend. When I overfeed the dog without telling my girlfriend she can observe that he has little appetite.

If we had a similar connection with gods I could ask them if they witnessed something in my realm and would then be able to confirm it with friends or other people.

But to my knowledge, if people experience Buddhist gods at all, they appear only in their private world, without sharing verifiable knowledge outside of my possible experience. This kind of ‘interactions’ necessarily fall into a different register of experience, and it’s thus misleading to say that they ‘exist’.

It would be nice to have expressions which reflect this, but we don’t. Something like “I have private experiences of gods” - instead of “To me, they exist” (which, again, is misleading).

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It’s all made up in the mind. We perceive. And we create these things.

The passage says we perceive gods before conceiving them. We do not create devas, just like how you do not create me or I you with our respective minds.

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