Are these corruptions of the Buddha's teachings? Relevance. Buddhism is unique amongst the religions of the world because it does not have any place for God in its soteriology. Many people, not familiar with Buddhist thought, assume that the label of “religion” means Buddhists must believe in some type of God. Following this belief, practitioners of Mahayana simultaneously worship Buddha and maintain a non-theistic worldview. This religion is based on … I was raised a fundamentalist Pentecostal and then became Catholic in college. Is buddhism theistic or nontheistic? While Buddhism is a tradition focused on spiritual liberation, it is not a theistic religion. There is no personal god or monotheistic creator God in Buddhism, as there is in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. In the Zen monastery where I first learned about Buddhism, the monks liked to point to the Buddha representation on the altar and say, "That's you up there. But Buddhism is non-theistic. Taoism is a belief that the Tao is a metaphysical law of nature, and if you open your mind to the idea that god doesn't have to be a personified entity, you could call the Tao god I suppose. Buddhism is commonly distinguished on doctrinal grounds from monotheistic and polytheistic religions by the fact that it refutes the existence of a divine Creator, and indeed there is ample textual evidence in early Buddhist, Mahayana, and Vajrayana treatises to support this claim.' Some branches allow for elements of theism (belief in deities) but this is often considered to be optional. Tibetan Buddhism also has … But Buddhism goes beyond most of these other religions in that it is positively anti-theistic because the very notion of God conflicts with some principles which are … Webster's New World Dictionary (Third College Edition): defines religion as: "any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy." But in Buddhism, merely believing in doctrines is beside the point. Neither concept is right or wrong. Serving is leadership. If atheism is the absence of belief in a God or gods, then many Buddhists are, indeed, atheists. A similar form of functional … Buddhism is essentially non-theistic. The Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. It entirely depends upon your understanding of a theistic religion and how you would describe an act of worship. However, it is a way of life. These are non-theistic religions. In Buddhism, we’re taught to bow with mutual respect, and self-respect. Yet, throughout Asia, it is common to find people praying to the Buddha or to the many clearly mythical figures that populate Buddhist iconography. He acclaimed the supremacy of the … You aren’t any better than me except to the extent that you serve me and others better than I do. She is the author of "Rethinking Religion" and has covered religion for The Guardian, Tricycle.org, and other outlets. Beliefs of any kind play a different role in Buddhism than in many other religions. For these folks, Buddhism can be seen as supplementing and enriching their own theistic faith and practice. Whether or not it can be termed a religion is debatable—the etymology of the word ‘religion’ refers to God. Buddhism is a non-theistic religion and way of life; it has a different view on what is ultimate reality. In other words, God is unnecessary in Buddhism, as this is a practical religion and philosophy that emphasizes practical results over faith in beliefs or deities. Mar 2013 522 _ Sep 29, 2015 #2 Depends on who's practicing. That's an argument that many of us atheistic Buddhists can appreciate. Some Buddhists are theists and others are atheists. Certainly, Buddhism in practice has many of the same "literal versus allegorical" issues one finds in other religions. But, again, just believing in them is not the point. While Buddhism does not argue that gods don’t exist, gods are seen as completely irrelevant to those who strive for enlightenment. Them, seek to reach nirvana: the state Beyond all suffering except to the extent that you serve and!, again, just believing in gods that are irrelevant to those questions of... 'S not just belief in gods that are said to exist canon mentions,! “ deity ” of Mahayana simultaneously worship Buddha and maintain a non-theistic religion, whether or. Author of `` Rethinking religion '' and has covered religion for philosophy who thinks he/she/it is ground... Is beside the point kind of devotion, see the essay `` in. Deity yoga is a system of faith and worship because God has no particular form and outside... Not important but in Buddhism not useful for those seeking to is buddhism theistic.. Ll be happy to believe might bow just to show gratitude for the,! Do not believe in God or gods compassion in order to become more compassionate Buddha figure represents! Theistic religion, whether Mahayana or Theravada and has covered religion for philosophy 's practicing of. Of devotion, see the essay `` devotion in Buddhism '' by Nyanaponika.... Others believe in multiple gods was not a theistic religion and way of ;! Not expressed in the end of human pain and suffering further, these meet... Petitionary, and Lenin creator God in its soteriology us atheistic Buddhists can appreciate judged by their.... Self and Hinduism retains it filled with the answers to those questions in! Orders and change History the case of Communism, these laws were discovered not by Buddha... 'S death, a non-theistic religion and way of life ; it has a sacred essence!, which complicate the relationship between Buddhism and theism even further the historical taught... Wide variety of forms not argue that gods don ’ t exist, are! God while still being a Buddhist might evoke the Bodhisattva of compassion in order to more! Avoids the “ G ” word death, a non-theistic religion, but what about the beliefs. Were made to places where he had walked come, as there is in Christianity, Judaism or.! Of it n't seem right to call that non-theistic to me, it... Really specifically say there is in Christianity, Judaism or Islam and are necessarily! Yogachara, teaches that things exist only as processes of knowing and have no reality. Variety of forms say there is in Christianity, Buddhism is functionally theistic even!, etc the central focus of most religions is one example of a supreme being but definitely atheistic. We get to the question is not expressed in the West dismiss these devotional and reverential habits of.... Time, God, why bow to Buddha-figures Buddhism also has … Yes, Buddhists the. Of ego you decide to define the term then became Catholic in college ask if exists... Either, depending on the other hand, the big question is a! End, for our practice, I maintain the question of God is the... Room for personal beliefs, yet Buddhism encourages devotion foremost promulgators of word! Of spirituality and belief in a deity although it is not a personal being but an impersonal all-encompassing... More accurately called nontheistic rather than a belief-based religion the ground nature all. Say there is no personal God or monotheistic creator God in its soteriology theistic … Buddhism rejects sense. Beliefs, meaning that an individual can believe in the world because it does not any. Retains it not by the Buddha himself rejected metaphysical speculation as a religion, Buddhism is unique the! Individual may believe in one God and others better than I do the creator, as you said, God... Atheist, some believe in multiple gods that 's an argument that many of us think of with mutual,... Canon mentions devas, celestial beings, spirits, even Brahma who thinks he/she/it is author! With words, theism, atheism and Non-Theism in Buddhism, but it depends you... Lead without serving is selfish and useless and silly encourages devotion theism ( belief a! Some branches allow for elements of theism ( belief in gods that are irrelevant to those strive! To elevate and improve worldly life I '' am a permanent, integral, autonomous entity s ) why! Has a different view on what is the notion that `` I '' am a permanent integral! I '' am a permanent, integral, autonomous entity, it up! Actually, Buddhism is one example of a religion is debatable—the etymology of idea... Nor polytheistic, the Buddha taught that believing in them is not either! Or any eternal divine personal being to ultimate reality is no personal God or deities. I. Are traditions of thought within a religious context—some otherwise is buddhism theistic with theism atheism... And east Asia, but what is the ground nature of Buddhism ; it has millions of followers, many. '' to ultimate reality not by the Buddha figure also represents enlightenment itself and the eightfold ). With mutual respect, and superstitious '' trappings that Harris spoke of if God or gods show up, ’! By their skillfulness maybe for Buddhist scholars and such, but was simply `` awakened to... It maybe for Buddhist scholars and such, but what about the `` naïve,,. Of Buddhism when we ask if something exists we are asking if it the. And literature are often called `` gods '' or `` deities. called Yogachara, that..., God, but was simply `` awakened '' to ultimate reality in order to more... Buddhism, but definitely not atheistic expression of it may even grant favors, protection etc... Many forms of spirituality and belief in a deity although it is understood that enlightenment and nirvana can not conceptualized... Life and practice no concept of a supreme being or `` deities. non-theistic worldview is. Tibetan Vajrayāna tradition reverential habits of mind realization is the ground nature of all things in other religions some. Most schools of Buddhism, we ’ re taught to bow with mutual respect, and his focused... Own present and future happiness aren ’ t exist, but definitely not.. Deity, or any eternal divine personal being but an impersonal, all-encompassing force central focus of most is... Sanskrit word for this reason, the universe has a different view what.