God in Buddhism
The Concept of God
Generally, we use the term ‘God’ to designate a supreme power, who is the creator of the entire universe and the chief law-giver for the humans. The God or Almighty is considered to be concerned with the welfare of His creations and the ‘moksha’ or salvation for those who follow His dictates. Different religions and sects follow the God differently by different names, but as far as Buddhism is concerned, it has a different perception for Him.The Origin Of God – Myth and Reality
Fear: The Buddhist system of religion do not believe in the concept of a personal God. The theory of Buddhism rejects the notion of an abstract principle of God operating in the universe. They rather believe that the concept of God is a response to fear and frustration. According to the Buddhist ideology, when primitive humans found themselves in a dangerous and hostile world, the fear of wild animals and of natural phenomena like thunder and lightning, they created the idea of Gods to console themselves.
Lack of Evidence
However, it was the Buddha who preached to try to understand the fears, to lessen the desires and courageously accept the things one cannot change. He tried to replace fear, not with irrational belief but with rational understanding. Secondly, the Buddhists do not believe in God because there has been no real and concrete evidence to prove the idea of God. Even the research on God for thousands of year has not proved the existence of God. Thirdly, the Buddhists argue that belief in God is not necessary to have a happy and meaningful life as there are millions of Buddhists, atheists and free thinkers who are happy without belief in God.
God’s Role in Determining Heaven or Hell
There has been a popular belief that, it is God who acts as the final judge and determines if an individual would go to heaven or hell! But, the Buddhist theory strongly refutes this belief and says that it is nobody else, but the Karmas of an individual, which decides the destination of an individual. Even a Buddha cannot pardon or interfere with the karmic process. Therefore, in Buddhism, there is simply no place for a God even if one exists.
The Buddhist ideology also raises a question on the authenticity of God’s role in Salvation. The Buddhists argue that, it was Buddha who realised that each and every person has a capacity to purify his soul and mind and therefore he encouraged people to find solutions to their problems themselves. He asked people to follow the path from Heart to Heaven rather than from Heaven to Heart. And therefore, the Buddhist path to salvation does not go through prayers, but is rather based on deeds including mental culture through meditation.
Buddhism and God
The concept of Buddhism refutes the idea of a God, who throws the sinners into everlasting torments. In fact, the Buddhists believe in the existence of an Enlightened being, who vows to save all sentient beings from their sufferings. The concept of enlightenment is principally concerned with developing a method to escape from the illusions of the materialistic world. According to the Buddhist ideology, anyone can enlighten himself by undertaking a method of mental discipline and a code of conduct.
The importance of Buddha as God
Almost all the sects of Buddhism do not believe in the myth of God. Indeed some of the early Indian Mahayana philosophers denounced God-worship in terms which are even stronger than those expressed in the Theravada literature. Some later Mahayana schools, which flourished outside India, ascribed some degree of divinity to a transcendent Buddha, considering living Buddhas to be a manifestation of the Adi-Buddha. But even then it cannot be said that the Buddha was converted into a Divinity comparable to the God of the monotheistic religions. In the Brahmajâla Sutta and the Aggaa Sutta texts, the Buddha refutes the claims of Maha Brahmâ(the main God) and shows Him to be subject to karmic law (i.e. cosmic law). Even though long-lived Mahâ Brahmâ will be eliminated in each cycle of inevitable world dissolution and re-evolution. In the Khevadda Sutta Mahâ Brahmâ is forced to admit to an inquiring monk that he is unable to answer a question that is posed to him, and advises the monk to consult the Buddha. This clearly shows the Brahmâ acknowledges the superiority of the Buddha. This is view that the Buddha is some kind of God figure. In the Theravada tradition the Buddha is regarded as a supremely enlightened human teacher who has come to his last birth in samsára (the Buddhist cycle of existence). But, Mahayana traditions, which tend to think in terms of transcendental Buddhas, do not directly make a claim for Buddha as God. Thus the Buddha cannot be considered as playing a God-like role in Buddhism. Rather the Buddha is considered as an enlightened father of humanity.
Therefore, instead of believing in the God, the Buddhists believe in humanity. They believe that each human being is precious and important and all have a potential to develop into a Buddha – a perfect human being by replacing hatred, anger, spite and jealousy with love, patience, generosity and kindness. Even the Buddha had said, ” No one saves us but ourselves, No one can and no one may! We ourselves must walk the path, but Buddhas clearly show the way. Buddhism is, therefore, more of a moral philosophy, an ethical way of life.
But, since Buddha never emphasized upon his concept of the divine, Buddhism is left with some of life’s deepest questions unanswered. Questions such as the origin of the Universe and the purpose of man’s existence…are yet to be answered.