Friday, December 30, 2011

New Series--God is a Buddhist Concept

Hahaha! I can only imagine the reaction that title would get in some circles. What do you think? Fun, no?

Let me clarify. I am not suggesting that God is a concept that Buddhists came up with, nor am I trying to assert that it is necessary for Buddhists to "believe in" God. Instead, the series will be have entries that begin with "God is" and end with a Buddhist concept like "karma".

The point is not to suggest that the monotheistic religions, best known through the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are exactly the same as Buddhism. Nor is the point to suggest that God is just a direct equivalent of a particular Buddhist concept.

The point is that there may be more subtle connections than we tend to think between religions such as Buddhism and Christianity when we try to unpack the notion of God. Whether this only clarifies my own thinking, helps some Christians or other monotheists to have more sympathy for and a slightly better understanding of Buddhism, or helps some Buddhists have more sympathy for and a slightly better understanding of Christianity, is uncertain.

But is sounds like fun.

Keep in mind that I do not claim to be an expert in any sense of that word in Christianity or Buddhism. I will make mistakes and either not write what I meant or what I meant was wrong. I will switch back and forth between terms common to both traditions, so if you get hung up on "but that term really isn't Christian/Buddhist so I refuse to see how it fits where you used it", then this probably is a series that will only annoy you.

Also, I will simply speak as if what I am saying is true and I will use a perspective on Christianity and on Buddhism that not everyone who identifies with those sacred traditions will approve of or find agreeable. If your understanding is different than the one I present, that is fine.

Oh, and my characterizations don't imply that I actually accept the reality of the version of God I am describing as much as they reflect the kind of God that makes sense to me. To get a better sense of what that God looks and feels like, click here and scroll down to the section on--what else--God.

P.S.--a key notion to keep in mind is that theists, including Christians, tend to personify things which Buddhists do not, so it may help Buddhists to "de-personalize" some of these things and think of them as basic qualities or marks of existence rather than "God's will". The reverse can be employed by theists trying to grasp Buddhist concepts.

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