The nontheistic aspect of Buddhism intrigues me because I have a hard time identifying with anything that strikes of theism.
I’ll grant you that the idea of God existing, an omnipotent creator of all that is, is at least an interesting explanation worth pursuing. This theory might not be right, but it’s not a totally crazy idea to start with and pursue. (Intelligent design does have that “common-sense” feel to it, right?)
But many people (billions, actually) believe not only the above bit about God existing, but that we humans have the ability to know and understand the mind of God and carry out God’s wishes! (This is, actually, a damn good working definition of religion, one that I heard at an athiest/Christian debate earlier this year.)
Furthermore, God wishes to be worshipped and in fact, commands it.
This perspective completely alludes me. (I have struggled on how to elaborate on this point without sounding like a pompous ass so I will leave it at that.)
However, I tend to walk the line on using the label athiest – I prefer (perhaps weakly) the term nontheist instead of atheist, because I do feel what you could call the “spiritual impulse” (thank you evolution!) because, well, I’m in awe of everything that is. Exploring questions & answers about the nature of reality, quantum mechanics, string theory, consciousness, artificial intelligence, how we (and all of this) came to be… this is what I live for, really.
A few weeks ago I saw a semi-famous Buddhist nun speak at a local Buddhist center. Overall the experience was unfortunately negative, but the best thing about hearing Robina Courtin speak was learning more about the Buddhist perspective on God and casuality, and the inherent nature of God’s existence, if God does exists.
In a nutshell, she said Buddha taught something like this:
- Everything exists in relation to everything else, literally. (casuality, co-dependence)
- God cannot exist outside of the universe, without cause.
- Therefore, if God exists, God must be included within this co-dependent framework of existence.
I don’t claim to have a deep understanding of Buddhist thought, but I find this bit of thinking fascinating and even logical when coming from the perspective of an eternal, infinite, intertwined and co-dependent reality.
What I don’t get though is this:
If by God we mean a Creator, how can God exist within – completely and without seperation from, at all points in the past and future- the universe which God created, which exists infinitely?
Maybe more simply the question is this:
How can God create something infinite and exist entirely within it at the same time?
Photo by H. Koppdelaney.