Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Brad Warner on Atheism & Buddhism...

I don't disagree with the ultimate point, I just think it's easier to identify as a nontheist.

The comment thread on Warner's blog entry on the video on this subject is interesting; I'll reproduce one of my comments below:

In addition to the implications for a deity by the Fourteen Unanswerable Questions (at least implications for the Judeo-Christian deity), I would also point out a kind of truth about Buddhism, which seems to be lost on many people.

Buddhists don't take our writings as "proof texts" nor do we read them the same way as Baptists read their texts.

That's why Mr. Warner and atheists can share a zendo.

Or even Mr. Warner, myself, and some of those guys from Sambo Kyodan who are Catholic clerics.

The point is adherence to the literal texts themselves. In fact the Lotus Sutra, if applied to itself, would militate against such a position, if one takes the notion of skillful means and the text to its logical conclusion.

The existence, non-existence, character, etc. of a deity is not something that is core to Buddhism.

The transcendence of dukkha is core to Buddhism, and adherence of belief in a deity one way or the other is not core to this belief.

On the other hand, for Mahayana Buddhists, (and this is where Brad is going, IIUC) is that we do have the notion of the Dharmakaya, and this notion, of Buddha nature pervading the universe, one might call god, but it's not a monotheistic deity nor does it require the existence of polytheistic deities.

I'd also note (once again) that Soyen Shaku's sermons translated by D. T. Suzuki are on-line for free. Copyright expired, IIUC.

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