Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

bcol01
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Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by bcol01 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:45 pm

If so, how does one reinterpret things like deities, Buddhist Gods, Etc?

narhwal90
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:58 am

IMHO yes. The only belief I've found fundamentally important is that the practice can work for me too if I'm willing to put aside editorializing and reinterpreting, accept my own ignorance, put in the effort to do the practice and learn as I go.

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by DGA » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:37 am

narhwal90 wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:58 am
The only belief I've found fundamentally important is that the practice can work for me too if I'm willing to put aside editorializing and reinterpreting, accept my own ignorance, put in the effort to do the practice and learn as I go.
This would require someone to no longer identify as an atheist or hold the views of an atheist.

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:48 am

How can a person be atheist and religious at the same time?

narhwal90
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:51 am

DGA wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:37 am
narhwal90 wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:58 am
The only belief I've found fundamentally important is that the practice can work for me too if I'm willing to put aside editorializing and reinterpreting, accept my own ignorance, put in the effort to do the practice and learn as I go.
This would require someone to no longer identify as an atheist or hold the views of an atheist.
atheist - "a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods."

does not require that a person hold no beliefs at all.

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by dude » Wed Oct 10, 2018 4:43 am

for my first three years of practice I was still an atheist, but I didn't tell anybody.
I was doing it only because it works.

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by The Cicada » Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:01 am

bcol01 wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:45 pm
If so, how does one reinterpret things like deities, Buddhist Gods, Etc?
Chant to the gohonzon and ask the Buddhist Gods. They may not need your belief at this point, only that you uphold the Dharma as best you can. Their influence can be reinterpreted as any number of psychological and sociological phenomena—even the synchronicities.

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passel
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by passel » Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:38 am

I'm not Nichiren, but I'm pretty comfortable with 'atheist'- God, Buddha, Kuanyin, the dharanis, all of it just tools that people have developed and shared and co-created and used and made into quite wonderful shared means of exploring this thing that doesn't easily give up its secrets. But just tools. Artifacts, devices, schemes. The trick is keeping a middle way, or your atheism becomes too gnostic. My heart teacher used to say, "God is not a fixated thing." You can do the practices without giving them ultimacy- "Religious but not spiritual" is my motto.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:08 am

Buddhism doesn't require belief in God or gods from anyone, full stop. Best to put it to one side - just do the practice and the study and suspend judgement about it. And, resist the urge to get involved in debates about it. That would be my advice.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Queequeg
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:02 pm

As a general matter, atheism is a reaction to Judeo-Christian theism. They go hand in hand. Atheism divorced from what it is reacting to loses its meaning. Like Abrahamic religions generally, it overstates its relevance.

The notion of gods and deities can be approached any number of ways. If the idea of actual gods and deities doesn't sit well, then understand it as a way to understand reality.

When we talk about gods and deities, these are the protective forces in the world. The sun is a protective force that enables life to thrive on this planet. The ozone layer is a "protective force" that enables life to thrive here on this planet, along with all the other "goldilocks" conditions. In the past, these phenomena were attributed human personalities.

In the context of psychology, the realm of gods embody the various states of increasingly subtle consciousness accessible to us.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by justsomeguy » Wed Oct 10, 2018 4:36 pm

When I came into Nichiren Buddhism a little over a year ago, I had been atheist for ... eh.. two decades or so. That didn't change. One of the things that was stressed at least to us newcomers was that belief in God (or gods) is a "beside the point" sort of thing and not central to the practice itself. If one wants to believe in deities, the structure certainly is there to do so, but understand that there is no salvation or forgiveness as in the Judeo-Christian worldview. You still have karma to deal with, and that is managed through Buddhist practice.

If you don't want to, or can't, believe in deities.. good news, you don't have to. That's where I fall mostly. Most of the colorful, metaphysical teachings of Buddhism (e.g. 10 worlds, guardian deities, etc.) distill down to psychological states or other protective forces as mentioned above, and where those forces are personified (e.g. Shoten Zenjin), it doesn't necessarily mean the practitioner believes them to be actual, separate entities so much as they are metaphors that help us connect to truths that aren't so apparent.

Personally, I look at the existence of gods, demons, etc. as creative extensions of the pysche that help us connect to a more sublime reality. For me, they're just like art, which isn't rational in the Western sense but no less 'real', either.

I once posed a similar question at a temple introductory meeting once. I asked if through the course of the practice (chanting), do Buddhists believe it is a spiritual change happening or a psychological one. I wasn't given a conclusive answer and got the impression that that's not a matter the priest wanted to decide for the one practicing. In the end, I think it doesn't matter. I usually see the same approach taken when newcomers inevitably ask if we Buddhists believe in God.

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Minobu » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:22 pm

bcol01 wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:45 pm
If so, how does one reinterpret things like deities, Buddhist Gods, Etc?
Queequeg wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:02 pm
As a general matter, atheism is a reaction to Judeo-Christian theism.
Ahhhh the quest to know EH!
Will someone explain it plainly please!!!?
There is not one solitary text on the matter of God the Creator from Buddha Sakaymuni. He never talked about it , even though He lived in a society who all believed in a Creator.


And,and yet here we are in a cyber ethereal room where all would agree all phenomenon finds it source in NMRK ....

The Lotus sutra and subsequent lineage Masters tell us the way of Samsara and they hold the keys to getting out of or blowing it out of your existence to enter Nirvana free from Karmic influence and become a Buddha...which we are but oh the baggage...that damn baggage that keeps us in ignorance.

But the whole atheist thing....i think they were moved by the fantastic claims in the bible which mostly has no historic archaeological evidence to show that even Moses existed, let alone Jewish slaves of the Pharaoh..so we end up with guys like Dawkins making fun basically of what people can take as fact....

But I know this...there is a source to everything...there are these physic laws that meld together and come together to form the existence we dwell in.

Even if it as mind base as some modern scientist claim...: if no one is in one of the other rooms you call house it isn't there...it only exists through awareness ...fun times....I think The Buddha and Lord Nagarjuna realized all this stuff and tried their best to leave something that points to it...

One thing for sure....The Buddha said do not rely on any god or demon or even me to help you.

so like there are gods and demons ...powerful other things than humanity...but they ain't gonna help you out...maybe fool you like some trickster spirit...

i'll leave it at that...

Q!!!! i still don;t know but "i" think there is this massive collection of data forming a harddrive of sorts that is misinterpreted as a supreme being...

maybe "IT" does have mind and has always been around....but it seems "IT" is an absentee landlord.I would love to think that all those Mega trillions of prayers and offerings sent over all of time..were not for nada .

Y'All need to watch this...one minute 23 secounds....


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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by dude » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:38 pm

Queequeg and just, spot on.
President Toda said it's up to you whether you consider the gods, buddhas, etc. as real or fairy tales. I took that to heart.

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:39 pm

Queequeg wrote:atheism is a reaction to Judeo-Christian theism
Or it is just a logical extension of it.

Judaism comes from henotheistic roots (worship of one god, belief in many) to monotheism by the time of Jesus.

Atheism just gets rid of one more god.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Tiago Simões » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:51 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:39 pm
Queequeg wrote:atheism is a reaction to Judeo-Christian theism
Or it is just a logical extension of it.

Judaism comes from henotheistic roots (worship of one god, belief in many) to monotheism by the time of Jesus.

Atheism just gets rid of one more god.
Atheism is a weird word, with its meaning changing depending on who is saying it. Ancient pre-christian rome, for example, used to accuse christians of being atheists.
Last edited by Tiago Simões on Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakīrti spoke to the elder Śāriputra and the great disciples: “Reverends, eat of the food of the Tathāgata! It is ambrosia perfumed by the great compassion. But do not fix your minds in narrow-minded attitudes, lest you be unable to receive its gift.”

- Chapter 9, The Feast Brought by the Emanated Incarnation
The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching of Vimalakīrti”

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:54 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:39 pm
Queequeg wrote:atheism is a reaction to Judeo-Christian theism
Or it is just a logical extension of it.

Judaism comes from henotheistic roots (worship of one god, belief in many) to monotheism by the time of Jesus.

Atheism just gets rid of one more god.
Hmmm.

LOL.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:25 pm

Tiago Simões wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:51 pm
Coëmgenu wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:39 pm
Queequeg wrote:atheism is a reaction to Judeo-Christian theism
Or it is just a logical extension of it.

Judaism comes from henotheistic roots (worship of one god, belief in many) to monotheism by the time of Jesus.

Atheism just gets rid of one more god.
Atheism is a weird word, with its meaning changing depending on who is saying it. Ancient pre-christian rome, for example, used to accuse christians of being atheists.
Precisely, because they didn't worship "the gods". The S is very important there.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:35 pm

bcol01 wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:45 pm
If so, how does one reinterpret things like deities, Buddhist Gods, Etc?
The entire Christian narrative is somewhat plausible from a Buddhism perspective.

The Brahmā, first-born, of a world-system, emanated an avatar into the world of man to teach a dharma of rebirth in the company/realm of Brahmā.

Once upon a time, there was a Teacher called Sunetta. He was a religious founder and was free of sensual desire. He had many hundreds of disciples. He taught them the path to rebirth in the company of Brahmā. Those who totally understood Sunetta’s teachings were—when their body broke up, after death—reborn in a good place, the company of Brahmā. Of those who didn’t totally understand Sunetta’s teachings, some—when their body broke up, after death—were reborn in the company of the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others. Some were reborn in the company of the Gods Who Love to Create, some with the Joyful Gods, some with the Gods of Yama, some with the Gods of the Thirty-Three, and some with the Gods of the Four Great Kings. Some were reborn in the company of well-to-do aristocrats or brahmins or householders.
(AN 7.66)

What is not plausible from a conventionally Buddhist POV is Brahmā being able to free you from saṁsāra.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Queequeg
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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Queequeg » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:03 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:35 pm
bcol01 wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:45 pm
If so, how does one reinterpret things like deities, Buddhist Gods, Etc?
The entire Christian narrative is somewhat plausible from a Buddhism perspective.

The Brahmā, first-born, of a world-system, emanated an avatar into the world of man to teach a dharma of rebirth in the company/realm of Brahmā.

Once upon a time, there was a Teacher called Sunetta. He was a religious founder and was free of sensual desire. He had many hundreds of disciples. He taught them the path to rebirth in the company of Brahmā. Those who totally understood Sunetta’s teachings were—when their body broke up, after death—reborn in a good place, the company of Brahmā. Of those who didn’t totally understand Sunetta’s teachings, some—when their body broke up, after death—were reborn in the company of the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others. Some were reborn in the company of the Gods Who Love to Create, some with the Joyful Gods, some with the Gods of Yama, some with the Gods of the Thirty-Three, and some with the Gods of the Four Great Kings. Some were reborn in the company of well-to-do aristocrats or brahmins or householders.
(AN 7.66)

What is not plausible from a conventionally Buddhist POV is Brahmā being able to free you from saṁsāra.
I grok. Never thought of it that way.

Clearly, they have not had yogis in the West the caliber of those in the East... No Rabbi managed to ask God himself...
"Then the monk attained to such a state of concentration that the way leading to the gods of the retinue of Brahma appeared in his centered mind. So he approached the gods of the retinue of Brahma and, on arrival, asked them, 'Friends, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'

"When this was said, the gods of the retinue of Brahma said to the monk, 'We also don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. But there is Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. He is higher and more sublime than we. He should know where the four great elements... cease without remainder.'

"'But where, friends, is the Great Brahma now?'

"'Monk, we also don't know where Brahma is or in what way Brahma is. But when signs appear, light shines forth, and a radiance appears, Brahma will appear. For these are the portents of Brahma's appearance: light shines forth and a radiance appears.'

"Then it was not long before Brahma appeared.

"So the monk approached the Great Brahma and, on arrival, said, 'Friend, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?'

"When this was said, the Great Brahma said to the monk, 'I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.'

A second time, the monk said to the Great Brahma, 'Friend, I didn't ask you if you were Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. I asked you where these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder.'

"A second time, the Great Brahma said to the monk, 'I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.'

"A third time, the monk said to the Great Brahma, 'Friend, I didn't ask you if you were Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be. I asked you where these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder.'

"Then the Great Brahma, taking the monk by the arm and leading him off to one side, said to him, 'These gods of the retinue of Brahma believe, "There is nothing that the Great Brahma does not know. There is nothing that the Great Brahma does not see. There is nothing of which the Great Brahma is unaware. There is nothing that the Great Brahma has not realized." That is why I did not say in their presence that I, too, don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. So you have acted wrongly, acted incorrectly, in bypassing the Blessed One in search of an answer to this question elsewhere. Go right back to the Blessed One and, on arrival, ask him this question. However he answers it, you should take it to heart.'
Kevatta Sutta
:rolling:

"Takes a long time, but God dies, too,
But not before he'll stick it to you."
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Is there room in Nichiren Buddhism for an atheist?

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:27 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:03 pm
No Rabbi managed to ask God himself...
Coëmgenu imagines a rabbi.

Rabbi: [to God] So, how's the wife? Happy wife happy life.



Ancient India already had their own atheists.

AFAIK, the Buddha never polemicized against or for the Cārvāka. Do they postdate him?
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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