Why don’t Buddhists believe in God? (or do they…)

The easy answer to this question is that in Buddhism the concept of God simply does not appear at all. After all, the historical Buddha, Siddharta Gautama, was born 500 years before Jesus. So if you had asked him, “does God exist?” he would probably have said, “Who?” But for people brought up in Judaeo-Christian cultures over the last few decades, it is a valid question. It is one that I grappled with myself 30 years ago, on my journey towards Nichiren Buddhism and away from my devout Catholic upbringing.

God

At first sight, the two philosophies seemed poles apart. ‘God’ was ‘somewhere out there’ whereas Buddhahood was in me. Christian prayer was about asking for salvation from an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Father. Whereas Buddhist chanting was about deciding and determining to be happy, all by yourself. Christianity had taught me that man was essentially flawed and needed forgiving, whereas Buddhism promised that we are essentially brilliant and just needed polishing (lots of polishing, as it turns out…). This all led to some overly spiky debates with sincere Christians.

With my superficial understanding of Nichiren’s teachings, Buddhism probably appealed to a more selfish and self-centred part of me. Especially as there were no concepts of sin, of guilt, or of what I saw as stifling obedience to an external power. Instead Buddhism seemed to promise freedom, individuality and self-expression.

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The Buddha in the bedroom – 10 ways to create a great loving relationship

[Takes 7 mins to read]

With Valentine’s Day celebrated on 14 Feb in many countries across the world, here’s a Buddhist perspective on Love. Firstly, Nichiren Daishonin did not set any moral rules about anything in life so there are no ‘do’s and don’ts’ at all about things like sex before marriage, contraception, fidelity, sexual orientation or divorce.

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Perhaps the other big difference from the traditional romantic Western view is that real Love in Buddhism is not about walking ‘into the sunset’ with ‘The Man/Woman’ of your dreams; even though a whole advertising industry has developed over decades to make us believe that meeting ‘The One’ is the answer to all our problems.

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How to create a truly amazing Life

I want to share with you some encouragement from Daisaku Ikeda that I first read half a lifetime ago, when I began to practise Buddhism. It was written for University students. It is about having a strong sense of purpose, battling against adversity and creating value for yourself and society. I love this article because it encourages us to dream big (“follow the rainbow in your heart”) and yet it is in no way “pink and fluffy”, in fact it is very strict, warning against indolence, indulgence and cowardice. Image

I have re-read it dozens of times since 1985 and it has kept me on a path that produces ever greater happiness in my life.

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How to inspire yourself every day (life is precious…)

You will never be truly happy unless part of you already knows (or is at least willing to imagine) that life is precious. It took me 24 years of Buddhist practice to begin to glimpse this fundamental truth! Of course I know some non-Buddhists who seem to havpink leafe been born this way – feeling that every moment and every life is valuable and feeling grateful just to wake up every morning. May hats be doffed to you, because once you get this truth, there is almost no limit to what you can be, do and achieve in terms of goals and relationships. Continue reading “How to inspire yourself every day (life is precious…)”