“Spiritual but not Religious”: Shambhala Sun Editor-in-Chief Melvin McLeod has laid out 10 reasons why Buddhism might be enriching to the growing number of us who identify that way. Reason #1 appears here, with the rest to follow in the days ahead. (Click here to read Melvin’s introduction to this series.)
There is no Buddhist God.
Different schools of Buddhism have different views about who the Buddha was. Some say he was an ordinary human being who discovered the path to awakening; others say he was already enlightened but followed the path to show us how it’s done. But one thing is certain: he was not a God, deity, or divine being. His faculties were purely human, any of us can follow his path, and our enlightenment will be exactly the same as his. Ultimately, we are no different from him, and vice versa.
Admittedly, there are lots of Buddhist images that look like gods and deities, all kinds of colorful and exotic beings. The Buddhist cosmos is a vast one, containing infinite beings of different minds, bodies, faculties, and realms. Some are more subtle and awakened, and others are grosser and more confused. Yet these are just the endless variations on the reality we experience right now. It may be infinitely vast and profoundly deep, it may be mysterious beyond concept, it may be far different than we think it is, but whatever reality is, this is it. There is nothing and nobody fundamentally different from or outside of it.
Melvin McLeod’s “10 Reasons” article is also available in its entirety now as part of a digital booklet, “Buddhism for the Spiritual but not Religious,” free to new subscribers to the Shambhala Sun. Also included are “How it Helps Me,” featuring six non-Buddhists on how Buddhism has benefited their lives; three experts on whether Buddhism is a religion or not; and easy-to-follow instructions for getting started with meditation right now.
Just click here to subscribe and download the digital booklet. You’ll also save between 52% and 62% on your order.
Lenny W says
Mr McLeod does not deny the existence of "gods and deities", which are "religious" in my subjective thought. It's not easy to define the definition of "religion" because defining is subjective.
I believe in God and I love the teachings of Buddha. I could not be a pure Buddhist because I do believe in a Creator.