From RON EPSTEIN
According to Buddhist teachings, the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is not the One God, the Creator, nor is he omnipotent and omniscient. However, Buddhism does not deny his existence or the existence of his heaven.
There is no creator and there are no creations.
It is only from karma and thoughts that things are produced.
How can we know it is that way?
Because other than that there isn’t anything at all.
“Most religions say that there is a ruler who rules over all the ten thousand things between heaven and earth, who is the creator, and that the ten thousand matters and things are his creation. But in actual fact there is no one who can control all the ten thousand matters and things. Therefore, the Flower Adornment Sutra says, ‘There is no creator and there are no creations.’ How does it all come about then? ‘It is only from karma and thoughts that things are produced.’ Everything exists because one gives rise to doubts, creates karma, and undergoes retribution. From where does karma arise? It is created from false thinking. The very beginning, the lack of enlightenment, is ignorance. Because of ignorance, confusion and doubt arise. If there were no ignorance, there would be no confusion and doubt. Having confusion and doubt, one produces false thought. Having false thought, one creates all kinds of karma. In creating karma, if you plant good causes, you reap good effects. If you plant bad causes, you reap bad effects. If you plant causes which are neither good nor bad, you reap a retribution which is neither good nor bad. And so of all things which happen to people, there is none which is not of their own creation. No one tells them to create these things. No one controls them. They create them all themselves. Therefore, the reason you cannot get off the turning wheel of birth and death is that you follow the karma you create. According to your karma you receive your retribution. Birth after birth, death after death, death after death, birth after birth.
“‘How can we know it is that way? Because other than that there isn’t anything at all.’ If you depart from this doctrine, there isn’t another doctrine which can explain the way things are. For instance, if it were as other religions explain it, that we are controlled by a God, since there is a God in control, it has nothing to do with us at all. If in every situation we are being controlled by someone, then whether we do good or bad has nothing to do with us. But when the time comes to undergo the retribution, it is we ourselves who must undergo it. That is unprincipled.
“That is why it is explained as being our own karma. For instance, if there is a person who goes and tells another person to commit a murder, although the murderer commits an offense, half the offense lies with the one who told him to do it. If we say that God controls us, that in all matters it is God who rules, then half of the karmic offenses we create should be God’s. If it is not like that, and instead, of the things he tells us to do, those with merit belong to him and those with offenses are ours, that would be unreasonable.
“What one creates has nothing to do with anyone else. If you yourself do good deeds, then you receive a reward. If you do bad things, then you undergo retribution. That is reasonable. And so in every move we make we are certainly not being controlled by any God. If we really were being controlled by God, then he should not tell us to do all kinds of evil things. We should do all kinds of good things in order for it to be right, because God does not want people to do evil. If he doesn’t have the ability to govern right and wrong, and yet the offenses we create are ours and the merit we accrue reverts to him, that is totally illogical.
“And so we people don’t have any other person controlling us nor is there any God controlling us. It is our karma and false thinking which controls us. What proof is there of this? Take a look. If there were someone controlling us then what we do every day should be decided, but on the contrary whatever we want to do we do as we please. If people had a God controlling them, then all living beings should have a God controlling them. And in controlling them, he should teach them to do good things; he should not teach them to do bad things. And so why would God make a cat? Why would he make a mouse? Why does the cat like to eat mice? Why does the mouse like to steal things? From this it can be seen that it is all their own karma that has caused them to undergo the retributions.
“Take fish for example. They can swim wherever they want in the water. They are also very independent. But fish in the water are not aware of the water. They consider it their world. People in the air are not aware of the air. People live in the air, but they don’t even see it. To them it is invisible. That is the same way fish are in water. This all because whatever karma you create causes you to undergo that retribution. It certainly is not the case that there is a God controlling you. Nor is there a Buddha telling you what to do. Buddhas don’t pay attention to such small matters. Bodhisattvas also don’t pay attention. How much the less would a God be able to watch over you.” (FAS, lecture Oct. 5-6, 1975)