Message from an ex-buddhist…



From Reddit

I am trying to give up my faith in Buddhism. I have been firmly buddhist about 8 years. Someone was saying that Buddhists ARE atheist. So that atheism does not negate buddhism. I think this is a common belief amongst some Atheists so I thought I’d make a post about this.

I told him that while Buddhists don’t place their faith in God, that faith is still required, particularly in Buddha as teacher, dharma as teaching, Sangha as community, and guru as embodiment of all three for Tibetan Buddhists which I was one. Some Buddhists consider the belief of karma to be the equivalent to the belief of god, albeit not an entity. There are gods, demigods, ghosts, demons, deities (which are not gods, but beings who are perfectly enlightened Buddha’s who are omniscent). There is reincarnation, which is not limited to as a human, but in any realm of existence including the many heavens and hells, of which you become destined by karmic law. There are prescribed morals, which have been handed down from the Buddha to avoid bad karma.

There are saints, who have attained power of the external world through gaining power over their mind. Including, but not limited to things such as levitation, telepathy, multiplying your body into many bodies, making it appear larger, smaller, or disappear, walking through walls, moving through the earth, reaching out and touching the sun or moon, power over time.

And to have doubts about this teaching is seen as Delusion and ignorance to be dispelled with faith. And you wonder why I want to change… I’m sure I am missing alot but it is not just a philosophy for meditation.

I also told him to look up about the charvakas from india, who were much more like Atheists and disagreed with many Buddhist beliefs, and existed at the time of the Buddha even.

I think Atheists should give up that Buddhism is compatible with atheism. While I’m not saying that people shouldn’t meditate, but I don’t think it needs to depend on a philosophy either. I also think Atheists should be considerate of buddhists who want to give up their faith, and realize the two are not the same. Welcome them with open arms as Atheists, and dont convince them that the only way to be atheist is to “not believe in God”. People may need to consider themselves atheist for different reasons than that, and so please, try to be welcoming.



“And to have doubts about this teaching is seen as Delusion and ignorance to be dispelled with faith. And you wonder why I want to change… I’m sure I am missing alot but it is not just a philosophy for meditation.”

Poor guy! Obviously very sincere, but missing a lot is an understatement.

Relentless emphasis on the first person singular appears to be at least part of the problem.

As a Unitarian and a sort of Buddhist, I’d like to disagree. My understanding is that the Buddha’s original teaching contained nothing supernatural other than the doctrine of reincarnation, which was a common belief in northern India at the time. I think it should be considered agnostic. The original teaching has been overlaid with myriad concepts from Hinduism, animism and Taoism.
Gotama himself might have been tolerant of these additions. He did not insist that new adherents abandon their old teachers- there’s a story about this. Nor did he deny the existence of any gods, demons or the like; he just didn’t mention them. So it probably was easy for new disciples to hang on to various prior beliefs.
But the word often translated as “faith” really means something more like “confidence.” There’s a passage where he says that his doctrine is only for one who “knows and sees for himself.” And his preaching to the Kalamas: not to follow any particular teacher as a guide for living. but to trust their own experience and judgement.
I share your dismay with the strange accretions glommed on to the original doctrine. I’m on tour right now in Thailand, and the contrast is before us every day: the generally calm and mindful attitude of the people, rightly attributed to their Buddhist culture. And on the other hand the weird cosmology and superstitions which many believe in.
Perhaps I’m unconsciously selecting the points that support what I already believe and disbelieve, but that’s the way I see it.