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There is no inherent difference between man and god

Postby Planet Biter » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:59 am

How can you choose yourself over God when everything in creation is not separate from this God? Everything in creation and non-creation is in oneness, so how can anything choose "themselves" over "God" when there is no "self" to choose? Not having a relationship with "God" is the same as not having a relationship with yourself, or your neighbor, or animals, and everything in creation... Or am I missing something?

Why do Christians believe that creation and non-creation is separate from God? In my view it's impossible to choose Man over God or God over Man because there is inherently no difference.
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Re: There is no inherent difference between man and god

Postby jimwalton » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:01 pm

Christianity does not teach, nor believe in, pantheism. Implicit in pantheism is a denial of the existence of matter, a rejection of individual identity, and an endless cycle of karmic repayments until some abstract debt is paid. If all is one, there is ultimately no difference between good and evil. If everything in creation is not separate from God, then meaning is not found in our lives or in existence, but in escaping from our lives—but to where, if all is one?

The Christian worldview is more consistent with reality. Humankind had a personal beginning from a personal God. The universe is real and not an illusion. Humanity is alienated from God by man's own rebellion and evil—a very real entity. Redemption has been offered to us as a gift by a spiritual being who has both the authority and the mechanism to bring about real and meaningful change in man's condition, and human history is the working out of God's plan. The Christian worldview, over the pantheistic one, in internally consistent, coheres with human experience, and is able to be put into practice.
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Re: There is no inherent difference between man and god

Postby Planet Biter » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:04 pm

> Implicit in pantheism is a denial of the existence of matter, a rejection of individual identity, and an endless cycle of karmic repayments until some abstract debt is paid. If all is one, there is ultimately no difference between good and evil.

Buddhism does not teach this. Oneness shouldn't be taken for a literal, concrete thing. The Hindu Brahman is more akin to this, where they believe everything in creation has a soul that belongs to the larger Brahman God.

Good and evil are just as apparent as night and day. That being said, even good and evil has lines blurred. Intention behind that act most of the time means much more than the act itself. Bombing ISIS terrorists, for example– is it seen as murder, or justified?

> If everything in creation is not separate from God, then meaning is not found in our lives or in existence, but in escaping from our lives—but to where, if all is one?

This is the problem that many people have when starting their path on the Way. They believe that they will escape from this life– that they can end suffering permanently and reach "another place" of peace. Escape is futile, as there is nothing to have you escape from yourself. Once you realize that nothing is inherently separate from another, you realize that there is a fundamental likeness as well. If you love yourself, you ultimately have to love everything in creation, even animals, due to the fact that we all possess a sense of unity in our transient nature.

Also, I wouldn't consider myself a "pantheist". When I say God I see something abstract, not an inherent being or an inherent soul, but a sense of unity and perfection in unity amongst all things in creation.

> The Christian worldview is more consistent with reality. Humankind had a personal beginning from a personal God. The universe is real and not an illusion. Humanity is alienated from God by man's own rebellion and evil—a very real entity. Redemption has been offered to us as a gift by a spiritual being who has both the authority and the mechanism to bring about real and meaningful change in man's condition, and human history is the working out of God's plan.

There are lots of assumptions here. Also why would one want redemption for their faults and imperfections? The human condition is frail but there is much beauty in this imperfect condition. In Zen this call this Wabi Sabi, where we honor the beauty of transience and imperfection. To me there is no greater beauty than that of the proverbial "fallen angel", as our fragile condition allows us room to improve ourselves based on our own willingness.

I don't see why we should aim for "perfection" in the afterlife when perfection and miracles are able to be witnessed every single moment that we are alive.
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Re: There is no inherent difference between man and god

Postby jimwalton » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:12 pm

I see a series of seeming contradictions in what you are saying.

You say perfection can be witnessed every single moment we are alive, and yet the cycle of rebirths implies the exact opposite: a series of one imperfection after another, and a global inadequacy that requires multiple attempts to get it right.

You deny the reality of self, and therefore you deny personhood. But without subject-object relationship, there can be no foundation for knowledge, love, morality, or ethics.

In Buddhism, there can be no absolute truth, all morality is relative, and purpose and meaning are vague and clouded. In practical terms, this cannot be the path to enlightenment. It's self-defeating, but there's no self. In other words, Buddhism denies the realities that we all know to be so: personality, knowledge, love, and good and evil.

Why would I want redemption for my faults in imperfections? Because my faults (and everyone else's) too easily leads to personal depravity and societal demise. Finding beauty in ugliness is a denial of all reason and evaluation.

Jesus didn't begin his mission by leaving more comfortable surrounding to gain enlightenment and find answers to life. Jesus said he IS the answer to life. Buddhism says the way to enlightenment is through a gnarled and endless (and hence impossible) sequence of rules to follow, all the while denying that that there is personhood, knowledge, or a distinction between good and evil. It's on these bases that I find it to be a false path and I have instead embraced Christianity as the one that rings true to life, true to perceptions, true to reality, and true to reason.
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Re: There is no inherent difference between man and god

Postby Planet Biter » Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:24 pm

> You say perfection can be witnessed every single moment we are alive, and yet the cycle of rebirths implies the exact opposite: and yet the cycle of rebirths implies the exact opposite: a series of one imperfection after another, and a global inadequacy that requires multiple attempts to get it right.

Well, first there are a few assumptions here. Christianity on one hand derives human nature as inherently impure. Buddhism sees humanity's nature as inherently pure—and that delusion is the cause of suffering and evil.

Second, rebirth can be interpreted in many ways depending on what school of Buddhism one follows. The Zen school, the one I subscribe to, denotes that the realm of birth and death (Samsara) is no different than Nirvana. Nirvana can be attained within the realm of birth and death. The doctrine of Sunyata denotes a subject/object split. With the abolishing of this split we understand that the realm of birth and death is all of creation, and not something that we experience on an individualistic level.

The delusion is that the world is imperfect. Our human minds construct many delusions, when in fact, nature itself is perfect. The night sky is perfect—and every snowflake falls in the desired place, so to speak.

Birth and death as the experience of nirvana.

This birth and death is the life of buddha. If you try to exclude it you will lose the life of buddha. If you cling to it, trying to remain in it, you will also lose the life of buddha, and what remains will be the mere form of buddha. Only when you don’t dislike birth and death or long for them, do you enter buddha’s mind.

However, do not analyze or speak about it. Just set aside your body and mind, forget about them, and throw them into the house of buddha; then all is done by buddha. When you follow this, you are free from birth and death and become a buddha without effort or calculation. Who then continues to think?

There is a simple way to become buddha: When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no designing thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Do not seek anything else. ~ Dogen

> You deny the reality of self, and therefore you deny personhood. But without subject-object relationship, there can be no foundation for knowledge, love, morality, or ethics.

The self is transitory. One day we are born, the next we die. There is no inherentness to this.

But to see beyond subject/object duality means that we act for the love of all, rather than the love for the self. Our ego essentially deludes us into believing that we are only ourselves and that no other people matter. But on the contrary, other people do matter just as much as you do. Original nature is pure, without evil. It is like a tree who provides oxygen for the world effortlessly.

A Buddha doesn’t observe precepts. A Buddha doesn’t do good or evil. A Buddha isn’t energetic or lazy. A Buddha is someone who does nothing, someone who can’t even focus his mind on a Buddha. A Buddha isn’t a Buddha. Don’t think about Buddhas. If you don't see what I’m talking about, you’ll never know your own mind. People who don’t see their nature and imagine they can practice thoughtlessness all the time are liars and fools. They fall into endless space. They’re like drunks. They can’t tell good from evil. If you intend to cultivate such a practice, you have to see your nature before you can put an end to rational thought. To attain enlightenment without seeing your nature is impossible. Still others commit all sorts of evil deeds, claiming karma doesn’t exist. They erroneously maintain that since everything is empty committing evil isn’t wrong. Such persons fall into a hell of endless darkness with no hope of release. Those who are wise hold no such conception." ~ Bodhidharma

In Buddhism, there can be no absolute truth, all morality is relative, and purpose and meaning are vague and clouded. In practical terms, this cannot be the path to enlightenment. It's self-defeating, but there's no self. In other words, Buddhism denies the realities that we all know to be so: personality, knowledge, love, and good and evil

No, Buddhism is essentially "absolute relativism". Let me give you an example. "Before a man studies Zen, to him mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after he gets an insight into the truth of Zen through the instruction of a good master, mountains to him are not mountains and waters are not waters; but after this when he really attains to the abode of rest, mountains are once more mountains and waters are waters." Buddhism doesn't deny that you are you, and I am I-- but rather you and I are part of the same whole, the same universe. You are an individual but fundamentally we are an amalgam of the same parts. It's similar to the idea of the Holy Spirit. Every one of us in Christianity has the holy spirit and we are part of the whole, essentially.

> Why would I want redemption for my faults in imperfections? Because my faults (and everyone else's) too easily leads to personal depravity and societal demise. Finding beauty in ugliness is a denial of all reason and evaluation.

Buddhism doesn't spite life. It wants to affirm it, similar to Niezsche's thought. Buddhists believe that life is beautiful in spite of everything. Just like the Greeks and their Tragedies. If we affirm one single moment, we thus affirm not only ourselves but all existence. For nothing is self-sufficient, neither in us ourselves nor in things; and if our soul has trembled with happiness and sounded like a harp string just once, all eternity was needed to produce this one event—and in this single moment of affirmation all eternity was called good, redeemed, justified, and affirmed.

> Jesus didn't begin his mission by leaving more comfortable surrounding to gain enlightenment and find answers to life. Jesus said he IS the answer to life.

There is no answer to life, and any contrived answer only furthers delusion and harbors separation from your fellow human beings. Buddhism is very liberal in this view, as we shouldn't have to adopt subjective creeds based on faith in order to negate our potential suffering in the afterlife. We should work with equanimity and love in this life. This life being more important than what ever comes after.

Buddhism to me is true to perception, true to reality, and true to reason even more so than Christianity, which is why I left it long ago. I don't believe in the concepts of Heaven and Hell, the idea of accepting a doctrine on faith for my own gain and aversion to suffering in the afterlife. Renunciation of the ego is the only way to promote and sustain peace, love, and compassion. Otherwise you merely separate yourself from the rest of humanity by adopting one ideology and telling everyone else their ideologies are incorrect worldviews. I'd be perfectly fine with whatever "religion" or non religion my children follow. Wouldn't you?

Above all else, what matters more than this current life? To help all beings, not just humans, here and now?
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Re: There is no inherent difference between man and god

Postby jimwalton » Thu Nov 10, 2016 1:46 pm

Thank you for the kind and gentle explanation of Buddhist thought. I find that it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to truly understand a religious belief system from the outside. It is only in immersion that the deep truths and genuine understanding are gained.

Obviously I'm still a Christian, and not a Buddhist, because I find Christianity more concordant with reality than Buddhism. A life of denying what seems to me to be obvious, and of endless and incomprehensible rules, paths, and ways is, for me, not the way to clarity and enlightenment, but to obfuscation and frustration. I think Christianity speaks more accurately to the human condition.

But I do appreciate learning more about Buddhism. It helps me to be wiser, hopefully.


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