Many westerners are drawn to Buddhism because it is not a theistic religion. Believing in God, prayer to God, worshiping God or even talk about God is just not present in Buddhism.  The basic FAQs about Buddhism are emphatic about Buddhism having nothing to do with God at all.

Yet there are also (several) allusions to God-like ideas in Buddhist texts, if only in negative terms.  Verse 21 of the Dhammapada says:

Mindfulness is the way to the Deathless (Nibbana)

and in the Samyuta Nikaya  (43.14) there is

I will teach you the far shore … the subtle … the very difficult to see … the unaging … …  the undisintegrating … the unmanifest … the unproliferated …  the deathless … the sublime … the unafflicted

But what is it that is ageless, unchanging and out of time if not God?

I have heard Thay Nhat Hanh say on more than one occasion:

“I know the address of God – it is here and now”

I don’t know why more people aren’t pierced to the core by that statement. The implication is – awareness of the present moment can bring you in touch with that which is out of time, unbound by conditions and transcendent. What greater incentive could there be to practice mindfulness?

Ajahn Sumedho has said as much too when he paraphrases the Buddha:

There is the Unconditioned, Unborn, Uncreated, Unoriginated: Amaravati – the Deathless Realm, which is timeless, apparent here and now.

It’s true that Buddhism has nothing to say about a creator God or a personal God, but it does make reference to a metaphysical God, contact with which is possible by humans and which is the door to liberation from suffering.

The conclusion must be that the practice mindfulness is not secular.  Minfulness is a method that leads to liberation from the conditioned realm by bringing us in touch with Nirvana, the Deathless Realm, God.

Advertisements