Sunday, May 8, 2011
Do Zen Buddhists Believe in God?
As a Zen Buddhist, I can believe in a god if I want...or not. Since it shouldn't make any difference, it's not a question I should spend any mental energy trying to resolve.
From a personal standpoint, I have been an atheist most of my life. However, my study of Zen Buddhism has taught me to feel most comfortable saying I don't know whether there is a god or not. And, further, that I do not accept that this is an important question to answer.
What I can say with some conviction is that focusing on the concept of god could be a source of delusion. A distraction, if you will. Instead of experiencing reality directly, I might be taking a 'shortcut' to truth based on what a book, preacher, or 'god' tells me. From a Zen perspective, this would be thoughtless. So belief in god could be harmful if it becomes an influential part of one's view of reality.
Zen Buddhism is not a deistic religion out to worship something; it's about disciplining the mind and experiencing truth. Since no one needs a god to do this, I would argue that Zen Buddhists must ultimately feel that the question of "Is there a god?" belongs to the same category as the question "If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one to hear it, does it make a sound?" It's an interesting question, but the answer ultimately doesn't (and shouldn't) make any difference.
Also see: Do Zen Buddhists Believe in God (Part 2)