Hi guys!

 

I'm new here, and I was unable to find a similar topic so I started my own!

Philosophy has always intrigued me, and I got my hands on some Buddhist literature.

 

Once you cut away the mythical allusions, Buddhism really has a solid moral code. It emphasizes impermanence and self-lessness and eschews materialism.

 

my question is: is it possible to be "buddhist" and an atheist at the same time? or is it it's own thing?

 

help is appreciated.

 

thanks!

Tags: Buddhism

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It's funny you bring this up, because of all the religions out there, Buddhism is the one that intrigues me the most...

 

Honestly though, I don't know too much about it. As far as I know, you don't have to believe in a god to be Buddhist because it's more like a general set of rules to live by rather than some sort of god telling you to live your life a certain way or be "damned for all eternity..." I think...

 

I don't know for sure, I could be totally wrong about this! Those are just my thoughts :) I hope that helped you in some way!

I'd think it would vary slightly depending on the school of Buddhism.  I'd wager that Theravada Buddhism is a bit more compatible with atheism than Mahayana.  Neither, to the best of my knowledge, advocates belief in any supreme deity or a creator deity, and even if they did, Buddhism seems to largely focus on more practical aspects of living and the pursuit of enlightenment rather than reverence to deities.

 

I have met atheistic Buddhists before, who, like you, embrace the philosophy without the mysticism.  I don't now if that sort of behaviour is somewhat contradictory -- my understanding is that at some level the philosophy and mystical aspects are inextricably intertwined --, but it seems to work for them.  For many intents and purposes, they are followers of Gautama Buddha's teachings, so 'Buddhist' seems like a logical term.

 

Buddhism isn't really my area of expertise so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt, but all the same, I don't think it's all that problematic to identify as an atheist and a Buddhist.  I think it's actually somewhat common, at the very least in Western countries.

thanks Kris and Morgan,

 

I wanted to clarify this because I got a few puzzled looks when asked this question myself.

I guess they must have thought it contradictory. 

 

Along the same lines, it's kinda like the Carvakan "Hindus", right? (Hindus is in quotes because they eschewed all of the defining factors of Hinduism)

I guess it depends on how exactly which branch of any given school of though is being referenced...

Buddhism is a non-exclusive spiritual philosophy. As such, I would argue that you could easily combine it with just about any theology or even no theology at all. Some forms of it are indeed Atheistic, one of the few Atheist religions out there. It's not half bad either. Buddhists have spent a lot of time doing introspective study of the mind. Naturally, they seem to be getting a lot of things right (it's being verified by neuroscience).

I suggest you look up Alan Watts. You can find a lot of his stuff on youtube. I've found that a lot of what he says meshes well with Atheism and is just pretty awesome overall.

that's true. It's sad that more people don't understand this, since some people consider Atheism to be an excuse for Hedonism, when that's not necessarily true

umm help me understand, and i hope i am not tracking off here.. but i find a little similarity in some buddhist principles and that of christianity in that they both believe that man's birth is to suffer, that we must cut short our cravings/wants/aspirations.. seems like a denial of the over reaching aspiration of the humanism, which is very anti-christian. i see a replay of the whole Icarus myth here.. though their philosophy of the middle path is worth a note, isnt the purpose still the same?  

that's a good point. Based off my reading of a few Buddhist texts, the teachings don't state that mankind is BORN to suffer, but that suffering is inevitable unless mankind recognizes the Four Noble truths, etc. 

Basically, humans have to throw off the chains of materialism and physical attachment in order to achieve their true potential.

 

did that help?

so if anyway you;re giving up all that is material.. exactly what is that your true potential is referring too? like the inner peace and happiness? 

so then its impossible for the outer and inner solace to exist it resonance?

 

not necessarily all that is material, just the frivolous things, like a chrome-plated toilet, or 5 PS3s, or a Hummer, for example. 

I'm a student, and I need my laptop and bed and desk to effectively study on, but some frivolous things, like excess eating, or a 5000 dollar laptop, or boxes and boxes of videogames, I can live without.

 

true potential is whatever you *want* it to be. The texts just say that materialism is a distraction.

I think it's possible to have peace of mind while having an external peace as well, if that's what you mean...

but there is really no tab on what is excess and what is need.. so the dilemma of this choice too lies within.. i guess thats what gautama meant by "cravings" amd obviously when one has stopped running behind.. there will be peace on either side.. ahh enlightenment! 

aha. but that's why the call it the middle path, right?

Ideally, a Buddhist should only consume (both literally and metaphorically) only as much as he/she needs.

I guess you could say that I don't *NEED* a laptop to study, but it is a convenience, as well as a tool which will enhance my learning, thus, I use the laptop.

"only as much"... tough call, that one. but then again, it isnt meant to be easy to come out of the suffering either! 

what about its take on nirvana? the breaking of this worldly cycle... again quite christian in its romanticising the other side of this world... almost echoes that this life is not the best thing to be... ??

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