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Buddhism - Role of The Gods

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Most people pray to the gods, or angels, or saints for various requests such as good health, fertility, wealth, protection from any kind of harm, peace, happiness, courage, strength which has and still is part of the various cultures for more than two thousand years. It is human nature to want assistance, happiness, peace, children, etc. The use of protective mantras and the attractiveness to powerful beings for help and protection were not in contention with the principles of Buddhism. All these requests are temporary, and it leads to an emphasis that the all-powerful being could bring one ultimate salvation.

When Siddhartha Gautama, at the age of twenty-nine, left his home of royalty, he had a need to find answers to his questions after seeing an old man, sickness, death, and an ascetic with an aura of peacefulness and contentment. It took Siddhartha six years of practicing meditation before he achieved awakening to the realities of the world where there is suffering, and death. He realized that all things are not permanent which is suffering . Everyone at some point in one’s life will get sick, old, and die either through natural causes or tragedy. But Siddhartha discovered his solution to his quests and that was when he came up with the principle of the eight-fold path that would lead to one’s salvation. The eight-fold path is to lead a good and upright life that is supported by correct intention, correct conduct, and correct mindfulness.

In the Fruits of the Ascetic Life (Samannaphala-Sutta), King Ajatasattu visited six religious’ teachers, each making a claim to have direct knowledge before sending him to Buddha Gautama. There have been many other buddhas such as Buddha Aksobhya, Buddha Bhavaviveka Guru, and Buddha Amitabha (Boundless Light). Their salvation is open to everyone only through meditation and rebirth. All the buddhas were special human beings who displayed an aura of confidence and power. Even though Sakyamuni Buddha passed on, his life continues to exist in some form through many other Buddhas. A conventional Buddhist pondering contemplation practice includes the memory of the characteristics of the divine beings as creatures who have arrived at a good place as a result of their good karma.

Tibetan Buddhists acknowledge the existence of various kinds of spirit and god, invoking the presence of some as protectors of Dharma. There is a confidence and a trust of the power of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha is its own protection. It is not against Buddhist’s Dharma to ask the gods for anything like assistance in better coping with life’s sufferings or happiness that other people can not give. Mostly in the context of the practice of present Hinduism, the cooperation and matters with the issues of daily living of such beings, rather than the inquiries of the end of adversities.

Buddhism began after Siddhartha Gautama obtained his awakening (nirvana). It was Brahma Sahampati who asked Siddhartha Gautama, now a Buddha, to pass on his enlightenment to others out of compassion. Buddhism continues today. Siddhartha Gautama is considered an extraordinary man as his Dharma has continued over two thousand years. He did not answer all questions. In Cula-Malunkya-Sutta, the Buddha’s refusal to answer Malunkya’s questions has a profound more practical indirect subtle that one of the reasons why he did not explain these matters was because they were not connected with the goal and purpose of the way, namely the end of adversities; what the Buddha explained was adversities, its cause, its end, and the way leading to its end of adversities. This leaves no uncertainty as to the useful purpose of the Buddha’s teaching, but what exactly is being said about these questions when it is stated that their explanation does not help to the end of adversities.

Overall, according to the Buddhist tradition, their vision of things, the constitution of beings is not forever or permanent. Although the Buddha has spent many previous lives as a deity, the being who became a buddha had been born a man. The gods are accepted as part of Buddhism but not as important as the goal of Buddhism which is the end of adversities. Since the gods are not able to enact the end of adversities, their only role is dealing with the daily living issues requested from people. It is argued that since Buddhism believes that there is no Savior, the only way, and most importantly the way to salvation must be through one’s own endeavour without assistance. 

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