KIBI - Karmapa International Buddhist Institute KIBI - Karmapa International Buddhist Institute

Is it True that Buddhists don’t Believe in God?

April 29, 2014

Is it True that Buddhists don’t Believe in God?

It is a very interesting and important question, and a simple yes/no answer would not suffice. Therefore, a little elaboration is required.

In general, and in simple terms, happiness is what we all seek. It’s in our nature.

Some people doubt whether happiness can be found from within.

Because of these doubts, this confusion and lack of knowledge, these people look to external sources to find happiness. They try to find happiness, freedom, peace and enlightenment through divine intervention, for example.

When uncertainties exist, it is somehow easier to project an external source of happiness, rather than look within. Thus humanity has tried over millennia to find the source of happiness outside ourselves.

With innocent motivations, we have come up with various outer sources of happiness. For example, religions, anti-religions, power, money, and so on. As we continue to struggle in our external search for happiness, our progress seems to be limited in some way.

What Buddha Shakyamuni suggests, is that while we struggle in our endless search and pursuit for happiness, we forget to ask: ‘Could it be that happiness is gained from within?’

He brings into focus, for example, the impermanence of all phenomena, like the very experience of ‘today’. If we truly investigate ‘today’s’ nature, down to the very last fraction of experience, we might find that it never lasts. It is therefore free of a truly existing essence of ‘today’ – even though it manifests vividly, and even leads to the experience of ‘tomorrow.’ Today is constantly changing, forever in flux.

If we accept the impermanence of life and nature, we can see how the external search for happiness may face many challenges along the way. A fixed view of ‘today’ may lead to a fear of the day passing into ‘yesterday’, a fear of ‘tomorrow’, and so on. When we accept the way things are, perhaps we could liberate ourselves from these fears, and find peace and happiness – from within. We might even enjoy this ‘today,’ without depending on outer means.

In short, it is very difficult for a Buddhist to claim that there is a belief or doctrine that truly exists, because of the idea of impermanence. Therefore, the concept of a creator is not recommended.

Having said that, in Buddhism there is a belief system, but in the form of a guideline. For example, should the belief in the notion of ‘karma’ (the law of cause and effect) support someone in being a decent person, then that belief is valid, but only within that specific framework. This does not imply that there is such a thing as a fixated karma or a truly existing karma.

When we embrace impermanence and look inside ourselves, we are able to free ourselves from fear, and support each other in our universal search for happiness.


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