26 What do Buddhists believe about God?
This session looks into Buddhist beliefs about God and asks students to evaluate the good things and bad things about religion without God. It also asks students to think about why some people believe that Buddhism is compatible with science.
Ask students to create two lists in groups. These lists should contain the good things and bad things about following a religion with a God or worshipping a God.
Explain to students that in mainstream Buddhist teaching there is no creator, supreme God or person to offer salvation, but that there is a belief in spiritual dimensions of life.
Use the following clip to explain some key Buddhist teachings: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dcluP1q-
The clip above explains that Buddhists want to become like Buddha. Buddhism is presented as a way of life or philosophy rather than a religion, though there are signs of ‘religious practice’ and ‘religious belief’ in the film. Ask students to respond to the following questions.
Point out that most Buddhists in the world believe that there are ‘spiritual’ beings that exist – gods, ghosts and so on – and that they believe in ‘karma’, i.e., that one’s intentional actions have an affect one’s circumstances in this and future lives.
Read this quote from Albert Einstein about Buddhism:
Albert Einstein once said this of Buddhism, ‘The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both natural and spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual and a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.’
Ask the students to respond to such questions as:
Ask students to summarise their overall views on Einstein’s last point. Do they think a religion without God will be the religion of the future?
A printable (pdf) version of this session can be found here
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