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Buddha Didn’t Understand God
Marlon: Hi, James. I hope you don’t mind me writing to you. I am a friend of Ted Smith, who recently passed me a copy of your book and links to your website and satsangs. I had a boring commute until I got your MP3s. Instead of dreading these long drives, I now look forward to an uninterrupted few hours listening to your detailed unfolding of Vivekachudanami. After years of reading Buddhist texts (often being inspired but confused), the Shankara text was new to me. I was always resisting anything I perceived as having some connection to Hinduism as too impenetrable and complicated. So to discover something that transcends religion, spirituality, mysticism and New Age fluff has been like a breath of fresh air! Thank you!!
I mentioned to Mark that I occasionally get confused by some of the terminology such as the apparent interchangeable uses of God, Isvara and maya, and notions of reflection and projection – but often these are clarified in another satsang or through discussion with Mark. I guess also that after years of taking the Buddhist standpoint that “there is no God,” having to deal with God again is challenging! But I have to say that this seems to be such a clear teaching and to have it illuminated by someone who speaks in a contemporary and understandable language for those of us in the West – wonderful. I was listening to some of the Buddha at the Gas Pump series, but it seems to me that it is very easy to get confused by too many interpretations, versions and “enlightenment” stories.
So thank you again. I will continue to listen, read and try to return to awareness – be awareness!
~ All the best, Marlon Teasdale
James: Dear Marlon, appreciation is always appreciated. I am very happy that Vedanta is working for you.
The thing about God is that you are dealing with God 24/7 whether you know it or not because God is just the field of existence; more specifically, it is your psychological and physical environment.
The Buddhists confuse the concept of God with God. To dismiss God is to not appreciate the non-duality of reality. If reality is non-dual (and you want to call it God) then everything that is is God, including the experiencing entity, the one who dismisses “‘God.” The concept of God is God too. But for it to work it has to refer to non-dual awareness as existence, not as a separate “supreme” being somewhere else – because there is nowhere else, meaning everything is awareness. It is quite interesting that the Buddha dissed God but Buddhism ended up creating a huge pantheon of Buddha gods. You can’t take the theism out of human beings. They need their symbols. Buddha did not realize that all the gods he dissed were symbols of the one awareness. Or perhaps he was basically interested in dharma and wanted to destroy the pernicious influence of the Brahmin priesthood. In any case Vedanta has the god thing properly sorted. It is essential to understand it if you want to be happy here in God.
~ Love, James