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Is it possible to be an atheist and a Buddhist ? Buddhist philosophy rarely reference to the supernatural, only in the area of reincarnation and origin of the Buddha to some degree. the rest is just good solid Mental Health

for example:Buddha Quotes
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. ...
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. ...
Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.
I heard a Buddhist monk say 'if you believe in reincarnation your goal is to have a good life.'
if you don't believe in reincarnation your goal is to have a good life. I personally do not believe in reincarnation. I do have a meditation practice I do find solace in the Dharma.
and feel I can use it in my day-to-day live.
does this make me less of an atheist ?

m16566 7 May 8

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Since age 13, I have been an atheist. At 18, I found a slender book in the University of Michigan bookstore, "Tao Te Ching" by Lao Tsu. I love:

The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

In dwelling, be close to the land.

In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In business, be competent.
In action, watch the timing.

No fight: No blame.

From β€œTao Te Ching,” written in the sixth century B.C. by Lao Tsu.

Awesome! πŸ˜ƒ

Likewise, The Sayings of Chuang Tzu ( Zhuangzi ) are worth reading if only for the simple reason that he is one of the very few philosophers from antiquity who possessed a sense of humour.


My mother was an atheist and a Buddhist.. some of her daily rituals were Buddhist...meditation, candles, etc. She liked the practicality of the lessons but never embraced that a god was behind any of it...

I meditate and do some rituals because I like them...I think they are independent of what I believe


I find the greatest attraction to Buddhism, Taoism, for the absence of diety and focus on mindfulness, establishing life patterns of compassion and authenticity, and consistently re-examining life choices. There is great freedom and contentment in having the learnings and intellectual power to know how best to live my own life.

Taoism is a separate thing. It is not Buddhism.

truth is truth wherever you find it


Atheism is a non-belief in a god. I don't believe Buddism requires a god, so I don't see the two as in opposition to each other.

Buddism does require a belief in things that cannot be proven, so if you're a skeptic in addition to being an atheist, you're probably in conflict with yourself.

Adopting some Buddist practices - like meditation - would not put you in opposition to atheism or skepticsm, depending on why you meditate


Agreed. As an atheist since age 13, I learned Transcendental Meditation at the University of Michigan.

Have been meditating since age 18. Thirty minutes. Meditation calms, centers and grounds me. I "awaken" calm and refreshed.

@LiterateHiker Me, too...I am a TMer...I do 20 minutes twice a just silences the noise and keeps me from stressing out...I read the science behind it and know that it has helped me thing we have in common!

"Buddism does require a belief in things that cannot be proven"
I disagree. There need to be some ideas that can be accepted provisionally and tested, but there is nothing that needs to be taken on faith. If you are relying on unfalsifiable beliefs then you are doing it wrong.

@LiterateHiker Go Spartans! M Go Blow! πŸ™‚

@Gareth Buddists believe in re-incarnation, don't they? Are you going to test that? πŸ™‚


I am not a Buddhist or any religion. I love this verse because it resonates with me deeply. Words to live by.

We can find wisdom in many places.

@phoenixlives Some Buddhists believe in reincarnation and some don't. I don't. If there's any evidence to the contrary I'll consider it when it's presented.


Whatever works for you.
Who cares what anyone else thinks? If it's working for you, and you aren't harming
anyone with it, whatever anyone else may think about it is wholly irrelevant.

Good luck to you.


Call it what you want, everyone defines it differently. It sounds like a beautiful position to hold. If it makes you "less of an athiest" to a few opinionated purists don't worry about it.

MsAl Level 8 May 8, 2019

I am a Buddhist and a Agnostic, but more importantly I am a Realist and I realize the past and the future requires some sense of self awareness and enlightenment to provide the answers and give order to the world.
Things like karma, which basically says what goes around comes around and reaping what you sew gives a sense of order to life. I use the principle theories and teaching of Buddhism, and discard the dogma and religious theory.


Yes. I'm a Secular Humanist that leans towards Atheist views, and who believes in Buddhist values.

It works for me. For the most part, I'm in a happy place. I will be happier in the future.


It is very possible to agree with or accept some of the precepts of Buddhism without buying the whole ball of wax.


Do not kill, help the less fortunate, etc, etc,. There are some teaching in all religions that are good advice to follow and to live by. I am sure buddhism has some concepts that are good. You can use philosophy to find the same teachings. Take the good things from any religion and discard the bad stuff. One does not need to believe in a supernatural being in order to recognize that some part of a religion can be useful in life. If you can use some part of buddhism to make your life better, than go for it. You do not have to accept everything that is part of the religion.


It's not really possible to be a Buddhist without being an atheist.


Take what's needed from wherever you can and use it intelligently to make life comfortable for yourself. Most of it is labels designed to separate one from another.


Great topic!

Buddhism, at it's core, is a philosophy on how to reduce suffering. The rituals and practices that tend to come with it are primarily the product of time and blending with traditional practices of various regions. But it's worth noting the need for some kind of ritual.

Technically speaking, you are a Buddhist if you are following the Eightfold Path, regardless of what you do, or do not believe.

Mindfulness is a big part of Buddhism and neuroscience supports it's benefits, as well as the correlations between mindfulness and prosocial behaviors. That's right, science supports compassion.

I would just like to take a moment to celebrate all of the recent advances in neuroscience and give a shout out to Fred Gage and Michael M. Merzenich for all the advances made possible by their discoveries!

I can't speak specifically about the Buddhist perspective on reincarnation, but we all know that energy is neither created nor destroyed. When you die, that energy goes somewhere. It doesn't have to include your conscious identity of who you are.

I heard the Dalai Lama speak on television he was asked if science could verify Buddhism beliefs he said that he welcomes the opportunity to apply science and if the Dogma and the science was in conflict he would suggest the first look at the Dogma. apparently the Dalai Lama has an open mind.

@m16566 Yes, the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhists have been working closely with scientists for years. I'm hopeful that as we become more informed, mankind will change for the better. But we're talking several generations away.

why should it take several Generations everyone I've known that has experience mindfulness has found it to be a wonderful experience, the first time an individual takes one breath in a mindful way they know they're onto something, when the psychiatrist don't have anything left to do they teach mindfulness. it's a practice called DBT I don't know that much about it. the Buddhist monk I listen to warns that Buddhism should not be taught peace mail. I know where all sufferers a mindful practice the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths our great beginning

Dialectical behavior therapy
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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan to help better treat borderline personality disorder. Since its development, it has also been used for the treatment of other kinds of mental health disorders.

@m16566 I say several generations because regardless of how obvious the benefits of mindfulness are, or how readily one can access that information, cultural attitudes and beliefs are slooooow to change, and not everyone wants to do something just because it's good for them.

what were the enlightened world look like ?
in Buddhism there's no concept of evil.
people that harm others are considered ill.
I find the difference between Good and Evil is different rationales of good.
as long as there is scarcity there will be those who hurt people and take their stuff.

@m16566 Obviously anything I say about an enlightened world would be pure speculation. But, some things we already see in studies to be connected to mindfulness include an increase in altruistic and prosocial bx.

I agree that people generally can't regulate themselves unless their basic needs have been met, or if there is are scarcities in there lives. If it's true that mindfulness practices increase altruistic bx, then we should see less scarcity. Also, if a person is given the foundations of mindfulness from an early age, they will likely be able to deal with their own scarcities in a more conscious way that is less likely to be harmful to themselves and others.

I don't really believe in a Utopian society, or in the possibility of everyone benefiting from such a cultural change. But I do see it as a possibility for improvement.

Of course, this is all based on my belief that morality is necessary for social groups to sustain themselves and that my interpretation of what is/isn't moral is based on a philosophy of no harm, which not everyone subscribes to.

in and enlighten world the people would desire no more than they really needed.
on my way to work today I saw several people sleeping on the street to an enlightened person this would be unacceptable knowing that I had a perfectly good home which they could use to protect themselves from the elements. in reality very little work would get done. people would desire only to improve their karma and reduce the suffering of others there would be no greed or hunger a fellowship of man
sort of like that song by John Lennon


You are what you believe yourself to be.. existentially of course.. I may believe I'm a pro athlete but that would be a delusion. lol


I know nothing about buddhism,or if there is a conflict in atheism with buddism... atheism is defined as a lack of belief in a supreme being. To me, pretty simple. Buddhism either does, or does not propound belief in a supreme being. Seems to me that just trying to take what I see as the best from any philosophy, and trying to follow that as a way to live, as best I can. Is the best I can do. With that strive for perfection is a virtue, to EXPECT perfection in ourself, or irrational. good luck


I think it is very possible. I think the issue is about the relationship between spirituality and religion. They are not mutually exclusive. While religion often expresses itself in ways devoid of spirituality, spirituality doesn't need religion to express itself.


To be atheist is to reject gods (deities). Theologies, propagating notions of existence of gods can be reasoned to be included in that definition. That's it!

Rejecting gods is more of an attitude or state of mind than a substitute thought system for 'religion'. Unfortunately, there are many self-aggrandizing people who wish to expand and elaborate the definition of that state of mind. From where they get the notion that they know more about our reality than others or at least enough more to self-license dictating to others what they must or must not agree with to be considered a valid atheist I cannot fathom.

They seem to function in a similar way to theologians. They want to gather their own 'flocks' of non-believers and hijack the term 'atheist' as their exclusive, property; as though other rejectors of gods are lesser beings with lesser intellect if they refuse to subscribe to the expanded definition's requirements of them; as though 'atheism' is some kind of monolithic designation that they alone possess the right to franchise.

It is largely because of the behavior of these officious, sniffy prigs that 'believers' see correlations with their own franchised thought systems. We hear it all the time from them. "Atheists are just another kind of religion" they say. I say atheists aren't even remotely like an organized religion or non-religion. We have in our midst, however, some very presumptuous and outspoken claimants as 'leaders' who do unmistakable impressionist acts dictating 'articles of faith' remarkably similar to Bishops and Mullahs.

Ultimately words mean things I propose the definition of an atheist
an individual that does not believe in the Supernatural and all that goes with it.
an agnostic is one that is skeptical about the supernatural but it's not ready to make a decision.
of course I theist is one who believes in the Supernatural. of course as we learn more about nature things that formerly were Supernatural or unproven may become part of the natural world. only by discussing these ideas can we come too understanding

@m16566 I prefer the dictionary. It standardizes words in such a way that clear communication can enhance common understanding. If the 'supernatural' is used as an expansion of a meaning, then a new word or word containing the pertenant part of the original word/idea ought to be coined to communicate the differentiation. Altogether, English has suffered great erosion in my lifetime alone by misapplication and expansion in meanings of erstwhile simply defined terms.

When one chooses to use a simply defined word in 'more inclusive' ways, understanding is muddied and those to whom a term might apply are dragged under the new umbrella when they don't necessarily fit. I refuse to abdicate my native thought and reasoning processes to theologies and other thought systems I've reasoned to be mythical. In that evaluation the individual is always the final arbiter in Nature. That I might choose to entertain possibilities about what some call 'the supernatural' makes zero change in my state of mind regarding gods and such. These things are not for groups or orthodoxies to determine or validate.

One of my oft' used tools of illustration is the rectangle-square comparison. Squares are rectangles. Rectangles may or may not be squares. The rectangle fits one definition and the square likewise fits it with another qualification added. That is why it is called something different; because it is.


I don't see any problem with being both.


For me, my opinion, True vision, the first step of the 8 in buddist beliefs breaks down to addressing fear. I do my limited best to follow the 8 steps. I use them as a guide.

As far as reincarnation. It is the reward for those who follow the religion. It is there to passify the fear of death. It is just as fake as heaven.

Eightfold Path, Pali Atthangika-magga, Sanskrit Astangika-marga, in Buddhism, an early formulation of the path to enlightenment. ... Later in the sermon, the Buddha sets forth the Four Noble Truths and identifies the fourth truth, the truth of the path, with the Eightfold Path.


Yes. I consider myself Buddhist, Taoist, satanist, dudist, church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, probably also discordian but I haven’t researched that one enough. All of these are more philosophies than religions. Reincarnation and karma are early concepts of the cycle of matter and energy, and cause and effect. Nothing supernatural need be believed to make the philosophy effective.


Why not.

From what I remember reading here a few weeks/months ago, there are a few people here that believe you can be both an atheist and believe in Jesus/God.

To be honest, I believe atheism has nothing to do with the paranormal/supernatural. It's only about the whether or not you believe in a God.


I am not an expert on this but am an ex Hindu. I was taught Buddhism is the offset of Hinduism. The Chinese and Indians prayed and meditated on the same mountains. The groups separated and one group travel more South to China. ... then Buddhism spread to Korea, Japan and Malaysia up to Sri Lanka.
The Buddhists believe in everything Hindus believe in viz kharma, dharma moksha and reincarnation which is the cycle of rebirth. However the Buddhists don't have priests, Brahmins, rituals and caste systems, etc but they do have similar chanting and burn incense sticks before the chant.
Yoga too is connected to both Hinduism and Buddhism and is associated with religious beliefs. There are about 7 to 9 different forms and you can choose which path of yoga you wish to practice without connecting it to a religion, calling it spiritual instead. I'm also confused sometimes.
Yoga and karate was practiced on the coastlines of India, was one sport so to speak. Bhodhiharma went further South and taught the Chinese karate and left Yoga behind for the Indians only. Both these forms of art are linked to meditation, some form of divinity. The hands are clasped together most times in "prayer" form, the same as yoga. You sit in exactly the same position. Sometimes both hands are stretched out offering your inner self to be free of anxiety. I remain confused about the religious connection or medium you're lifting yourself up to and perhaps convenient for most these days to say it's just spiritual. ... perhaps it's like going to gym for good healthy mental balance etc with the form of yoga chosen. I haven't practiced either - meditation or yoga.
Gym yes!

Hinduism and Buddhism are cut from the same cloth. I recently sat in meditated with the Hindu I could feel the energy it was beautiful.
as we focused on our breathing the harmony was clear the giving up of self was evident as we became peace with that ourselves and ultimately within our universe why meditation is the best part of my day of course I don't believe in a deity Supreme Being I do believe in the indomitable human spirit that the human mind is capable of greatness peace and contentment and that we have a lot more control over ourselves than most people admit how I feel is a choice how I breathe is a choice what I think is a choice this recognition is the first step toward free will and the responsibility that goes with it


As far as I can tell, I "live without a spiritual life".


Atheism isn't just a non belief in any god. It should also include embracing principles of reason and a rejection of mysticism of all kinds. Buddhism, despite its warm and fuzzy pretentions, is riddled with mystical nonsense, like karma and reincarnation which require a kind of faith, even if followers and practitioners claim otherwise. I lived in a buddhist country long enough to see it firsthand. There are a few ideas in buddhism I like, others I find repugnant. Some reconcile calling themselves atheist and buddhist, but I consider it sloppy thinking.

It's important to remember that Buddhism has different branches, like most of the world's main religions, and that most of what Buddhism is today is a blend of "traditional" Buddhism with an areas traditional religion(s). Much of the "mystical nonsense" you speak of comes more from the latter of the two.

You're not entitled to redefine "atheism" to suit yourself.
I am happy to be called an atheist and a Buddhist and I don't consider myself a sloppy thinker. Indeed, that someone should make that assumption causes me to question the rigour of their own cognitive processes.

@Gareth in other words you don't agree. Equating atheism with a rejection of mysticism is hardly my assertion alone but a universal one. Try reading Bertrand Russell for example. Nothing impaired with his cognitive processes. Though people pick and choose bits from Buddhism that suit them, like they do all religions, don't fool yourself, it's full of mysticism, supernaturalism, and non evidence based claims, even if it's not a monotheistic religion by definition.

@David1955 I've read all of Russell, thanks, except the Principia. Atheism is a disbelief in God or gods - there isn't really any other accepted definition. Buddhism is essentially a practice to clear the mind - there's nothing supernatural about it at all even though many people, including self-ascribed Buddhists, may not grasp this.


You can not be truly atheist and truly Buddhist, but that's mostly semantic because these world views are contradictory, therefor logically incompatible. You can be agnostic and practice any religion, because that just means that you accept that you don't know which if any religion is correct.

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