3 Scriptural Evidence of Why There is No “Creator God” in Buddhism
Does a creator “God” exist? Who created “God”? Is there really such a “ loving God” who creates the Universe, controls the destinies of everyone and everything, and condemns those who do not believe in him to eternal hell forever?
Here is the Ultimate Good News: the Buddha says there is simply no divine creator in this Universe. The notion of a divine creator is a misguided view that stymies humanity toward achieving enlightenment quickly.
Let’s review the scriptural evidence in the sutras:
Question 1: Is there a creator “God”?
#1: The Surangama Samadhi Sutra
“All the dharmas are empty, like phantasms, and only exist in conjunction with each other. They have no creator but arise entirely due to the discrimination of conceptual thought. Because there is no master [of consciousness the myriad dharmas] appear according to one’s thoughts.” – The Surangama Samadhi Sutra, p 124 (BDK English Tripitaka)
Manjusri said, “All the dharmas also exist in dependence on the causes and conditions of inconceivable karma. I have no power to effect such things. Why? The dharmas are all based on causes and conditions. Since they are without any [ultimate] master, they may be created at will.” (The Surangama Samadhi Sutra, page 191, BDK English Tripitaka)
What can we learn from these two verses: There are three key points:
First, there is no “Creator God.”
[…They have no creator….They are without any ultimate master….]
Second, it is the deluded mind that creates the misguided view of a “Creator God.”
[….arise entirely due to the discrimination of conceptual thought]
Third, the world arises due to Dependent Origination, the Law of Causes and Conditions.
[All the dharmas are empty, like phantasms, and only exist in conjunction with each other.]
The answer to the first question is simple, there is no creator god whatsoever. We need to uphold the Right View of no divine creator, and that the Universe arises due to causes and conditions, also known as the Law of Dependent Origination.
Reference: Shurangama Samadhi Sutra by BDK America
Question 2: Who creates the false notion of a “divine creator”?
#2: Brahmajāla Sutta: The All-embracing Net of Views (DN1, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi)
In this sutta, the Buddha lists 62 different types of wrong view, all of which are based on contact of the six sense bases and their objects. One of the wrong views is the misguided view conceived by the deluded Brahma who falsely thinks that he is the “Creator God.”
“Thereupon the being who re-arose there first thinks to himself: ‘I am Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. And these beings have been created by me. What is the reason? Because first I made the wish: “Oh, that other beings might come to this place!” And after I made this resolution, now these beings have come.’”
Now, bhikkhus, this comes to pass, that a certain being, after passing away from that plane, takes rebirth in this world. Having come to this world, he goes forth from home to homelessness. When he has gone forth, by means of ardor, endeavor, application, diligence, and right reflection, he attains to such a degree of mental concentration that with his mind thus concentrated he recollects his immediately preceding life, but none previous to that. He speaks thus: ‘We were created by him, by Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the Universal Seer, the Wielder of Power, the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being, the Ordainer, the Almighty, the Father of all that are and are to be. He is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change, and he will remain the same just like eternity itself. But we, who have been created by him and have come to this world, are impermanent, unstable, short-lived, doomed to perish.’
Abraham, Ibrahim, and Brahma….does it ring a bell to you? There are immeasurable heavenly beings such as Brahma, Shakra, and even Mara, the Demon King, who dwells in the heavenly realm. These heavenly beings live for a long time but they will eventually pass on to continue the cycles of reincarnation in Samsara. They are not eternal and they do not have all-encompassing wisdom like the Buddha. As they are not able to recollect immeasurable past lives, they embrace the misguided view that Brahma is the eternal creator.
However, do note that not all Brahmas embrace this misguided view because there are many Brahmas who revere and worship the Buddha and they uphold the Right Views as taught by the Buddha. If you happen to embrace the false view upheld by this Brahma, then it’s time for you to relinquish the false view and embrace the Buddha’s wisdom of the Law of Dependent Origination.
The answer to the second question: the deluded mind is the root cause that gives rise to the perverted view.
Question 3: Who perpetuates this false view of a “creator god”?
#3: Brahma-nimantanika Sutta: The Brahma Invitation (MN 49)
In this sutta, Baka Brahma embraces the misguided view that his life as a Brahma is eternal and permanent. Mara, the Evil One, is the ultimate devil who tries to stop the Buddha from correcting the false view held by Baka Brahma.
“‘So, monk, I tell you this: Please, good sir, be effortless. Abide committed to a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now — for it is skillful, good sir, that this not be taught. Don’t instruct others.’
Buddha knows Mara is the one who tempts the ignorant ones to believe in a false view of a divine creator:
“When this was said, I told Mara the Evil One, ‘I know you, Evil One. Don’t assume, “He doesn’t know me.” You are Mara, Evil One. And Brahma, and Brahma’s assembly, and the attendants of Brahma’s assembly have all fallen into your hands. They have all fallen into your power. And you think, “This one, too, has come into my hands, has come under my control.” But, Evil One, I have neither come into your hands nor have I come under your control.’
As you can see, Mara, the Evil One, is the Demon King who perpetuates the false view of a divine creator to trap living beings in Samsara for eternity.
What does a demon do? The mission of a Demon King is to distract people from achieving Enlightenment. Therefore, embracing the false view of a divine creator is a stumbling block towards achieving enlightenment quickly.
Here is the fun fact: do you know Mara dwells in the Sixth Heaven, the highest heaven of the world of desire? So be careful if you aspire to reborn in Heaven.
Who perpetuates this false view of a creator god? The answer is simple: Mara, the Demon King, is the one who perpetuates the misguided view of a “creator god” to obstruct humanity from achieving enlightenment.
Let’s recap what we have learned today:
Question 1: Is there a creator god?
There is no divine creator. The “Creator God” is a false view. The Right View is that the Universe arises due to the Law of Dependent Origination.
Question 2: Who creates the false notion of a “divine creator”?
The deluded mind is the root cause that gives rise to the perverted view of a divine creator.
Question 3: Who perpetuates this misguided view of a “creator god”?
Mara, the Demon King, is the one who lures the ignorant ones to believe in the false view of a “creator god” so as to trap humanity in Samsara forever.
Before we end the learning today, let’s make an aspiration to achieve Enlightenment and offer our aspiration to all Buddhas:
May I achieve Enlightenment quickly for the healing and awakening of all living beings.
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