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Published: 19 years ago


Most religions become corrupted after the death of their founder, and Buddhism was no exception. Myths, traditions and superstitions grew up around the simple philosophical system. In fact, Buddha had no belief in the soul, personal immortality, or any supernatural realities. He didn't so much deny God as ignore any deity. He was an Atheist — as another Atheist, Gore Vidal, cleverly illustrated in his 1981 novel, Creation. The narrator, Cyrus Spitana, asks Buddha (Tathagata) about immortality:

"Let me ask you a question. If a fire was burning in front of you, would you notice it?"
"Yes, Tathagata."
"If the fire went out, would you notice that?"
"Yes, Tathagata."
"Now, then, when the fire goes out, where does it go? to the east? the west? the north? the south?"
"But the question is to no point, Tathagata. When a fire goes out for lack of fuel to burn, it is... well, it is gone, extinct."
"You have now answered your own question as to whether or not a holy man is reborn or not reborn. The question is to no point. Like the fire that goes out for lack of fuel to burn, he is gone, extinct." (p. 240)
It is dishonest to presume that so "spiritual" a thinker must have believed in a God. Buddha had every opportunity to claim divine inspiration — and declined. The Catholic Church made him a saint, anyway, under the name of Saint Josaphat.

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