Shambhala Sun | September 2013
Review: Where Does God Fit In?
Brad Warner says that the concept of God can be helpful to Buddhists. Catholic thinker SUSAN J. STABILE, formerly a Buddhist nun, thinks not.
There is No God and He is Always With You
By Brad Warner
New World Library 2013; 360 pp., $15.95 (paper)
I stopped believing in God long before I became a Buddhist. So God wasn’t very relevant to me during the twenty years I practiced Buddhism. It wasn’t that I spent time thinking or arguing about the existence or the nonexistence of God (the way many of today’s atheists do). It’s just that God had no place in my life or practice.
Since my return to Christianity in 2001, God has been the center of my life. I see everything I am and everything I do as flowing from my relationship with God, and everything that exists as infused with the presence of God. I can also look back at my years as a Buddhist and see where God was present in my life, even though I failed to acknowledge that presence at the time and would have denied it if questioned about it.
Given my current view of God as central to my life and all of human existence, the question is, was I missing something when I was a Buddhist? Is there room for belief in God in Buddhism, particularly a God that might be helpful on the Buddhist path?
In There Is No God and He Is Always with You: A Search for God in Odd Places, Brad Warner talks about why he believes in God and what God means to him as a Zen Buddhist practitioner. As he recognizes, one of the difficulties with such questions is that the answers depend on what you mean by God, as well as what you mean by belief and by Buddhism.