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Daily Connection: Morals Without God - Is Karma a Higher Power?

IDP Board member and blogger Jon Rubinstein forwarded this fascinating article to me, Morals Without God from the NY Times. It reminds me of the position of Sam Harris,  wondering if it is possible to develop human ethics and wholesome conduct without belief in some higher power. Someone once asked me if karma is in fact Buddhism's higher power.

(photo of what God probably does NOT look like from BBC)

But karma is too eye-level and ground-level to be considered a higher power. Maybe Buddha Nature is our higher power, but that too, is not a higher or other self. It's right here. It's neither savior nor devil. Is gravity a higher power? So perhaps Buddhist practice does hold some wisdom of how to create a self-verifying ethics of human behavior in a secular and materialistic age.

At the same time, people often ask me if I personally believe in God. I always say "yes!" The universe is just too beautiful to say no. I just don't think God's a dude. How about you?

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Comments

Hmmm

Not quite sure how a beautiful universe necessitates a higher power but whatever. I appreciate the fact that evolution has put me in a position in which I can perceive beauty and love and kindness. As Darwin put it so eloquently:

"When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled."

Evolution + Karma

A big thumbs up on the essay. Karma and evolution are enough for me. Throw in game theory; cooperation and altruism make sense. I don't really see a point in an original creator.

Evolutionary psychology provides the hardware; Buddhism provides the software.

great essay

I don't believe in god. karma's a process, not a power, although the rebirth thing gets confusing. and accumulation of merit -- how do you accumulate it unless someone's keeping score, and what do you get when you have enough? (I always give mine away so I don't have to think about it.)

I think buddha nature is as close as it gets to a higher power -- and I don't think "higher" is the right adjective. it's more like a collective power.

the world created the beauty of the world -- the myriad causes and conditions that came together to shape the shoreline and determine the height of the waves, to have great foliage and sweet strawberries, transcendent music and art that touches our tender hearts and put us in contact with our buddha nature.

back in the day when I attended meetings of a higher-powered organization, some people chose to consider the group their higher power because they had never gotten any help from god.

if you need a dude, watch "the big lebowski"

don't think God's a dude

I don't either!

I don't think god is a human personality at all, in fact. But there is god, sure.

But I am doubtful that buddhism can create "a self-verifying ethics of human behavior in a secular and materialistic age." I'm not sure a self-verifying ethics can be created  in ANY materialistic age.

Unless there is some value on other than material good, ethics doesn't really work for me. So it's the word "materialistic" that makes me doubt that project, rather than the efficacy of buddhism.

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