The Inherent Existence of God

I published an article on October 20th indicating that I was finally beginning to understand Nagarjuna, and if my test results from my Buddhism class aren’t completely based on nepotism, I apparently have a firm grasp on the other concepts of this religion as well. Therefore, I feel confident moving forward with this discussion, at least as confident as I’ll ever be, and turn towards why I disagree with Nagarjuna regarding inherent existence.

To recap, Nagarjuna states that nothing inherently exists because such a concept is absurd. To inherently exist means to be eternal, to never change, and Nagarjuna states that something which never changes can never change anything else either. If something inherently existed, it could not move, could not feel, could not be moved, and could not move anything else. It would also have to be unconditional, which is to say that nothing would cause that which inherently exists. Likewise, that which inherently exists cannot cause anything else.

The logical conclusion of this line of argument is that if something does not possess inherent existence–that is to say, it is capable of change–it will die. Likewise, everything that is temporary and going to die is also conditional; everything is caused by something else. Nothing exists on its own.

That which is temporary and conditional is “empty,” Nagarjuna would say. It has no inherent existence; it is conditional on something else, and is itself a condition for other states. It only exists, is only defined, by its conditions. It is empty.

You may have already surmised my response, which is that Nagarjuna’s perception was limited. He observed the world around himself with the same assumptions everyone in Asia made at the time and came to these logical conclusions, but they’re only logical based on that limited perception.

It should be stated here that, within Buddhist theology, there are gods. I had previously always believed it an atheistic religion, or philosophy, but there are certainly gods within Buddhism. And these gods are the same as everything else: susceptible to change, death, and rebirth.

I believe strongly that I serve a God who is both the beginning and the end, however; who has always existed and always will. Despite that, I do not believe that God inherently exists as Nagarjuna would define it.

The Christian God “inherently exists” in that His existence is not conditional. God does not depend on anything else for His existence. However, inherent existence, to my mind, does not preclude the inability to change or to affect change. Nagarjuna took a step from “not caused” to “unable to cause” that I cannot quite comprehend. The only arguments he offers is that if something is not caused, it cannot exist, and therefore cannot cause anything else. But what if something existed without being caused? Could it not then affect change?

Our God exists without being caused, and this fact alone leads to the unraveling of Nagarjuna’s chain of logic. Beyond this, we know that God can change, else He would have wiped out the Israelites during the time of Moses, left them in exile in Babylon, or left humanity dwelling in sin. The story of Jesus is a story of changing times, and it was our God who changed them.

God doesn’t need us for His existence. God just is. But He presses into us as we press into Him, He shapes and teaches us, and we must therefore recognize that God affects change. God claims to be the beginning and the end, and I cannot dispute His claim. I have met God, and know His face. It smiled, and in this, I saw God move.

4 thoughts on “The Inherent Existence of God

  1. Well put, I had similar thoughts when I read your first post. You bring up a good point when you mention his limited perception of the concept of inherent existence–often we forget to consider that. At first I was opposed to applying the concept of inherent existence to Christianity, but it only serves to make God more beautiful. To me, that’s the best indicator that his logic is correct.

  2. No I do not follow what you mean. Why is this ‘God’ you speak of immune to the restrictions of inherent existence?

    God needs conditions, if there is a ‘god’ it requires us to look at it and say it is ‘god’. It needs conceptualisation, it needs reverence, it needs human beings to humble in awe at the magnificence of it, otherwise it does not exist. God requires that it be uncaused which is in itself a condition, it also requires that it has omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, and whatever other attributes your personally give your concept of God.

    The definition of God I follow is this. Once you are free of conscious thoughts, feelings, emotions, senses, ignorance, desire. Once the realisation sinks in that ‘you’ is a concept generated by the brain and the illusion of seperate phenomena is also a concept generated by the brain, this is god, everything is god, this is true nature, after death and the ego is shattered the truth is realised.
    all is one, one is all.

  3. But why does God require that we look and define Him? Is his existence conditioned upon that?

    I am saying that no, it is not. That God would exist regardless of humanity. Just as my existence is not conditioned by the existence of a creature a billion light years away, neither is God’s existence conditional upon mine.

    “Being uncaused is a condition” is absurd; you’re basically saying, “God’s existence is conditional upon being unconditioned,” which is illogical. Something either inherently exists or it does not; you cannot claim that inherent existence is a condition for inherently existing, and because of that, something cannot inherently exist because it now has a condition.

    There are good arguments to be made, but I don’t think your two arguments hold any weight.

  4. Like all dualities, you cannot have one without the other. Like light, logic is useful, but – like light – it does not exists in isolation.

    You can’t reduce God to a logical problem. It produced logic itself, it is beyond logic. There must be a leap.

    Like you cannot alter light to produce darkness, you cannot magically twist around logic to produce non-logic. (Beware of linguistic traps.) Adding one and one to 5 might sound illogical, but it is just false logic.

    Like darkness is not a twisted form of light, non-logic is not a twisted or false form of logic, it is something else entirely.

    This may sound logical, and that is the problem. For this problem, there is meditation. What is the colour of the wind?

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