Buddha claimed that he witnessed the cessation of all things, including God. How could this be explained by a Christian?


The bulk of my arguments are taken from Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika. It is in verse and extremely condensed, and so probably unreadable for someone who has not previously studied a certain amount of Buddhist philosophy, and so is aware of the positions that Nagarjuna is arguing against. The best modern translation/commentary I have seen is Jay Garfield’s “The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way”. There is another translation and commentary by Mark Siderits and Shōryū Katsura, but I have not read that version so I cannot comment on it one way or the other.

I also use some arguments from Chandrakirti’s commentary on Nagarjuna, the Madhyamakavatara, which is more extensive and can be easier to follow. The best translation and commentary I have seen is Huntington and Wangchal “The Emptiness of Emptiness”.

My illustration of the essence of the car above comes from The Questions of King Milinda, which is a part of the Pali Canon.



It’s irrelevant to what we are talking about. If i had claimed that a car has an essence of a car then we would be talking about whether or not there are particular natures and or essences and whether or not that concept meaningfully applies to a car. But that’s not what we were talking about.

We where talking about actualized potential and the impermanence of the things that we sense, and the logical consequences of those observations. It really doesn’t matter whether or not we really observe distinct natures in things.


The word potential signifies what could possibly begin to be real, and what could possibly begin to exist cannot be unless something causes it to exist or because something realizes the potentiality of it.

You say that things begin to exist. But that can only be true because the potential for that event has been actualized. Things happen because they are possible, in other-words there is a potential for their existence.There was a possibility for something because something real is making that a possibility (things are not possible for no reason), and then something that was already real or actual caused that possibility or potential to be a real something, otherwise it would be nothing at all.

Something that was only potentially real cannot cause existence and cannot be the source of it.

What i have argued is just an inescapable fact. Asserting that a potential is not a “real thing” is simply to make something of my argument that isn’t there in the first place.

Again Making assertions and straw-men of my position is not going to help you. At best it makes you look willfully ignorant.


Obviously it existed together with time. However I am alluding to the state or condition before the universe was created.

When I use the terms before and after, it is not with respect to time but to sequence, such as B comes after A.

That is incorrect. Creation is not co-eternal with God. God can and do exist without/before creation. Since God is the first cause, everything else must come after Him. Hence all causes, necessary, efficient, sufficient etc, arose from the first cause which renders them moot. Creation may have a end-date. When the universe ends, God does not end with it.

In what way did God change? When God says “I AM”, the vocalization of the “I” came before “AM”. The mere fact that there is a preceding/succeeding act does not imply a changing God between the 2 acts. When God acts in time, WE perceive a sequence of events. But to a being outside of time, to Him, all time is the same to Him. He didn’t age a second before and after parting the Red Sea. We, living in time perceive a passage of time though. It is a necessity for us to hear the “I” before the “AM”. It is necessary for us to experience acts in sequence, because that’s how the world was created and operates.

That is where we differ in POV. We perceive and experience these changes because we are in time. God is not subject to time hence he does not change. The change effect is on us, not Him. God does not age when he interact in his created world. Between Abraham and Moses, God didn’t age a few centuries. If he does, then he does not meet the definition of God, which is a timeless, spaceless, all powerful, all knowing being.


Speaking of time and sequence, what de we mean when we say ,
“the only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages”?

“Born” is coming into being.


yeah, that does read all wrong, and it doesn’t express what I meant.Thank you.

Non-contingent existence is an eternal reality different in nature than the eternal reality of contingent existence. Non-contingent existence is changeless being, Inherent to contingent existence is being directly opposed to non-contingent existence in that it is being that does not in of it’self exist… Essential to it’s existence then, is being in of it’self change.

More sloppy wording. It ain’t easy being cheezy::sunglasses:

I meant that contingent existence is an effect caused by necessary being and is the effective cause of subsequent contingent existence.


“He claimed” is all the words necessary. I could claim a lot of things. Some true, some not, and some partially so. I won’t claim to understand it myself, but remember that just because someone claims something doesn’t make it so.


I like Balthasar’s theology on that.

Balthasar eternal kenosis

The idea of creation as a single eternal-temporal act of love is not entirely
a new one. Hans Urs Von Balthasar described God’s action in creation
as "the play within the play."33
That is, the drama of divine action in
creation takes place within the drama of trinitarian life. Balthasar writes:
"It is the drama of the “emptying” of the Father’s heart, in the generation
of the Son, that contains and surpasses all possible drama between a God
and a world. For any world only has its place within that distinction between
Father and Son that is maintained and bridged by the Holy Spirit."34
As Edwards states: "for Von Balthasar, every drama that can be played out
in creation is already contained in and surpassed in the eternal ‘event’ of
inner trinitarian love whereby the Father begets the Word. The begetting
of the Word is an eternal act of letting go, of divine kenosis, of creating
space for the other."35
The implications of Balthasar’s intratrinitarian kenosis are profound.
According to Jiirgen Moltmann, “this premises that the world of human
beings and death does not exist outside God, but that from the very beginning
it lies within the mystery of the Trinity: the Father creates the
world out of love for the Son—the Son redeems the world from sin and
death through his emptying of himself out of love for the Father.”


No problem with your posts, they are clearly self-critical and aware of the hermeneutical pitfalls.

It is the OP and his original post that I was really addressing.


What do you mean by “potential”? A lump of raw iron has the ‘potential’ to be a car, a hammer, a screwdriver, a lump of rust and many other things. Where are all these potentials? How can I detect them? How can I know which lump of iron has the best potential to be a hammer, and which a less good potential to be a hammer?

I do not accept your ‘potential’ here. There is just a lump of iron, nothing more. Any ‘potential’ is in the mind of the blacksmith, not in the iron.

How does “realize the potential” differ from “cause to exist”? Your “realize the potential” seems redundant, so it can be dispensed with. Is there any lump of iron which does not have the potential to be both a hammer and a car? If not then the concept is useless for distinguishing between lumps of iron. If a potential is lacking in a lump of iron, how do we detect that missing potential?

Does that potential exist? In that case the potential for the potential must have been actualized. Does the potential for the potential exist? And we have an obvious infinite regress of meta-potentials. If potential does not exist then the problem is solved. As far as I can see, your potential is just a reification of an internal mental concept, which has not actual existence in the external world. It is in the mind of the blacksmith; the error is to project it from the blacksmith’s mind into the lump of iron.

If potential is a real thing, then we are back to the infinite regress of potentials, since according to you real things come into existence because of a pre-existing potential. The potential of the potential of the potential of the … of the potential of the hammer.



Rossum, thank you for sharing.

If I am understanding you correctly, it appears that Buddha defined the premise for an impermanent state to mean an essence can not be eternal then used this to conclude there can be no eternal essence as God.

Using a premise to shape a conclusion is flawed logic so this does not stand up held by scrutiny of reason. In addition, even if this faulty logic can be accepted from a fallible human being, then there is a clear difference between essence and action. Your examples speak of action, not essence, which means that God could still have a permanent essence with changes in action.

Could you please explain why this flawed logic below is accepted?

Premise: anything that changes is impermanent.

Conclusion: God makes changes so is impermanent and must not exist.

Could you please explain why essence and action are conflated as being one and the same?

Could you please explain why anyone should accept the perspectives of any one created human being to be infallibly right about there being no existence of a Creator?

Thank you in advance.

God’s Choicest Blessings to you and all your dear ones, now and for all eternity.


Sequence? What sequence? Taller before shorter? Arranged in sequence of wavelength, like a rainbow? Highest test scores first? You cannot just say “sequence” without specifying the basis for the arrangement. Even a random sequence has a basis for its arrangement.

Which is my point. God is not a sufficient cause of the universe, there must have been some other non-eternal co-cause which triggered the creation of the material universe. God may be a necessary cause, but He is not a sufficient cause.

You say “after”. Then you are assuming the existence of time in order to say “after”. Your statement requires both God and time.

There is a difference between the “I” and the “AM”. Therefore God(time “I”) is not the same as God(time “AM”), because there is a difference between them. These two different things cannot be the same thing, obviously. We now have two different Gods, not one.

Anything eternal exists for all time, hence X(time T1) is the same as X(time T2) for all T1 and T2. We agree that God is different between time “I” and time “AM”. Hence God does not meet the definition of eternal.

Anything eternal cannot change; it is the same at all times. Anything that changes cannot be eternal because change means that there are times when it is different. Change is difference in time and eternal means no difference in time. The two are incompatible in the same entity.

If God acts in time then God’s actions change and are not eternal because they are within time. You now have two different entities: an eternal God and a changing Actions-of-God. Establishing the connection between these two different entities is not easy. This is the problem the Kabbalah tries to solve with the Sefirot and the Gnostics tried to solve with their Demiurges: how to link the unchanging eternal with the changing world. Buddhism solves the problem by denying that anything is eternal, gods included.



To be honest I don’t know the answer.
I think there is a difference between Buddhism and Catholic Christianity though in the sense that Buddhism focuses quite a bit on the self and escaping suffering where as Catholicism is focused a lot on helping others,compassion,relieving others suffering,taking up your cross etc.

I have previously done some new age/Buddhism type meditation a long time ago and have had some “spiritual” experiences such as bliss feelings.
I think these experiences and Buddhas experience likely have a neurophysiological basis but how and why God “allows” it I don’t know.
It would seem to me that Buddha was conscious during these experiences and that the memory part of his brain was still active but that he distinguishes consciousness as being different from active thought.
He probably was able to stop all active thought but still had a form of “awareness”.
In Christianity our rationality is vital and we consider our thoughts and our minds as ourselves whereas I think in Buddhism the thoughts are considered as passing and being seperate from ourselves.
Correct me if I’m wrong?


If an entity X is eternal, then it is the same for all time: X(t1) == X(t2) for all times t1, t2.

If an entity Y changes, then there are times when it is different: Y(t1) =/= Y(t2) for some times t1, t2.

This is incompatible with being eternal, since the eternal requirement fails for at least two values of time. The eternal cannot change; anything which changes cannot be eternal.

I do not accept the existence of any “essence”, it is a reification of the various internal mental models we have of the external world

Not only was it difficult for him to comprehend that the generic symbol dog embraces so many unlike individuals of diverse size and form; it bothered him that the dog at three fourteen (seen from the side) should have the same name as the dog at three fifteen (seen from the front).

– Borges, Funes the Memorious

Because they work:

[The Buddha said:] “Now, look you Kalamas, do not be led by reports, or tradition, or hearsay. Be not led by the authority of religious texts, nor by mere logic or inference, nor by considering appearances, nor by the delight in speculative opinions, nor by seeming possibilities, nor by the idea ‘this is our teacher’. Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad; these things are blameable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them. … Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are good; these things are not blameable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them.”

– Kalama sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, 3.65



Thank you Rossum, will thoughtfully ponder your response, sincerely appreciated.


You said things come in to existence. Therefore if a thing comes into existence, no-matter what it is, it is by definition an actualized potential.

Even if a thing that has the nature of iron does not change into something else, it’ need only move from one state to another to actualize potential since it is achieving a state that was not actual before, and therefore it is achieving a potential even if it is not turning into something that is not iron, it is a realization of potential. Change is an actualization of potential, otherwise change is meaningless. Your attempt to confuse the issue by challenging the concept of essences is irrelevant to the fact that change is self-evidently occuring whether you like it or not. The universe is in a continuous state of becoming insofar as it is continuously realizing potential…The fact of change Is evident to our experience

If you acknowledge change then you acknowledge the actualization of that which is not necessarily actual or real. Like you said it is impermanent. Therefore it does not necessarily exist. That which is not necessarily actual or real requires a cause. If the universe is simply a sequence of actualize potential then none of it is necessarily real. Therefore that too requires a cause. The cause of change cannot be that which is itself changing as that would mean that it too would require a cause. Therefore there must be a being that is necessarily actual and does not change and is the cause of unnecessary things that change

I agree. And If physical reality is not eternal then it requires a cause that is eternal otherwise physical reality cannot exist for obvious reasons…


When I say before the world was created, which also means before time was created, God exists. Help me here, what would be an appropriate word to denote something that existed “before” time existed? If my choice of the word “sequence” is not apt, do please suggest an alternative.

I’m sorry I must have missed it. How was that determined that God wasn’t a sufficient cause of the universe? And that therefore he needed other assistance?

That’s why I tried to provide a headsup for the terminology of “before” , before time was created. Since you disagree with the terminology of “sequence”, I await your input. Don’t say I didn’t warn ahead of such confusion when discussion of pre-time events. Perhaps “prior” is another possible word.

Why is there a difference? Just because you say there is a difference without distinguishing the difference does not make it so. When God says “I AM”, surely you jest that you have 2 different gods? Words don’t create gods.

I certainly did not agree. So in what way did God change? In what way did he become non-eternal? How did you come to that conclusion?

[quote=“rossum, post:53, topic:482197”]
Anything eternal cannot change; it is the same at all times. Anything that changes cannot be eternal because change means that there are times when it is different. Change is difference in time and eternal means no difference in time. The two are incompatible in the same entity.
[/quote]Eternal includes outside of time, even prior to the creation of time. There is nothing incompatible about an eternal God interacting with his own creation that runs on time. God is not subject to his own creation. You have not demonstrated any incompatibilities at all.


There is clearly difficulty in describing a point before time without using words that are strictly temporal in nature. He or she is using this against you but it really isn’t much a refutation. It merely points out the difficulty in describing anything beyond temporal acts. The cause of time is not “before” in a temporal sense, but rather it is before in a logical sense like 1 goes before 2… If change or physical reality itself has a beginning, then it only makes logical sense to think that change or physical reality has a cause and that such a cause is not physical or bound by temporal concepts… If change doesn’t have a cause then change is occuring without a cause, which obviously doesn’t make rational sense…


I do not accept your concept of a potential. Is a potential real? Then there must have been a potential-potential present that was acutualized to make the potential. Similarly there there must have been a potential-potential-potential in order to actualize the potential-potential which was needed to make the potential. I do not accept such an infinite regress of potentials.

If a thing comes into existence, then it comes into existence because all the necessary conditions are present. Nothing more.

What does this mean? What is wrong with “made of iron”? Why bring in superfluous concepts like “nature”? If I remove two electrons from an iron atom, does the charged Fe2+ Ferrous ion still retain the “nature of iron” or does it now have the “nature of the Ferrous ion”?

No I do not. Your “actualization” is another reification of a mental concept which has not real equivalent in the external world. There is just iron, and the blacksmith shaping the iron into a hammer or into a horseshoe. Nothing more. All your reified concepts are complicating a basically simple process.

Why not? George Washington changed through his lifetime, and was in his turn the cause of change in the status of the former American colony. Washington was caused by his parents. A cause can itself be changing.

Your “does not change” completely negates any ability to cause anything. The cause must exist before the effect – a non-existent cause can have no effect. Therefore there is a time when the cause is not yet causing the effect, otherwise the two would be simultaneous. Hence the causing entity needs to change state from “not causing” to “causing” in order to effect any later causation. Since an unchanging entity cannot change, then it can never activate any causation. Furthermore, it is possible for changing entities to themselves cause further change.

Not eternal, it requires a cause that is external to physical reality, but once the process is started – the Big Bang is triggered – then that causative agent is no longer required. Did the USA cease to exist when the last of the Founding Fathers died?



In the absence of time, cause and effect cannot be distinguished. The cause comes before the effect in time. In the absence of time, then they cannot be distinguished and causation fails. Causation is dependent on the prior existence of time; in the absence of time, causation cannot exist.

If the sufficient cause exists, then the effect also exists, because all the requirement for it to exist are met. God has existed for eternity. The material universe has not existed for eternity, hence God alone is not a sufficient cause – if He were then the universe would be co-eternal with God.

You are claiming an unchanging God who changes. That is an obvious error. The unchanging cannot change. See my post #11 in this thread about Genesis according to an unchanging God. The Bible God does different things on different days. That requires that the Bible God changes. One day He makes the sun, moon and stars. Another day He makes kangaroos and armadillos. The God of Genesis changes over time and so cannot be unchanging.

Anything that changes is not eternal. The “Let there be armadillos” version of God was not present on the day when He made the sun and stars. Hence that version of God is not eternal, there was a time when it did not exist.

You can analyse God into parts, working out what parts change and what parts do not. You will find that the unchanging parts cannot act, and the changing parts, which can act, cannot be eternal.

You use the word “prior”. Merely using a synonym for “before” does not get you out of the problem we have already discussed.

God as creator is contingent on His creation. He cannot be a creator unless He has actually created something. A claimed creator who has not created anything is making a false claim. The designation “Creator” is a contingent designation.


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