Review of ‘Buddhism and God’ from Progressive Voices Magazine

Buddhism and God by Robert M. Ellis, Mud Pie

“In only 70 pages it articulates serious and contentious content. Ellis is experienced in Christianity, an ex member of a Buddhist order, and as a philosopher is well placed to conduct comparative studies. He creates a structured exploration of the meaning of God from differing perspectives (Theists, Buddhists and Universalists), to interrogate and push forward analysis. And this reveals fundamental ideas,particularly that the notion of an absolute God is unhelpful, and downright dangerous. The Christian God, the Enlightened One, and Universalist religious relativism all start from the premise of the reality of God, which then allows a cycle of self-justified wishful thinking to condone at best limiting and at worst
extreme beliefs.

For Ellis the existence of God is irrelevant as he argues for exploring the religious experience, rather than the reality of the Supreme Being. It is through encountering, sharing and exploring this experience that we enhance spirituality, not through dogma and tradition.

It is a fascinating argument, not always easy to follow as the
language of philosophical discourse can be hard. But Ellis does also have lightness of touch. When examining the idea that because the ‘God’ experience shares features across times and faiths, it ‘proves’ the existence of God he comments: ‘This is no more necessarily the case than claiming that if a thousand people scattered across the globe all say they have a headache, therefore they are all in communication with the Cosmic Headache.’

But this book is not merely critical. Ellis sets up an alternative approach using the Buddhist concept of The Middle Way (He is the founder of the Middle Way Society). While this text is not concerned with establishing or describing this stance, his use of this idea is convincing, convincing enough to make me register for an online Middle Way conference!”

Andrew Lancaster

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