In my previous post I talked about how a book called Buddhism published by a Sikh'ish, Hindu'ish Indian organization, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, distorts Buddhist reality.
So far I've only read one chapter in the book, "A Perspective on Buddhist Views on Soul and God." Here's a PDF file of the scanned chapter pages, complete with my often skeptical highlighting (yellow question marks in the margins).
Download Buddhist Views on Soul and God chapter
I hope other people more knowledgeable about Buddhism than I will read the chapter and leave comments about this question: Does the author, K.N. Upadhyaya, correctly describe mainstream Buddhist teachings about "soul" and "God"?
I see no sign in his book that he submitted his manuscript to Buddhist scholars, or even practicing Buddhists, for review and comment, so this strengthens my suspicion that Upadhyaya allowed his personal religious views to sway his analysis of Buddhism.
So does my reading of the "In Search of the Great Watchmaker" chapter in an interesting book, The Quantum and the Lotus, by Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan. Ricard is a Buddhist monk and the French translator for the Dalai Lama. He's also scientifically trained, as is Thuan.
The subtitle of their book is "A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet." In the above-mentioned chapter, Ricard and Thuan discuss whether there's any need to posit a religious creating God, a secular organizing principle, or a philosophical first cause in order to explain the universe.
Rather surprisingly, Ricard, a practicing Buddhist, turns out to be more ungodly than Thuan, an astronomy professor. Ricard says that Buddhism sees no need for the sort of Hindu "Brahman" that Upadhyaya feels is part of the Buddha's teachings.
As far as Buddhism is concerned, the idea that there is some principle of organization that is supposed to have tuned the universe perfectly so that the conscious mind could evolve is fundamentally misguided.
...The universe has not been adjusted by a great watchmaker so that consciousness can exist.
...Why shouldn't a chain of causes be infinite in time and complexity? What law of nature does that contradict? How many causes must we have before saying, "That's enough. I can't keep going back in time ad infinitum, so let's adopt a causeless creator"?
...To sum up the Buddhist alternative way of thinking, which requires no principle of organization, in the Buddhist world of appearances, each instant is a perpetual end and beginning because of the basic impermanence of the phenomena produced by the laws of cause and effect.
In terms of absolute truth, all past, present, and future events are identical in that they have no intrinsic existence. Thus they have no real end or beginning.
If nothing is really "produced," there is no need to look for an end. And so it isn't necessary to search for a principle of organization that is supposed to have made everything and have been made only by itself.
So Matthieu Ricard, a monk who has studied and practiced Buddhism for over forty years and is close to the Dalai Lama, disagrees with the contention of Radha Soami Satsang Beas and K.N. Upadhyaya that the Brahman/God worshipped by Hindus also is part of Buddhist teachings. Even more, Ricard says that Buddhism sees no need for any ultimate organizing principle, even secular/scientific.
The third school of thought says that the beginning of this world and of life is inconceivable since they have neither beginning nor end. Buddhism is in accordance with this third school of thought. Bertrand Russell supports this school of thought by saying, 'There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our thoughts.'
...If man is created by an external source, then he must belong to that source and not to himself. According to Buddhism, man is responsible for everything he does. Thus Buddhists have no reason to believe that man came into existence in the human form through any external sources. They believe that man is here today because of his own action. He is neither punished nor rewarded by anyone but himself according to his own good and bad action. In the process of evolution, the human being came into existence. However, there are no Buddha-words to support the belief that the world was created by anybody. The scientific discovery of gradual development of the world-system conforms with the Buddha's Teachings.
In another post I'll show that the RSSB "Buddhism" book also is wrong about how soul is regarded in Buddhist teachings.