In a common Zen invocation, Vairochana Buddhaâ€”the pantheistic divinity regarded as existent in each and every particIeâ€”is addressed. Noting the presence of many buddhas and bodhisattvas in Zen, some of us may see it as polytheistic. Others regard Zen as atheistic, since the central ï¬gure on the altar is usually ShakyamuniÂ Buddhaâ€”a human being, not a deity. Those who have faith in Amitabha Buddha often refuse to worship other divinities, so their practice may appear to fall into the category of monotheism. Thus, Buddhistsâ€”including Zen practitionersâ€”can be seen as running the gamut from having faith in a single deity to many deities to omnipresent deities to no deity at all. The ambiguity and diversity of this situation do not seem to bother people much. Accordingly, I propose a concept of ambigu-theism to characterize the theological orientation of Buddhism (13).
Heading tomorrow to ZMM for sesshin. When I get back next week I want to pick up my discussion of Zen from early in the year, regarding Zen's relationship to the divine & supernatural from some previous posts. From Zen Chants, by Kazuaki Tanahashi, a teacher with whom I have studied briefly: