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Deities of Buddhism?

Hello, everyone.
I am Buddhist and a devotee of Tara Buddha (particulary in her green manifestation). However, at the moment I am having something of a crisis of faith, and have been reading that these deities don’t exist.
So, the question I ask is: do such deities really exist or not? Can any fellow Buddhists (particularly those of the Mahayana tradition) help me? I know some were said to be human beings who achieved Buddhahood, but how come one particular deity is known as someone else i another country, and looks completely different as well?! Help!
ps: No sarcastic commments please.
Om Tare Tutare Ture Svaha


  1. Buddhasim isn’t a religion. And it doesn’t have rules, not physical ones anyway. Exactly what is it ur “into” or studying? =/

  2. In Buddhism, deities are representations of mind states.
    If you’re having difficulty with a practice you should speak about it with your meditation instructor.

  3. I wouldn’t recommend worshiping deities if you’re Buddhist. The main heart of the Buddhist tradition is meditation and achieving satori. Just focus on meditative techniques. Meditation has been found to have real practical benefits in terms of your physical and mental health, and you’ll achieve far more through it than through deity worship. Study Zen Buddhism in addition to what you’ve encountered before.

  4. All religions believe their gods are the real gods. Personally, and I’m not saying this sarcastically, just answering your question, the idea of a deity that has a “green manifestation”, sounds so unbelievable, as does the belief of an elephant god with many arms, that it’s hard to fathom how anyone could possible see it as real.
    So no disrespect intended, just trying to give you an honest answer.

  5. Tara is a female Buddha as your are, full of compassion and passion for life. The symbols are used to point the way to your own *true-ness*. : )

  6. According to the Buddha, all “deities” are still subject to the cycle of samsara, so in a way there are no all-powerful deities. But of course, this is the Theravada view, which may differ significantly from some of the Mahayana views.

  7. The flora and fauna, geography, weather, every natural element is different in every land. Why would identical principles necessarily be expressed the same in the deities. But Buddhist deities are meditation focuses, patterns of nature to emulate, not particular incarnations. This is some quality you are emphasizing in your emptiness. Good for you.

  8. Please consider the enlightenment that is the centerpiece of Buddhism. Go for that and all other questions will answer themselves.
    If it helps you out, Christians make the same mistake, by worshiping the messenger rather than paying attention to the message itself.

  9. The Taras are not deities, but representatives of certain virtues and ideals. Buddhism has no deities…it is an atheistic philosophy, not a religion. The more “colorful” Buddhist stories should be viewed as allegories, not actual people/events. The different versions that originate from different countries are simply varied interpretations, created by men.
    Hope this helps you.
    Om Mani Padme Hum. Namaste

  10. No specific deities except for Tibetan Buddhism which merged with an older shamanistic religion, and maybe some Japanese versions like pure land and Nichiren because they blended with Japanese folk religion and it was animistic and heavy in the ancestor veneration. Basic Buddhism recognizes that there is a force, a source of all divinity in the universe but doesn’t label it as God or Creator or any other label that will limit your concept of Him. Instead Buddhists eliminate that which is not the Self, the Divine, and eventually what’s left will be that Self. We also believe that we are not separated from the Self, we are the Self, and separation is just an illusion. If you look at a flower you can say that it is made up of petals and leaves and pollen etc… but it is also made up of water and sunshine and air and the Self and everything else that is in the universe. And so are we. Hope that helps.
    EDIT: I stole that flower thing from Deepak Chopra

  11. I think that your question has been answered, there really are no gods, just enlightened ones.
    I was taken by some of the christians answers though. They accuse everyone else of ignorance and rudeness but don’t hesitate to be the same themselves. Tht hypocracy is why I left christianity in the first place
    Well stated Warrior…beautiful!!!!!!!

  12. Buddhism has no deities, in the sense of extra-terrestrial beings who somehow have influence over human affairs.
    Buddhism does have a number of bodhisattvas who represent states of enlightened human consciousness. This means that bodhisattvas are not different than ordinary human beings like you and me — when we function in an enlightened manner.
    When we act with enlightened compassion, we manifest in that moment as the Bodhisattva of Compassion (Avalokitesvara).
    The term bodhisattva means “enlightened (bodhi) existence (sattva)”. Names and imagery are simply cultural. Avalokitesvara (Sanskrit) becomes Kuan Yin in Chinese, Kwan Um in Korean, Chenrezig in Tibetan, and Kannon in Japanese.
    Buddhist imagery, especially in the Tibetan tradition within which you study, sometimes portrays bodhisattvas in ways that our Western consciousness interprets as god-like. But that’s a cultural error on our part.
    Any of us can easily become a bodhisattva. Just make a great vow to help all beings, attain enlightenment, and then ease the suffering of the world.

  13. Buddhism is not a theistic religion. The buddhas are not deities but persons who have reached enlightenment. Buddhism is a pantheistic or panentheistic religion. Basicallly the divine is all and the all is divine.

  14. Deities “exist” only for the people who have the karma to see them. This is a crisis only because you have named it that. What would this feeling of crisis be if you did not know what to call it? And what is faith? There are many kinds of faith but the best, most stable kind of faith is based on reasoning. You have to study and practice! The two go together and are inseparable – developing both will make your faith irreversible. You must develop insight and concentration – but to do any of this you have to make some decisions. What is it you want to achieve? Some want happiness in this life, some want liberation from suffering, and others seek Buddhahood for the sake of all mind-possessors. The latter would be Mahayanists – the motivation is great, hence, great (maha) vehicle (yana). What makes a Mahayanist? It has been said that refuge in the Triple Gem makes a Buddhist. Bodhicitta, the mind that aspires to enlightenment, makes a Mahayanist and initiation makes a practitioner of the adamantine vehicle, secret mantra. So, which are you? What is refuge? Refuge is based on fear (of the lower realms, or of suffering itself) and faith (faith that the Three Jewels can help you.) What are the Three Jewels that we seek refuge in? Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha. What is a Buddha? What is Dharma? What is Sangha? There are coarse interpretations of what these things are…but then there are very specific definitions of what these things are. So, naturally, there is a great deal of study that needs to be done on the part of the beginning practitioner. And only through study, analysis and meditation on these very topics can any faith in their efficacy to relieve us of suffering (within this life or future lives) be activated. As for Tara, she doesn’t “look” a certain way because you don’t see her with your eyes…just like when you are asleep and dreaming you are not seeing with your eyes but there is still visual images appearing to your mental consciousness. Tara necessarily emanates in as many different shapes and colors and with varying degrees of detail and characteristics as there are devotees who make her their deity of choice. It is the same for all deities, really. And Buddhism is not that dogmatic. There is room in your practice for your own affinities and imagination…It is a lot like painting pictures. Once you learn how to draw, select subjects, stretch canvas, mix paints to get various colors, block your subject matter and get into the act of painting you are on your way. It is the same with deity practice…but take it slow and reinforce your practice with study. The most authoritative book I could recommend to you is “The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment” by Lama Tsong Khapa. It is available through Snow Lion Books. Of course, books by His Holiness the Dalai Lama are also highly recommended. Online, I would recommend http://www.lamrim.com and thubtenchodron.org. Best wishes to you!

  15. First, you should talk to your teacher. If you don’t have one, you shouldn’t be doing Tara sadhana.
    Tara is a generic term for a set of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. Green Tara is one of the more popular ones. She originated as a goddess in Hinduism and was later incorporated into the Buddhist pantheon.
    The purpose of Tara sadhana is to embody the enlightened qualities that she represents. As such, her existence or non-existence is a mute question. Nevertheless, Mahayana Buddhism has some very intricate philosophy concerning what is and isn’t real. If you really want to settle your crisis of faith, you have two options: study Buddhist philosophy or put the question aside and keep practicing.

  16. I was just at the Rubin Museum, in Manhattan. The guide was a graduate student of Tibetan Buddhism from Columbia University. According to her (and my interpretation of her words), the green Deities are a representation of all the colors combined. Even the blue Deities are calmed in her presence.
    If I remember correctly, the green deities are not humans who have escaped samsara. I believe that the white Deities are the humans who have escaped samsara, but choose to exist to help people who are in samsara.
    You might be interested in the Rubin Museum of Art’s website. The entire museum is Tibetan, Bon, and other Eastern artworks. I don’t know the web address, just google it.

  17. Tibetan Buddhist deities do not exist outside ourselves, they’re not nothingless either, they don’t “really” exist, but a role model or vehicle served to attain enlightment, they represent different aspects of enlightened mind.
    In Vajrayana Buddhism there are countless deities, they are merely principles and concepts, therefore they are not really individuals, it is quite easy to misunderstand the images and to misinterpret the deity as an external entity. The images of deities are actually reflections, mirror imagess, of the nature of our own mind.
    In most religious traditions visualizing the deities as being present in front of one, one prays to them hopefully receives their blessing. In the Vajrayana tradition, however, the blessing, the power and the qualities of the deities are regarded as being innate, as being within ones own mind. Through regarding oneself as the deity, defects are gradually eradicated and good qualities gradually revealed because the potential to transcend our problems is innate rather than external to us.
    Allen, disciple in White Jade Monastery lineage, Nyingma

  18. The deities in “Deity Yoga” mainly borrowed from the common deities worship in Tibetian Buddhsim which already mixed up with the local cult ‘Bon’. The answer to ur question “does deity exist in Tibetan Buddhsim” is “no” and “yes’. Zen meditation do not use visulazation. Chinese Mahayana masters (especially monks) neither deny nor recognize deities.
    Search subject: “The cult of Tara” in Google, one is given by today Dalai Lama.


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