Theism, Atheism and Non-theism


[NOTE: The earlier version of this essay titled “Theism versus Atheismhas been obsoleted]

(Wikipedia) The term theism derives from the Greek theos meaning “god”. … they are “strictly and properly called Theists, who affirm, that a perfectly conscious understanding being, or mind, existing of itself from eternity, was the cause of all other things”.

(Wikipedia) Atheism is rejection of theism in the broadest sense of theism; i.e. the rejection of belief that there is even one deity.


Theism views God, in its special role, to be separate from all existence.  A culture that believes in theism assigns a similar role to self as being spiritual and separate from the physical existence around it.

The concepts of theism and atheism are coming strictly from a SELF-CENTRIC viewpoint. They are for or against “self” being the ultimate reality. The concepts of theism and atheism are created out of a focus on self.


The concepts of theism or atheism are foreign to the East and do not apply to the Vedic religions. Therefore, we may call Vedic religions non-theistic in nature. Some people consider Vedic religions to be atheistic or polytheistic because they are looking through a filter of theism-atheism.

Abrahamic religions, such as, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are theistic. The Vedic religions, such as, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, are non-theistic.


Non-theism is based on the reality of existence. A non-theistic culture does not separate self from other things, but sees everything as part of the same reality of existence. The concept of non-theism, therefore, comes from a REALITY-CENTRIC viewpoint.

Theism, therefore, is self-centric. Non-theism is reality-centric.

Theism is based on subjectivity. Non-theism is based on objectivity.

Theism takes the affinities of people and molds it into a reality that is built around the idea of God. Non-theism takes the existing reality and transforms it into a sense of all-inclusive affinity.

The focus of Theism is on the uniqueness of self (individuality). This gives rise to the ideas of us and them. The focus of Non-theism is on oneness of all existence. Thus, differences may arise but they are secondary.

Theism holds a special idea of God. The idea of being one with God is unacceptable to it. Non-theism holds no special idea of God. The idea of being one with ultimate reality is part of it.


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  • vinaire  On June 23, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    From “The Tao of Physics”:

    “The rich Indian imagination has created a vast number of gods and goddesses whose incarnations and exploits are the subjects of fantastic tales, collected in epics of huge dimensions. The Hindu with deep insight knows that all these gods are creations of the mind, mythical images representing the many faces of reality. On the other hand, he also knows that they were not merely created to make the stories more attractive, but are essential vehicles to convey the doctrines of a philosophy rooted in mystical experience.”


  • vinaire  On June 23, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    From “The Tao of Physics”:

    “Chinese and Japanese mystics have found a different way of dealing with the language problem. Instead of making the paradoxical nature of reality palatable through the symbols and images of myth, they prefer very often to accentuate it by using factual language. Thus Taoists made frequent use of paradoxes in order to expose the inconsistencies arising from verbal communication and to show its limits. They have passed this technique on to Chinese and Japanese Buddhists who have developed it further. It has reached its extreme in Zen Buddhism with the so-called koans, those nonsensical riddles which are used by many Zen masters to transmit the teachings.”


  • vinaire  On June 23, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    From “The Tao of Physics”:

    “In Japan, there exists yet another mode of expressing philo- sophical views which should be mentioned. It is a special form of extremely concise poetry which is often used by Zen masters to point directly at the ‘suchness’ of reality. When a monk asked Fuketsu Ensho, When speech and silence are both inadmissible, how can one pass without error? the master replied :

    “I always remember Kiangsu in March- The cry of the partridge,
    The mass of fragrant flowers.

    “This form of spiritual poetry has reached its perfection in the haiku, a classical Japanese verse of just seventeen syllables, which was deeply influenced by Zen. The insight into the very nature of Life reached by these haiku poets comes across even in the English translation:

    “Leaves falling
    Lie on one another;
    The rain beats the rain.



  • vinaire  On June 23, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    I once tried my hand at writing Haiku that went something like this:

    The caterpillar
    Reaching the end of branch
    Explores the space beyond.”


    • vinaire  On June 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM

      Later, when turned into a butterfly, it flies into that space.


  • vinaire  On June 23, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    From “The Tao of Physics” by Fritjof Capra:

    “Whenever the Eastern mystics express their knowledge in words – be it with the help of myths, symbols, poetic images or paradoxical statements – they are well aware of the limitations imposed by language and ‘linear’ thinking. Modern physics has come to take exactly the same attitude with regard to its verbal models and theories. They, too, are only approximate and necessarily inaccurate. They are the counterparts of the Eastern myths, symbols and poetic images, and it is at this level that I shall draw the parallels. The same idea about matter is conveyed, for example, to the Hindu by the cosmic dance of the god Shiva as to the physicist by certain aspects of quantum field theory. Both the dancing god and the physical theory are creations of the mind: models to describe their authors’ intuition of reality.”



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