[Buddha-l] liturgical languages

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Thu May 12 17:37:10 MDT 2005

On Wed, 2005-05-11 at 17:27 +0700, Randall Jones wrote:

> I'm still confused.  It doesn't seem to me that we "do" non-deliberate or 
> involuntary actions.

Does it make sense to you to ask what a rock does? Can you imagine
constructing a sentence in which "rock" is the agent of a verb? If you
can make sense of someone saying "What did the rock do?" and getting the
reply "It rolled down the hill.", then you can make sense of something
(or someone) doing something non-deliberately.

> I did falling down implies to me that I fell down 
> deliberately.  So I don't really see how arhants (or anyone else) could 
> "do" kriyas.  Or is it that any action, deliberate or not, not done for 
> personal benefit, is a kriyaa.

Yes, that's the case. A kriyaa is any action that a verb can name. A
karma is an action done with an intention of gaining something personal.
So if one has no such intention, then one's action is a kriyaa and not a

> PS:  If we can't tell whether actions are kriyaa or karman, how can we 
> claim that actions could be enlightened?

I don't think actions are enlightened in themselves. I think people deem
actions as being enlightened. Enlightenment, in other words, is an
attribute superimposed upon actions by people who observe them. And when
they deem an action to be enlightened, I guess what they are deeming is
that the agent of the action did the action without any thought of
personal gain.

Actually, I find the whole idea of enlightenment very confused. It is an
idea that is foreign to Buddhism, I think. What is NOT confused is the
concept of nirvana. That is very straightforward. When the shift was
made from seeking nirvana to seeking enlightenment, Buddhism took a
dreadful turn for the worse. You can blame this bad turn on the Lotus
Sutra, which may be the only text ever written that I would not stop
someone from throwing onto a fire. 

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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