[Buddha-l] Enlightenment as dogma

Erik Hoogcarspel jehms at xs4all.nl
Fri Oct 8 04:16:31 MDT 2010

  Op 7-10-2010 21:17, Stefan Detrez schreef:
> Hi,
> a friend of mine asked me whether the Buddha's enlightenment should be seen
> as a Buddhist dogma. As I'm not a specialist in this area, or any other for
> that matter, I promised to ask for an academic opinion. Also, what 'proof',
> excepting the his own testimony, is there for Siddharta Gautama to have
> attained enlightenment.
> Thanks,
> Stefan
Hi Stefan,
there may be a little bit of mix up here. 'Enlightenment' is a Christian 
word and it has the meaning of seeing God's light or seeing things in 
God's light, it doesn't mean nirvāṇa, the end of personal suffering. The 
Buddha claimed to have discovered a way to accomplish this and kind of 
encourages everyone to try it out and see for themselves. If anyone 
comes up with a better way, so much the better. There's no need for 
metaphysical claims, although some might say there is some metaphysics 
involved. It's not like the Buddha says 'I am the truth' or 'I have 
discovered The Truth and all others are deluded'.
Dogmas are Christian and Jewish theological constructs. They define what 
everyone should believe. If you don't accept a dogma, you're a heretic 
and you must be excommunicated in the least. In Buddhism things are seen 
in a different way. If I deny karma for instance, but continue to 
practice as a Buddhist in order to get rid of suffering, some might find 
me a strange Buddhist, but no one would suggest to burn me on a stake or 
officially throw me out of the temple.
If you don't believe the Buddha made it, but still follows his advice, 
you're not very consequent. There is in that case something wrong with 
your practical common sense, but you're metaphysical believes are not 
very relevant.


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