[Buddha-l] Enlightenment as dogma

Michael LaTorra mlatorra at nmsu.edu
Sat Oct 9 16:46:08 MDT 2010

Hi Stefan,
In my reply to your message, I include what was written by Erik
Hoogcarspel because I am in agreement with his point of view.

The Buddha taught a way of practice. When people asked him for some sort
of persuasive argument as to why they ought to believe what he taught, he
often said "come and see" -- in other words, 'try what I recommend and see
what results.'

I teach Zen at a small practice center (see url below my sig block). In my
experience of practice over the past 20 years, and teaching for the last 8
years, I have found that practice can transform the practitioner, while
mere belief in any dogma or proposition can only provide fleeting comfort,
at best, and sore delusion at worst.

Many of the Buddha's teachings are quite valuable, I've found, for people
who have already advanced in practice (i.e. been transformed by practice
to a greater or lesser degree). However, those same teachings cannot be
rightly understood, and therefore have almost no value, to someone who
only wants to "think them through" without engaging in serious practice
under a qualified teacher.

Michael LaTorra
College Assistant Professor
Department of English

New Mexico State University
MSC 3E, PO Box 30001
Las Cruces, NM 88003

mlatorra at nmsu.edu


> Date: Fri, 08 Oct 2010 12:16:31 +0200
> From: Erik Hoogcarspel <jehms at xs4all.nl>
> Subject: Re: [Buddha-l] Enlightenment as dogma
> To: buddha-l at mailman.swcp.com
> Message-ID: <4CAEEF7F.6020209 at xs4all.nl>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed
>   Op 7-10-2010 21:17, Stefan Detrez schreef:
> 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 nirv??a, 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.
> Erik

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