[Buddha-l] Enlightenment as dogma

JKirkpatrick jkirk at spro.net
Thu Oct 14 11:55:41 MDT 2010

 Hi Randall,

I've been wondering when someone would get around to Aj.
Buddhadasa. Over a few years I've posted on his views on rebirth
and some discussion of them now and then, where relevant to a
thread, only for it to be completely ignored. I have his No
Religion article on file and some books by or about him. His
views to me are most persuasive.  However, I finally gave up even
mentioning him. 
Let's see if you have any better luck.
For me, it doesn't matter if something is a dogma or not, as long
as nobody forces me to "believe" anything. Same goes for labels.
To "be" a Buddhist or not to "be" a Buddhist-- pointless to argue
about something this infantile.

Cheers, Joanna

-----Original Message-----
From: buddha-l-bounces at mailman.swcp.com
[mailto:buddha-l-bounces at mailman.swcp.com] On Behalf Of Randall
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 10:17 AM
To: Buddhist discussion forum
Subject: Re: [Buddha-l] Enlightenment as dogma

At 10:29 AM 10/14/2010, Pedro wrote:

>... (I myself have been told that I can't possible be a buddhist

>without believing in rebirth, for example). But, the more
>question, in my opinion, is why would you want to call yourself
a ... a 
>"buddhist" and deny such  a central tenet?

But what does "rebirth" mean?  Or "birth" for that matter?

Are you asking why someone who defines "rebirth" differently from
you would want to call him- or herself a Buddhist?

Here's a quite extended quote from Aj. Buddhadasa. The whole
article, No Religion by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, is at:


I must admit I've never thought to ask why he called himself a
Buddhist. Do you suppose I should have?


         The words "birth" and "death" require the same
discrimination regarding language.  In people language, the word
"birth" means to be born from a mother's womb.  In Dhamma
language, however, the word "birth" means some form of attachment
is born.  This kind of birth happens every time we allow the
arising of a thought or feeling which involves grasping and
clinging to something as "I" or "mine," such as, "I am," "I
have," "I think," and "I do."  This is the birth of the "I"
or the ego.

         For example, think like a criminal and one is instantly
born as a criminal.  A few moments later those thoughts
disappear, one thinks like a normal human being again and is born
as a human being once more.  If a few moments later one has
foolish thoughts, right then one is born as a fool.  If one then
thinks in an increasingly foolish and dull manner, one will be
born as an animal immediately.
Whenever an attachment is felt intensely--when it burns inside
one with the heat of fire--one is born as a demon in hell.
Whenever one is so hungry and thirsty that one could never be
satiated, one is born as an insatiably hungry ghost.  When one is
overly cautious and timid without reason, one is born a cowardly
titan.(*)  Thus, in a single day one can be born any number of
times in many different forms, since a birth takes place each and
every time there arises any form of attachment to the idea of
being something.
Each conception of "I am," "I was," or "I will" is simultaneously
a birth.  This is the meaning of "birth" in Dhamma language.
Therefore, whenever one encounters the word "birth," one must be
very careful to understand its meaning in each particular

         "Birth is suffering."  These words mean that the
egoistic kind of birth described above is always painful and
ugly.  That is to say, if we allow "I" to be born in any manner,
suffering occurs immediately.  If we live simply and directly in
the awareness of "not-being-I," it's like remaining unborn and
never experiencing suffering.  Although physical birth has
happened long ago, there is no further spiritual birth of the
egoistic "I."

         On the other hand, whenever an egoistic thought or
feeling arises, there is suffering at once and the suffering
always fits the particular kind of "I" that is being born.  If
"I" is human, it suffers like a human.  If "I" is an angel, it
suffers angelically.  If "I" is demonic, it suffers hellishly.
The manner of the grasping and clinging can change repeatedly,
even being born as beasts, hungry ghosts, and cowardly titans.
In one day, there may be many births, many dozens of births, and
every one of them is unsatisfactory, frustrating, and painful.
To destroy this kind of birth is Nibbana.

         Concerning death, there's no need to speak about what
happens after the people language version.  Why talk about what
happens once we're in the coffin?  Instead, please deal with this
most urgent issue of ego-birth, that is, don't get born and there
will be no suffering.
Without the feeling of being born, there is no person anymore and
all the problems disappear with it.  That is all.  When there
isn't this continual being born, there is no longer a "somebody"
to have problems.  It's as simple as that.  The time remaining in
life is no longer an issue once we know how to experience the
fact that this "I"
will never be born again.  This can be called "non-birth."  You
may call it "death" if you prefer.

So you see, between people language and Dhamma language the words
"birth" and "death" have opposite meanings.  The same situation
exists in the scriptures of other religions, especially those of
Christianity.  As a result, the Christians don't understand their
own Bible, just as we Buddhists don't understand the Tipitaka
(Buddhist scriptures). Thus, whenever members of the two meet,
they end up arguing until they are blue in the face.  The
quarrels are simply unbelievable; they fight to the end.
Therefore, let us develop some understanding concerning this
matter of people language and Dhamma language.


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