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INTRODUCTION In this research I make an attempt to present a Christian critique of the Buddhist concept of suffering.

We will uncover insights into not only how and by what means soteriological wrong is described but also how salvation is understood. My thesis is not so much a specific point to be proved; rather my thesis is that comparative study enhances and broadens our understandings in our case life!s fallen nature. that Buddhist truth and Christian truths taken separately offer valuable insights into our fallen nature but taken together"when perspectives are read dialectically they e#pand our understandings of soteriological wrong. $lease note% I am not saying that the reality of soteriological wrong will be or can be known completely e#haustively. &uch knowledge always remains beyond our abilities. But and this is crucial comparison moves us beyond the limitations of particular perspectives; comparison helps us become more aware of our own constructions; and comparison increases the degree of comprehensiveness with which we know. $rimacy is granted to actual engagement in and with the world in this pro'ect with reflection upon that engagement a critical second step whereby the meaning and truth of such engagement is construed. ( usual observation is that comparison is the fundamental way to gain understanding of anything. &uccinctly all knowledge is comparative.

*his dissertation illustrates

in an intentional and e#plicit way this observation with the claim that comparative inquiry evinces insights and truths that non"comparative inquiry does not. *he difficulty of this claim is twofold% first it would be difficult if possible to study something non"comparatively with the purpose of showing what is not learned in the

+oanthan , &mith for e#ample writes in this respect. -*he process of comparison is a fundamental characteristic of human intelligence. Whether revealed in the logical grouping of classes in poetic similes in mimesis or other like a activities comparison the bringing together of two or more ob'ects for the purpose of noting either similarity or dissimilarity is the omnipresent substructure of human thought. Without it we could not speak perceive learn or reason. Instances of comparisons are presumably as old as mankind itself and may be found in our earliest literary documents. *hat comparison has at times led us astray there can be no doubt; that comparison remains the method of scholarship is likewise beyond question. .rom -(dde $arvum $arvo Magnus (cervus /rit -in Map is 0ot *erritory% &tudies in the 1istory of 2eligions. 3eiden%/.+ Brill )456 pp789"78). &imilarly 3awrence /.&ullivan writes -(ll understanding passes through the travail of comparison conscious or not. - Icanchu!s :rum% (n ;rientation to Meaning in &outh (merican 2eligions. 0ew <ork%Macmilllan )466 p)4

process. *hus there is no counterpoint against which to contrast the knowledge gained from this comparative study. &econd and more crucially if indeed all knowledge is comparative. *hen even a so"called non"comparative study if it produces knowledge is in some respect Comparative if only within the parameters of one tradition. *he claim then integral to my thesis is that comparative study which involves concepts figures te#ts etc. from different traditions

advances our

knowledge in ways that are not available apart from such kind of study. *here is an element of personal 'udgement involved in assessing this claim; thus part of my task is to be as persuasive as possible always mindful that I am studying comparatively based on the conviction that such study moves us closer and more fully to understanding reality. ;ne of the conte#ts for this pro'ect is Buddhist"Christian studies and the dialogue that e#ists between Buddhist and Christians. In recent years several articles have appeared in Buddhist"Christian &tudies which highlight interests in comparing Buddhist and Christian understanding of salvation. *his pro'ect contributes to this e#change. 1ee" &ung =eel in a study of the ,en Master Chinal and Barth notes. *wo main aspects of >Barth!s and Chinul!s? soteriological thought have drawn our attention. .irst they share the idea of the ob'ective universal salvation of humankind and the problem of how to appropriate it sub'ectively. &econd they recogni@e the predicament we find ourselves in even after the act of sub'ective appropriation of the ob'ective truth. A *he )44) issue of Buddhist"Christian &tudies includes an article comparing Buddhist and Christian notions of salvific knowledge

as well as papers from an


e#change on the topic -Being in the worldB. C .inally in the )447 issue of this 'ournal several essays form an e#change around the topic -&alvation and 0irvana. 7


*o anticipate a section below in which my selection of te#ts and authors is presented and defined I can note here that a primary reason for looking at the EFmaga and the :ogmatics is that they will offer in their treatments of Gnsatisfactory nature and sin strikingly different understandings of the fallen state of life. A 1ee"&ung =eel -&alvation (ccording to the =orean ,en Master Chinul and Barth -in Buddhist Christian &tudies vol.4 )464p77 8 +ames Breckenridge. -*he &alvific 2ole of =nowledge in a Buddhist and a Christian conte#t% ( Comparative &tudy of *wo $arables -in Buddhist"Christian &tudies Eil )) )44). $p.5C"68 C -*heological /ncounter IE -edited by 2ita Hross in Buddhist"Christian &tudies. Eol )) )44) pp.)44"78D D 2uben 1abito et al -&alvation and 0irvana - in Buddhist"Christian &tudies. Eol )7 )447 pp.)6)

these and many other Buddhist"Christian comparative writings reveal widespread interest in concepts of salvation its nature and the nature of attaining it considerably less interest is shown in comparing Buddhist and Christian understandings of wrong what I am calling the fallen nature of life. Interest has been shown in other words in soteriological Isolutions! while less interest has been shown in soteriological Iproblems!. (nd many of those studies which have appeared un"wittingly perpetrate a common misunderstanding of one of our two terms Unsatisfactory nature. In the )46C issue of Buddhist"Christian &tudies a collection of several essays and transcriptions concern the concept of Unsatisfactory nature.

Many of the insights

deserve consideration. ( problem arises however because while the Buddhist side is talking about Unsatisfactory nature the purportedly analogous concept on the Christian side with which Unsatisfactory nature is compared is Isuffering.! Indeed Isuffering! is the commonplace translation of Unsatisfactory nature and as we will see it is partially merited. 0onetheless the meaning of Unsatisfactory nature far transcends suffering.6 ( similarly misleading treatment occurs in the )465 issue of Buddhist Christian &tudies. Christian theologian :urwood .oster writes about current -sticking pointsB in Buddhist"Christian dialogue. i.e. issues around which Buddhism and Christianity reveals fundamental differences. *he section dealing with Unsatisfactory nature has the title -/#istence% &uffering or HoodJB In considering these essays under the rubric of un"wittingly perpetrating a common misunderstanding of Unsatisfactory nature, I must be careful. In both the )46C essays and e#changes and .oster!s )465 essay recognition is made that Unsatisfactory nature is misunderstood if it is translated only as Isuffering.! *he )46C e#change involving &hubert ;gden. *aitetsu Gnno +ohn Cobb 1ans =ung .rank Cook 2yusei *akeda and Horden =aufman 4 points out that Unsatisfactory nature semantic function often parallels the function of sin in Christian thought. &imilarly .oster is eager to note that Unsatisfactory nature - in fact has a different and broader meaning
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2yusei *akeda et al -*heological encounter B in Buddhist"Christian &tudies. Eol.C )46C pp.5")CC 2ahula Walpola for e#ample writes -it is true that the $ali word Unsatisfactory nature Kor &anskrit Gnsatisfactory natureL in ordinary usage means Isuffering! Ipain! sorrow or Imisery! as opposed to the word sukha meaning Ihappiness! comfort or Iease!. But the term Gnsatisfactory nature as the first 0oble truth which represent the Buddha!s view of life and the world has a deeper philosophical meaning and connotes enormously wider senses. It is difficult therefore to find one word to embrace the whole conception of the term Unsatisfactory nature as the first 0oble *ruth and so it is better to leave it un"translated than to give an inadequate and wrong idea of it by conveniently translating it as Isuffering! or pain . Iwhat the Buddha *aught p.)5. 4 Buddhist MChristian &tudies Eol C )46C pp.88"86

than does the Western notion of suffering.B


:espite these caveats however the

thrust of these writings goes a long way toward reiterating the close association that Unsatisfactory nature has had with suffering an association which misrepresents what Buddhists mean when they use the term Unsatisfactory nature. *he $ali *e#t &ociety $ali"/nglish :ictionary defines papa as -evil wrong doing sinB.

$hra :epwidi in his :ictionary of Buddhism defines papa as -evil; wrong


action; demeritB.

$hra :epwidi adds Isin! as a definition for papa with the notation

that this definition is -misleadingB. *wo issues are at stake which taken together suggest the difficulties and relating words. In what the Buddha *aught . Walpola 2ahula addresses the concept of sin only once. 2ahula writes N there is no Isin! in Buddhism as sin is understood in some religions.)A While 2ahula does not e#plicate this claim. It is not difficult to infer his point that *heravada Buddhism lacks the essential characteristic by which -some religionsB define sin vi@.. a god &upreme Being against whom sin denotes a violation. ;ffense or transgression. &imply put sin implies a Hod and since theravada Buddhism has no such Hod

sin is not an appropriate category.

*he second issue in defining Isin! as papa is suggested by turning to the D' pada a collection of verses deemed among the most popular canonical te#ts and generally accepted as being uttered by the Buddha. Chapter 0ine of this collection is entitled Papa-vaggo, or literally Papa"ChapterO&ectionB. +ohn 2oss Carter!s and Mahinda $alihawadana!s /nglish translation of the D'pada and its commentary shows that the primary meaning attached to papa signifies wrongful action misdeed. ( representative verse reads% &hould a person do a wrong
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:urwood foster -Buddhist"Christian dialogue - in Buddhist"Christian &tudies Eol.5 )465.p.)DC *.W. 2hys :avids and William &tede editors $ali"/nglish :ictionary. 3ondon% *he $ali *e#t


$hra :epwidi :ictionary of Buddhism. Bangkok %Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist Gniversity $ress 7CAC B/. $A65 )A Walpola 2ahula what the Buddha *aught. 0ew <ork%Hrove $ress Inc. )4C4 pA )8 *here are indeed gods in *heravada cosmology which are like humans part of samsaric e#istence; the claim here is that *heravada Buddhism lacks an eternal being that is designated by the word IHod!.

3et him not do it again and again 3et him not form a desire toward it ( suffering is the accumulation of wrong papan ce puriso kayira na tam kayira punappunam na tamhi chandam kayiratha dukko papassa uccayo)C *he commentary for this verse reads% &hould a person Kdo a wrongL% Kpapam ceL puriso KkayiraL *he meaning of this %should a person do a detrimental act once let him look back at that very instant >upon it reali@ing? -this is improper and coarseB. 3et him not do it again and again% na tam =ariya punappunam 3et him indeed not do it >again? having dispelled whatever desire or aptitude >may arise? in regard to it. WhyJ ( suffering is the accumulation of wrong% dukko papassa uccayo .or the growth the increase of the detrimental brings about only suffering in this life and in the ne#t. )D $apa denotes to use Carter!s and $alihawadana!s phrase -detrimental actsB *his analysis of papa from *he D'pada suggest the second issue in defining Isin! as papa vi@ that -detrimental actsB does not capture the full meaning and scope of the term Isin! as it is used in Christian thought. While the Christian theological term has traditionally included detrimental acts its full import carries a vastly wider sense. (lthough it is premature to say too much about what sin means. I note that for (ugustine whose thought has e#erted formative influence on Western Christian reflection.

sin has not only psychological but also metaphysical ramifications


humanity through sin. has fallen in the order or status of its being

1erein lies a

problem that is defining words especially when it involves translation from one language to another which are influenced by different religious and cultural backgrounds meanings significance and scope are e#tremely difficult to specify


*he :F pada translated by +ohn 2oss Carter and Mahinda $alihawardana 0ew <ork ;#ford Gniversity $ress )465 p)4A )D Ibid )5 $iet &choonenberg &.+. writing about sin calls (ugustine -the father of our Western theological thinking.B Man and sin. 0otre :ame I0% Gniversity of 0otre :ame $ress )4DC. $ )84

Ibid pp)86")C5 &ee also -sin ;riginalB in Ean (.1arvey ( 1andbook of *heological *erms 0ew <ork% *he Macmillan Company )4D8 pp 77)"777

accurately. .or us papa does not adequately communicate the reality or meaning signified by Isin! We must look elsewhere.