[Buddha-l] Paul Williams

Ngawang Dorje rahula_80 at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 22 08:51:42 MST 2007


  Sometime ago, Paul Williams conversion was slightly discussed.
Has anyone read,"The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism" by Paul Williams.

I would be interested if someone could provide a review or comment of the book. More spesifically, if someone could address Williams' critique of Buddhism, that would be great.

Criticism 1:

Williams writes: 'The question: why is there something rather than nothing? has become for me rather like what Zen calls a koan. It is a constant niggling question that has worried and goaded me (often, I think, against my will) into a different understanding, a different vision of the world and our place in it.'

This question was first posed in a philosophically exact form by the great Catholic thinker, St Thomas Aquinas. Williams is dissatisfied with the answer of Buddhists (and other pragmatists) that things are simply the way they are, and that Buddhist practice involves coming to terms with this 'reality'. For Buddhism the world is an endless network of conditions, a process of actions and consequences, and it is meaningless to ask where, or why, it started. Williams doesn't deny the rationality of this position, but it does not satisfy him. He wants to know why things are this way, and he follows Aquinas' answer, that there must be a 'necessary being' whose existence is not conditioned or dependent. Enter 'God', the answer to all conceivable 'why?' questions.

Criticism 2:

Williams is also dismayed by the implications of the Buddhist teaching that rebirth does not offer a solution to the problem of death. For Buddhism – unlike, for example, Hinduism – the being that is reborn cannot be identified with the one that dies. The ending of one life merely conditions the start of another. Where does that leave you, Williams wonders? 'Unless I gained Enlightenment in this life, I – Williams – the person I am - would have no hope. For the rebirth of Williams that follows from not attaining enlightenment would not be the same person as Williams... Thus Buddhism appeared to me hope-less.'

Thanks a lot in advance.


P.S. Quotatin from:

See also:

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