[Buddha-l] Paul Williams

[DPD Web] Shen Shi'an shian at kmspks.org
Sun Dec 23 19:02:35 MST 2007

Hmmm... on Williams' first question, it used to trouble me too. Anyway,
I came up with this article to clarify on it subsequently - "Why is
there Anything at all?": http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zeph/message/840
It's really a question asked erroneously to some extent as "things" are
not as "thingy" as we think in the first place - including "us".

God (literally) doesn't answers the question of "Why is there anything?"
- because one can simply push back the question to ask "Why is there God
at all?" From another article: "Why 'Intelligent Design' Lacks
221 :

"It is easier to see the workings of uncreated nature as perfectly
 than to believe there is an unnatural creator working perfectly in
nature." - stonepeace

"The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty
of our imagination." - Bertrand Russell 

For "Criticism 2", William's dismay seems primarily and ironically due
to attachment to "Self" in the first place. It springs from the "Self"
wanting to cling to hope for one"Self". The truth is, according to
Buddhism, there is always hope for enlightenment - exactly because there
is no fixed Self - because that allows for spiritual evolution (anicca
due to anatta) instead of being fixed in a spiritual stalemate. 

Amituofo, shi'an

-----Original Message-----
From: Ngawang Dorje [mailto:rahula_80 at yahoo.com] 
Sent: Saturday, 22 December, 2007 11:52 PM
To: Buddhist discussion forum
Subject: [Buddha-l] Paul Williams


  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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