To End All Suffering: A Christian Analysis of the Buddha's Teachings

To End All Suffering: A Christian Analysis of the Buddha's Teachings

by Michael Collender


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Both Buddhism and the Christian gospel promise the ending of suffering. However, each defines and interprets morality, compassion, proof, and truth according to starkly different worldviews. This is why adjudicating rival claims between these religions has proven so difficult. Two alternate approaches have emerged: treating religious claims as mere personal opinions, or postulating some higher standard outside of religion to which each religion much submit. However, both of these approaches to comparative religious research implicitly deny that any religion can present a story about the totality of reality, including ultimate standards for proof and truth.

This book takes a different approach entirely, demonstrating a way that religions can self-critically engage one another using their own respective standards. Within this framework, early Buddhist philosophy and the Christian faith enter into philosophical dialogue. In the process, To End All Suffering pointedly demonstrates that on its own terms, Buddhism cannot account for the very doctrines necessary to show that the Buddha's teachings end suffering. Written primarily for Christians and Buddhists interested in interreligious dialogue, To End All Suffering is a course book suitable for individual study or for college or seminary courses in comparative philosophy or religion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620322505
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 03/17/2014
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Michael Collender (DPhil, University of Stellenbosch) has taught philosophy and ethics at Gonzaga University for over a decade. He has been a visiting fellow in the Philosophy Institute of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and has researched and lectured at the Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA. He is the producer of the audio journal Saint Anne's Public House. His academic website is

Table of Contents

Rights Page iv

Gratitude xi

1 Introduction 1

Two Great Debaters 1

Interreligious Dialogue in a Flat World 4

Overview of To End All Suffering 9

Part I A Methodology for Interreligious Dialogue Between Buddhism and Christianity

2 A Methodology for Interreligious Dialogue Between Buddhism and Christianity 13

Buddhist-Christian Dialogue 13

Why We Can Know the Worldviews of Ancient Peoples 19

How to Practice Interreligious Dialogue 26

Conclusion 47

Part II An Overview of Buddhist Philosophy and Its Historical Context

3 Historical Background to Buddhist Philosophy 53

Introduction 53

The Creator/Creature Distinction in Ancient India 55

The Creator/creature Distinction in the Hebrew Scriptures 66

The Ajivikas 76

Jainism 77

Conclusion 77

4 The Life and Times of the Buddha 79

Introduction to the Buddhist Problem of History 80

The Life of the Buddha 82

Conclusion 87

5 The Beginning of Knowledge 89

Sense Experience 94

Justifying Causality 98

Conclusion 105

6 Causality: The Heart of Buddhism 106

Introduction 106

The Buddha's Causal Theory 107

The Middle Way of Phenomena 111

No Metaphysical Speculations 114

Conclusion 115

7 The Three Marks of Existence and the Five Aggregates 117

Introduction 117

Impermanence 118

Dukkha 118

No Self or Substance 119

Conclusion 121

8 Karma and Ethics 122

Introduction 122

Karma 122

Ethics 125

Regulative Concepts 130

Conclusion 131

9 The Big Picture: Four Noble Truths and Nirvana 132

Introduction 132

The Four Noble Truths 133

Nirvana 135

Conclusion 138

Part III A Christian Critique of Buddhist Philosophy

10 The Logic Problem 141

Introduction 141

The Buddha's Need for Rationality 142

Setting up the Problem 142

Conclusion 146

11 Buddhist Replies to the Logic Problem Part One: Five Possible Objections to the Buddhist Logic Problem 147

Introduction 147

Objection 1 Transcendental Arguments Are Not Permissible In Interreligious Dialogue 148

Objection 2 Logical Validity Does Not Exist 152

Objection 3 Laws of Thought Are Like Physical Laws 154

Objection 4 Logical Thinking is an Evolutionary Product 155

Objection 5 W. V. Quine and "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" 156

Conclusion 160

Buddhist Replies to the Logic Problem Part Two: The Problem of 'This' and 'That' 161

Introduction 161

The Problem 163

Conclusion 167

Nagarjuna 168

Introduction to Nagarjuna 168

Nagarjuna's Method 170

Two Objections to Nagarjuna's Method 175

Conclusion to Nagarjuna 183

Pragmatic Account of Logic: Concluding the Buddha's Logic Problem 183

The Buddhist Problem of Other Minds 187

Epistemological Constraints 187

The Argument 188

Objection 1 What About Language? 190

Objection 2 What About ESP? 193

Conclusion 197

The Causality Problem 198

Introduction 198

A Cautious Preamble 199

Why Kalupahana Must Oppose My Objections 203

Hume's Staccato Moments 204

Empirical Justification Through Normal Perception and ESP 207

Conclusion to the Causality Problem 212

Transcendental Recursive Causal Proofs 213

16 To End All Suffering 218

Buddhism as a Sofa Bed 218

Buddhist Philosophy and Pragmatism 220

The Problem of Evil 223

To End All Suffering 231

But… But… But… 239

17 A Christian Critique of Buddhist Pragmatism 241

An Odd Table Talk 241

The Problem of Pragmatism 243

Spiritual Hospice Care or Spiritual Cure: The "Medical Ethics" of Redemption 244

The Question of Motive 250

What About Other Religions? 255

The Power of a Friendship That Will Not Agree to Disagree 255

Biblical and Apocryphal Abbreviations 259

Bibliography of Works Cited 261

Subject/Name Index 267

Index of World Religious Texts 281

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