Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Satan And An Atheist In Dialogue

Walter Kaufmann was one of America's most famous philosophers and I became a fan of his years ago. I was first introduced to his writings by Venerable Nyanaponika who had a great appreciation for him also. He had all Kaufmann's books and with his characteristic generosity lent them to me. Kaufmann was the one of the very few academics at that time who actually read the Tipitaka instead of the then often unreliable secondary literature. He knew the Tipitaka through Neumann's lyrical German translations. As a result, Kaufmann was able to write authoritatively about the Dhamma and he often did. In his brilliant Critique of Religion and Philosophy (1958) Kaufmann has an amusing and insightful fictitious dialogue between Satan and an atheist. I reproduce a small part of it here.

Atheist: You look so content. Have you grilled another theologian for breakfast? Or did you heat up a Christian for your lunch?

Satan: Both, my friend.

Atheist: I have often wondered how you catch Buddhists. After all, they do not believe the sort of thing Christians believe, so you can't undermine their faith.

Satan: I get them to fall out of love with the world.

Atheist: By dangling beautiful women in front of ascetics?

Satan: Not necessarily. Their aim is to fall out of love with the world. I try to show them that suffering is worthwhile.

Atheist: That’s what I said; women.

Satan: That works only with the least interesting cases. The others I try to interest in some cause, some task, some mission. I may even persuade them to spread their knowledge to as many men as possible. As soon as I have kindled some ambition I generally do not find it too hard to involve men in all sorts of compromises. But there are other ways.

Atheist: Just name one more.

Satan: Sometimes I try to lead then from detachment into callousness and indifference to the suffering of others. But that only works in the early stages. Once a Buddhist has developed his particular detached compassion he represents one of the hardest cases I know. A Christian theologian is child's play compared to that.

1 comment:

Buddha said...

This story is very nice...
Permit me to copy and Paste in a very gud orkut Community


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