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July 14, 2011

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Some of the language of Wong Weng Hong in this review seems to create problems. Either he has gravely misunderstood Grimm or perhaps he has just made some mistakes in expressing his agreement. Where he comes closest to an accurate understanding of Grimm is where he writes "The highest good of Man is dissimilarly designated in dissimilar religions. It is known as Brahman, Kṛṣṇa consciousness or Nirvāṇa in Vedānta or Hinduism, Tao in Taoism, Ming Te in Confucianism, Anattā or Nibbāna in Theravāda Buddhism, Śūnyatā, Nirvāṇa or Buddha-nature in Mahāyāna Buddhism, Dzogchen in Tibetan Buddhism, Holy Spirit or Christ in Christianity, Fanā in Sufism and Baqā in Islam. These different designations are used to represent the one and only Truth of eternality. Eternality is ineffable or inexpressible. That can be expressed is not the eternal Truth. The soteriological goal is absolutely identical in seeking the eternal Truth of Unity, Non-duality or Insubstantiality. Unity, Non-duality and Insubstantiality are synonymous. When one’s notion of ‘I’ or ‘Mine’ vanishes, one sees the eternal Truth.

The God-realization state of enlightenment of monotheism is known as non-duality between the Lover and the Beloved. The Self-realization state of enlightenment of Buddhism is the Non-duality between the Perceiver and the Perceived. The state of non-duality of these two major religious systems of Buddhism and Monotheism refers to the identical state of Non-duality or Union with the Divine. The state of Non-duality or Union is resulted from the annihilation of Self or Ego. Obliteration of supersimposed Self or Ego is the universal principle of salvation or emancipation. At this state of highest discernment or spirituality, all creations or phenomena are perceived to be illusory and unreal and only the Brahman, Buddha or God, connoting eternal Truth, is real."

So he clearly understands that Grimm discovers the transcendent and pointedly "eternal" "highest good of Man" in the teaching of Buddhism, but some confusion arises when he says this is the non-self or has to do with the "annihilation of Self" (for as he should be aware, the brahman he referred to in Vedanta is also known as Self). In Theravada, the non-self is very clearly the five aggregates, NOT to be identified with the eternal.

The author's difficulties arise mainly from his insistence on using this expression "annihilation of Self", which is not as pointed out an expression or mode of thought adopted by Grimm OR the Buddha for that matter. The capitalization of Self is a curious matter for usually when this is in practice it means to distinguish it as referring to the transcendent eternality, that "highest good" as opposed to the mere (not-self) personality which IS in buddhism what ceases, is annihilated. If we took the author as only meaning the annihilation of the personna, he could be close to Grimm's reading. But Grimm makes no such sloppy mistakes; where he reinforces the Buddha's teaching on anatta, he makes quite clear that what is annihilated is NOT the Self of Man. The Doctrine of the Buddha is a very thorough and not very concise style of writing, so it's difficult to find the short passage that sums up the idea completely, but this might serve: "Thus man exists, independent of his personality, and also after it is annihilated: This is the tremendous culmination of the doctrine of the Buddha, which may be won to on the basis of our own intuitive insight."

More pithy is the slim volume by Grimm, Buddhist Wisdom: the Mystery of The Self. One example from that book: "In fact, 'everything' ceases. That this 'everything' is but everything cognizable, and consequently that the remaining 'nothing' is only nothing cognizable, becomes clear by the fact that my true Self has in no way been touched by all these subtractions, inasmuch as we have recognized all what we have taken away from it as not-self" (clearly contradicting the reviewer's understanding of "annihilation of Self").

But really, I would have to second the recommendation to read The Doctrine of the Buddha. It even comes recommended by AP Buddhadata, renowned Theravada scholar.

Kojizen; It seems that people can read the same work, be it a sutta or a commentary, and come away with different understandings. And the preface is written by yet another author who then quotes still other writers. I’d rather hear your views than debate the views of others.

Clyde, agree? Right now, no. I don't think Wong Weng Hon has actually read much of anything of Grimm or he doesn't understand what he has read. For example, this guy's words about the "annihilation of Self or Ego" is not found in this work by Grimm. By the way, the Buddha never taught annihilation of Self. This is the modern "ego-is-the-bad-guy" stuff, better suited for a hippie Guru cult. At least read the preface to this edition, Clyde.

Kojizen; I googled George Grimm to learn more about his background and found this review of his book, ‘The Doctrine of the Buddha’: http://www.buddhistdoor.com/journal/issue007-03features2.html . Do you agree with the reviewer’s understanding?

Clyde, I thought it was evident that you don't understand my words or this blog's. Grimm would be good for you. Try him.

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