tiltbillings wrote:Interesting wording. Where is this "definition" from?sunyavadin wrote: Dhamma, 'that which upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe'.
It is a dictionary definition, although I accept that 'Dhamma' is one of the key Buddhist terms that is very hard to directly translate into English. Nevertheless, I think we would agree that 'dhamma' implies, or even is, a 'moral law' or 'moral order'. After all one of the historic names of the Buddha is 'the Buddha of the Good Law'. But the very concept of 'moral law' is something that would be called into question in post-Scientific Revolution thought. It is outside the scientific-secular view of life, which believes that the only things worthy of the name 'law' are scientific and that everything has to be explainable with reference to those.
In After Virtue, Alisdair McIntyre has suggested that a dichotomy between 'is' and 'ought', between 'fact' and 'value', is a modern phenomenon. Indeed McIntyre argues that, until modern times, the distinction between 'is' and 'ought' was not made. Western thought may then make a distinction between thought and action, between fact and value, that was not made in India. This point has been made by Paul Williams:In the Indian context it would have been axiomatic that liberation comes from discerning how things actually are [yathabhutam], the true nature of things.
From Paul Fuller, The Notion of Ditthi in Theravada Buddhism
So this is the idea is that 'if you see how things really are, this is the source of spiritual liberation'. And this is an intrinsically religious or spiritual view. As far as the hardcore sciences are concerned 'how things really are' is completely devoid of meaning. (I myself regard that as a ditthi but that's a whole other argument.)
I do understand the attitude of Buddhism to the Christian God, and accept that there is no reason for the Buddhist to believe in or accept that God. But at the same time, viewed from the perspective of the modern scientific-secular mindset, Christianity and Buddhism share a concept of 'moral law' which has much in common. That is why many of the things actually said by the Buddha and by Jesus Christ are very similar, despite the many differences in their religious context. (See Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings.)
The way I choose to interpret it, is that Buddhism understands the universe in terms of the moral order, dhamma, while Christianity sees it through a theistic interpretation. But I would not like to think that they kind of 'cancel each other out'.