Buddhadasa Bhikkhu is the famous Buddhist scholar in Thailand. He is the great contemporary reformist of Buddhism in history of Siam. He interprets the doctrine of Theravada Buddhism and religious practice of Thai Buddhism by analysis and reasoning which result from the development of science and the growing of the middle class of Thai society. The printing of the mode of books “Dhammaghosa” or the propagation of Buddha’s teachings which conclude his lectures more than 50 books which can accept that being the works of Theravada Buddhist thinker are greatest in history of Thai Buddhism. Donald K. Swearer, a American scholar who expert in Buddhism have evaluated the role and status of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu in history of Theravada Buddhism that his concept is the pattern and most influence begin from Buddhaghosa the great commentator, and evaluated the role of Buddhadasa equal with the great Indian Buddhist thinker as Nagarjuna.
Other than work of Dhammaghosa, another well-known works of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu are “Manual of Mankind", “Essence of Buddhism”, “Following of Noble Person” “Mountain of the Way of Buddhadhamma”, “Normal Language and Transcendent Language” and so on. His many works were translated into foreign language such as English, France, German, Chinese, Japan, Lao, Sri Lankan, Tibet. The works which translate into English were printed more than 20 titles (Amnuey Yasyotha : 2546, p. 13)
On the other hand, he had begin the teaching which is called “Dhamma Lecture” with “normal language” which is the “language” that is thought by him for affection of Truth as was called “Suenmok words” example Me-and-Mine (Teuku-Khongku), Enlightenment, Attachment. Hence his old name is “Ngeaum” which is changed into a new name “Buddhadasa” means to motivate for giving himself to be the slave of Buddha. His works are teaching or writing which full of lingual wisdom that is ability in creation of new words or group of word including to bring it for explanation and to give the new meaning to well-known words. Otherwise it still present religious wisdom which can apply the technique of communication and apply religious teaching, faith and valuable ancient ritual for comfortable to practice and giving the good result to man and environment in the contemporary society as well. The presentation of concept “Normal Language and Transcendent Language” for using of explanation of Buddhist teaching is the method of Buddhadasa’s propagation of Dhamma especially. It is strategy or wisdom in to cultivate Buddhists on Buddha’s teaching automatically like the Buddhist scholars in the past have done the concept of language as “Normal Language and Transcendent Language”. The reading of religious books or listening of Buddhist teaching often have many difficult words because it composes the Pali language and words which relate to abstract condition. It is obstacle to obtain and understand the religious doctrine for the new learner. Otherwise language and religious words still have many classes and it can be interpret so many way according to the basic of learner. Whatsoever there are many religious words which the learner of Dhamma often misunderstand because they mix it with the meaning which is used generally.
“I have realized that what title I will speech, at last I think that the title which most of you don’t understand profoundly truth which was often explained, listened in many time, but didn’t understand it, and suspect that why we don’t understand, I think and realize still find that because most of people know only normal language which people often speech or it is called worldly language , does not understand transcendent language and never think that there is another language which differ and most opposite the normal language”
Buddhadasa have wrote the Buddhist scriptures which emphasized the problem about language correctly. He have presented the concept “normal language and transcendent language” for pointing the difference of understanding in two levels of language or the religious words. Especially, in the level of material and abstract, he explain “The normal language is in the way of material world which is the feeling way of normal person and depend on matter, does not have the truth as fundamental. It talks only the worldly words, it talks only things which can see by eyes of normal person. But the transcendent language is the abstract way of word which we cannot see, does not depend on material world, because it see the abstract state by wisdom, it talk correctly and give the correct meaning. It is spoke only in the dharma Wiseman. This is transcendent language, abstract language which is beyond the material world” (Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, 2537, p.11). He give the word for example as “Buddha”. In the understanding on level of worldly language, ‘Buddha’ means the Lord Buddha, a person in history who had propagated Buddhism in two thousand years ago and have passed away. While, in the level of transcendent language, ‘Buddha’ means the truth according to same meaning which is in the words of Buddha “The person who can see the truth, he can see the Buddha, the person who can see the Buddha he can see the truth. The person who cannot see the truth, Although he catch my yellow robe but it is not called ‘he can see the Buddha’”. He have applied this concept to another words mostly such as religion, Dhamma, Nibbana, life, death, human, paradise-hell, and so on
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu introduce to suggestion that hence in the word of Buddha, sometime he teach by normal language, sometime he say by transcendent language. The servants of all religion in the world are same such as if he talk to children or old man who feels basically he use the normal language that “there is the past, present and future, therefore you must try and effort before the death come”. But in the case of wise man who knows the Nibbana, He say that “ there is no the past, present and future, therefore we cannot attract anything”. As such, Buddha talk with the person in transcendent language. Except the make true understanding, the presentation of concept “normal language and transcendent language” are the effort for solution of doctrine which look like conflict to have the out-way rationally. It is a problem for Dhamma learner who have experience insufficiently. Fore example, te teach that “ Oneself indeed is master of oneself ”, but he teach in another place that “Essence of oneself is nothing”. There is concept “normal language and transcendent language” will help us to explain that the first self means the self in normal language or worldly level, it is the symbolic self which each have to be. But the second self means the self in transcendent language or level beyond the world, it is the true nature of self, which Buddhism confirm that there is no this self. In another case, such as, the word “paradise” in the normal language means the world of god which full of happiness. In the transcendent language, it means five sensual desires . The word “marry” in normal language means the wedding, in the transcendent language it means the equality naturally. The word “angle” in normal language means the beautiful lady, in the transcendent language it means Dhamma (truth) and so on.
Conclusion and Suggestion
The Buddhadasa’s explanation of religious language in level of transcendent language help us to across the many imagination in god story and mystic thought in traditional Buddhism. It is the challenge to Thai Buddhist for realizing, to recognize, and understanding of scripture and teaching of Buddhism in deepest and rational level. It is most necessary at time of the class opening of communication between traditional lawful monks who must teach the Buddhist of modern world. The Buddhadasa’s concept on normal language and transcendent language have important significance, because it is fundamental in understanding of Buddhism based on experience of wisdom. Under the frame of concept, it is the true context in meaning of Buddhism. Although it is the presentation that we should not understand the Buddhist scripture according to the words or as the most of people understand, because it leads to wrong attachment of ideas. The division of normal and transcendent language is helping to understanding the doctrine of Buddhism or essence of Buddhism. It leads Buddhist to leave the wrong ideas and include the looseness of wrong attachment in the Self, until leads to the cessation of suffering at the end. Although it is to create of understanding in Dhamma and solve the problem on the conflict of Buddha’s words, it can say that the presentation of concept on normal and transcendent language of Buddhadasa had created the harmony in the difference between religion. He reminds that the conflict and misunderstanding between religion come from to hold on the doctrine according to the “words” as “normal language” which is worldly rhetoric more than the language beyond the world, or “transcendent language”. If we understand the latter form, there is no conflict in all religion, because all say same language which is transcendent language. (Seri Pongpis, 2524, pp.40-41) Buddhadasa Bhikkhu had tried for explanation and interpretation of doctrine of each religion relatively as explains the meaning of God in English that it is similar in voice and meaning with word ‘kod (‘law’ in English)’ which means ‘Dhamma’ or ‘law of nature’. Although the symbol on ‘crucifix’ of Christianity was explained by Buddhadasa that to destroy of ‘I or me’ and ‘mine’ which is main passion of man. Therefore Buddhadasa have many good friends both Christian and Muslim. His works on lecture and books are full of lingual wisdom which is ability in creation of words or group of new word, and conclude the explanation and to make the new meaning to well known words. Otherwise he had show the religious wisdom which can apply to technique and communicate the religious doctrine, belief, and valuable tradition to comfort for good practice to person and environment in contemporary as well. Howsoever, from the presentation of concept “normal and transcendent language”, he had interested in using of language in another form as to bring the theory of psycho-analysis of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler to interpret the doctrine by presentation in article “The Experiment on Buddhist Psycho-analysis (superiority complex) ” (2527). Freud realizes that all behavior of man come from the motivation of Sub-consciousness (Unconciousness), especially sexual instinct. While Adler critiques that it come from the effort to instead inferiority complex. But Buddhadasa do not believe in them, he critique that every things go on by to control of persistence (ahangara, mamangara or Me-and-Mine) which he calls ‘superiority complex’. He believe that there is no inferiority complex, but there is only superiority complex . The presentation is to create the words for to compare with concept “inferiority complex”, he critique that all human behavior, conclude plant and animal are under motivation from power of superiority complex, want to be important person, want to be great person or attachment in me and mine at all. To use the theory of psycho-analysis for to critique Buddhist views is the effort to use Dhamma for applying with the modern science and to create the interested words for communication with the contemporary young person and technocrat meaningfully. He had created the words and sentence “suenmok form” which have value, meaning, proverb. These words is not created at all, some words was applied as the Buddha had done, for example to bring the word ‘Nibbana’ means decease which is the words of people in Indian society to be absolute idea of Buddhism, and give the new meaning that the state of peace which come from the ability to destroy of lust, greed, fool in mind. In the case of Buddhadasa, he had create and apply the new words also as birds do not see the sky, fishes do not see the water, man do not see the world, eating love dignity (kin-karm-keat), cleaning light peace (sa-ngob, sa-ard, savarng). It is the beginning to explain the Dhamma clearly both meaning and significance. It is the way of presentation of wisdom in propagation of Dhamma and lingual wisdom of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu which is valuable for leaning in worldwide at the future.