Towards the Truth

Notes from a three-day debate in the 1940’s about Buddhism and Christianity.

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Towards the Truth

Towards the Truth

Foreword

In the 1940’s the students of the University of Ceylon in Colombo arranged for a three-days debate between representatives of two great religions: Buddhism and Christianity. Their choice was the Rev. Clifford Wilson, M.A., the Vicar of Christ Church, Galle Face, Colombo, and Bhikku Dhammapāla, a Buddhist monk from the Netherlands, a convert from Catholicism.

The three days of the debate were fixed with a week’s interval, and the order of the speakers was decided by lot. It was thus that Rev. Wilson opened the debate, which on the first day would be limited to statements by the two opponents on each ones own religion. This order would be reversed the following week, when each speaker would have the opportunity to raise questions about the statements made earlier. The respective answers would be given again seven days later, when once more the order of speaking would be reversed.

Enthusiasm was great, and although some “home” truths were exchanged, there was never any acrimony, while it was said afterwards, that a good time was had by all. But when a wish was expressed to have the debate published, this was made impossible as the text of the three papers read by Rev. Clifford Wilson were not made available.

Now, after almost 40 years those students have grown up and old; but many still remember. And so it was suggested to publish the text of Bhikkhu Dhammapāla’s addresses independently, especially as from those texts it was quite clear the way Christianity was presented, and the way Buddhism was objected to.

The whereabouts of Rev. Wilson are not known to me. Bhikkhu Dhammapāla is no more.

But the debate continues.

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