Enough Religions Already

I came across something interesting, from the book ‘Establishing Global Ethics’ by the recently deceased Master Sheng Yen, who presented the below on 20.09.2001 at the ‘International Conference on Religious Cooperation’ –

“Naturally, from a standpoint of mutual respect and appreciation, religions must seek greater understanding of one another, yet there is no need to distort each other’s beliefs in our search for common ground. That would not only cause great pain and trouble, but also lead to three possible outcomes:

(1) twisting other religions to make them like one’s own,
(2) denying the position of one’s religion to comply with other religions, or
(3) blending different religions together to establish a new one.

None of these scenarios are healthy. Thus someone once asked His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, “If you believe that all religions are good, should we establish a syncretic religion?” He replied, “No, there are already enough religions in the world.” What he meant was that, since ancient times, humanity’s religions have always been diverse. Each has its own beauty. Each has its own virtue. Each has its own truth. There is no need to blend them. It might be good to seek common ground while preserving differences. For instance: Buddhism advocates the theory of conditioned arising and is non-theistic. It can respect and understand theistic religions and does not need to deny its own position in order to be on friendly terms with other faiths.”

Comments: Indeed… ‘There are already enough religions in the world.’ In fact, there are already some ‘religions’ which advocate syncretic teachings (despite many contradictions in ideologies upon closer scrutiny). These syncretic ‘schools of thought’, instead of uniting religions, simply become more new religions – that other existing religions disagree with – becoming causes of disharmony. Why not clearly see the differences AND similarities and agree to disagree when needed, instead of force-fitting ill-fitting ‘pieces’ not meant to fit? A ‘Buddhist teacher’ is recently suggesting that Buddhists should learn more about other religions, while suggesting that all religions are the ‘same’. This ‘teacher’ is facing a lot of heavy criticism from the Buddhist community – from those who are sharper and more discerning in seeing the many loopholes in such thinking. For instance,

(1) If all religions are the same, why did the Buddha teach?
He wouldn’t need to if they already taught the truth.
(2) If all religions are the same, why did the Buddha teach
that what he realised is different and supreme?
(3) If all religions are the same, why did the Buddha
say that this is so?

If Buddhists have yet to learn and practise Buddhism well, it would be impractical and demanding that they struggle to learn about other religions, much more to struggle to see all religions as the ‘same’ – when they aren’t anyway. It is source for much confusion. If inter-religious harmony is the intention for learning about others, most Buddhists already know its importance – better than many others – because the Buddha led by example.

Related Articles:

Are All Religions the Same?
Are Buddhists Prohibited from Reading Literature of Other Religions?

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