A Buddhist Perspective?

Buddhism view on religion

Question: How does Buddhism view the existence of other religions?

Answer: Because not everyone has the same inclinations and interests, Buddha taught various methods to different people. Citing this example, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that it is wonderful that so many different religions exist in the world. Just as one food will not appeal to everybody, one religion or one set of beliefs will not satisfy everyone's needs. Therefore, it is extremely beneficial that a variety of different religions is available from which to choose. He welcomes and rejoices at this.

Nowadays, there is a growing dialogue, based on mutual respect, between Buddhist masters and leaders of other religions. The Dalai Lama, for example, meets the Pope frequently. In Assisi, Italy, in October 1986, the Pope invited the leaders of all the world religions to a large assembly. About one hundred and fifty representatives were there. The Dalai Lama was seated next to the Pope and was given the honor of making the first speech. At the conference, the spiritual leaders discussed topics that are common in all religions, such as morality, love and compassion. People were very encouraged by the cooperation, harmony and mutual respect that the various religious leaders felt for each other.

Of course, if we discuss metaphysics and theology, there are differences. There is no way to get around the differences. However, that does not mean that we need to argue with the attitude of "My daddy is stronger than your daddy." That is very childish. It is more beneficial to look at the things that are in common. All the world religions are seeking to improve the situation of humanity and to make life better by teaching people to follow ethical behavior. They all teach people not to become totally caught up in the material side of life, but at least to strike a balance between seeking material progress and spiritual progress.

It is very helpful if all religions work together to improve the situation of the world. We need not only material progress, but spiritual progress as well. If we only emphasize the material aspect of life, then to make a better bomb to kill everyone would be a desirable goal. If, on the other hand, we think in a humanistic or spiritual way, we are aware of the fear and other problems that come from the further buildup of weapons of mass destruction. If we only develop spiritually and do not take care of the material side then people go hungry, and that is not very good either. We need a balance.

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