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Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the…

Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World's Religions Can Come…

by Dalai Lama XIV

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The most special thing about this book is the way it leaves you with the feeling that you’ve been talking face to face with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. He writes with humility and passion, on matters close to his heart.

This book is about learning to get along, because the world is shrinking. Advances in science and industry have brought us closer together, even as religious differences seem extreme. Yet, the fascinating thing is, all of the world’s most respected religions seem to share one thing in common: A teaching of compassion. Even while some religions are theistic and others, like the Buddhist tradition of the Dalai Lama, are non-theistic, the basic teaching is the same. Compassion is, in different variations, the common denominator.

As such, the Dalai Lama shows familiarity and respect for all the popular religions, and maintains that pluralism is the healthiest answer. He pleads for inter-denominational understanding, and he writes with the authority and intelligence that would be expected of his title. I couldn't help but be both impressed and inspired. Yet, when it comes to discussing alternative religions, I doubt he will ever be able to relate on the same level to those born into those religions. The Dalai Lama can appear logical and naive in the same breath, as he dreams about mutual respect across religious boundaries. Consider this problem formula, which arises in any religion where adherents are taught that theirs is the "only true way:"

I feel the Spirit ==> God is with me and my chosen religion ==> I have found the one true way

Yet, though the Dalai Lama is optimistic for the future (as am I), he understands the problem. Religions tend toward exclusivism, so while adherents are taught concern for others, this concern often translates merely into an urge for evangelism. Christians want everybody to enjoy being a Christian! On this topic, the Dalai Lama strongly disagrees. When speaking outside his country, he often begins by assuring his audience that he is not promoting Buddhism; rather, he maintains that the best religion for any person is usually the religion of their heritage. Respect for one another's beliefs is the only way to overcome religious squabbles and promote peace.

Which, of course, is another place where the book appears a bit naïve. Fundamentalist Christians don't want peace; they get positively giddy at the thought of a world war, since this means Jesus is coming to rescue them.

So what's the answer? I'm not convinced this book has any, because I'm not convinced there are any quick fixes. But I agree that believers must, one at a time and at a grass-roots level, come to see the world in a different manner. We must see across religious boundaries and welcome every human as a brother or sister, like Jesus taught.

Well, we can dream. ( )
  DubiousDisciple | Sep 30, 2011 |
Compassion - the goal need to be attained by all. A compassion that allows all to worship, to believe in their way. To not put down those whose way is different from your own.

Compassion is what binds us together. The different ways are what make the world sing. We must all sing together to achieve harmony. ( )
  koalamom | Dec 14, 2010 |
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No country, no culture, no person today is untouched by what happens in the rest of the world. Technological innovation, environmental degradation, economic gain & loss, nuclear weapons, instant communication have all created unprecedented familiarity among the world's many cultures. While previous conflicts over religious differences may have been significant and regrettable, they did not threaten the very survival of humanity--now, a single spark could ignite a powder keg of frightening proportions. The Dalai Lama maintains that the essential task of humanity in the 21st century is to cultivate peaceful coexistence. All faith traditions turn to compassion as a guiding principle for living a good life. It is the task of all people with an aspiration to spiritual perfection to affirm the fundamental value of compassion. In this way we can truly develop a deep recognition of the value of other faiths, and on that basis, we can cultivate genuine respect.--From publisher description.… (more)

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