Lama Yeshe is the resident teacher at the Hay River KTC Buddhist Meditation Center near Ridgeland, WI. For additional information on the center or the activities of Lama Yeshe, see our website at KTCHayriver.org. View Center Website Here.
Lama Yeshe participated in an Interfaith Dialog at St James Catholic Church in Eau Claire, WI on May 24. He based his presentation on a quote from the newly released book Interconnected by the 17th Karmapa, Oryen Trinley Dorje. “One area where we seem to find it particularly difficult to accept our differences—much less value them—is religion. However, religious diversity is inevitable, given the diversity in the historical and cultural conditions that give rise to religious institutions, doctrines, and practices. What’s more, religious diversity is also necessary and positive for human society. Since human beings are diverse on terms of our predispositions and needs, we benefit greatly from having a variety of spiritual paths available to us. From a Buddhist perspective, the argument that one religion is the best while the rest are all mistaken or inferior is unsustainable and not useful. It fails to take into account our variety of human dispositions and emotional needs. If it does not suit our individual temperament or help us to free ourselves from suffering and become better people, following the “best” religion is of little use. Even if one religion were really the best or truest, I do not think that being the best and truest is the point when it comes to religion. In my view, the point is for it to suit the person and to benefit them.
There is no reason to insist that everyone follow a single religion or spiritual path, or for all religions to agree on the same beliefs and practices in order to be considered equal. In fact, religions are already equal in the most important sense. If they address us as human beings, recognizing our common wish to be free of suffering and to find lasting happiness, they are equal. They are united in a common goal, which is to alleviate suffering and help us find happiness and live meaningful lives. All religions offer us ways to achieve these aims by looking primarily within our own hearts and minds. I think when we recognize this shared purpose at the root of all religions, we will be able to see them as fundamentally equal and to respect and value the diversity we see in their branches—their particular forms and expressions.”
From the book Interconnected by the 17th Karmapa, Oryen Trinley Dorje.