with Ven. S. Dhammika
No Buddhist who understands the Buddha’s teaching thinks that other religions are wrong. No-one who has made a genuine effort to examine other religions with an open mind could think like that either. The first thing you notice when you study the different religions is just how much they have in common. All religions acknowledge that man’s present state is unsatisfactory. All believe that a change of attitude and behaviour is needed if man’s situation is to improve. All teach an ethics that includes love, kindness, patience, generosity and social responsibility and all accept the existence of some form of Absolute.
They use different languages, different names and different symbols to describe and explain these things; and it is only when they narrow- mindedly cling to their one way of seeing things that religious tolerance, pride and self-righteousness arise.
Imagine an Englishman, a Frenchman, a Chinese and an Indonesian all looking at a cup. The Englishman says, “That is a cup.” The Frenchman answers, “No it’s not. It’s a tasse.” The Chinese comments, “You are both wrong. It’s a pei.” And the Indonesian laughs at the others and says “What a fool you are. It’s a cawan.” The Englishman get a dictionary and shows it to the others saying, “I can prove that it is a cup. My dictionary says so.” “Then your dictionary is wrong,” says the Frenchman “because my dictionary clearly says it is a tasse.” The Chinese scoffs at them. “My dictionary is thousands of years older than yours, so my dictionary must be right. And besides, more people speak Chinese than any other language, so it must be pei.” While they are squabbling and arguing with each other, a Buddhist comes up and drinks from the cup. After he has drunk, he says to the others, “Whether you call it a cup, a tasse, a pei or a cawan, the purpose of the cup is to be used. Stop arguing and drink, stop squabbling and refresh your thirst”. This is the Buddhist attitude to other religions.