Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Many Faiths, One Truth"

In today's New York Times, there is an article by Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama--leader of Tibetan Buddhism) by the above title. In this article he argues that compassion is the common thread that weaves together the religions of the world.

The Dalai Lama attributes his understanding of the centrality of compassion to a meeting he had with Trappist monk, Thomas Merton in 1968. Merton said that he could be faithful to Christianity while learning in depth from other religions, including Buddhism. He believed that studying other religions enriched his own.

The issue of religious intolerance is also addressed in the article. The Dalai Lama sees a "virulent" strain of religious intolerance in today's world that has led to conflict, violence and even war. This situation "demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding across boundaries," he writes.

Compassion in the antidote to intolerance. When compassion is practiced, understanding and empathy are nurtured. Fostering tolerance among the religions of the world is essential if humanity is to thrive in a peaceful way.

We need to listen to this wisdom of the Dalai Lama. Religion can be a force for mutual understanding or intolerance. When we embrace the common value of compassion, we tap into the power of religion to unite rather than divide.

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