[Buddha-l] Supporting Peace

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Tue May 24 17:18:08 MDT 2005

On Tue, 2005-05-24 at 18:04 -0400, curt wrote:

> Buddhists are also often guilty of having an attenuated view
> of "interreligious dialog". Often Buddhists dispense with
> interreligious dialog altogether and just seek "Buddhist-
> Christian" dialog. I am not sure what the point of Buddhist-
> Christian dialog is supposed to be

One veteran of this kind of dialog told me that his impression was that
Christians approached it saying "Tell us what we have to learn from you
Buddhists," and Buddhists approached it saying "We Buddhists will tell
you what you have to learn from us." In his view, since there was not a
reciprocal willingness to learn from each other, not much came of this
sort of dialog.

Another kind of interreligious dialog that I have personally been
involved in is Buddhist-Jewish dialog. In my own (admittedly limited)
experience with this kind of dialog, the principal concern has come from
Jewish people who are worried that when a Jewish person becomes
Buddhist, then he or she might cease to be Jewish. All that needs to be
said is that Buddhism has almost never required that one cease to be
whatever one was before one became a Buddhist, and that conversation is

The analogy that has always seemed most applicable to me is that of
citizenship. Some countries (such as Canada) have always allowed dual
citizenship, while other countries (such as India) have not. Buddhism is
more like Canadian citizenship, whereas most forms of Christianity are
more like Indian citizenship. 

Perhaps the most useless interfaith dialog I have ever participated in
was a short attempt at Hindu-Buddhist. That consisted in Hindus
embracing Buddhism with open arms on the grounds that Buddhism is really
just a form of Hinduism, and Buddhists refusing to be embraced on these

I think most veterans of interfaith dialog learn pretty quickly that
there is hardly any point at all in discussing doctrine, and really not
much point in discussing practices. Where dialog becomes more fruitful
is working on common causes such as working for prison reform,
environmental integrity, international peace or getting despots out of
office. (I didn't mention Bush by name, but now that you mention it....)

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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