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  Are All Religions the Same?

No, if you want the short answer, they're not. But if you don't want the short answer, here's a longer one.

A while ago I was reading the Summer, 1997, edition of freebie Buddhist publication I happened upon at a coffee shop, called Free Spirit, which had an interview with the Dalai Lama.

In a question and answer article, the writer asked - hoping for an affirmative response, I thought - "Do all religions lead to the same place?"

"No," the Dalai Lama responded, "Christianity believes that after death there is a final judgment and that salvation means one reaches the presence of God and heaven. According to Buddhism," he added, "enlightenment means complete purification, a completely purified mental state. More precisely, ultimate enlightenment means emptiness of mind."

Next to the "emptiness of mind" comment, the editor helpfully added in brackets, "[Which means the interconnectedness of all things.]" Interesting that the editor thought a man as articulate as the Dalai Lama needed an explanation of what he meant.

Anyway, the author of the article was not going to give up so easily, and in his next comment suggested that "Perhaps Christianity and Buddhism just describe the same place [Heaven/Nirvana] differently."

"I don't think so," the Dalai Lama responded. "In Buddhism ... there is hardly any place to accept or believe in a soul and creator. Once one accepts the idea of a creator, that is absolute. A creator does not depend on another factor. It is absolute. So therefore, it is difficult for Buddhism and Christianity to come together."

What makes this so interesting to me is that I've heard this "All religions lead to the same destination" thought many a time, almost always from people with a Buddhist or New Age outlook.

So to hear the Dalai Lama come right out and say that Buddhism is just flat different from Christianity, and in what way it is different, was quite refreshing.

Thank you, Dalai Lama.

Copyright 2000 Brad Haugaard.