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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2010 17 For many religious people, accepting the legitimacy of other faith traditions poses a serious challenge. To accept that oth- er religions are legitimate may seem to compromise the integrity of one’s own faith, since it entails the admission of different but efficacious spiritual paths. a devout Buddhist might feel that ac- ceptance of other spiritual paths as valid suggests the existence of ways other than of the Buddha toward the attainment of enlight- enment. a muslim might feel that acceptance of other traditions as legitimate would require relinquishing the belief that god’s rev- elation to the prophet, as recorded in the Qur’an, represents the final revelation of the highest truth. in the same vein, a Christian might feel that accepting the legitimacy of other religions would entail compromising the key belief that it is only through Jesus Christ that the way to god is found. so the encounter with an en- tirely different faith, which one can neither avoid nor explain away, poses a serious challenge to deep assumptions. This raises these critical questions: Can a single-pointed com- mitment to one’s own faith coexist with acceptance of other re- ligions as legitimate? is religious pluralism impossible from the perspective of a devout person who is strongly and deeply com- mitted to his or her own faith tradition? yet without the emergence of a genuine spirit of religious plu- ralism, there is no hope for the development of harmony based on true interreligious understanding. Historically, religions have gone to great lengths, even waging wars, to impose their version of what they deem to be the one true way. even within their own fold, religions have harshly penalized those heterodox or heretical voices that the tradition took as un- dermining the integrity of the inviolable truths that the specific faith represents. The entire ethos of missionary activity—that is, the focus on bringing about active conversion of people from other faiths or no faiths—is grounded in the ideal of bringing the “one true way” to those whose eyes remain unopened. in a sense, one might even say that there is an altruistic motive un- derlying this drive to convert others to one’s own faith. given this history and given the perception of conflict that many religious people feel between maintaining the integrity of their own faith and the acceptance of pluralism, is the emergence Tenzin GyaTso, The FourTeenTh Dalai lama, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people and a recipient of the nobel Peace Prize and the u.s. Congressional Gold medal. The Challenge of Other Religions How do we reconcile religious pluralism, so necessary in today’s world, with deep commitment to our own faith? The Dalai lama offers his solution. pHoTo©reuTers/DaviDsilverman his holiness the Dalai lama at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.