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Lions Roar : January 2003
92 SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2003 would diminish interreligious hostilities, but so long as unvarnished, exclusive-truth claims remain strong in each tradition, future violence is inevitable. Some people’s response to exclusive-truth claims is indifference and withdrawal, regard- ing all such claims as equally invalid. Such a solution works for those who find religion unnecessary in their lives, but for more impas- sioned religious people, the quest for a mean- ingful religious life and a religious identity that does not require such extreme beliefs remains central. Thoughtful monotheists have extensively pondered this dilemma in the last century and have proposed numerous solutions. One obvi- ous solution is to recognize the historically condi- tioned and culturally limited nature of all reli- gious doctrines and belief systems. Many reli- gious people, though, find it difficult to concede the human origins of their religion. Many monotheists propose, as another solution, that all religions contain important truths, which are more important than points of difference, and religions can and should cooperate on com- mon causes such as peace and justice. Some monotheists, looking for yet another solution, have examined the nature of religious language and concluded that religious state- ments about feeling that one’s own religion is “the best” are more akin to claims about the excellence of one’s partner or pets than to empir- ically verifiable claims about the nature of the phenomenal world. Ecumenical exchanges and interreligious dialogue, which foster mutual respect despite significant theological disagree- ments, have flourished in some monotheistic contexts. Unfortunately, such perspectives and pursuits are probably still a minority point of view among the world’s monotheists. What of Buddhism? On the surface, Buddhism seems to be a religion that would be immune to exclusive-truth claims and reli- gious violence. Most Buddhists, after all, are adamant that non-aggression is always the only option. Buddhists do very well in Scott A. Hunt’s discussion of the future of peace, which he supports with interviews with leading peacemakers after detailing the causes of the violence these particular peacemakers have faced. Four of the seven peacemakers he inter- views—including His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Maha Ghosananda—are Buddhists, a remarkable contrast to Kimball’s book, in which the majority of examples involve