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Lions Roar : January 2003
94 SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2003 monotheistic religions. However, while reli- giously based violence is relatively rare in Buddhism, hostility and scorn for those deemed in error, whether other Buddhists or members of other religions, are not. Disagreement and debate are one thing; it is unrealistic to expect that we will all come to the same conclusions regarding religious matters for which there is no simple empirical verifica- tion, or even a conclusion that rules of logic would compel all to accept. But scorn, dispar- agement, even hostility, toward those who come to different conclusions are quite anoth- er matter and Buddhists show no lack of such reactions. Innumerable times I have heard strongly negative opinions expressed about other Buddhists who are almost indistinguishable from those making the comments. Is it not possible to disagree without feeling negativity towards those with whom one does not agree and expressing scorn for their insights? In Buddhism, attitudes and intentions, mental rather than physical events, are more funda- mental than physical acts because they are what lead to physical acts. So how much virtue can we claim for our non-aggression when our conver- sations are filled with scorn and hostility for those who have come to other conclusions than we have regarding matters we think are impor- tant? We need always to remember that others feel the same intensity regarding their spiritual commitments as we do regarding ours, and respond to them with gentleness even while we may disagree with them. Developing such an attitude requires training our minds and tam- ing our aggressive tendencies and urges toward feelings of superiority. If our Buddhist spiritual disciplines do not lead to such taming, what are they good for? ♦ RITA M. GROSS is the author of Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism and many other books and articles. She has taught Buddhism for more than twenty years.