How simple yet profound–tolerating the belief of others.  How often do we quote the Golden Rule of "do unto others" as if it is so self-evident that no one would consider defiling it.

It is a basic Buddhist doctrine as well.  Yet in the case of this religious tradition, it has been practiced.  The Dalai Lama speaks often of this precept.  In fact if admiring Westerners speak of embracing Buddhism in order to find spiritual truth, he will often direct them back to their own traditions.  How shockingly honorable.  How unlikely this response from leaders of other religious traditions.

Tolerating the belief of others acknowledges that religions are human interpretations of the divine and that humans have the intrinsic right to seek spiritual enlightenment according to their traditions, culture, history.  This is unacceptable to two of the worlds most popular and powerful religions–Islam and Christianity. There is subtle but powerful difference between believing your own religion is the correct one and insisting others abandon any alternative belief and embrace yours.

This theological perspective opens the door to coercion, inquisition, genocide, "holy" wars, crusade, jihad.

If one truly accepted the notion that there are alternative paths to righteous practice it would be healing for all concerned.  One would not feel obliged to convince anyone else of the "true" belief, thereby taking pressure of that individual.  Even more, the believer in another tradition [or nonbeliever] would not feel threatened, intimidated, harassed to change their belief system.

I have previously offered up the analogy of language.  We rarely find evidence throughout human history of groups imposing their language upon others with the same ferocity and animosity as when dealing with religion.  We tend to find other languages less threatening.  We acknowledge that they are alternative, even acceptable paths to knowledge and wisdom.

Is it too much to ask our fellow human beings to regard religious belief in the same light?

Human beings often apply the Golden Rule only to those who share their own beliefs.  To accept the common kinship of all of humanity , to truly  tolerate  personal beliefs however much they might diverge from ones own, would be truly a spiritual and healing practice.


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