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Are All Religions The Same?

Dalai Lama QuotesAs I often do, I find quotes posted on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, that state some fact, idea, or wisdom. At first glance they come off as profound. However, a little prodding and they often fall apart. The following quote comes from the Dalai Lama (a Buddhist). Before I pick on him, I should note that he’s won the Nobel Peace Prize. I agree with his message, in may ways, but the naivete, is often surprising.

He says, “All major religious traditions carry basically the same message that is love, compassion and forgiveness…the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.” Now, I do agree with this, in part, but his quote has the effect of watering down the basic message of the major religions, while building up his.

For example, to simplify Christianity to a basic message of love, compassion, and forgiveness is to miss Jesus and His life, teachings, miracles, death, resurrection – in short, His Gospel and salvation of the world.

The central message of Islam is that there is no God, but God, and that we need to submit to God, and that Muhammad is His prophet.

While the major religions do “carry” messages of love, compassion, and forgiveness, the Dalai Lama’s quote misses the larger context of God. This is not a surprise. For the Dalai Lama there is no God. For him, there is no personal God that created us, cares about us, loves us, or wants what’s best for us.

For the Dalia Lama, man is the ultimate. He writes, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

Our own “brain” and “heart” – what are these? Where did they come from? These vague descriptions capture western minds that are quick to define what works for them. In doing so, they subscribe to philosophies, which, in the end, are nothing (emptiness). No heaven, no justice, no resurrection, no renewal – no hope.

I will extend the Dalai Lama grace, and I will even learn from his example – as active kindness and love (versus doctrinal or philosophical ideas) don’t mean much. I will not, however, let his messages about religion (Christianity) go unchallenged. His ideas only put more burden on the human “brain” and “heart,” encouraging them to do the impossible – to save themselves. All religions are not the same.

Here’s a quote worth considering from the man who embodied and practiced more love, compassion, and forgiveness than anyone – ever.

Matthew 22:36-40

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson


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