At one point during a recent conversation with friends, someone made the insightful remark: Sean, that may all work well and good for you and the other 350 million Buddhists on the planet, but not everyone shares those beliefs, so what’s the solution that works for everyone?
Just before my friend said this, I had explained how one of Gandhi’s main messages, that we must be the change we wish to see in the world, made so much sense to me because, as I have written here before, I truly believe that one act of kindness can and will (someday) have a ripple effect that spreads across the globe and changes humanity as we know it. Hence, the remark from my friend above.
As I think about his statement more closely, however, I find myself wondering how different Earth would be if every man, woman and child practiced any one of the three branches of Buddhism. But then again, my mind concludes, what if everyone were Christian, or Muslim, or Jain, or whatever else. If we ALL had the same shared system of values and morals and beliefs, then my guess is there would be no war, exploitation of resources and each other, etc.
So what is the solution for all mankind? Where is the intersection between a planet full of belief systems? My guess is that it’s as simple as having respect for your fellow man and for the Earth.
I have co-workers who have very, very strong Christian faith, and while we’re quite friendly within the confines of the office, I have no idea what they think, in their heart of hearts, of me as a non-Christian gay man. But regardless, I respect them for their choices, especially since I see how much strength these men and women are able to draw from their faith in God and Jesus. And I honestly feel these same people respect me for who I am.
When the going gets tough, they turn the prayer — and who’s to say that Christian prayer isn’t just another form of the Buddhist practice of generating compassion and loving-kindness for all beings via setting our motivation and dedication before and after our own practice?
Respect as the antidote — as the solution that works for everyone, as my friend asked — seems so far-fetched, but it’s all I can offer.