His Holiness The Dalia Lama wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday 24 May 2010. He begins by saying, “WHEN I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best — and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.” He points out extremism on all ends of the spectrum from religious fundamentalism to atheist anti-religionism. He urges that our interconnectedness “demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding across boundaries.” This is a lofty ideal and an invitation towards what the Buddha might have called upekkha (equanimity/interest). The result of this interest might be the possibility that people could pursue their own faith and simultaneously, “respect, admire and appreciate other traditions.” Upekkha seems to be what is absent in the world today. We can find this lack of interest at so many levels — in politics, religion, and in our day-to-day interactions with each other. Every group as an agenda, it seems, and that agenda is to further their own interests. The underlying sentiment is that my beliefs are better than yours, more true, more necessary. For this reason, His Holiness’s message of acceptance is crucial and his admission that his beliefs are no better than the beliefs of other religions is unprecedented. His Holiness reflects on his meetings with the Christian monk, Thomas Merton in the 1960s and the centrality of compassion for both faiths (a point lost to Brit Hume when he urged Tiger Woods to return to Christianity because Buddhism had nothing to offer on forgiveness).  In fact, compassion is central to all faiths. This sentiment is echoed in Brad Warner’s irreverent treatise, Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality when he says:
It’s only when people believe that their beliefs are above questioning, that their beliefs alone are beyond all doubt, that they can be as truly horrible as we all know they can be. Belief is the force behind every evil mankind has ever done. You can’t find one truly evil act in human history that was not based on belief-and the stronger their belief, the more evil human beings can be. 

We always have a choice between identification with our own stories and the stories of our religious affiliation and interest in the millions of colors available to our eyes. Identification tends to lead to division, a duality between “us” and “them,” “you” and “me.” Identification leads to a duality within ourselves between the potential richness of our lived experience and the idea about that experience. To paraphrase the of quote William James, in my book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness, our intellectual life consists almost wholly of substituting a conceptual order for the perceptual order in which our experience originally lives. It is in this perceptual order that we can find the space for compassion. Compassion arises when we don’t feel beholden to ideas we must defend, agendas we must forward, and boundaries we must protect. His Holiness urges that, “Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world.” The way to harmony is through interest in what is around us, including the beliefs of other people. 
By the way, Happy 75th Birthday to His Holiness:

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