True Interfaith Dialogue

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by path_of_one, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I've been reading "Living Buddha, Living Christ" by Thich Nhat Hanh and came across an excellent passage on interfaith dialogue that piqued some questions and I thought might be relevant for discussion here at CR.

    From the book, p. 8-10
    I found this all very interesting and was curious what others thought. If the author is wrong, and the point of interfaith dialogue is not to transform ourselves... then what is the point? Is there ever understanding if we are not truly open to another's tradition and viewpoint? Can we be closed to others' "truths" and yet still understand them? If the answer is no- that understanding and openness to transformation go hand in hand- then if we are closed to others' traditions, is there ever real dialogue? Or is it just debate and self-righteousness, with no attempt in critical self-reflection?

    I suppose I wonder about what the author is proposing here... that true, authentic dialogue is only had when those engaged are really seeking positive transformation and learning. If this is not the intent, and the intent is to reinforce one's own views without any possibility for change or learning or critical reflection... then it does seem to me that dialogue is a waste of time. Or at least, an entertaining but non-productive use of one's time.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Path of One,

    thanks for the post.

    i do enjoy Thay's teaching quite a bit. i completely agree with this snippet.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  3. Dondi

    Dondi Well-Known Member

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    To me, it means breaking down old paradigms of thought one has in regard to other religions and faiths. To rid of misconceptions one might have held. To ease any paranoia in some misconstrued 'threat' of some doctrine or principle that's differs from one's own. To strive for an objective understanding as one can obtain, even though our prejudices may keep us from a wholy objective view.

    The change isn't necessarily a change of our own beliefs, but rather an acceptance that there will always be others that differ from you. It is a position of tolerance. It's taking a defensive position rather than an offensive one. What I mean by that is rather than tell you that you are going to hell because you don't believe in Christ (which I'm in no position to judge you anyway), I ought to tell you why I think that I'm not going to hell, but rather that I expect to experience eternity in the Presence of God, because of the relationship I have with Christ. That may or may not be for you. That's ok with me. (Frankly, I'm becoming more and more disenfrancised with the idea that we must warn people that they are going to hell for their sins. The focus ought to be in a relationship with God. Because unless one is willing to engage in a relationship with God, then all that talk about repenting from your sins is a moot point anyway. But that's just my take.)

    AND, BTW, I'm looking more at people in term of seeing the fruits that are evidences of a relationship with God, or at least a change from a destructive, bitter, and hateful life to one that is creative, joyful, and loving, rather than if they have the "Jesus" button on their heart. It's those who are sick that need a physician, but only if they are willing to seek help.

    Really, dialogue does open pathways to thinking openly. I started here in CR because I was already in the process of changing my attitude. Dialogue has helped confirm that direction.
     
  4. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Good book. :)
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Ditto.

    In reading Thay's work, and I think that book was my first, I've come to grow that going thru the Christ to get to G!d isn't always the literal Christian interpretation but is the same none the less.

    And I believe a large percentage of interfaith dialogue is with the intention of conversion. I love the seven habits seek first to understand then to be understood. I've found so often once you understand you no longer have the need to be understood.
     
  6. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    That's a great bit o' wisdom there.

    I'm enjoying the book immensely.
     
  7. Dawud

    Dawud Byfluga

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    I think one way to look at interfaith dialogue is to realize that all of us have more to learn no matter what our religion. One way to have interfaith dialogue is to see what we can learn about our own religion in the light of what others have learned about theirs. There's always more to learn, not only in everyone else's religion, but in our own. Not one of us fully understands our own religion, n'est pas?
     
  8. Netti-Netti

    Netti-Netti Well-Known Member

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    I think a lot of learning is incidental and unintended .... even among those most intent on confirming their deep-seated biases.
     
  9. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

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    Wow. I agree with Netti-Netti, Dondi, (also probably SG), and Dawud. This is really weird. I haven't read the book, though.
     
  10. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    That is a truly interesting observation. So, perhaps authentic dialogue is based on the seeking of change by the dialoguers, but dialogue itself (even if engaged in with the "wrong" intent) can change those involved, whether they planned it or not.

    I can see that happening.

    And good points Dondi and Dawud, about learning more about one's own tradition in the light of others, and learning tolerance even if it is not acceptance. I think your points about saving people, Dondi, are also very well put. I tend to look for the fruits as well. I really believe that if people are showing the fruits of the Spirit, they are in the Spirit (and Christ) somehow, no matter what they call themselves. It might not be doctrinally correct, but I can't logically see another way to mesh my experience of people showing these attributes from various faiths and scripture.

    Lots of good ideas here, I think. :)
     
  11. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    From the point of view of courting objectivity, I think it's really a gift to be able to converse with someone from an entirely different orientation who is willing to tell me what I look like to them. You can't buy that kind of information.

    Chris
     
  12. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    This thread reminds me of the Parable of the Spoons. {If anyone knows who wrote this parable, I'd be thankful if you shared it.}

    Parable of the Spoons
    A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, "Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like. "The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water.

    The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the
    sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, "You have seen Hell."

    They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, "I don't understand."

    It is simple" said the Lord, "it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other. While the greedy think only of themselves.
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Well-Known Member

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    Here's somebody else's thoughts; I'll have to check back when I've found some of my own. :rolleyes:

    "A key difference between a dialogue and an ordinary discussion is that, within the latter people usually hold relatively fixed positions and argue in favor of their views as they try to convince others to change. At best this may produce agreement or compromise, but it does not give rise to anything creative."

    - David Bohm & David Peat, _Science Order, and Creativity_, p. 241 ​


    s.​
     
  14. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    May I ask how?... I watch everyone here... And they're like "Zomgz this book is like electric dyno miiiiite!!! woooo yeaaaaah!!! Let's do this!!!"

    I look at me and I am like... ".....*yawn* a book...."

    How do you get into books how do you get so wrapped up in them and get to a point where you actually can get enjoyment from them?? It seriously baffles me, when you hear the common saying "I just couldn't put it down" (said in a funny accent for some reason lol) Why can't people put books down? I seem to be a polar opposite... I just couldn't pick it up....
     
  15. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I think some people are into books and some just aren't. My husband only gets interested in really fast-paced fantasy or sci-fi. The rest he finds unappetizing. He's more of a "doer"- likes to be active.

    I started reading a lot when I was a kid and just always enjoyed it for some reason. I devour books. I always have two or three going at once. This has increased since I ride public transit and have now bought myself two hours a day with spotty wireless coverage (so internet is out) and not much more to do while I sit there than read. :)
     
  16. manytrailsonepath

    manytrailsonepath withallthingsgodspossible

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    It would seem, at least to me, that this is somewhat of a stumping issue to wrap the mind around. I think true dialogue can occur without a willingness to transform but tolerance and understanding are essential. To try to clarify I would say that one would need to be tolerant of an other's traditions/beliefs and understand that we all may find truths in our traditions/beliefs but in different ways. What may come to me as truth through my belief system may mean nothing to you but be the most significant moment in my life. How could I expect it to transform someone else? These are just my thoughts.
     
  17. soma

    soma Well-Known Member

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    I think if a Christian is with a Muslim or Hindu, he should try to make him or her a better Muslim or Hindu. That is the Christian thing to do.

    Christian Mysticism
     
  18. soma

    soma Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the above quote. I will try to say the same thing in a different way.

    The microcosm cannot grasp the macrocosm because it is too vast. The image that our unit minds can grasp is another unit being who serves as a model for spiritual life. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Jesus is pointing the way to the macrocosmic mind and is the tangential point between the macrocosm and the microcosm. By using Jesus as a personal model and a focal point, we can attain Christ consciousness. It is the perfect consciousness for the human model because it has attained all of the possibilities in the human state. In it all potential is actualized on this earthly plane so it becomes the prototype of being for the Christ conscious mind. It admits and supports the idea that there are varied upward paths to God the Father's pure consciousness, and the diversity in different world faiths diminishes as one approaches Christ consciousness. Evolution and all spiritual paths lead to God's pure consciousness.
     

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