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Tierno Bokar, Maitri Upanishad and Abbot Mingzing: On Unity and Diversity of Beliefs

Tierno Bokar, Maitri Upanishad and Abbot Mingzing: On Unity and Diversity of Beliefs

Photo: Konark Temple wheel, Orissa (India) by Suvrangshu.



​The beauty of the rainbow is due to the variety of its colors. In the same way, we regard the voices of different believers which rise from all parts of the earth as a symphony of praises on behalf of God who can only be One.

(Shaykh Tierno Bokar)

Some contemplate one Name, and some another. Which of these is the best? All are eminent clues to the transcendent, immortal, unembodied Brahma: These Names are to be contemplated, lauded, and at last denied. For by them one rises higher and higher in these worlds; but where all comes to its end, there he attains to the Unity of Person.

(Maitri Upanishad) 

We do not look for gulfs when we compare religions, rather we try to find similarities and unity. This is the essential difference between the Chinese and Western viewpoints. We firmly believe in the truism that all faiths are the paths leading towards the Ultimate Reality, just as the spokes of the wheel converge to its axis. When the people are too immersed in the dogmas and rituals of their chosen religion, it appears to them to be the only one worth following and they defend their own particular faith. However, when they have acquired enough wisdom, charity and discernment, they too are bound to perceive that the road to Heaven is nobody’s monopoly and that the divine laws apply equally to all. It is the dogmas, ritual and the mode of worship that divide the faiths and not the basic essence of their beliefs. 

But I am not in favor of conversion from one faith to another, neither do I believe in the fusion of all religions into one. The Ultimate Truth is one, but it has an infinite number of aspects and what is more beautiful than that each faith should reflect only one facet of the Divine, all of them together creating a shining gem of beauty. Would the world be more beautiful if all the flowers on earth had been blended into one uniform color or all mountains razed to make the globe monotonously flat? Each religion offers something glorious, peculiarly its own, to point out the road to the Ultimate Reality. What man or group of men would be able to prescribe a single form of religion that would satisfy all and everybody? That would be an attempt to give a finite concept of the Infinite and, of course, it would fail. 

(Abbot Mingzing)



Recommended Reading:

'A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom: An Encyclopedia of Humankind's Spiritual Truth' 

By Whitall N. Perry  (Author)

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This extraordinary compendium gives access to what the greatest minds of all time and the various faith and philosophical traditions say on every aspect of the spiritual life, be it faith, patience, suffering, or mercy. Relevant passages are included, such as Eckhart, Philo, Rumi, the Talmud, Shakespeare, Rama Krishna, Black Elk, The Psalms, the Tao Te Ching, and Milarepa, among countless others.

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