Home > Letters

Sharing an interfaith experience

by Koten, The Buddhist Channel, Aug 14, 2013

I am a Buddhist monk of the Soto Zen tradition living in Canada. Regarding the recent exchange in your Letters section.

Sometimes when I feel particularly wicked, especially in an American context, I will casually mention that I have attended a celebration of the Prophet Mohamed's birthday at a Shiite mosque. This never fails to raise eyebrows even with some American monks.

If the truth be told, all the monks of our temple went as well, along with two monastics from the Tibetan tradition. I went because of an Iraqi imam whom I had met earlier - he reminded me of a Jewish grandfather, led a mosque of Iranians and Iraqis and thought that my name was Mr. Soto Zen.

I went to the mosque with three preconceptions that seem foolish in hindsight. I thought that no one would speak English, that the women would be suppressed and that people would be "touchy" ,as we say in Newfoundland. I found that we were shown around by young people who spoke excellent English, the women were very outspoken and fearless in their views and that we were made very welcome with baklava and coffee.

I have also participated in interfaith events with a Muslim woman who is a good friend and a Sufi. She is a professor of classical Arabic and chants the Koran at public events.

Therefore Islam to me is not an abstraction, it is these people whose presence in the world I cherish.

Imagine, if you will, an enormous mountain, so high that the top is wreathed in clouds. That is mount Carmel, Sumeru, Sinai, Ararat.

We come towards this mountain from many different directions with
our different maps of the journey - bibles, torahs, korans, sutras, suttas, that have led us to the foot of this mountain. The foolish ones circle around and around the base quarreling over who has the best map. The wise, on the other hand, just start to climb. The farther up the mountain they go the more they are simply grateful to encounter other people there.

Web www.buddhistchannel.tv www.buddhistnews.tv

Get your Korean Buddhist News here, brought to you by BTN-Buddhist Channel

The Mandala app brings together Buddhist wisdom and meditation techniques with the latest insights of psychology and neuroscience to handle the challenges and complexities of modern life. The App offers a series of engaging talks and conversations with experts on a wide variety of topics, such as managing stress, dealing with adversity, developing greater resilience, cultivating empathy and compassion, creating healthy relationships, and many more. These topics are explored to help find greater peace, meaning and joy in our lives. Our panel of experts include Dr, Thupten Jinpa, Daniel Goleman, Kelly McGonigal and others.FREE DOWNLOAD here
Point your feed reader to this location
Submit an Article
Write to the Editor

      About The Channel   |   Disclaimer