How To Have Harmonious Inter-Religious Dialogue

Question: While chatting on our faiths, I said that a difference between Buddhism and god-centric faiths, is how gods are seen as still trapped within the six realms of existence, susceptible to karmic fall and rebirth, and are thus spiritually lesser than the Buddhas, as they have transcended them all. A friend remarked that saying this is disrespectful. Is this so?

Answer: Actually, no, as what shared was simply the Buddhist perspective, which Buddhists hold to be true. Perhaps you can send the following article to share the Buddhist rationale on why Buddhists take refuge in Buddha(s) and not god(s) – ‘Are Buddhas Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent & Omniscient?’: https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2013/11/are-buddhas-omnipotent-omnibenevolent-omniscient

If your friend still claims you are being disrespectful, she would be disrespectful to Buddhism instead? Sometimes, we have to agree to disagree amicably when it come to religious discussions. When discussing with non-Buddhists, it is good to first respectfully say – ‘According to the Buddha’s teachings…’ This makes it clear that you are just a messenger who comes in peace. You might also wish to add that it is not that Buddhists do not respect truly virtuous gods (if they are real), but that we take full refuge only in Buddhas, whom we see to have perfect compassion and wisdom for all beings.

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