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Home > Approaching Buddhism > Buddhism in the World Today > Belief in One Truth or Many Truths

Belief in One Truth or Many Truths

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
Hamburg, Germany, 21 July 2007
Transcribed and lightly edited by Alexander Berzin

Some religions believe in one truth and some believe there are several truths. How do we resolve that difference?

For example, some people truly believe that their own religion is the ultimate, exclusively true one and that other religions are false. But religion is a personal, individual matter. So for any individual, what he or she believes and follows is in fact the only religion for him or her. But as for my friends who believe that there is only one true religion for everyone, the reality is that there are several religions in the world and several truths. We need to accept reality. Therefore, in terms of several people and communities, several religions are perfectly all right.

For those who feel there is only one truth, one religion, go ahead and keep that religion. But please respect other religions, since they bring deep benefit to my brothers and sisters. Because of that, I admire, appreciate, and respect all religions – Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu.

Some Christians describe me as a good Christian. I consider some Christians as good Buddhists. I accept all the major practices of Christianity – forgiveness, compassion, charity, and so on. I consider cause and effect as the basis of religion, while Christians consider God to be the basis. I tell them that the teachings on dependent arising and voidness are our own business, not yours. No need to concern yourselves about that. But the other teachings, like those concerning love and compassion, are held by all of us in common. These shared teachings are the basis of all harmony.