Letter: Papal blunder on Buddhism

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is unfortunate that His Holiness' short chapter on Buddhism (in Crossing The Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II) reveals such a profound misunderstanding of it (book review: 'What gets up the Pope's nose', 22 October).

Buddhism is a faith rooted in loving kindness (maitri), concern for every living being (karuna) and an opening to the universal purity and goodness (tatathagarbha) that lies deep within us all.

To portray our beliefs as being solely the nurturing of indifference shows an astounding lack of understanding on his part about a religion that is both older than Christianity and which was, for many centuries, more widespread. Buddhism is a vast and deep philosophy that has been the belief-system of a major part of the human beings who have ever lived on this planet.

We can only hope that the Pope's misrepresentation of Buddhism is the result of his own misunderstanding and is not intentional misinformation.

We ourselves remain deeply committed to an intelligent inter- faith dialogue with our many Christian friends and to mutual respect, seeing this as a vital contribution towards the harmonious future of the world.

Yours faithfully, KEN HOLMES Director of Studies Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Centre Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire 25 October