Letter from Hugh and his continuing efforts to spreading religious tolerance.
For the second consecutive year I have been invited by the Tribhuvan University (Kathmandu) to give the keynote address to an international workshop on “Peace and Conflict Resolution” to be held in Kathmandu on 19 November. As subject of my presentation I have decided to relate what I know of the history of striking personal transformations in the Buddhist traditions. Thus the title “From Ashoka to Shao-lin”. Though such a theme would have great appeal to spiritually minded audiences in the West, especially to New Age audiences, and to those involved in the promotion of tolerance and inter-religious dialogue, it may fall flat in Kathmandu where twenty-odd years of civil war have destroyed age-old syncretisms of Hinduism and Buddhism and centuries of tolerance of the beliefs and religious practices of one’s neighbour. In the new materialist political order forged by anachronistic Nepali Maoists political and social fronts have hardened, inter-faith dialogue is strained at best. There is little interest in listening to the wisdom of one’s neighbour. But, as the Dalai Lama once said:
“Your enemy is the greatest teacher in the matter of tolerance.”
So the wisdom of the East will be brought back from the West in an attempt to heal the wounds and mend the joints of a religious tradition from which a good part of this wisdom had originally been exported to the West some forty years ago by a generation of young spiritual seekers primarily from the West.
Perhaps that’s why Bodhidharma travelled to the West in the first place…