Here is what the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism told his 4 million friends on Facebook earlier this Fall:
All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and foregiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasing convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.
The Dalai Lama and the New Atheists are right when they condemn religion for not living up to its own ideals.
Richard Schiffman writing for religiondispatches.org suggests that the Dalai Lama
recommends a radical new approach: a religionless religion, if you will stripped of myth, superstition, and narrow dogmatism, and focused on the practical work of transforming human behavior. He wants to incorporate the insights of the hard sciences as well as psychology, philosophy, and sociology into a broad-based new discipline to address our current moral crisis.
I suspect that that is not what the Dalai Lama has in mind. For example, I doubt he is suggesting that Tibetan Budhism give up “its pantheon of dieties and arcane practices.”
Instead, it would seem that some sort of super religion is needed. Something that would tie together all the lofty ideals of the world’s great religions and work toward the resolution of the earth’s immediate moral and spiritual needs. Such a super religion would hopefully work at unifying instead of separating.
With such an umbrella organization, the individual religions could maintain a lot of their traditional beliefs and ordinances. After all, religion is an important part of the culture of many nations and ethnic groups.
However, umbrella organizations like the United Nations (and the League of Nations before it) don’t have a particularly successful record when it comes to moving agendas forward. It is difficult for individual nations to see past their own immediate wants and needs. And this would probably be the case with a United Religions.
And I doubt you could ever convince my church to join.