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Friday, October 27, 2006

The Cup Analogy on Diverse Religions

James: The following Q and A is from, "A Basic Buddhism Guide" on Buddhanet. This is a great analogy to help explain the Buddhist attitude toward other religions.

You certainly think highly of Buddhism. I suppose you think your religion is right and all the others are wrong.

No Buddhist who understands the Buddha's teaching thinks that other religions are wrong. No one who, has made a genuine effort to examine other religions with an open mind could think like that either. The first thing you notice when you study the different religions is just how much they have in common. All religions acknowledge that mankind's present state is unsatisfactory. All believe that a change of attitude and behavior is needed if the human situation is to improve. All teach an ethics that includes love, kindness, patience, generosity and social responsibility and all accept the existence of some form of Absolute. They use different languages, different names and different symbols to describe and explain these things; and it is only when they narrow-mindedly cling to their one way of seeing things that religious intolerance, pride and self-righteousness arise. Imagine an Englishman, a Frenchman, a Chinese and an Indonesian all looking at a cup. The Englishman says, "That's a cup." The Frenchman answers, "No it's not. It's a tasse." The Chinese comments, "You're both wrong. It's a pet." And the Indonesian laughs at the others and says "What fools you are. It's a cawan." The Englishman gets a dictionary and shows it to the others saying, "I can prove that it is a cup. My dictionary says so." "Then your dictionary is wrong," says the French- man "Because my dictionary clearly says it is a tasse." The Chinese scoffs at them. "My dictionary is thousands of years older than yours, so my dictionary must be right. And besides, more people speak Chinese than any other language, so it must be a pet." While they are squabbling and arguing with each other, a Buddhist comes up and drinks from the cup. After he has drunk, he says to the others, "Whether you call it a cup, a tasse, a pet or a cawan, a cup is meant to be used. Stop arguing and drink, stop squabbling and refresh your thirst." This is the Buddhist attitude to other religions.

~Peace to all beings~

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dragonflyfilly said...

obviously the person asking that question on Buddhanet does not know much about Buddhism, eh? i like to quote from Dancing with Siva (page 523) -- "Truth Is One, Paths Are Many"...

you are a busy one tonight on the Blogs, eh? by the way, i checked out that link... i was moved by your question, and i would like to add my observation; i think, my dear james, that you are being a little bit too hard on just seems to me from the tone of your question, and equating your "condition" with bad karma, if i am interpreting it correctly, but i may not be.

and just a note on biology and medications and such. did you know that up until a few years ago Doctors were diagonosing some people, specifically refugees and people who came from other countries other than Canada and the US, who had suffered wars and/or torture, as having schizophrenia; in fact, these people did not have schizophrenia, but post traumatic stress disorder which actually MIMICS the exact same symptoms of they were been given these horrible, powerful drugs when in fact they needed something else! what do you think of that?

come to my blog and let me know,
cheers for now,
pj (sorry i am taking up so much space)

dragonflyfilly said...

p.s. -- how about another cuppa

"James" said...


I like that quote...very true.

Yeah I was busy last night on the blogs. I was catching up after our wireless network being down all day.

I do tend to be too hard on myself. However, I do believe though that my condition is just what it is. Not even sure at this point on my journey if there is even a reason. It is what it is. It's my current situation and I have to do the best with it.

I am just mainly curious I guess at this point to hear from a Buddhist psych on the matter.

I do think that some people are over medicated and that some people shouldn't even be on drugs at all!! I wish I wasn't one who needed 6 meds but alas that is my situation and it's just what it is. :)

I'd love to have another cuppa...hehe.

M.D. Shellhammer said...

James, are you familar with the work of Stanislav Grof? Although I'm not a big fan of meds, I know how important and useful they are so please by all means use the tools available to you with no emotional investment okay?
I have known many people over the years with emotional and psychological challenges who don't handle it nearly as well or with as much grace as you do. Whatever this condition is, I admire the way you orchestrate your response to it.


"James" said...


Thank-you for the very kind comments. I work very hard to maintain mindfulness in the middle of a living with a severe brain disease. So thank-you for acknowledging that effort. You are very, very kind.

Brittany Hogan said...

I'm web-wandering and just wandered into your blog. I value this post and appreciate the perspective of the Buddhist.
So true that the diverse makeup of religions share so much core values in common. I love the message of Jesus and his heart of love and redemption. Recently, I have become curious to appreciate other soul-searchers... expanding my limited understanding of religions other than Christianity has humbled me and brought deeper questions and openness to different faiths.
Anyway, I really just wanted to say I value your posting, your searching, your humility...
Love and peace...

"James" said...


Welcome to the blog. I greet you in peace and love. Jesus was a beautiful man and one of the most peaceful, loving, life-changing people to ever walk the Earth. I have a great respect for Jesus and his teachings on peace, love and pure compassion.

I find great refuge and inspiration in other religions as well. Especially Taoism, Hinduism, mystical Christianity (think St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas Merton) and mystical Sufi Islam (think Rumi).

Thank-you for your kind words and I hope to see you around here again in the future. You are always welcome here. :)

trinitystar said...

I too have wondered into your post from MysticSaints. You are right there is so much squabbling going on ... and people miss the point.
It does not matter what religion or thoughts one follows ... because eventually ... for all paths lead to the One.

she whispers ... you will have lots of support here James ... I wish you well ... big hugs

kathy said...

"Whether you call it a cup, a tasse, a pet or a cawan, a cup is meant to be used. Stop arguing and drink, stop squabbling and refresh your thirst." This is the Buddhist attitude to other religions."

Thats great attitude! love it! Thank you :)

trinitystar said...

Feel free james to use the drawing. :o)
Thanks for travelling through. It is good to share ... we are all giving a helping hand.

"James" said...

Trinity Star:

Yep, if people put half the energy into actually following a path rather then fighting over which one--well, the world would be a much more enlightened place. I won't give hope on the human race though. ;)

And thanks for the support and the nod on using the drawing. :)



You're quite welcome. The ego loves to make spiritual issues (and other issues) wayyyy too complicated. It is so simple when one is able to let go of ones biases and attachments to "being right."

There is no such thing as a "one right religion" over all others as all things are interconnected and interdependent. It makes sense to me that different cultures, times, etc. would develop slightly different faces of the same Universal Absolute Self.

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isaiah said...

Namaste James... been following your posts but not always commenting. I really like this post and how it simply speaks to those who may wonder.

Everything is always already in divine order.

Peace & blessings as your light shines...

"James" said...


Are you a spam blogger??


Glad you're still reading. This post reminds me that things are so much simpler then we like to make them. The important thing is to act and not just philosophize.

Because as they say, "I've been thinking all day and getting nowhere."

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