2. The Buddha and Religious Diversity Today

Buddhist Responses to Religious Diversity - Theravāda and Tibetan Perspectives - Douglas Duckworth

Abraham Vélez de Cea [+-]
Eastern Kentucky University
Born in Saragossa, Spain, Dr. J. Abraham Vélez de Cea is professor of Buddhism and World Religions at Eastern Kentucky University. He came to the USA in 20002 and before joining EKU in 2006, he taught Buddhism, Buddhist Ethics, and Buddhist-Christian Mysticism in the department of theology at Georgetown University. He is active in the Buddhist Critical-Constructive Reflective Group of the AAR, and serves as the chair of the Frederick J. Streng Book Award for excellence in Buddhist-Christian Studies. He is the author of The Buddha and Religious Diversity (Routledge, 2013), which discusses the Buddha’s attitude towards religious diversity in conversation with Christian theology of religions. He is currently working on a book about multiple religious belonging and the possibility of being both a disciple of Buddha and Jesus.


This chapter challenges exclusivist interpretations of the Buddha, and proposes alternative readings of early Buddhist texts that allow for the existence of the ultimate goal of the spiritual life outside Buddhism. The chapter clarifies the differences between exclusivist and non-exclusivist exegesis of the Buddha and suggests that exclusivist readings of his thought are a later scholastic development in the history of Buddhism. The main thesis of the chapter is that the Buddha cannot be considered an exclusivist because he did not understand the Dhamma and self-enlightened beings (paccekabuddhas) in sectarian terms as being the monopoly of any school. What the Buddha excludes from being paths to the final goal of the spiritual life are specific teachings incompatible with the Dhamma and the Noble Eightfold Path. This exclusion of specific teachings rather than of entire schools entails “specific exclusivism,” which is different from holding a sectarian “exclusivist view” of all non-Buddhists traditions anywhere and at any time.

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Vélez de Cea , Abraham. 2. The Buddha and Religious Diversity Today. Buddhist Responses to Religious Diversity - Theravāda and Tibetan Perspectives. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2020. ISBN 9781781799055. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=38390. Date accessed: 25 Jun 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38390. Sep 2020

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