3. Paths of Liberation? Theravāda Buddhist Approaches to Religious Diversity

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

Perry Schmidt-Leuikel [+-]
University of Münster
Perry Schmidt-Leukel is Professor of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology at the University of Münster and one of the Principal Investigators of Münster University’s Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”, University of Münster. Before he taught at the Universities of Munich, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Glasgow. Schmidt-Leukel is known as one of the leading proponents of a pluralist theology of religions. His main research interests are in the fields of Buddhist-Christian dialogue, theologies of religions in the various religious traditions and inter-faith theology. He published more than 30 books in German and English. Among his more recent publications in English are: Understanding Buddhism (2006); Buddhist Attitudes to Other Religions (2008); Transformation by Integration: How Inter-faith Encounter Changes Christianity (2009); Buddhism and Religious Diversity, 4 vols. (2013) and (co-ed. with Joachim Gentz) Religious Diversity in Chinese Thought (2013). In 2015 he gave the renowned Gifford Lectures on “Interreligious Theology.”


Distinguishing between “tolerance” and “appreciation”, this chapter asks to what extent Theravādins are able to appreciate other religious traditions as means or paths of liberation/salvation. After clarifying the conditions of enlightenment as taught in classical Theravāda, and the three types of enlightened persons that Theravāda admits, the chapter presents and discusses exclusivist, inclusivist and pluralist stances as they are taken from a Theravāda background. It argues that the doctrinal presuppositions of classical Theravāda (especially the idea of only one Buddha and saṅgha at a time) have a strong tendency toward exclusivism which was apparently the dominant position of the past. Further, the chapter looks at the arguments of some Theravādins who, in the twentieth century, moved toward an inclusivist understanding of non-Buddhist religions, and finally presents the position of Buddhadāsa as an example of a Theravāda pluralist.

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Schmidt-Leuikel, Perry. 3. Paths of Liberation? Theravāda Buddhist Approaches to Religious Diversity. Buddhist Responses to Religious Diversity - Theravāda and Tibetan Perspectives. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Sep 2020. ISBN 9781781799055. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=38391. Date accessed: 05 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38391. Sep 2020

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