Buddhists and Dialogue: Interreligious Dialogue and Buddhist-Christian Social Action
AbstractThis paper considers Paul Knitter’s (2013) Christian proposition that inter-religious dialogue can contribute to social action; moreover, that social action can contribute to inter-religious dialogue. In consideration of Knitter’s approach and its resonance with Buddhist social activism a comparative weaving of Buddhist social action produces a socially engaged dialogue wherein the commonality of what is ‘all around religions’ – a suffering humanity – is a starting point for action-oriented inter-religious dialogue. Action, therefore, holds a practical priority for dialoguers over theological or spiritual dialogue, not to discount either – but finds a need for cooperation and foci based on the sign of the times, as a global imperative to act. Such an approach requires that Christian dialogue with Buddhists specifically, and other religionists potentially, allows unique conclusions to be drawn. That is, both in Knitter’s proposition and Buddhist social activism the requirement to engage the suffering and oppressed around the table of dialogue is a significant contribution to the field of inter-religious and comparative religious study. The proximate concerns with all forms of global suffering allows for a better understanding of each other in the specific Buddhist-Christian context. The development of a social action model within which Buddhist social engagement provides a readily available audience with which Christian social activists may partner, also contributes to the theoretical understanding of postmodern and particularist criticisms of inter-religious dialogue. Buddhist dialogue actors form a snapshot of twentieth-century evidence reinforcing the claims in the paper.