Fifty Years of Buddhist-Catholic Relations and Inter-monastic Dialogue: A Buddhist Perspective
Nostra Aetate has played a major role in fostering positive Buddhist-Christian relations. Buddhist-Christian dialogue differs from Christianity’s other inter-religious dialogues both due to Buddhism’s non-theistic assumptions and due to the primary locus of post-conciliar dialogue: the dialogue of religious experience among contemplative monastics. The decision to concentrate on monastics as a Buddhist-Catholic bridge continues to bear fruit, not only for larger Buddhist-Catholic relations but for the academic study of mysticism. The author discusses the experiences of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, the landmark Naropa Institute conferences, and other institutionalized Catholic outreach to Buddhist monastics. John Paul II’s remarks about Buddhism in Crossing the Threshold of Hope were a low point and setback in dialogue; the author evaluates these remarks and their consequences.