"Tribune de Geneve" (7/15/09)
The Geneva-based International Coalition for the Advancement of Religion and Spirituality(ICARUS) has bestowed "The Best Religion In the World" award this year on the Buddhist Community. This special award was voted on by an international round table of more than 200 religious leaders from every part of the spiritual spectrum.
It was fascinating to note that many religious leaders voted for Buddhism rather than their own religion although Buddhists actually make up a tiny minority of ICARUS membership.
Here are the comments of four voting members:
- Director of Research for ICARUS, Jonna Hult, said: "It wasn't a surprise to me that Buddhism won Best Religion in the World, because we could find literally not one single instance of a war fought in the name of Buddhism -- in contrast to every other religion that seems to keep a gun in the closet just in case God makes a mistake. We were hard pressed to even find a Buddhist that had ever been in an army. These people practice what they preach to an extent we simply could not document with any other spiritual tradition."
- A Catholic priest, Father Ted O'Shaughnessy, said from Belfast: "As much as I love the Catholic Church, it has always bothered me to no end that we preach love in our scripture yet then claim to know God's will when it comes to killing other humans. For that reason, I did have to cast my vote for the Buddhists."
- A Muslim cleric, Tal Bin Wassad, agreed from Pakistan via his translator: "While I am a devout Muslim, I can see how much anger and bloodshed is channeled into religious expression rather than dealt with on a personal level. The Buddhists have that figured out." Bin Wassad, the ICARUS voting member for Pakistan 's Muslim community, continued: "In fact, some of my best friends are Buddhist."
- And a Jewish rabbi, Shmuel Wasserstein, said from Jerusalem: "Of course, I love Judaism, and I think it's the greatest religion in the world. But to be honest, I've been practicing Vipassana meditation every day before minyan (daily Jewish prayer) since 1993. So I get it."
However, there was one snag. ICARUS could not find anyone to give the award to. All the Buddhists they called kept saying they didn't want the award.
When asked why the Burmese Buddhist community refused the award, Buddhist monk Bhante Ghurata Hanta said from Burma: "We are grateful for the acknowledgement, but we give this award to all humanity, for Buddha-nature [the capacity to become awakened] lies within each of us."
Groehlichen went on to say: "We're going to keep calling around until we find a Buddhist who will accept it. We'll let you know when we do."