By Reza Shah Kazemi
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Extra info for Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism: Spiritual and Ethical Affinities
The question of ultimate truth and reality cannot therefore be left out of any dialogue that wishes to go beyond scratching the surface of ethical agreement. It is for this reason that in what follows we have devoted considerable attention to the question of the supposed ‘atheism’—or, more accurately, ‘non-theism’—of Buddhism, for it is this apparent denial of God that constitutes one of the greatest obstacles to effective dialogue between the adherents of Buddhism and other religious traditions.
Let us take a look at how this oneness is described in Islam, before comparing it to the ‘uncompounded’ in Buddhism. The first testimony of Islam, ‘No divinity but the one and only Divinity’ can be understood to mean not just that there is only one God as opposed to many, but that there is only one absolute, permanent reality—all other realities being relative and ephemeral, totally dependent upon 1. This rather wordy translation of the single Arabic word (which is one of the Names of God) al-Samad is given by Martin Lings (The Holy Qur’ān—Translations of Selected Verses, Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute & The Islamic Texts Society, 2007), p.
Indeed the right way has been made distinct from error. So whoever rejects [lit. ‘disbelieves’: yakfur] the false gods and believes in God, he has truly held tight to the firmest of handles, which can never break (2:256). The Unborn It is possible to discern in the Buddha’s saying from the Udāna two affirmations of the oneness of ultimate reality, one temporal and the other substantial. At this point we will endeavour to address the temporal aspect, later the substantial aspect, relating to the distinction between compounded and non-compounded, will be addressed.
Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism: Spiritual and Ethical Affinities by Reza Shah Kazemi