I was wondering what you folks think the right meta-religious view is. By this I mean, what is the best way to look at the fact that there is a plurality of teachings who in many cases contradict each other. I have been scratching my head about this recently while reading about other religious traditions and I've developed a sort of taxonomy.
1: Perennialism - A very common view, held by transcendentalists, theosophists, neo-vedantins, and some modern Buddhists like Jack Kornfield. This also might have been the view of some Jains like Haribhadra (8th century) who wrote works on comparative spirituality. Basically this holds that even though all the different spiritual teachings seem different they all share one truth or common core hence also this is called "core pluralism", or that they are all different ways to the top of the mountain of enlightenment if you will - a commonly used metaphor.
2: Supremacist Inclusivism - Many religions hold this view, I will define it as the view that, while other religions or spiritual paths are valid and lead one up the mountain so to speak, one of them is superior than all the rest, and all the others are lacking some insight. Many Indian religions, I would place Buddhism here too, the Buddha in the nikayas for example saw the effectiveness of the practice of other teachers, but argued they were missing something.
3: Partial Inclusivism - which asserts that an unknown set of assertions are Absolutely True, that no human being currently living has yet ascertained Absolute Truth, but that all human beings have partially ascertained Absolute Truth. Basically, all religions have a part of the truth, no religion has the whole truth. This view might also lead to syncretism.
4: Exclusivism - Only one faith is right, all the others are being misled by a devil figure, ignorant or horribly confused. Monotheism tends towards this.
5: Pluralism: There are many mountains of spiritual development as there are religions. Jorge Ferrer has used the metaphor of an "ocean of emancipation". According to Ferrer "the ocean of emancipation has many shores". That is, different spiritual truths can be reached by arriving at different spiritual shores. This is basically a form of relativism - no spiritual truth is superior, just different. Also a form is pluralism is held by John Hick.
Anyways, go ahead and vote and tell me what you think is the right view and why.
Edit: As was pointed out, there is also another option: Agnosticism - the stance that there is no way to know which is true.
And now that I think about it, there is of course the option of 'nihilism' - no spiritual path is true/valid, they do nothing
Last edited by Javi
on Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta
Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā
I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14