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The Contemporary Tibetan Buddhist Rimé Response to Religious Diversity

Issue: Vol 4 No. 1 (2020) Buddhist Responses to Religious Diversity (Special Issue)

Journal: Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/isit.40148


In a world where communities across the globe are becoming increasingly interconnected, encounters with diverse cultures and faiths are inevitable. How can diverse communities approach these encounters in a way that fosters dialogue rather than conflict, peace rather than war? Specifically, in the context of Buddhism, how should Buddhists relate to religious diversity in a way that simultaneously remains faithful to their own spiritual traditions while being openminded and respectful towards the beliefs and practices of others? One of the most well-known Buddhist responses to religious diversity was the rimé movement in nineteenth-century eastern Tibet. While the term “rimé” (meaning “impartial” or “non-sectarian” in Tibetan) has become a catchphrase in contemporary Tibetan Buddhist contexts, there has been little sustained engagement with this topic by Buddhists and Buddhist studies scholars. This essay documents and contextualizes the contemporary uses of the term rimé (non-sectarianism) in Tibetan Buddhist communities and situates it within Tibetan Buddhist literature and history. I argue that it is essential for both Buddhists and Buddhist-studies scholars to devote significant attention to the concept of rimé and to engage in interfaith dialogue. For Buddhists, the very survival of their religion depends on it. For Buddhist-studies scholars, it contributes to the development of an accurate understanding of one of the most significant intellectual moments in modern Tibetan history. For humankind, it contributes to interfaith understanding, harmony, and peace.

Author: Rachel Pang

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