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I was reading through some of the material Bhikkhu Bodhi (author of In the Buddha’s Words, which I just finished) had on Access to Insight, and I came across this quote:
The Shorter Discourse on the Lion's Roar (MN 11) deals with the delicate question of whether different spiritual paths all lead to the same ultimate goal.
The sutta can be found here. It’s basically a shortish text on how to cope with ascetics and Brahmins who claim to be teaching a similar path to the Buddha, where the Buddha says that they generally do not teach the same, because for example they only teach about clinging to sensual pleasures, and not other types of clinging such as clinging to views.
I thought it was interesting because many people in the New Age today still hold to the idea that all spiritual paths lead to the same ultimate goal. Take for example Christianity. Superficially it is very different from Buddhism, but once you get to a certain stage prayerfulness and contemplation do start to resemble meditation.
In a way the idea that all spiritual paths lead towards the same thing is comforting — it is inclusive, it means there is less reason to try and convert people, it is hopeful. But is it true?