Finding Larger Truths for Peace
Spiritual messenger Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling “Conversations with God” series, took the world by storm with its message of personal responsibility, individual spiritual relationships with “God,” and a universal humanity. The first book, published in 1992, was on The New York Times best-seller list for 130 weeks (more than 2 years), and has sold millions of copies worldwide. His 15 books have been translated in 27 languages. His most recent book, “The New Revelations” (Atria Books 2002), speaks of changing our beliefs to achieve peace.
Walsch answered these questions of Mandala managing editor Helen Chang and assistant editor Jaffa Elias:
M: Buddhists do not believe in “God.” We do not believe in a large, over
arching deity that watches over everyone, or an external force, such as
“God.” Instead, we speak of having a “Buddha nature,” which means that with proper practice, we can realize the same enlightened state as Buddha. Yet your conversations are with a “God” being, who claims to have a universally true spiritual reality. How is your conversation relevant to Buddhists?
NDW: I believe that “Buddha nature” and what I would call “God nature” are the
same thing. I believe that Buddha continues to inspire human beings to this
present day, and I believe that God does also. I believe that Buddha nature
and God are different words for the same thing. I believe that Buddha was
self-realized – that is, he knew who he really was. He saw into the true
nature of things. And he saw and taught of a path by which all human beings
might have the same experience.
I believe that God is who Buddha really was. I believe that this is who we
ALL are – though few realize it. I believe that when one realizes that one
is God (that is, united with God, combined with God, a part of God,
inseparable from God), then one has achieved Buddha Nature. I believe that
Buddhists are wise, however, not to use the term “God” because they see —
quite correctly – that the term “God” had been co-opted and corrupted by
many punitive, exclusivist organized religions.
Any attempt to define God is limiting, and God is the great unlimited. Since
God is unlimited, God must be no thing in particular — for if God was a
single particular thing, then God would by that definition be limited. Put another way,
God is the great no thing. Or, if you wish, nothing. This is very similar to
the essence of Buddha’s teaching.
M: His Holiness the Dalai Lama does not attempt to convert people to
Buddhism, and in fact encourages people stay within their own religion. The
Lord Buddha himself encouraged people to be skeptical, and accept his
teachings only if they rang true to the individual’s experience. And
Buddhism does not proselytize or use violence to spread its teachings. How
do you reconcile this with your beliefs?
NDW: My books also encourage people to stay within their own religion. A careful
reading of them will bring anyone to this conclusion. “The New Revelations”
makes the statement repeatedly that the answer is not to reject or abandon
one’s religious beliefs, but to expand them to include larger understandings
that might make the religions themselves more viable, practical, workable,
and true to our earthly experience.
In this, my writings agree completely by those of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. And, like Buddha, I invite – indeed, I challenge – all of my readers not to accept my writings or my truths as their own, but to challenge them at every level. Indeed, my latest book repeatedly counsels against making “The New Revelations” the latest “belief system.” It says that the New Revelations should be explored deeply to see if they are in accordance with one’s own deepest inner truth and knowing. And so Buddha and I also agree emphatically.
M: You are against organized religions, which teach exclusivity. Does this
mean that you are against all religions, or simply religions that teach
NDW: I am not “against” anything. To be “against” something merely places it
there. Resistence is a very high form of creation. I am simply noticing what
exclusivist religions are doing to and in our world, and my books ask the
question, “Is this what we, as humans, wish to continue to choose? Does this
serve humanity?” I believe that the answer is no, particularly to the second
question. If the answer of the majority is no, my books offer another
M: Do you believe that religions should be eliminated altogether?
NDW: “The New Revelations” does not call for religions to be “eliminated,” but
rather, the book makes it very, very clear that religions need merely to
expand their understandings and teachings to include larger truths that would
render the religions themselves non-harmful to human beings.