The main difference in the two major spiritual traditions lies in the fundamental enunciation about the manifested universe. In the Abrahamic traditions God created the world and no creature can be like the Creator. Anyone who claimed that, as did Jesus Christ, was persecuted.
In the Indian traditions on the other hand, Brahman, the Highest Reality, did not create the world but became the world. So, every creature has Brahman in him/her/it; and can strive to become one with Brahman. This major difference has many important consequences in the culture.
What is East and what is West? For this talk, the East refers to the teachings and ideas largely associated with the Indic traditions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism; and the West refers to the teachings connected with the Abrahamic tradition, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam even though geographically Islam is mostly in Middle-East or Asia. There are many common features in all spiritual teachings but also there are some radical differences which influence all aspects of the culture. God or Truth or the Real is not Eastern or Western, Buddhist or Muslim, but each one of us is very much conditioned by our cultural and religious background. Most human beings in any society are much more influenced by their religion–by which is meant churches, organizations, priests, ministers, rituals and ceremonies–than by the spiritual teachings of the great sages after which often the religions are named.
In our global culture how do we learn from different expressions of and approaches to Truth which all traditions assert is beyond description? A searcher is a pilgrim on a journey, willing to learn and change one’s course. There is no need to get stuck on some ancient text arranged by some organization to make us believers rather than searchers. But we are all influenced and deeply conditioned by our cultural and religious background. We need to be aware of that in order to be free of it and be somewhat transformed.
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