Religion should be a unifying force, not a divisive one. Today I think we all have to face the fact that, as Gandhi said, religion and politics are not separate and apart; those who think they are unrelated don’t know much about either. It would be nice, but it is not realistic, to wish them to be separate, for as soon as you have two or three people together, there are politics.
On my first Asian trip, overland to India in July 1971, I met the ancient great Buddhas in Bamiyan, treasures of the ancient world destroyed in the Nineties by the Taliban. With my ex-Green Beret traveling buddy Ken Humphrey, met in Istanbul, I ascended their insides and peered out over the sandy Afghani Valley through their eyes. Was this my first glimpse of BuddhaVision?
A few days later we continued our overland trip on to Pakistan, through the Khyber Pass, and into India. A few years later I returned to New York, and had a similar feeling from the top of the newly built World Trade Center. It was like divine sight, gazing down upon teeming multitudes, including all the possible realms of existence, heaven and hell, samsara and nirvana.
Remembering these two twin pillars, East and West– so gargantuan for their respective times, seemingly invincible, yet so transient– I remember Yeats’ great poem: “I Am Ozymandias, King of kings; look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.”