Are all religions a different path to same destination?

Self-proclaimed Arhant, Sri Lankan Buddhist monk tell his large followers that all religions are the same. In this video (in the Sinhala language) he said this to a large gathering that the teaching of Buddha and the Jesus are the same.

It appears his followers make a statue of Buddha resembling the same monk. This is what I heard from a friend.

Actually, it is the statue of this monk. He confirms that in the following video. He said that King Ajastta made a statue of Buddha when he was living.

I wish I understood Sinhala!

In regard to OP question, you did not miss anything.

Actually Garrib got a point there. We don’t know Sinhala, so by simply going with what you said about that guy, a self-proclaimed Arahant who confirmed that his own statue, not the Buddha statue, was created for people to worship, the real question to ask is why a smart guy like you have to waste your time contemplating the words of a lying con artist??

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Actually, I am listening to many monks on Youtube as you may have noticed. Now and then I bump into these weird fellows. He has bought a 50-acre land and building a temple to accommodate 250 of his student monks.
Unfortunately, you have to go through a ton of rubble to find and an ounce of gold.
This also gives you some idea of the state of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The same time we can talk about the general misconceptions about Buddhism. Buddism is in Sri Lanka for more than 2000 years. But many so-called Buddhist do not have a clue about Buddha’s teaching. The topic is a general misconception about the Buddhism. It is worthwhile discussing. I include the videos to show the reference source and to show that I am not making up stories.

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There are self-proclaimed Arahants (and other apparently fully enlightened beings) in the U.S too! Though as far as I know, none of them are actually Buddhist monks.


Actually, I have no problem with lay people for pretending or claiming anything.
My concern is when Buddhist monks teach people the wrong thing.
For some reason, the yellow robe gives some authority and people trust on a person wearing it.
It is like a layperson wearing a police uniform.
Generally, we see a man with a police uniform we obey his orders.


That all religions lead to the same end is the silliest and laziest of all views. Anyone who inspects a bit deeper into the various doctrines that abound will find contradictions and incompatibilities. But, people who spout such empty words seem to find lots of followers who are swayed and misled by the aura of holiness that is manufactured by them. The depressing thing is that education makes no difference and the masses fall for all the fraudulent claims made by such swindlers. Cunning words that lull the mind into a state of complacent stupor, allowing a person to continue his or her activities without putting in the effort to dig deep and go against the way of the world are powerful, indeed.

Over here, there are innumerable charlatans too and all of them declare themselves to be enlightened.

Like the recent ‘saint’ who was convicted of rape. This is what an image search brings up of this guy:

Or ‘Swami’ Nithyananda, who says things like:

Living enlightenment is actualizing the limitless potential and experiencing the ultimate as every moment of life unfolds afresh. Living in this divine space is living the best life and doing the greatest service to society.

Just the usual spiritual word-soup, but people lap it up - even his claim that he was in a ‘state of samadhi’ when he was sleeping with an actress. The spiritual circus is thriving with vast amounts of money involved.


This monk thinks he’s a sammasambuddha coming from a Bodhisattva called Samanthabhadra, and therefore changed his monk name rather suddenly. He teaches basic dhamma i.e. which is found in most religions. He doesn’t know or see a difference between what he calls dhamma. I find that people who teach only samatha and not vipassana are more prone to make this error. :anjal:

With metta

It appears this misconception is wide spread in Sri Lanka. Fortunately, Bhante Buddharakkhita addresses this problem in the following video.


The easiest and simplest way to answer perennialism is to ask them to prove it with some form of evidence.

If they resort to textual evidence you can easily dismiss their claims because different religions say different things.

So they will often resort to a “rhetoric of experience”. But this is easily defeated too, because phenomenological descriptions of different religions are also obviously different (a theist’s theophanic experience vs a Buddhists cessation experience for example).

A “rhetoric of mysticism” is the last place for a perennialist to hide, they will say something like, “well, there are different religious experiences, but they all have the same source/foundation/monistic consciousness, etc”

But this is easily defeated too, because this claim is baseless and there is no way to prove it. It’s just a fuzzy feel-good trope. If you keep prodding and asking for them to prove their claim, it dissolves like mist.


As with most things/views, I see that there are two polar extremes to be overcome here:

  1. All religions are ultimately the same/leading to the same goal (or at least, the discrepancies are not important)

  2. All religions are totally different, completely unique, without meaningful commonality (or rather, only the truly original doctrines are important in a given religion)

IMO both of these views are incorrect, and it’s worthwhile recognizing this point.


It is a good point.
Are you thinking about the Maha Kammavibhanga Sutta?

"When he obstinately misapprehends what he himself has known, seen, and felt; and insisting on that alone he says: ‘Only this is true: anything else is wrong,’ I do not concede that to him.>

I don’t think the issue lends itself to being proven one way or the other. Perennialists could ask the same of non-perenialists - prove that the various religions are not teaching the same thing. The same issue comes up within Buddhism. Prove that Mahayana does not awaken someone to a higher level than Hinayana. These kinds of debates don’t go anywhere and just divide people up along ideological lines because: We are dealing with rare subjective experiences - at least with regard to having detailed accounts of how someone awakens and what the experience is like. And this leaves us having to look at accounts from across cultures and through time - on top of the difficulties of the different ways religions use terminology. And because of all that there is lots of room for people to reject or dismiss one view or another if that is what they want to do.

Also, one cannot simply compare religions with each other. There is a big difference between the understanding of an adept vs a general lay member of any religion. The notion of God to your average Christian is very different from how a Christian mystic uses it. Same with many Buddhist terms. And this goes for even basic concepts like generosity. In the video by Bhante Buddharakkhita he talks about how generosity is very different in Buddhism because it is there for the purpose of developing concentration - true and a good point but I think if you polled the general Buddhist population, most would not be aware of this. Likewise, to understand generosity at a deeper level in Christianity or Islam you would have to look at how it is understood by the adepts - within the monastic communities for example.

IMO, it is best to just keep an open mind and adopt Ajahn Chah’s ‘not sure’ approach. I feel that there are probably individuals in most if not all religions that have awakened to something akin to the Buddhist Arahant. I say this because through reading a number of these accounts I find repeating patterns of experience - both path and result. Now whether or not that was the aim of the founder of that particular religion - can’t say.

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Well, like with the debate on the existence of God, the responsibility to provide proof resides in the side making the claim, so perennialists are the ones making the claim that all religions are saying the same thing (against the clear evidence from religious texts to the contrary) so they are the ones that must prove it.


Often, people really don’t understand burden of proof. It pays to highlight this sort of thing, because folk tend ignorantly to hide behind “prove me wrong!”


The critical factor in becoming an Arahant is the elimination of self-view.
This matter is covered in Mahayana so your argument may valid there.
If you take other four major religions, they do not accept the not-self teaching.
In point view of a Buddhist, we can definitely say that followers of other religions cant attain the Buddhist Arahantship.

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Often, people really don’t understand burden of proof. It pays to highlight this sort of thing, because folk tend ignorantly to hide behind “prove me wrong!”

Yes, the onus probandi is also especially strong in this case because we have clear evidence from different religious texts pointing to different religious experiences (for example, a Christian theophanic experience of seeing the virgin vs a Buddhist experience of anatta).

Not only that but this phenomenological evidence from the different religious traditions also serves to diffuse any argumentum ad ignorantiam which basically says “we don’t know what they experienced subjectively, so maybe its all the same thing”.


Hi Javier,
I can only speak for myself. I was not making a claim - I was just making an observation. I don’t see a need for debate because as I said in my previous post - for various reasons it is impossible to prove this one way or another. It is kind of like if I remark “it’s a beautiful day today” I don’t feel a need to prove it to anyone - it is just my personal observation. God is a great topic - in order to discuss if there is or is not God we have to define what it means in the first place. Want to give it a try? I know I don’t.

I suppose I am one of the people you are referring to and as I said to Javier, I am making an observation - I am not on trial nor are we having a formal debate. Is the burden of proof on the Buddha for proclaiming that nibbana can be realized? Why should discussion take the form of a debate? It would be far more interesting IMO to explore a topic through an open minded discussion.

I am not so sure about that. The not-self teaching is regarding the sense of self with respect to the aggregates. I think it would be reasonable to refer to this as a worldly self (using Buddhist definition of world). I believe you will find in several other religions that the sense of worldly self is totally abandoned at the highest levels. If a Christian mystic uses the word Self - as in a true or higher self it is not referring to the concept of self found in Buddhism. In these kinds of discussions, individual terms are difficult to work with because it is hard to impossible for anyone to hold both the Buddhist notion of self / anatta and at the same time relate to the Christian meaning of self/Self. In both cases I am talking about something directly experienced not how we try to conceptually understand these things - which will always be different.

What leads you to this view?

We have clear evidence that religions use different terms. We do not know if they refer to the same subjective experience found in other religions or not. That would be an assumption. There are also distinct patterns that are found that suggest shared qualities of experience. We have for example the Christian mystic Bernedette Roberts defining her experience as Not-Self saying that things are seen very differently and talking about the world coming to an end - all sounding very Buddhist. I don’t recall if she ever saw the virgin Mary or any other virgin for that matter.

To all who responded: I am not out to debate anyone nor am I interested in proving to anyone anything. I simply find the variety of religious experience - particularly those described by the mystics of different religions - to be very interesting and I do see similarities as well as differences. Thanks all for responding.