Context is everything
In order for a westerner to better understand Buddhism, he must accept that to be a Buddhist is to have a different view of mans place in the natural order. Buddhist values form the basis for social, economic and political life from the individual through communities and even nations. Unlike some religions that have had wars to convert non believers, Buddhism has tolerated other views, and considers Religious leaders such as Krishna and Christ to be great teachers. Part of the King of Thailand’s title, is Protector of Buddhism and Protector of other Religious Beliefs. This in a nation where over 90% of the population, profess to practice Buddhism. The ancient Chinese emperors supported schools to translate spiritual texts of Buddhism. Today in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, Buddhism receives strong patronage from the governments and monarchs. Buddhism is not a religion, as there is no God in the Christian, Judean, or Muslim sense. There is no separation of Church and state in a Buddhist mind, as the individual, family, and nation all follow the same Buddhist values. Buddhists do not pray to a statue of Buddha, expecting to receive blessings. Rather they give thanks for the knowledge that the Buddha has taught. To a Buddhist a Temple, monk, or image of Buddha is special, not because of what it is rather because of what it represents. In a Buddhists view all life is sacred, all knowledge is to be revered, and all people are the same. The differences are not of kind of person but degree. People are looked at as to where they are in context of how they are progressing towards enlightenment. Whereas Christianity can be seen, as a narrow path towards salvation, Buddha said that there were 84,000 paths, but all have the same goal, that of enlightenment of the individual.