Recently, Pat Robertson, perennial tele-evangelist and erstwhile Republican presidential candidate, recommended that, if you are surrounded by Buddhist colleagues at work, you should quit or risk becoming ‘infected’.
Although much appreciated, my dear Christian friends need not come to my defense. I am not offended by such declarations, nor does Mr. Robertson merit being taken too seriously, given his penchant for unsubstantiated provocative statements ―after all, his business is show business.
Just as there are four cardinal directions to orient us geographically, observant Buddhists seek to live our lives guided by four spiritual directives: equanimity, compassion, loving-kindness, and rejoicing in the virtue of others. If Mr. Robertson meant to say that such Buddhists preach by example ―and proximity will expose you to the possibility of contagion― then he is right. I pray he is, as that would mean that we are manifesting Right Conduct.
Rest assured, Buddhists do not proselytize. We speak when asked and will share our perspectives if invited to do so, but we do not need, want, or seek to convert you. If you are a good Hindu, a good Jain, a good Jew, a good Christian, a good Muslim, or a good atheist, we rejoice in your virtue.
Mr. Robertson would do well to ‘catch’ a little of that spirit.