Over the last few days I have received about 35 messages, mainly from friends and acquaintances but also from a few people unknown to me, informing me that Buddhism has been voted the best religion in the world. I opened the first of these messages which had a link which I didn’t bother to open. I deleted all the other messages without opening. It must be the way I was bought up or something, but my first reaction of hearing this news was to think ‘By who?’ and my second was ‘Best for what?’ To me a statement like ‘Buddhism is the best religion in the world’ is on a par with statements like ‘Men smoke Drum’, ‘Prayer never fails’ or ‘Choice of a new generation’, i.e. it’s meaningless. And even if it were made as a result of a survey of religious leaders (and I couldn’t imagine Islamic, Jewish, Hindu or Christian leaders voting for such an idea. After all, if they believed that, they wouldn’t be Muslims, Jews, Hindus or Christians) it wouldn’t particularly move me one way or another. I’m a Buddhist because I have found the Dhamma to be a complete, humane, convincing and practical philosophy of life that suits my disposition and needs perfectly, not because it won a straw poll. And even if 500 Nobel Prize winners voted it the worst religion in the world that wouldn’t shake my conviction one millimetre. This morning I received two messages headed ‘Buddhism Best A Hoax’ and these I did open and read and got the full story. Apparently, this ‘Buddhism is Best’ claim was supposedly issued by a ‘Geneva-based’ organization called the International Coalition for the Advancement of Religion and Spirituality. God! A name like that should have been enough to make anyone suspicious. You know the old adage ‘the bigger the name the smaller the group’. And if not that, then ‘Geneva-based’. Geneva? Isn’t that where all those shady banks operate out of? So now the word on the street is that the ICARS doesn’t exits, that no vote was taken and that the whole thing is a hoax.
I wonder how many Buddhists got caught out?