Syncretism in Taipei: Museum of world religions

The Museum of world religions of Taipei is a unique place where the main religions of the world are explained in order to make people understand the unity in diversity and contribute to the spiritual growth of visitors. The museum’s displays have an international field of vision and provide essential information about the multiplicity of religious choice.

Being an atheist, I valued the museum for the messages of peace and human love conveyed, many of which were not related to the belief in god. The museum is not trying to pressurize people into embracing religion; on the contrary it aims at educating the general public in the basics of religious knowledge, as the only way to prevent the growth of wrong and superstitious beliefs.

Inside the Museum of world religions
Inside the Museum of world religions

Few words about the founder of the Museum of world religions

Born in Burma, Master Hsin Tao arrived in Taiwan in 1961 and became a buddhist monk at the age of 25. Over the years he became more and more aware of the need to disseminate and introduce religious knowledge, satisfy the public’s spiritual need and provide a leisure place both for education and enjoyment.

Master Hsin Tao sees the world as a global village in which differences in nationality or religious belief ought not to lead to division and disagreement.

The museum

The museum features different sections:

  • Pilgrim’s Way – a hallway with images of pilgrims from different religions. It can be considered the beginning of the journey to knowledge and understanding
  • Golden lobby – a maze depicted on the floor represents the most important symbols of the various religions and the two golden pillars are inscribed with the words “Love is our shared truth” and “Peace is our eternal hope”
  • Great hall of world religions – history, beliefs and buildings of the main religions are explained and shown here
  • Meditation gallery – describes the different forms of prayer and meditations
  • Awakenings – words from religious leaders and famous people talking about their experience
  • Wall of gratitude – the museum was founded entirely from private donations so this wall expresses gratitude for and remembrance of the generosity of the donors.
Pilgrims' Way
Pilgrims’ Way

The ideas I like the most from the different religions

Zoroastrianism

Zarathushtra declared the existence of good mind and spirit of benevolence. The good mind enables us to recognize the flawed world for what it is, the spirit of benevolence inspires us to make this world better and to transform it towards perfection.

In his vision, obscurantist ritualism could find no place: the human being is the locus of wisdom and moral concern, with the absolute freedom to think, judge and act.

For Zarathushtra it is we who will perfect the social existence, because through our wisdom and benevolence we shall make the right choice, without any externally imposed prescriptions or injunctions; and in that process finally eliminate the evil.

Free choice alone is the ground for responsibility: actions performed through considered, not prescribed choice. It is this choice, and this choice alone, for which one is responsible, here and hereafter.

This is a vision of a perfecting world and moral order, brought to that state by rational and thoughtful human beings, dedicated to promoting the truth by the power of reason, not force or social machination.

Zoroastrian temple in Yazd
Zoroastrian temple in Yazd

Hinduism

Karma is the principle that all actions have inevitable consequences. Good actions will lead to a superior rebirth whereas bad actions will lead to an inferior rebirth. As long as people are tied to the results of their actions, they cannot escape the cycle of rebirth and attain union with the divine.

Hinduism values correct behavior more than correct belief. This emphasis on righteous action instead of rigid beliefs leads to tolerance and understanding.

Buddhism

Buddha’s teachings outline four noble truths: life is suffering, suffering arises from craving and attachment, attaining nirvana entails overcoming ignorance and attachment, the way to reach nirvana is to follow the noble eightfold path.

Buddhism assumes that humans undergo repeating cycles of birth and death due to their carving, hatred and delusion, the three basic bad afflictions called the three poisons. Since there is no soul, these cycles are series of new manifestations rather than reappearance of the same being.

A buddhist’s ultimate goal is to reach nirvana, freedom from desire and from the cycle of rebirth and suffering.

Buddhist monks in Luang Prabang
Buddhist monks in Luang Prabang

Sikhism

The sikhs view external rituals and class distinctions as irrelevant to spiritual achievements and are exhorted  to live a detached, spiritual life with respect and love for humanity.

Inspiring quotes

  • I grow old learning many things (Solon)
  • The same reality is the creator and preserver of all; knows no distinction between them, the monastery and the mosque are the same; so is the hindu worship and the muslim prayer. Humans are all one (Guru Gobind Singh)
  • The realizations of spiritual awakenings I had were ones that allowed me to see the depth in very ordinary things. And I didn’t so much seek for extraordinary moments of illumination, but for the kind of scintillations or sparks that you’d find in grains of sand. It was kind of a close training of the spiritual eye to look for powerful moments in what might ordinarily pass for just an ordinary instance… I felt like a person who had been maybe enlarged or hollowed out. I’m saying hollowed out because it had both sensations of feeling in some ways more empty and in other ways more capable of holding more (Dr. Lawrence Sullivan)

Credits

The content of this article refers to the informations and brochures provided by the Museum of world religions.

We thank the many volunteers who support this important project of peace with their generosity.

Ross

The mottos that best represent me? "Worry more about your conscience than your reputation. Because your conscience is what you are, your reputation is what others think of you. And what others think of you is their problem." and..."Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"

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