[While it is true that one can find a certain compatibility among different faith traditions, there are significant differences. Here is a superb retelling of a story that’s been around for a long time.]
There is a parable about a man who was traveling down a certain path. He came to a bend in the path, and being in a hurry, he decided to take a shortcut. He knew that he was not familiar with the shortcut which he decided to take, but reasoned that since it wasn’t too far across and that it would save him some time it was worth the risk.
He had traveled off the main path only a very short distance when he discovered that he was in the midst of a bed of quicksand! No wonder other travelers had avoided taking the shortcut. Slowly he felt himself going under.
Worried that he would die before anyone could pass by to help him, his heart leaped for joy when he heard the footsteps of another traveler coming down the main path. Soon the traveler came into view and the sinking man recognized him as Confucius. “Help!” he called out. “Help me. I’m sinking!” Confucius saw him, paused and then remarked: “That should be evidence that men should stay out of such places.” With that Confucius continued on his way.
As the man continued to slowly sink into the quicksand, he knew that he would soon be dead. But suddenly there was another traveler on the path. The sinking man recognized the traveler as Buddha. “Help me, Buddha, before I die.” Buddha looked at the man and spoke: “Kill the desire to live which you have and you will be alright.” Then Buddha continued down the path.
By and by another traveler came down the road. He was Mohammed. As the sinking man cried out for help, Mohammed stopped to survey the situation. Seeing what had happened, Mohammed cried out to the man: “I can do nothing. It is the will of Allah.” With that, Mohammed passed on by.
By the time that the quicksand was to the man’s waist, a Hindu appeared on the path. In a voice weak from exhaustion the sinking man called out for help. “Please, my friend, help me for I am about to die.” The Hindu showed little concern for the man, but he did try to comfort him. “Don’t worry,” the Hindu called out, “perhaps in the next life you will return to earth in the form of the sacred cow.” The sinking man watched as he walked away.
The man had given up hope of survival by this time.
The quicksand was up to his shoulders and only one arm and his head were still exposed. But he heard footsteps on the path again. Looking up, he saw that it was Christ walking down the path. In a feeble, broken voice he cried for help. “Sir, I have called to others for help. In their own way each of them did what he believed would be of help to me. Please, sir, unless you help me I shall surely die.”
Jesus left the main path, went down to where the quicksand was, and reached out His hand. “Give me your hand and I shall pull you out.”
Together, arm in arm, they walked down the main path.
[PHOTO by Father Greg Andrews]