Pluralism, Texts, and Oaths

Thu Mar 9 17:24:53 UTC 2000

Noel Salmond wrote:

> I recently got a call from an official of the government of Canada
> for information with regard to choosing sacred texts for use in
> ceremonies for new Canadians
> For instance, they want to know what to provide for Buddhists. I'm
aware of
> how complex this can be: what kind of Buddhist? Buddhism isn't a
> of the book" in the way that the biblical traditions are etc.
> Could someone tell me what the drill is in the U.S., in the U.K., in
> I gather that in secular India one swears on a copy of the

The idea of swearing on books of holy scriptures is alien, as far as I
know, to Buddhism.  I have served on a juries here in the UK and when
one is sworn in, a bible is normally proffered unless one specifically
asks otherwise.  For Muslims, a Quran is obviously needed while I
believe a copy of the Bhagavad Gita may be provided for Hindus.  As a
Buddhist I chose to affirm (as do Quakers) rather than swear and this
is what most Buddhists do here.  However, in the past I think it was
decided that a copy of the Dharmapada/Dhammapada was accepted.
Arguably, the best thing for a Buddhist would be to "swear" on the
Three Jewels -- the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.  FYI although nominally
a Buddhist country, people in Japan in similar situations merely
affirm to tell the truth sincerely etc.

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

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