All World Religions Have Their Mystics

And that’s where we find the truth

Gary Niemen
6 min readNov 18, 2020


Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

When comparing religions or wisdom traditions — people sometimes say “there are many ways up the mountain”. What they are expressing, of course, is that the goal is the same, but there are many ways to get there. Sounds reasonable to me.

I am quite sure that Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th and current Dalai Lama would agree with this way of seeing things. He often encourages us to focus on what we have in common rather than our differences. As the Dalai Lama points out:

All humans want to be happy.

So, one mountain — many ways up it.

It is certainly important to focus on what we humans have in common. The last thing we need in today’s polarised and divisive times is to focus on our differences.

But if you look at it honestly, are there not in fact many mountains? A mountain range if you like. What I mean is that if you look at the various religions and wisdom traditions of the world, they differ considerably in their goals and how they see the nature of reality.

Different goals, different views of reality — different mountains.

Let’s look at the six religions (wisdom traditions) that have shaped our modern world: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism/Confucianism.

First of all goals. I’ll need to simplify a bit but…

Starting with the Abrahamic religions, the goal of Judaism is to bring the word of God expressed in the Torah into the worldly life. For Islam, it is similar but through the Koran. The goal of the Christian life is to glorify God. Both Christianity and Islam connect our earthly deeds to an afterlife in heaven or hell. Judaism does not emphasize the afterlife.

Onto Eastern traditions. The goal of Buddhism is to escape Samsara — the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Hinduism lays out four goals: Kama (virtuous desire), Artha (worldly success), Dharma (good deeds), and Moksha (liberation). Taoism has no discernible goal — perhaps just to live your life according to The Way.

So the goals are very different. What about views of reality?



Gary Niemen

Product manager and technical writer in tech by day. Writing about life, mind, and wellbeing by night. All from our red farmhouse in the Swedish countryside.