Aware of our deep concerns about the planet, politics and the importance of deep respect between people and faiths I have turned to a recent book written by the 17th Karmapa – head of one of the strands of Tibetan Buddhism.

Karmapa writes : Although the lineages and texts differ, in essence Christianity , Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and the other religions share many similarities.

The differences between religious beliefs are relatively superficial.

This is easy to see when we consider their ethical values and their emphasis on the awakening of human beings highest potential.

Whether or not we think the tenets of other religions are true is not the point.

The point is that if we care about others’ happiness, we can be pleased that their religion is serving to bring them some happiness.

If their religion or spiritual path is contributing to their well-being, that is what really matters.

Karmapa goes to describe how he personally works with these understandings in his own practice.

I keep copies of the scriptures of each of the major religions of the world in my room.

I have a personal practice of my own that I do with them.

I take each scripture from the shelf and hold it in my hands as I make the aspiration.

“Many millions of people have placed their faith and hope in the teachings contained in this scripture.

“May these teachings become a true vehicle for those who make their own aspirations through them.

“May these teachings be a vehicle that brings them all happiness and fulfilment.”

These extracts are taken from The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside out, by 17th Karmapa.

The book explores some of the pressing issues of our day, including the environmental crisis, food justice and gender issues, arguing that each and every citizen of the world has a role to play in creating a better future for us all.