Thank you, I just loved this!
And I laughed at the story about the hermit, that is really a good one.
There is something about certain Buddhist beliefs that seem familiar to me, not that I may necessarily be understanding them correctly (or pronouncing them wrong, LOL) but this stands out to me:
In most religious traditions one prays to the deities of the tradition in the hopes of receiving their blessing, which will benefit one in some way. In the vajrayana Buddhist tradition, however, the blessing and the power and the superlative qualities of the enlightened beings are not considered as coming from an outside source, but are believed to be innate, to be aspects of our own true nature. Chenrezig and his love and compassion are within us.
I am somewhat familiar with the Society of Friends (Quakers) and although they do acknowledge a deity they have a strong belief that that deity (the light) is within each person. So every person you look at, no matter how much you might dislike or disagree with them, has the spark of God within them. We are all equal in that way. If someone is doing something you regard as wrong, then you have to try to get them to see the truth that is within themselves. I.e., talk with them, try to convince them of the error of their ways. They may have the light within them but they are ignoring it.
Given this belief, there is no way they can condone war or killing of any kind. Quakers are always on the forefront of anti-war protests, trying to show their elected officials 'the error of their ways.'
Well, this is just my rough understanding and I don't think it's precisely the same as the Buddhist belief but the ideas struck me as similar. I remember seeing an interview years ago with the Dalai Lama in which someone asked him, don't you think there is a great deal of similarity between Christianity and Buddhism? and he said "No." Perhaps he thought the interviewer was being too facile and condescending....because there are of course some areas of overlap.
When I was teaching a class of Vietnamese students, some of whom were Buddhists or at least familiar with that tradition, I asked one woman to tell me about Buddhism and she summed it up in one sentence: "Don't kill people!" And then she laughed.
Well, I think "don't kill people" is at the very core of all religious beliefs. Yes, Islam too.