I have always loved this quote. The first time I heard it was from the martial arts master I was training with at the time. Though he was a high-ranking master in tae kwon do, he taught multiple styles to his students. Whenever one of us would ask if one style or technique was better than another, he would reply with this quote.
After I had been training with him for a couple years, he began to sense my spiritual seeking. Although he hadn’t set foot in a church in decades, he was a deeply spiritual and “God-fearing” man. He never told me which way was the best way to connect to the Divine, although I asked. He never told me the “right way” to pray, or to believe in God. He never told me which god to believe in, or if there was more than one. He would just quietly explain his personal practice, and then he’d say, “Son, there’s more than one way up the mountain, but the destination is the same. And when we get to the top, we’ll all be looking at the same view. That’s all there is.”
Years later, after lots of seeking, I am now a practicing Buddhist. And even thought the teachings of the Buddha are helping me immensely, I make no attempt to turn those around me into Buddhists. I don’t need to “convert” anyone. Everyone has their own path. Everyone around me is seeking the same goal. We all want happiness and to know the cause of happiness. We all want to be free from suffering and the cause of suffering. We all want to know peace. And how we find that peace for each of us, is unique to us, and only us. There’s no need to convince others that ours is the “right” way and that theirs is the “wrong” way. The destination is the same for all of us. And when we all reach the top, the view will be the same for us all.