Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Compassion across religions
Karen Armstrong warms my heart with her well-researched talk about how we ought to share compassion and understanding for each other across religions as "compassion - the ability to feel with the other [...] is not only the test of any true religiosity it is also what will bring us into the prescence of the divine." She emphasises the mantras of 'Love your enemies,' 'Honor the stranger' and aims to unite everyone in one world consciousness and share our compassion for the sake of harmony, progress and to share the basic golden rule of 'treat others how you would treat yourself' that all religions have at the heart of their dogma. As she puts it so beautifully: we have to move beyond toleration and move to appreciation.
She also mentions that religion is empirical, and the holiness and transcendent experience is only obtained through practice and only then can you understand the power of what you are undertaking.
I'm personally fascinated with other religions and love listening to Sunday Night Safran (you can download their podcasts there) to learn about all of the different religions that are available and how they are affecting contemporary society within and outside of their own culture. Back to the previous point, I am always interested in talking to others about their religion - particularly Indian taxi drivers who could be Buddhist, Islamic, Seek or Hindi... but I don't do anything in particular to deliberately make myself stand out as a Witch. I don't wear a pentagram around my neck nor do I have any symbols which make me stand out although I intend to at one point - though the whole 'career' thing gets in the way. I don't feel a need to put myself out there as a Witch but my dedication will most likely lead me there. I was on a train the other day, reading the book I recommended a few posts back on witches throughout history and a small meditteranean woman crossed her chest for her own 'protection'. I felt the need to assure her that I was a White Witch and wouldn't hurt anyone, but I decided to just leave it. I do hate that I feel somewhat tied back from being as obvious as an Islamic woman in her garb and in another sense I do want people to just accept me for who I am without the label being there immediately. I don't expect others to be immediately as fascinated and understanding as I am - am I holding back the opportunity for compassion to thrive?
Back to Karen above, she is really trying to have a document or understanding of sorts between major religious leaders to be pushing for positive change so that religions are not 'hijacked' by excuses to justify nasty deeds which end up tarnishing religion in the media.
And to finish it all off nicely: a cute video of the Dalai Llama on 'Happiness, Compassion and Mosquitos'!