Charter for Compassion

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romansh
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Charter for Compassion

Post by romansh » Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:51 pm

I was originally looking for a response to the position that religion is dogmatic.
But in hindsight I think Karen Armstrong's Charter for Compassion stands on its own merits. Its a TED video.

Any thoughts on her position?
"That's right!" shouted Vroomfondel, "we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"
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Post by jonsjourney » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:23 pm

A noble goal. Organization?....well....this is where things will most likely break down. Getting people "together" has always been the problem, hasn't it?

I do agree, after doing a good deal of study myself on world religious traditions, that the Golden Rule is the essence of most religious thought. And she is right, it really is all you need from any religion. The rest is bureaucracy.
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Post by romansh » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:11 am

jonsjourney wrote:A noble goal. Organization?....well....this is where things will most likely break down. Getting people "together" has always been the problem, hasn't it?

I do agree, after doing a good deal of study myself on world religious traditions, that the Golden Rule is the essence of most religious thought. And she is right, it really is all you need from any religion. The rest is bureaucracy.
The golden rule do unto others as you would have them do unto you, has some problems of course. For example I may enjoy atheistic lectures, but that does not give me the right to lecture atheism to others.

The golden rule expressed in its negative form, don't do to others as you would not want done to yourself seems a little more logical. Some could interpret this as doing nothing is OK.

An finally there is the variation, do to others as they would like having done unto - if you see what I mean. The down side from an evolutionary point of view is rife from an exploitation.

But I agree a noble goal. But I do question, do we need any religion?
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Post by Cindy B. » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:22 am

In my field, mental health, as in all health fields, the first rule of thumb is "Do no harm." Should the Golden Rule not suit for some reason, the generalization of this secular rule is a good alternative, I think.

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Post by Clemsy » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:10 am

But I do question, do we need any religion?
Rom, I think the 'we' is the wrong pronoun. You may not, I may not. If another does, it's not for us to say that's wrong. Doing so brings us more into alignment with the fundamentalist than with the average person who finds value in a community of faith and has no interest in making sure anyone else is 'wrong.'

Most people who practice religion fall into that category.

Personally, I envy them that sense of community. People I know who go to church regularly aren't concerned primarily with god, guns, gays and abortion. Religion continues to fulfill the sociological function of myth for many people.

Good for them.
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Post by jonsjourney » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:47 am

Personally, I envy them that sense of community. People I know who go to church regularly aren't concerned primarily with god, guns, gays and abortion. Religion continues to fulfill the sociological function of myth for many people. -Clemsy

I agree with Clemsy's take on organized religion. I also admire the frequently unpublicized, very secular way that church groups do community service. It is not all about "missionary" work. I have yet to experience folks at a shelter or outreach program checking a person in need's religious credentials.
The golden rule do unto others as you would have them do unto you, has some problems of course. For example I may enjoy atheistic lectures, but that does not give me the right to lecture atheism to others. -Rom
I think Cindy addressed this well....
In my field, mental health, as in all health fields, the first rule of thumb is "Do no harm." Should the Golden Rule not suit for some reason, the generalization of this secular rule is a good alternative, I think. -Cindy
The Golden Rule need not be twisted or turned into something problematic when parsed philosophically. It really does mean, in essence, do no harm. I think that we can say that we may do things that cause harm to ourselves in some ways (diet, smoking, bungeejumping, etc), but the point of the saying is to not use others as some means to an end. We would not want to be treated in this way, so put that idea forward to others. It would be a good start to also recognize that the "other" is really us.
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Post by romansh » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:27 am

Clemsy wrote:
But I do question, do we need any religion?
Rom, I think the 'we' is the wrong pronoun. You may not, I may not. If another does, it's not for us to say that's wrong. Doing so brings us more into alignment with the fundamentalist than with the average person who finds value in a community of faith and has no interest in making sure anyone else is 'wrong.'
I take your point regarding the pronoun we Clemsy. But I still think my statement is accurate as written. But this does mean I believe the union of religion and believers should torn asunder. And I won't be doing the asundering, unless some believer posits I should be entering into some matrimony with the holy.

A child eventually takes the training wheels of their bicycle. That's all I'm suggesting.

We don't need to carry the boat once we reach yonder shore. But no way would I suggest somebody abandon their boat in mid stream.
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Post by romansh » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:32 am

jonsjourney wrote: It really does mean, in essence, do no harm. I think that we can say that we may do things that cause harm to ourselves in some ways (diet, smoking, bungeejumping, etc), but the point of the saying is to not use others as some means to an end. We would not want to be treated in this way, so put that idea forward to others. It would be a good start to also recognize that the "other" is really us.
I don't really disagree here JJ

But we do need to reconcile this with Campbell's observation:
“You yourself are participating in evil, or you are not alive. Whatever you do is evil to someone. This is one of the ironies of creation.”
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Post by Cindy B. » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:27 am

But we do need to reconcile this with Campbell's observation:
“You yourself are participating in evil, or you are not alive. Whatever you do is evil to someone. This is one of the ironies of creation.”
Assuming that "evil" exists.

Personally this notion of Campbell's leaves me cold, just as do certain notions of Christianity. One is deemed "evil" or "sinful" merely for existing, for being alive. Heartwarming... :wink:

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Post by jonsjourney » Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:08 pm

But we do need to reconcile this with Campbell's observation:
“You yourself are participating in evil, or you are not alive. Whatever you do is evil to someone. This is one of the ironies of creation.” -Rom
Yes, this can appear to be problematic. However, it is largely a matter of perspective, something that humans have a difficult time viewing from two positions simultaneously. Like a Gestalt image, one way or another you are forced to focus on one image.

I often think of the Jains in India. Going about trying to to harm anything at all. Eventually, one must recognize that you cannot make any moves at all in order to accomplish this...in fact the only thing you can do that is not destructive is die. But even in death, you may fall over and kill something. Ironic.

While I do not hang my hat entirely on this proposition, I do think that intent matters. Every action in the world has a consequence, some better than others. Maybe the best we can do is recognize that even our best intentions can lead to suffering for another being. Still, we should strive to "do no harm" as much as possible. Defining harm, well, that is an endless circular philosophical debate that will probably lead nowhere, much like the dreaded freewill debate. In the end, we do have to live in the world and we will be taking and giving back. It seems to me that American Indians and other indigenous cultures dealt with this paradox pretty well by recognizing it and paying homage to it. This is also what occurs in many of the rituals of non-indigenous types of religion, but the message has been lost in the politics and governance of the organizations.
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Post by jonsjourney » Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:11 pm

Assuming that "evil" exists. -Cindy
I tend to think no. Evil is a projection, not a reality.
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Post by romansh » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:04 pm

Cindy B. wrote:
But we do need to reconcile this with Campbell's observation:
“You yourself are participating in evil, or you are not alive. Whatever you do is evil to someone. This is one of the ironies of creation.”
Assuming that "evil" exists.

Personally this notion of Campbell's leaves me cold, just as do certain notions of Christianity. One is deemed "evil" or "sinful" merely for existing, for being alive. Heartwarming... :wink:

Cindy
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I never took Campbell's notion as propagating the notion of evil. Quite the opposite.

All I thought he was saying whatever I do, someone, somewhere will take issue with whatever I have done. Of course we have to take a look at the obverse side of the coin as well. If evil does not exist then neither does being good. Overstated here but you get my drift?
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Post by boringguy » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:54 pm

rom,

Maybe value is a better word. What is anythings value to a given situation? Of course the problem is still the judgement of that, but understanding the references which one might use, and then which one, or more, is being used at any given moment, probably helps. Individualy judgements can be made to some degree as to their effect, colectively to a much lessor degree, and then ecologically with almost none, IMO. The notion of the 'Fall' tends to preclude one from the ecological considerations. However it doesn't seem much different to me, to go to the far end of Nature and say that one consequently has no resposibiliy, than Campbell's example of the Yogi who goes farther and farther off into their own world and never comes back with anything. The only real attempt at value comes from greater understanding and balance of all of those.


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Post by nandu » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:55 pm

I tend to follow the traditional concept of Karma Yoga here.

Whatever you do is your Karma. You have no control over the results, consequences or rewards. The only thing that you can do is do it - dispassionately. But you cannot escape the consequences: they have to be borne.

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Post by Clemsy » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:38 pm

Rom said;
I never took Campbell's notion as propagating the notion of evil. Quite the opposite.

All I thought he was saying whatever I do, someone, somewhere will take issue with whatever I have done.
I agree. "Evil" is a loaded word. However, people do use it and some do believe in its supernatural value, particularly in the context of morality.

Beyond this, however, Campbell is saying, I believe, that we are part of the order of this world and cannot escape from its duality, as much as we try to project our own evil outwards onto others. We are both the light and the dark. Which may be dominant and why is another question.

But even then, there will always be someone who believes a Hitler has the right idea.

That's what Campbell was talking about.
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