Saturday, March 14, 2009

Charter for Compassion - an Interfaith Road?

This past week we observed the fiftieth anniversary of the flight of the Dalai Lama, the head on a Buddhist sect, and his followers out of their native Tibet and into the neighboring country of northern India.

Tibet of course got annexed by China. I will pass on the judgment of the godless giant and talk about interfaith beliefs.

I put a Tibetan chant on above in honor of a faith in exile. I hope that China one day opens its hearts and minds to the Compassion preached by this man.

I believe that there are interfaith approaches which in some ways talk about talking over the back fence like neighbors. I am also reminded of the line from the poetry of Robert Frost, the American poet, about how “good fences make good neighbors”.

In an increasingly religion-less secular world I am listening to this chant, listening to words I do not understand, in Sanskrit, and hoping to gain a little calm in my life to seek the enlightenment spoken so often about in Buddhism. I am not worshipping the Buddha. Few in Buddhism consider their prophet, their main saint, to be a god.

Surfing the tube last night I landed on the PBS show “Bill Moyers Journal” and happened to hear Dr. Karen Armstrong talking about her attempts to form a global “Charter for Compassion” with others who would forge this document that recognizes the “Golden Rule” as the basis of all world religions and put it back into daily use and cognizance globally both in a religious and secular sense.
Armstrong, who taught for a time at London's Leo Baeck rabbinic college, says she has been particularly inspired by the Jewish tradition's emphasis in matters of faith versus practice: "I say that religion isn’t about believing things. It's about what you do. It’s ethical alchemy. It’s about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness.” She points out that religious fundamentalism is not just a response to but, paradoxically, a product of contemporary culture. "We need to create a new narrative, get out of the rat-run of hatred, chauvinism and defensiveness; and make the authentic voice of religion a power in the world that is conducive to peace." (Wikipedia)

Perhaps the road to interfaith cooperation and beliefs lay in recognition of common grounds.

Instead of talking over the back fence so to speak, perhaps we should be going into each other’s gardens and seeing and feeling and talking about what the next guy with the other religion or beliefs sees and feels as they share in the same visit.

Her use of the word “Compassion” is what triggered my combining these not so differing points of view (?) of the Dalai Lama and Dr. Armstrong.