On Being – Chapter IX – The Commonality Among Faiths (Part IV)

Aside

VIII – Work to ensure people have what God intended for them

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Catholic Version: If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18

Jewish Version: However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you. Deuteronomy 15:4.

Muslim Version: Believe in Allah and His messenger, and spend (in charity) out of the (substance) whereof He has made you heirs. For, those of you who believe and spend (in charity),- for them is a great Reward. (57:7)

Hindu Version: Yamas: Daya. Compassion and the conquering of callous, cruel, insensitive feelings toward others/ Niyamas: Dana. Giving without thought of reward(Western Hindu).

Buddhist Version: Observance of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path will produce the outcome of consuming only enough to achieve a milieu of health, safety, comfort, and opportunity while sharing your excess with those who do not have enough.

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God intends for every soul to be happy. If we permit ourselves to be anything other, we have done ourselves, and others, a great disservice. Children must grow up in loving, nurturing, safe environments. Teenagers must approach adulthood feeling good about themselves, their prospects, their world. Wives must trust their husbands and husbands must trust their wives. Parents should never be anxious for the safety, health, or happiness of their children. Labourers should never be wallowing from payday-to-payday; anxious about today’s prospects, fretful about tomorrow’s, unable to improve on either. The elderly and disabled should have the opportunity to live as fully and independently as possible.

Imagine if each one of us gave just two hours a week helping someone in our neighbourhood obtain more of what God intended for all of us to have? If we all participate, I will warrant God’s Kingdom is not far off.

IX – Live as Stewards of the Earth and of Humankind

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Catholic Version: And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Genesis 2:15

Jewish Version:  And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.  Genesis 2:15

Muslim Version: In the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, men and women are viewed as God’s vicegerents on Earth. (2:30) God created nature in a balance (“al-mizan”) and mankind’s responsibility is to maintain this fragile equilibrium through wise governance and sound personal conduct.

Hindu Version: The Laws of Manu Chapter VII (Western Hindu). For, when these creatures, being without a king, through fear dispersed in all directions, the Lord created a king for the protection of this whole (creation).

Buddhist Version: Buddhism idealizes and emphasizes interconnection, thereby creating a mindset that creates a productive and cooperative relationship between humans and nature.

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The ego is unable to appreciate the folly in assuming God, and what God created, can be remade subject to the will of humankind -whom God also created. Microsoft’s Excel won’t tolerate a circular reference on a spreadsheet, but ego routinely looks the other way as it formulates your life perspectives.

Things just won’t work that way. No matter what one is considering, one cannot rebuild something without first understanding the complete process and the processes relevant to those processes (and so on, and so forth) and then figuring out how to fully duplicate all of its functionality; including the functionality of self-regulation, maintenance, and renewal. We will very probably never acquire total knowledge over ourselves, much less over the Earth Mother who birthed us. We have behaved as the all-knowing masters, which we are not, for as long as we have been ‘civilized.’ We artlessly plunder the environment (what’s up with this fracking business, anyway?), according little, or no consideration to the effects of our activities upon ourselves, our neighbouring communities, countries – or upon those who will inherit the world from us. While ego plays its games, an environmental black-hole is forming that will suck all of us into a place from which we might not be able to escape.

Today’s First-Nations Canadians encapsulate in their traditions the attitude, knowledge, and skills which permitted humans to survive here for several millennia before the Europeans. Now the time and opportunity is upon us to undo the damage we, and our ancestors, have perpetrated upon the Aboriginals and upon the land whose bounty they rely on as much as all other Canadians do. The aboriginal traditions of cultivating spiritual intimacy and environmental stewardship recommend them for an integral role in shaping national environmental policy.

The Aboriginal approach to the environment is expressed in these Eight Tenets:[i]

  1. Inseparable relationship between people and the natural world
  2. Respect for all aspects of the environment, everywhere – not just in thecommunity
  3. Recognition of the dependence of people on the physical environment
  4. View of the land as sacred
  5. Responsibility to future generations
  6. Respectful and responsible use of resources
  7. Preservation, conservation, and enhancement of the natural environment
  8. Belief in the link between environmental quality and quality of life

 

In the world of today, these tenets point the way to a viable future for all people. If we do not someday breathe these tenets like we do our own air, we will not have any air to breathe…nor water to drink…nor food to eat…

We didn’t inherit the earth from our parents. We are borrowing it from our children.

– Chief Seattle (Beckford, Nadhee, 2011).

 

 

Is there any more to say? Live as stewards of the Earth. Seek ways to restore the Earth Mother’s health and vitality and purity, rather than new ways which will allow us to continue to plunder her. We cannot take from her faster, or more, than She can give, and She will give all that She can. As we plunder her further, She is able to give us less and less.

For the sake of our children,

Live as stewards of the Earth.

 

X – Be Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

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Catholic Version: Blessed are the peacemakers (Mathew 5:9).

Jewish Version: Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14).

Muslim Version: O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another (49:13).

Hindu Version: Yamas: Daya. Compassion and the conquering of callous, cruel, insensitive feelings toward others/ Niyamas: Dana. Giving without thought of reward(Western Hindu).

Buddhist Version: Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth(Dhammapada 223).

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Was there ever a conflict between two people, groups, or sovereign states, which has not been ego à ego? Being part of the solution does not always mean having to be right. At times, it may be better for one side to give in until a better opportunity is presented for reconciliation. The “rightness” of your thinking may yet be acknowledged by the other side –if and when they are ready to. But if you press each time you believe you are “in-the-right,” then ego is a factor as well. If your ego is already a factor, you can bet the egos of the people you are contending with are also factors. Ego cannot resist reacting to the egos of others. The longer the egoic head-butting goes on, the deeper the two sides are entrenched; the more indelible is the line dividing the two positions -to the point where the line, not the issue, is stymying resolution. When egos are managing the interaction, things quickly devolve into a “pissing-match.”

Two people engage in an argument. They face one another from across a burning campfire; the campfire represent the negative energies (or emotions, if you will), which intensify as the argument progresses. Each person brings their own supply of logs. When either of them defends their position (in effect, denying the position of the other), or attacks the other’s position (in effect, supporting their own), they toss another of their logs onto the fire. The fire burns brighter, and more furiously, with each new log.

Conversely, whenever the response of either side is to seek to better understand, even empathize with, the opposing argument, their log is taken from the woodpile, and permanently set aside. If one finds they more often seek to understand rather than to be understood, their own pile will eventually draw down to nothing. They will find themselves with no pressing reason to keep arguing. They might even end up being the sort of person others go to, in order to resolve arguments, rather than to start them.

Now, what do you suppose will happen to the fire, if one of our campfire confrontationists chose not to provide the fire with any wood? Well, the fire would burn less brightly,  and for a shorter period of time. Eventually the other person, no matter how cantankerous their mood, will run out of logs, and the fire between (and within) them will go out. Be advised that there may be some residual embers left over, and the fire could easily erupt anew should someone toss in a fresh log.

You are choosing to be part of the problem for as long as you continue to feed the fire; you are part of the solution when you no longer feel the need to toss logs. Then it will be you, and not the ego, handling your side of the confrontation. You, not the ego, will do the talking; but before saying a word, you will have invested every effort toward understanding the position of the other. When someone comes at you angrily, start with this thought: People always have a reason; what is this person’s reason? It might indeed be something unrelated to you, or the moment. Inevitably, when you take this approach, the fire will burn less brightly, and for a shorter period of time. When both sides come to the point of bona fide interest in the other person’s side, neither side will continue throwing logs; and conditions are propitious for producing a win-win result. This is the only way for people to reconcile with any permanence.

You need do nothing to remain a part of the problem since ego is by nature reactionary and will respond to every log the other side tosses with one of its own. In order to become part of the solution, you simply need to direct your mind’s attention past ego (therefore past the fire) and you do this the instant you consider what is motivating your confronter to this behaviour. One half of the secret is knowing the ego is always talking if there is an ear to listen –the other half is knowing you do not have to listen.

In time this will come naturally. We do not remember how difficult it was to learn how to walk; now most of us take walking for granted. It is the same regarding the cultivation of a non-egoic approach to the world.

 

XI – Dedicate Your Life to Service

Fantasy? Perhaps – but can you not think of a single role individuals regularly play, where service is freely given, and with no expectation of reward? I can – the role of being a parent. I remember describing parenting this way: “You laugh when they laugh, you cry when they cry.” You are more concerned with their success than your own. Realizing your own dreams becomes less important to you than seeing the dreams of your children realized. You are honest with them about your mistakes in hopes they will avoid doing the same, et cetera, et cetera. A more selfless (in the sense of egoless) relationship than that which naturally exists between parents and children is not possible, any more than that which exists between God and us.

Your primary focus is to provide benefit to the world; the benefits you obtain from the world will issue naturally from this. Be both parent and child in your interactions with others. Serve at every opportunity, and allow others to help you when you are in need.

 

[i] Beckford, C. and Nahdee, R. (September, 2011). Teaching for Ecological Sustainability. In Ontario Ministry of Education. Retrieved October 18, 2012, from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/WW_Teaching_Ecological.pdf.