Sunday, February 12, 2006

True Religion in Simple, Human Terms

Our world and its cities are extremely and increasingly violent.

Have you noticed: much of the death, destruction and division follows almost gleefully in the wake of one religion or the other, including mine and including yours.

I've been wondering. What if all religion and every "important" question associated with religion and the theologies of the various religions were done away with except for one?

What if God and God's will were reduced to one single directive, just one?

Try this on for your going-forward-into-life credo:

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

No more arguments about tradition, sacraments, pilgrimages, holy shrines, doctrines, preferences, historical disputes, etc., etc., etc.

No more war defined by "faith."

No more using God or "God's values" as a justification for conflict, division and death.

What if, horrors of horrors, God doesn't need our unction about all of this holy stuff?

What if it really is much, much, much simpler than any of us every imagined?

What if God's religious expectation of us actually boils down to one very important concern: people.


God's creation.

Maybe we can begin by listening to our various leaders, the ones behind the expressions of different religions and philosophies of religion.

Their commonality is amazing!

Hear them out just now:

Brahmanism: This is the sum of duty; Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. (Mahabharata 5:1517)

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. (Udana-Var-ga 5:18)

Confucianism: Surely it is in the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. (Ana-lects 15:23)

Taoism: Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain and your neighbor's loss as your own loss (T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien)

Zorastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. (Dadistan-I-dinik 9:45)

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowman. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary. (Talmud, Shabat 31a)

Christianity: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. (Sunnah)

A city, dare I say a world, filled with people who accept this as the essence of their faith and religion would be an incredible place to call home, don't you think?


krister said...


I just finished reading The Responsible Self by H. Richard Niebuhr, and your post today really rings true to what seems to be the heart of his message:

"God is acting in all actions upon you. So respond to all actions upon you as to respond to his action.”

This is one my favorite posts you've written. Hope all is well!

Anonymous said...

This is a powerful reminder that God speaks to us in many ways, through many voices - and that His truth is revealed in many manifestations/faiths.

While I happen to believe that truth is best expressed through the image of the Christ, I am awed by the power and beauty of these other religions, and find that they offer a wonderful complement to my personal faith. I think that Christians generally forget how similar the message of Christ is to the message of the Buddha and the message of Islam . . . thank you for making it so clear.

Blessings to you in your work, Mr. James.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post; thank you. A life lived as you suggest shifts our focus from the details that divide to the whole of oneness, doesn't it?

In addition to Niebuhr, your post also echoes Marcus Borg, who says, in THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY:

"The Christian life is as simple and challenging as this: to love God and to love that which God loves." -and- "... the Christian life is about a relationship with God that transforms life in the present."

My interpretation of this leaves no time for wars of any kind: wars of words, rules and restrictions, dogma, or anything else that separates us one from the other.