Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Charter for Compassion

We talked about this Charter of Compassion at the last Society of Friends of the Buddha meeting.  


It's a fine document, worth more than a passing thought, and deserving of consideration as a guiding light for our thoughts, speech, and actions in this world.


Here is what it says:


The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

And here is a video saying the same thing:



And a link to the website so you can affirm the charter (as I have done) along with the thousands of others who've already done so. Link.

May you be well. May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be at ease.

14 comments:

Alden Smith said...

Yes the principle of compassion which is another name for "The Golden Rule" is what remains at the heart of all religions when the cultural dross is removed.
I like the idea of a charter but let it be written in each individual human heart and in their ACTIONS - not moved to the side into philosopical musings, rituals and all the other side religious side shows

Sarah Lulu said...

Love it Dan, fits in with my own personal belief system very well. xxxx

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Dan: Thank you for posting this. Isn't it amazing that this charter (prompted by author, Karen Armstrong) addresses the world's religions who have often been at the forefront of the least compassionate acts.

I concur with Alden Smith's comment above.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Alden. I agree. The Buddha talked a lot about thought, speech, and action, often raising the three of them when it seemed only one of them had been under consideration, as you do here by bringing action into the picture. The three are linked together more intimately than we suppose. But bottom line: what we do (and fail to do) reveal a lot about our thinking and our stated creed. Our actions are most telling.

Dan Gurney said...

Sarah Lulu, yes. I'm glad you liked it.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Bonnie

I think it makes sense. She comes from a Christian background (when she was much younger, she had been a nun) and she became aware of Islam and Judaism relatively late. I've come across many explanations for all the fighting among these three religious siblings, but I'm now more interested in finding a way to help them to awaken to the happiness produced by compassion.

Jenny Stevning said...

Beautiful. Thank you. You helped shift my heart. I needed that this morning.

Margaret Pangert said...

hi Dan~ These affirmations are very meaningful to me. I affirmed the charter. I want to embed the widget so I can repeat the charter with this diverse group of people often. Thanks for sharing this, Dan.

Dayne Gingrich said...

Great post. Very important reminder.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Jenny— I'm glad that reading this post filled a need for you this mornning. That's great. Hope you're feeling better still.

Dan Gurney said...

Margaret, you're welcome.

The Pollinatrix said...

This is the second post of this charter that I've come across in the past couple of days. The other one is over at Mind Sieve.

What the charter says just seems so obvious, doesn't it? And yet, it's so far from obvious for so many people. We've a long way to go, I suppose. And then, when I look into my own heart, I must admit, that while in principle I fully agree with compassionate living, in practice I often fail, in "little" ways, especially with those closest to me.

I like the way you refer to "religious siblings." It's truly a family affair.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Pollinatrix--

A long way to go, or just s millimeter. We all respond immediately to compassion and know it is the wise and happy path.

Yes, we all fail in big and little ways, but knowing we fail is the main thing. When we're awake to and aware of our shortcomings, it's possible for us to act upon them.

The biggest obstacle to compassion is ignorance of our cruelty. Awareness, as the Buddha correctly pointed out, is the key.

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