Monday, March 19, 2018
Pealing back religion for peace
Pealing back religion for peace
By: Ken La Rive
Seemingly, religions standards are complex, and at odds with each other. But if you can peal back the man-made layers that blanket them, one similarity stands out: deep in the core, peace is the primary mission. Every person on this planet, no matter how involved in anger, despair, revenge, or fear, would rather peace to war. Everyone wants security for their children, a job to support them, and a future free of fear, and yet, these basic needs are completely out of their hands... Governments, religious institutions, and corporations have manipulated the original suppositions of sacred ideals with attempts to hijack it for their own power and control. War is a prime example of this manipulation of ideas, where we are coerced to hate and mistrust a religion to justify the horror that war brings. Both sides cry out for God, the same God, to win, and both sides need to feel justified in the killing and destruction they impose for their side.
What we find and define as religion may have little or nothing to do with what the core of that religion is, in essence, what it truly stands for. All religions were made to bridge the gap between God and man, with goodness as a means of achieving this. That simple? You bet. The reason for all of the diversity, the disharmony, the intolerance, the complexity, is that men have used religion for their own agenda, politically, and institutionally, perverting the original doctrine. There, buried under all layers of man-made rings, is a primary core of goodness. The following are excerpts from some of our major religions:
Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: Do not do to others what would cause you pain if done to you.
Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you would find harmful.
Confucianism: It is the maxim of loving kindness (jin): “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.”
-ANACLECTS (RONGO) 15:23
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. That is the entire law: all else is commentary.
-TALMUD, SHABBAT 312
Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.”
-THE FORTY-TWO TRADITIONS OF AN-NAWAWI
African traditional religion: What you give (or do) to others, these will give (or do) to you in return.
Christianity: Always treat others as you would have them treat you; that is the meaning of the Law of the Prophets.
-cf. Mt 7:12
If religions of the world could peal back the man made skins of their own design and take a look at the core of their belief system, it would be a first step toward peace. It is a big if, as those who are in control of that religion have a vested interest to keep that core covered. This is not isolated; I am ashamed to say, but flows across the boundaries of all religions, even my own, Christianity.
Men take elements of other religions too, not just their own, and twist them for their own evil purposes and agendas. The word and idea that is Jihad, is a good example. Today, some factions of Islam use the word to mean a “Holy War.” In that process comes a singular fundamentalism that perverts their holy word, at the core. Terrorism, where even women and children are coerced to strap bombs to themselves, for the purpose of killing, is justified by no legitimate religion, including Islam? It can’t, as the study of original text says something else entirely. The word Jihad can mean endeavor, striving, or struggle, and each one is an aim for peace and harmony. It can mean man’s struggle to find Truth in an ambiguous world, an internal struggle, or it could mean man’s outward struggle for moral and ethical advancement within the confines of a society. Islam’s core is one of peace, as in Q 89:28, where, “God will guide men to darkness of war to the light of peace.” Instead, men have taken these words and twisted them to do their bidding on earth. The core is perverted, layer after layer, by the hand of man.
So too does all man-made religions twist the core of goodness. Each in turn will say that theirs is the one true way, and all others who do not follow the path they set forth will be lost. They give no quarter, and so, blood flows for tit for tat wars that feed upon itself. Doesn’t it say that Christians should turn the other cheek? Even some of the most ancient religions had peace at the core:
Sikhism: “By saturating my mind, the true Name has satisfied all my longings, and given me peace and happiness.” And “only in the Name of the Lord do we find our peace.”
Zoroastrianism: “All men and women should mutually love one another and live in peace as brothers and sisters, bound by the indestructible hand of Humanity.” And also, “I will sacrifice to peace, whose breath is friendly.”
Taoism: “The good ruler seeks peace and not war, and he rules by persuasion rather than by force.”
Shintoism: “The earth shall be free from trouble and we shall live in peace under the protection of the divine.”
Confucianism: “Seek to be in harmony with all your neighbors… live in peace with your brethren.”
I propose that any ideal that causes hate and discontent, or embraces intolerance and antagonism, is not a religion at all. If in fact a religion is designed to bring one closer to God by the grace of goodness, any group that represses and harasses another, or resorts to blackmail, kidnapping or the killing of another, is in no way a genuine religion. Note that so called Islamic fundamentalists always have nationalistic sentiments of church and state, which feeds on the germ and bane of totalitarianism, discrimination of all venues, and angry resentments for some past transgression are the wounds that will go unhealed from generation to generation, the true motivation for war. Healing can only be had by revealing the core of every religion, love and peace, and applying it by each individual one by one.
Only when religion can peal back the man made garbage attached to it can a similarity be found: that the core is the same, and in essence the same thing. Human nature, the fundamental nature that makes us human, is identical. Every person of sound mind wants safety, love and peace, and those who profess religion yet says “I love God” and in turn hate my brother, is delusional, as one negates the other. The promotion of revenge, hatred, and the violence of war is the opposite of what one finds in the core, where forgiveness and reconciliation is found.
There is no denying that the laws we share in America, our Conservative thoughts on the fundamental rights of men, family values from birth and a natural death, where civil authority is thought to be of service and not dominion, are concepts planted by Christianity throughout the Middle East, and Europe long ago. But then Jewism, Islam, Hindu and Buddhists and many others have also distinctly paved the way for what we hold to be self evident today, even the ever present pluralist society we call America. The pure core that each holds precious and distinctly theirs is mostly indistinguishable from each other in the broader spectrum, and we are indeed a melting pot of many ideas from every religion...
The core is a shining light to all who could admit wrong, have guilt, and be sorry for it. All sides, including what we find as our own, has a measured amount of wrongness, and if one could transcend, by embracing the simple truth at the core, his hateful ego, his blind ambition, his twisted process of right and wrong and justification, might then be grounds for solidarity, one soul at a time.
Special thanks to Francis Cardinal Arinze, who is head of the Pontifical Council for Intereligious Dialogue, Nigerian born. Though he states it in another ways, to me looking at man made religion as an onion with the truth deeply buried, is a great metaphor for understanding. Unfortunately, the problem that thwarts change is that most every person who reads this will think that somehow it doesn’t apply to him, as his religious experience, his faith base, is the one and true path. They are the fuels that fire the horrors of war, and the catalyst for the evil men do. Harsh, but true, as no matter how genuine and sufferable he thinks he is, he brings the problem home without solution.
Note: The Vatican has long seen the problems associated with religions imposing their will on individuals, and other religions. In the assembly of 3,068 Bishops of the Catholic Church for The Second Vatican Council that was held between 1962 and 1963, it was said. Peace is not merely the absence of war. Nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of the balance of power between enemies. It is an enterprise of justice (cf. Is 32:17).Also, “The council calls on Christians to cooperate with all men and women in securing among themselves a peace based on justice and love and in setting up agencies for peace. 9cr. Gaudium et Spec, 77).
Israel is a good onion to peal. A secular institution, it has hijacked the core of Judaism to advance its political ideology. Only by studying the fundamentals, will the truth be found. Our founders opposed church state institutions, as contrary to fundamental human rights, as given by God.