Gandhi said that he was a Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew and Buddhist. It implies a devout connection to principles that encompass all world religions, without a commitment to any particular religion. No one can say that Gandhi did not embrace principles of respect, love and compassion in the actions in his life. He believed in these principles. He used them as the guiding principles in all his actions, not least during his non- violent protest of British presence in India and its subsequent independence. He inspired Martin Luther King in his quest for equality for all peoples across the world in a non- violent form.
These men lived for their causes. Their respect, love and compassion can never be destroyed. That lives on for respect, love and compassion are founding principles of the universe.
Karen Armstrong, a former nun and founder of the Charter of Compassion, has researched the world’s religions extensively and she has distilled the common thread that links them all: compassion (see her TED talk: My Wish: The Charter for Compassion). She uses this principle as the founding concept of her charter that encourages individuals, communities and nations to use compassion in their daily lives to improve the world (www.charterforcompassion.org).
Compassion comes from connection- to the universe, to the planet, to the animals and to our fellow human beings and humanity at large. With that connection we understand that we are all one, from the same source. If we respect other people we respect our self and if we hurt another we hurt our self. That has been the message of great leaders such as Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Gandhi and Martin Luther King throughout human history.
Humanity separates one from the other on many issues and factors. Humanity will separate on the grounds of colour of skin, race, religion, politics and location to name a few. These things are not important, but humanity makes them so. We are all bound through a golden thread, and that thread is our humanity itself. We are all one family of human existence.
Living one’s life with compassion is a choice and each individual has free will to do so. Intellectually understanding the concept of compassion is good but truly making compassion part of our own living experience on every level is even better.
I do not subscribe to any religion in particular. I do not feel I need to do so. I know that I am a product of the universe in which I live and which created me. I know that through that I have a connection to the universe and that it is possible to consciously strengthen my connection to it. I can do it through prayer, meditation and attunement. These all enhance spiritual connection. All of these methods will strengthen my connection to the universe and deepen my feeling of connection to and compassion for all that exists. A Charter of Compassion maybe a good step forward.
There is nothing wrong with subscribing to a set of principles dictated by a particular religion; however we can live our lives as a good a decent person even if we do not. That is what I try to do. I try to be a good person rather than subscribing to principles laid down by any religion. There is an argument that religion is the basis of our moral behaviour, but I believe there is a moral code built into us by nature itself. This can be seen in animals’ behaviour and many instances of compassion that they too have been seen to display.
We can respect everyone as that is a choice and decision we make. Love and compassion grow out of respect. Respect first, love and compassion follow. No one needs to love anyone. We all need to behave with respect and kindness. That is what makes the world safe. Love is a very personal emotion. Love for another person will grow out of their actions to us. Love cannot be conjured up out of thin air. We earn love by our own kind and respectful actions to others. We can respect each other as fellow human beings. We can show compassion and kindness by choice.
We cannot love all human beings all of the time. However we can respect them and behave with compassion regardless of how we feel about them. We can offer them water when they are thirsty and food when they are hungry, and clean clothes or some finance if they need that. There merely needs to be respect for their humanity to do that.
We all have a place in life and have to live together and find peace and harmony amongst ourselves for this existence to work for the whole. How best can we do that? To respect my fellow man means that I do not harm him. I allow him the freedom to live his life in peace and hope that he has the grace to do the same for me.
In recent weeks we have witnessed the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, France. We have to learn that we cannot kill each other just because we do not agree with each other. If we do not agree with each other we can at least respect the other person’s right to life and their point of view, even when we think they are very wrong.
A person must have a desire to respect others. Without that there can be no love and compassion. Respect comes from understanding the necessity and validity of behaving and living in harmony with those principles. There must be a benefit for them. The benefit is harmony and personal safety.
Compassion, respect and a deeper understanding of our place in the universe as well as our role in the universe are the foundation of these actions.
The message of love and compassion is preached by religion, but religion is not its source. Compassion can be seen in nature. There is no religion in nature, save the religion of living in harmony with the natural forces of the natural world. I subscribe to that principle, to live in harmony with the natural forces of the earth and the universe.
God is the natural forces of the earth and the universe. World religions are divided on God’s true nature and it is not my purpose to enter into a debate about that here. My idea of God embraces all the world’s religions’ visions of God. I may not agree with the details, but I respect the views each religion has on God.
There is a natural order to life of which we are a part. All religions have a purpose and that purpose is to light the way to God, higher spiritual connection and those higher forces of the universe. Their purpose is also to give us an understanding of what life is and our purpose within this life. This can be achieved without the aid of religion just as easily, if a person has the mind to do so.
Understanding ones place in the order of life and your personal spiritual path helps to kindle respect and compassion for everyone regardless of religion and other people’s beliefs. It is important for us all to live in tranquillity both with our self and fellow man.
We have a connection to God and the universal forces. God is the universe. Our connection to each other stems from that source of power. The universe created us and we are part of it. We are always part of that source however we can become emotionally disconnected from it. We can also be unaware of its true power and influence on us. We can draw on this great power of the universe for strength, guidance, spiritual and emotional sustenance. We can use it to show us the true nature of respect, love and compassion.
Through desire anyone can consciously enhance their connection to all of the universal forces which will in turn show the way to a life of respect, love and compassion.