We are opinionated society. We're very happy to spout forth our own views; we're not good about listening. We have to listen to other's stories. Learn to listen to the stories of the terrorists just as we hope that they will listen to ours because very often these narratives express frustrations, fears, and anxieties that most societies can safely ignore.
People knew there were two ways of coming at truth. One was science, or what the Greeks called Logos, reason, logic. And that was essential that the discourse of science or logic related directed to the external world. The other was mythos, what the Greeks called myth, which didn't mean a fantasy story, but it was a narrative associated with ritual and ethical practice but it helped us to address problems for which there were no easy answers, like mortality, cruelty, the sorrow that overtakes us all that's part of the human condition. And these two were not in opposition,... Read more »
We want to create, never mind the leaders or the bishops or chief rabbis or imams, or Popes. We want to create a grassroots movement where people will become attuned to uncompassionate discourse in the same way as we are now attuned to sort of gender imbalance in our speech.
Illness itself can make you angry, enraged, furious, and it made me angry, enraged, and furious. I don't think it brought me to God at all. It depends how you deal with it. And I think that, at its best, three little words that always have to be applied to religion, religion can help you to deal with that.
Theology is-- or should be-- a species of poetry,which read quickly or encountered in a hubbub of noise makes no sense. You have to open yourself to a poem with a quiet, receptive mind, in the same way you might listen to a difficult piece of music... If you seize upon a poem and try to extort its meaning before you are ready, it remains opaque. If you bring your own personal agenda to bear upon it, the poem will close upon itself like a clam, because you have denied its unique and separate identity, its inviolate holiness.
Theologians in all the great faiths have devised all kinds of myths to show that this type of kenosis, of self-emptying, is found in the life of God itself. They do not do this because it sounds edifying, but because this is the way that human nature seems to work. We are most creative and sense other possibilities that transcend our ordinary experience when we leave ourselves behind.
Myth was regarded as primary; it was concerned with what was thought to be timeless and constant in our existence. Myth looked back to the origins of life, to the foundations of culture, and to the deepest levels of the human mind. Myth was not concerned with practical matters, but with meaning. Unless we find some significance in our lives, we mortal men and women fall very easily into despair. The mythos of a society provided people with a context that made sense of their day-to-day lives; it directed their attention to the eternal and the universal.
Zionism was originally a rebellion against religious Judaism and the PLO Charter was essentially secularist. But because the conflict was allowed to fester without a resolution, religion got sucked into the escalating cycle of violence and became part of the problem.
Important thing about myth is that it's not just something that you believe, a myth is essentially a program for action. And unless you translate a mythical story, or a doctrine out of the church, into practical action, it just remains incomprehensible. Rather like the rules of a board game which seem very sort of dull and complicated and incomprehensible until you pick up the dice and start to play, when everything falls into place.
When the horror recedes and the world resumes its normal shape, you cannot forget it. You have seen what is really there, the empty horror that exists when the consoling illusion of our mundane experience is stripped away, so you can never respond to the world in quite the same way again.
Compassion has to become a discipline. It's something that you do. It's no good thinking that you agree with compassion or not, you've just got to do it. Just like it's no good agreeing that it's possible to float, you just have to get into the pool and then you learn that it's possible.
The constant reprimands made me hyperconscious of my own performance, and so instead of getting rid of self, I had become embedded in the egoism I was supposed to transcend. Now I was beginning to understand that a silence that is not clamorous with vexation and worried self-regard can become part of the texture of your mind, can seep into you, moment by moment, and gradually change you.
You have to get into the water and learn against what seems to be the law gravity to float and dancing, or athletics takes you years before you develop a skill. But if you work at it, practicing daily, you can enable your body to do things that are utterly impossible to an untrained physic.
Ever since the Crusades, when Christians from western Europe were fighting holy wars against Muslims in the near east, western people have often perceived Islam as a violent and intolerant faith - even though when this prejudice took root Islam had a better record of tolerance than Christianity.
I left the convent and that was because I wasn't a very good nun. I could see that I wasn't going to make it. It's very difficult to be a nun, or to live a religious life. It's very difficult to live a life of total celibacy or a life without any possessions or material responsibilities at all, or in total obedience to somebody else, and remain a mature whole human being, and I knew that I wasn't going to be one of those.
Religions have found that if you behave in a certain way, if you sort of perform certain rituals that expand your mind and make you realize that will make you realize and help you to seguey into transcendence and perform certain acts, adopt a certain lifestyle, you develop new capacities of mind and heart, just like the dancer, or the athlete that make you into a whole human being and principle after one of these disciplines right across the board in all of the faiths is compassion, the ability to feel with the other person.
God is not good, or wise, or intelligent anyway that we know. So, people like Maimonides in the Jewish tradition, Eboncina in the Muslim tradition, Thomas Aquinas in the Christian tradition, insisted that we couldn't even say that God existed because our concept of existence is far too limited and they would have been horrified by the ease with which we talk about God today.
In order to always treat others, as we would wish to be treated ourselves, we have to learn about each other. Not just relying on an op-ed piece we may have read here, or a half-remembered interview on the television program there that happens to chime with our own views.