Category Archives: expansive religion

People of the Amazon Rainforest

The story of where the ideas of Chaco came from arose far from Chaco. Archeologists Anna Roosevelt and Chris Davis were interviewed in the series Native America.  They explained that they have been trying to answer such questions. They have been searching for evidence of the earliest people in the Americas.

Some interesting data has been discovered in the Amazon Rainforest of western Brazil. They looked in a cave there referred to in Portuguese as the Caverna da Pedra Pintada, or in English, the cave of the Painted Rock.  The walls of the cave are covered with art of animals and the sky. “This cave in the Amazon is re-writing the history of when and how people settled the Americas and who those people are.”

For a long time history books presented only one view of how this happened. They said that about 11,000 B.C. during the last Ice Age big game hunters from Asia crossed over to North America a frozen land bridge in the area known a Beringia. That land bridge arose when sea levels dropped dramatically during the last Ice Age.  Later when the continental ice sheets of North America and the world melted. the ocean levels rose again sharply growing that land bridge once more. It was thought that after the ice melted the people of Asia who had arrived in North America  migrated south into North and South America. They were thought to have hunted mammoths, giant sloths and caribou with finely fashioned stone spear points. Many of these animals have since disappeared.

According to the standard view people reached the Amazon about 1,000 years ago.  Recently scientists have discovered evidence in caves that people arrived in the Amazon much earlier than that. ?That evidence even includes some surprising art as well as human remains which have been carbon dated. .  As Anna Roosevelt from the University of Illinois said, “The remains we found and dated in the cave show that people were living deep in the Amazon forest at least 13,000 years ago. This is some of the earliest art and its definitely so far, the earliest art, so far, in the hemisphere.”

This demonstrates, she said,  that, “Thousands of years before the Romans or Greeks, eight thousand years before the Egyptians, at least 13,000 years ago, people arrive in the Amazon, and their stone tools and paintings reveal these first Americans are not only mammoth hunters, they are foragers, fishermen, artists, and perhaps scientists.”

Chris Davis is a specialist in archaeoastronomy, the study of how ancient peoples looked at the sky. He and Roosevelt found images that appear to be a grid that indicates how something was tracked  in the sky, because it was outdoors, not in a cave. These two scientists believe that these images represent calculated observations.

Davis thinks the art represents very sophisticated thinking. As Roosevelt said, “This art links people with their environment through its animals, its plants, and the heavenly bodies of the sky.” This actually reminds me of what Northrop Frye, Canada’s pre-eminent English literature scholar described as the purpose of art. The purpose of art is to give the world a human face.  Artists try to connect the world to us.

Bertrand Russell also agreed. As he said in his book On God and Religion:

“Men, as is natural, have an intense desire to humanize the universe:  God and Satan, alike are essentially human figures, the one a projection of ourselves, the other of our enemies.” Of course this is exactly what Northrop Frye said too.

Roosevelt concluded, “These paintings are the earliest art ever found in the Americas. They suggest that people 13,000 years ago had already developed ideas about the world that centered on the sky, caves, and nature. But what exactly are these First American artists trying to say?” What is clear though is that we ought to be wary of making easy conclusions that Europeans and their descendants were vastly superior in knowledge to the Indigenous people. If you recall, this is the point I am trying to make. I think that for too long we in the west have been blinded by bias about our own superiority to Indigenous peoples. The point is that this is a bias.

Sometimes it pays to listen to your spouse: Dead Cold by Louise Penny

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Dead Cold

By Louise Penny

When I first heard about Louise Penny I was very surprised. She had been an unexceptional host on CBC radio in Winnipeg. As a regular CBC listener, I listened to her nearly every day. I heard she had moved to Quebec. Much to my surprise she wrote a book called Still Life. It was a murder mystery that took place in a small fictional village in the eastern townships called 3 Pines.  I found it a little difficult to believe that she could be any good. How could a young woman from Winnipeg be a good mystery writer? That prejudice shows you how stupid I can be. Later I learned she was on the New York Times bestseller list. That did not seem improbable; it seemed impossible.

Sometimes it pays to listen to your spouse. Chris became a Penny  fan and suggested I read her too. It took me a couple of years to follow her suggestions. Funny, how suggestions from a spouse are the last that are followed. And Chris says, “Should be the first to be followed. As a matter of fact, since Chris is a big mystery fan, when I learned this Winnipeg woman was an internationally respected mystery writer, I suggested she read her. Now Chris has conveniently forgotten my suggestion to her! Funny how that happens!

Eventually I read her first novel and concluded Penny is indeed a very good writer. Chris was right. Again I have to admit that.  I have started to read her series now. Chris has read them all. This year I read the second in the series, Dead Cold. This convinced me that Penny is an exceptional writer.

One of the great pleasures of the series is Penny’s description of this small town in Quebec and it’s many fascinating inhabitants. This is how she describes the small town in her second novel:

“Three Pines had what she craved.

It had croissants and café au lait.It had steak fries and the New York Times. It had a bakery, a bistro, a B & B, a general store. It had peace and stillness and laughter. It had great joy and great sadness and the ability to accept both and be content. It had companionship and kindness.”

         There was one outstanding incident in Dead Cold that I want to mention. It involved Clara, a recurring character in the series. Clara is an artist. So far she has toiled without success. She does not know if she is any good or not. Naturally she was insecure. She asked CC, who Clara wrongly thought was a friend, to introduce her art to a Montreal art critic.  Then one day she encountered CC on an escalator in a Montreal department store, and CC, her erstwhile “friend” pretended to be talking to the critic as she was travelling down the escalator and Clara was travelling up.  She led Clara to believe that the critic had dismissed her art as “amateur and banal.”  It was cruel gesture and entirely deflated Clara. Clara was “murdered by words.” She “knew” her art was crap.

A few minutes after this painful incident,  Clara encountered a homeless bum on the streets of Montreal. The bum was lying on the ground covered in vomit and excrement. The bum was an old woman. Clara intended to give her a bag of food. She almost stopped; the smell was so bad. Yet she continued and placed the bag beside the old woman. Amazingly, the old woman turned up to Clara and said, “I always loved your art, Clara.” How could that be?

For some reason, Clara was convinced this bum was God. The shit-covered bag lady was God!  She thought she had met God. In my opinion Clara was wrong. She had not met God; she had become God. By offering food to the bum she became God. The Buddhists say that we must learn to become the Buddha. This is what Clara had done, and in the process she was redeemed. This is what we should do; we should become God. I believed that this is what genuine religion is all about. Religion leads us to the God within.

All of this in a mystery novel. Funny how that happens.

Religious Experience

 

As I said before,  I find Buddhism in many ways to be a surprisingly congenial religion.  Partly this is because it is very different from most other religions, especially the three severe monotheistic religions that were born in the Middle East.

For one thing, Buddha, unlike most religious leaders always wanted the members to think for themselves rather than relying on a charismatic leader. He expected his followers to exercise their own critical judgment. This reminds me of what Nietzsche said, “You repay a teacher badly if you always remain the pupil.”

Buddha believed that he became enlightened when he awoke to the truth that he had found embedded in the deepest structure of existence itself.  He found that truth in himself, and believed that anyone could do the same.  In fact, he believed it was necessary for each individual to experience that himself or herself or the experience would not be genuine. That is why, again unlike other religions, the Buddha did not try to elicit faith. He did not want faith.  He wanted each of us to experience the truth ourselves.  He would be willing to help or guide us to this experience, but he could not tell us the truth.

Carl Jung said that religion was invented by man as self-defence against divine experience.  That sounds shocking.  And it is. Divine experience is hard.  We have to be strong to take it.  As Robertson Davies once said, “most of us are absolutely terrified of a genuine religious experience.”  We would not know what to do with it.

We can have a religious experience anywhere. Even in a church or synagogue, though I would suggest there are much better places, like a forest or a bog. Unfortunately too few of them are experienced in institutional churches these days.  Too often religion interferes with the experience rather than facilitating it. That we have to guard against.

The Religion of Pi

 

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In that wonderful book, Life with Pi, Pi is a young Indian boy, the son of a zoo keeper. He ends up on a small boat sailing the ocean with a Tiger, zebra, orangutang and a hyena. An unlikely combination to say the least . Pi says that before the book is over he will make us believe in God.

Pi is many things but today I want to emphasize that he was a syncretist. That is a person who tries to combine different beliefs often by blending them, or merging them, into one. This word is often used in religion. Some people don’t see religions as opposing each other, but rather as different views of the same truth. Fundamentalists usually have great difficulty with this. They see their own religion as superior, and the rest as inferior others. Syncretism is inclusive, or what I have called expansive. It is the religion I prefer.

Pi said, “I am a practicing Hindu, Christian and Muslim.”  All at the same time! He had no thought that only 1 religion could show the way. He had a lot to learn from many of them. Why exclude any? Pi even said, “Atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith.”

Pi had a father who saw himself as “part of the New India–rich, modern, and as secular as ice cream.” He did not have a religious bone in his body. He was strictly business. “Spiritual worry was alien to him; it was financial worry that rocked his being.” Reminds me of Mennonites.

His mother on the other hand was neutral on the subject of religion. She had a Hindu upbringing and a Baptist education, and according to Pi this cancelled both out leaving her “serenely impious.” That is the best kind.

Pi is puzzled by those who think they have to defend God. “As if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless.” What a poor conception of God.  Yet the fanatics of fundamentalism take exactly that position. These people forget the Golden Rule. Their empathy has been shredded by false religion. According to Pi,

“These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, (Indian coins) walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, ‘Business as usual.”  But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily; they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.”

These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out.  The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defence, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.

Does this not sound a lot like the Old Testament prophets?

Pi also saw the same source for his ideas: “an alignment of the universe along moral lines, not intellectual ones; a realization that the founding principle of existence is what we call love, which works itself out sometimes not clearly, not cleanly, not immediately, nonetheless ineluctably.”

I actually think the word “love” is a bit strong. I prefer something easier–fellow feeling or empathy or compassion. Seeing oneself in the other.  It is harder to love the other, but it is enoughto see oneself in the other. And that makes all the difference.

In a real sense such a person is “saved.”

Islam

Let me confess at the outset: I don’t know much about Islam. But I read a book by Wade Davis that had a very interesting story about Islam based on his personal experience. It was not based on versions of Islam from its competitors–the worst possible source for information.

After 9/11 Davis wanted to do a story for an American audience on Islam. He felt they had to understand Islam, before they saw Islam as the “infinite other”. To do that he travelled to Timbuktu a port on the southern side of the Sea of Sand that is the Western Sahara. Timbuktu is a remarkable place. At a time when London and Paris were mud hovels Timbuktu had 25,000 University students!

As Davis explained on the CBC show Ideas in 2018,

“The only reason the ancient knowledge of the ancient Greeks survived to inspire the Renaissance was because it was kept alive in the knowledge of the Great Islamic scholars of places like Timbuktu, Damascus, Cairo, and Baghdad. There was a trade of knowledge up the traditional route. Remember that until the discovery of the New World 2/3 of Europe’s gold came from West Africa overland 52 days across the Sahara and that was the route we decided to follow to an ancient Salt Mine called Pudeni where the salt was not just a condiment, but profoundly curative. Salt that at one day traded ounce for ounce for gold in that west African trade.”

 

This was an important journey for young men. If they did not complete the journey to the mine they were not allowed to marry. The people believed that the desert honed their senses and in that way they became open to the grace of Allah. The mine itself was a 1,000 km north and they had to travel with a heavily armed escort, which seemed to grow in size everyday.

At the mine Davis met a man who was chronologically younger than him, but physically much older. He was worn out from working in the mine. He was there to pay off a debt he incurred to save the life of a young daughter.  He would have to work in the mine for the rest of his life in order to pay off that debt to a merchant in a form of indentured servitude. He was virtually a slave.  Even in summer he worked when it got so hot in the mine it was said the heat would melt sand. In the 800-year history of the mine he was the only one who had to work summers. It broke his spirit. His entire debt was less than the cost of a dinner for 3 in Toronto so Davis paid it for him, but he never learned whether or not the man found his way back to his family or not.

A little further south Davis encountered a caravan going north. There were 8 young men with 15 camels that consisted of all the wealth of the families. It took 40 days to get to the mine and they had no margin of error. They were completely out of food and down to their last half litre of water and 250 miles from the nearest well. Without food a person can last for up to 2 weeks. Without water a person in the desert will die within a few hours. Yet when Davis came down to their camp, they immediately started a twig fire to brew them a cup of tea honoring the obligation to kill the last goat that keeps your children alive with its milk to feed the wandering stranger who comes into your camp at night. “This is the essence of Bedouin life, because you never know when you’ll be that stranger, cold and hungry coming out of the darkness in need of rescue.  And as I watched this young Mohamed pour me that first cup of tea after all we had heard about Islamic culture in the wake of 9/11, I thought to myself in 50 years or 40 years of doing this kind of travel and field work these are the moments that allow us all to hope.”

Is there a finer example of the Golden Rule than that? Is there a better example of connection, charity, empathy, and fellow feeling than that? Is this not the essence of religion? Or do you think the essence is belief?

“Hoorah for our Side”/”No monopoly on the route to the divine”

Cultural Relativism: There are many paths to enlightenment

Wade Davis, perhaps Canada’s most preeminent anthropologist, has spent years living with and working with indigenous people around the world. This has made him a tireless advocate of understanding traditional cultures around the world. He gave a great talk that was broadcast on CBC’s radio show Ideas. You can  probably hear his entire talk on their archive.

Davis also asserted that anthropology, his field of study, is important. It is important today because “anthropology is the antidote to Trump.” Trump of course is the equally tireless advocate for the doctrine of American triumphalism and superiority over all other cultures. In Trump’s world America is the best of everything. At least it would be if only Americans more uniformly listened to him. Ruth Benedict said that “the purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.”

As we live in a globalized multi-cultural world “anthropology has never been more important.” Trump of course would never concede that. But that does not make it any less true. America is not the be all and end all. America is one voice among many. We should listen to morevoices. We should listen to many voices.

According to Davis this multi-ethnic world is  “where connectivity is bringing us together into a single human family.” At least if people like Trump are not able to separate us. He wants to deny this connectivity, this solidarity. Too many people fail to see the connections as they look at the differences. People like Trump see “theirpeople” with whatever label you want to use, separate and apart, and superior, from the others.

Davis finds proof for this connectivity in genetics. This is what he said

“Within our lifetimes genetics has shown that the genetic endowment of humanity is a continuum, race is a fiction, we are all cut from the same genetic cloth, we are all descendants of the same handful of people who walked out of Africa 65 or 75,000 years ago and embarked on this journey that carried the human spirit to every corner of the habitable world…By definition every culture shares the same genius and how that genius is expressed is simply a matter of choice. There is no hierarchy in the affairs of culture. That old 19thcentury idea that we went from the savage to the barbarian to the civilized in the Strand of London has been absolutely ridiculed by modern science and shown to be an artifact of the 19thcentury, no more relevant to our lives today than the old idea of clergymen that the world was only 6,000 years old.”

 

Davis finds important corroboration of the fundamental insight of anthropology, which is cultural relativism, from the relatively recent science of genetics.  As Davis said, “It is genetics that allows anthropologists to say without doubt that every culture has something to say, each deserves to be heard, just as none has a monopoly on the route to the divine.”

Davis eloquently points out that this concept has never been more important than today with the astonishing rise of nativism, nationalism and the worst forms of tribalism.  These nationalistic views are held not just by Trump, but millions of his supporters, and by many dictators and demagogues around the world, and their millions of supporters. Each of these leaders is constantly shouting “hurrah for our side” in the immortal words of Buffalo Springfield.

I’ve been told I’m going to Hell Soon: Fellow feeling and Religions

Some people just cannot grasp the idea that religions might actually have something in common. A couple of years ago I got in serious trouble with a real estate agent from the Bible Belt of Manitoba. I was speaking at a continuing educational seminar for real estate agents and we were talking about ethical rules. I told the real estate professionals, ‘Don’t worry about trying to memorize all the rules.’ I said, ‘Just know where you can find them and remember this—the fundamental rule: The Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I should have stopped there. Instead, I made a big mistake. I brought in religion of all things to an educational session for real estate agents. How stupid could I get? I said to them, this rule, the golden rule, was the basis of all moralityandall religion. I said all religions had this important rule in common. I presumed this would please people. Religions actually agree with each other. There is no reason to argue. They should be able to get along. But at least one agent did not accept that.

After my talk I was approached by a real estate agent. He asked me if I was “born again.” I knew immediately I was in trouble. No I said, “I was born only once to my knowledge.” But I did think about Bob Dylan who said, “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

The agent pounced on my comment. “I thought so,” he said. “You are obviously nota Christian because you are equatingChristianity with Islam. That means you are going to hell.”  And that was not enough. He added, “And you’re an old guy so you will be going to hell soon.” That last part really hurt. (Well not really)

Obviously this was a man without fellow feeling. He could not grasp that it was a good thing, not a bad thing that all or most religions agreed on the fundamentals. He much preferred to think that hisreligion was superior to all others. I would say that meant he was not religious at all. No empathy; no religion. No connection; no religion.

As I have already said, the word “religion” in fact comes from the old Asian/Indian word religiothat means “connection.” I think it explains religion perfectly. It explains how religion is what connects us to others. I would even add it is what connects us to the world, to nature, to all beings.

It is deeply interesting to me that religion has a common core.  Karen Armstrong has some interesting things to say about this. She had joined a convent at the age of 17 but found it was not for her. She became a scholar instead. For the next 40 years she learned a lot about compassion and dedicated her life to the concept. In my view she did not move far from the world of what a convent or at least religious retreat should be. When she studied world religions she too was surprised to learn that compassion was the core of allmajor religions.

She became a historian of religion, received the prestigious $100,000 TED prize in 2008 for her work promoting interfaith dialogue, and founded the Charter for Compassion, a multilingual and multi-denominational effort to transform the world’s religions into a force of global harmony rather than discord. She enlisted a wide array of thinkers from many faith and moral traditions.

Armstrong summed up her life long study in a book called Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. In it she wrote:

 

One of the chief tasks of our time must surely be to build a global community in which all peoples can live together in mutual respect; yet religion, which should be making a major contribution, is seen as part of the problem. All faiths insist that compassion is the test of true spirituality and that it brings us into relation with the transcendence we call God, Brahman, Nirvana, or Dao. Each has formulated its own version of what is sometimes called the Golden Rule, “Do not treat others as you would not like them to treat you,” or in its positive form, “Always treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.” Further, they all insist that you cannot confine your benevolence to your own group; you must have concern for everybody— even your enemies.

 


         Armstrong also challenged the common view that religion is the cause of all wars:

“In fact, the causes of conflict are usually greed, envy, and ambition, but in an effort to sanitize them, these self-serving emotions have often been cloaked in religious rhetoric. There has been much flagrant abuse of religion in recent years. Terrorists have used their faith to justify atrocities that violate its most sacred values. In the Roman Catholic Church, popes and bishops have ignored the suffering of countless women and children by turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse committed by their priests. Some religious leaders seem to behave like secular politicians, singing the praises of their own denomination and decrying their rivals with scant regard for charity… Disputes that were secular in origin, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, have been allowed to fester and become “holy,” and once they have been sacralized, positions tend to harden and become resistant to pragmatic solutions. And yet at the same time we are bound together more closely than ever before through the electronic media… In a world in which small groups will increasingly have powers of destruction hitherto confined to the nation-state, it has become imperative to apply the Golden Rule globally, ensuring that all peoples are treated as we would wish to be treated ourselves. If our religious and ethical traditions fail to address this challenge, they will fail the test of our time.”

 

Armstrong quoted the final version of the Charter for Compassion, which was launched in November of 2009 and came to embody this spirit by offering an antidote to the voices of extremism, intolerance, and hatred:

 

“The principle of compassionlies 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 honor 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 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.”

Armstrong offered the following as a definition of compassion:

 

“Compassion is aptly summed up in the Golden Rule, which asks us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else. Compassion can be defined, therefore, as an attitude of principled, consistent altruism.

In fact, the first person to formulate the Golden Rule predated the founding figures of Christianity and Islam by five centuries and a millennium, respectively — when asked which of his teachings his disciples should practice most tenaciously, “all day and every day,” the Chinese sage Confucius (551–479 BCE) pointed to the concept of shu, commonly translated as “consideration,” which he explained as striving “never to do to others what you would not like them to do to you.”

Armstrong clarified this as follows:

“A better translation of shu is “likening to oneself”; people should not put themselves in a special, privileged category but relate their own experience to that of others “all day and every day.

Compassion, thus, is a matter of orienting oneself toward the rest of humanity, implicitly requiring a transcendence of self-interest and egotism. I would say that this means that we are not required to renounce self-interest, but rather to transcend it. We must combine it with beneficence. We must love others like ourselves, but clearly that entails, that first we love ourselves.”

Centuries after Confucius, the three major monotheistic religions adopted the strikingly similar doctrines that many believe are at the core of each religion. I also believe that this same principle—the Golden Rule—is the also at the heart of all morality. I hope to explore that in a subsequent post. It is also interesting that the compassionate spirit is ennobling in all cases and even when it has a secularorigin.In other words, fellow feeling or compassion is the basis of religions and a morality. I think that is important.

I think that real estate agent did not understand religion at all. Nor morality for that matter.

Golden rule

 

The golden rule is ancient and wise. It has 2 basic formulas—one positive and one negative. The positive version says something like this: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat us.” The negative version, sometimes called the ‘silver rule’, says, something like this: “”One should not treat others as would not like to be treated.” For my purpose it does not really matter which version is better. Both are good. It is a good rule.

I was stunned to learn that almost all religions have adopted the golden rule. They all have a version of it. Christians have it, but so do Jews. Islam has it. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and many other religions have it. Even very ancient religions have it. Some Christians think they had it first but that is far from the truth. Members of other religions probably thought they had it first too.

The Initial Declaration of the Parliament of World Religions proclaimed the Golden Rule. It was signed by 143 respected leaders from all of the world’s major faiths, including Baha’i Faith, Brahmanism, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous, Interfaith, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native American, Neo-Pagan, Sikhism, Taoism, Theosophist, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian.

In ancient Babylon there was an early incarnation of the Rule in the Code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest codes of moral conduct ever. The Torah had a version. The Old Testament had it, “Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”(Leviticus 19:18).

Ancient Egypt had a version: “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” Another example from a Late Period (c. 664 BCE – 323 BCE) papyrus: “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”

Ancient Greek philosophy had versions: “Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him.” – Pittaccus  (c. 640–568 BCE). Thales (c. 624 B.C.- c. 546 BC): “Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing. Pythagoras who lived about 500 years before Chris had a version, and so did Epictetus and two of my favorite Greek philosophers, Epicurus, and Socrates.

Ancient China had it as well as shown by its  most famous philosopher, Confucius. So did Laozi. I could go on and on, but I think that is enough to make my point.

Virtually every religion has adopted the Golden Rule. It is what virtually all religions have in common. There must be something good about. And there is. It is the basis of religion. It is what connects us to each other. It is truly religious. And there is no need to denigrate any other religion. That divides us. They all have it! I think that is fantastic.