My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Saturday, 1 October 2011

By Daoist standards we are very poor indeed!

Daoism is one of the smallest religions of all.
Actually Daoism, like Buddhism, is more a philosophy of life than a religion, as Daoists worship no god as such. The Daoist believes that nature has its own limits, that if recklessly exploited by greed or desire, we will see extinction and destruction.
Daoists see in the deepening world environmental crisis that ways of human thinking have unbalanced the harmonious relationship between human beings and nature, and overstressed the power and influence of the human will over nature. The number of thriving species on our planet measures the affluence of the true Daoist. If one considers the continuing destruction of life forms on this earth, the many species threatened with a man induced extinction, then by Daoist standards we are now becoming very poor indeed.

It seems to me from these brief vignettes that the Ancient Wisdom of the great Eastern faith traditions recognizes a deeper spiritual commune of mankind with nature. Many of us hunger for that spirituality. We could learn so much about the links between the unrest in our wounded souls and the wounds of the natural world if we would only allow our hearts to be receptive to what all these great faiths and philosophies have to offer. Between them they provide a wonderful tapestry of beliefs. But equally they are all united in the same mission. We all have a duty of care to the world, whether based upon our sensitivity and compassion or the beliefs of our faith, or indeed both. We surely have to look beyond our own horizons more and appreciate our place in a much wider world.

As the Sikh teaches us,

"All life is interconnected. A human body consists of many parts; every one of them has a distinct name, location, and function, and all of them are dependent upon each other. In the same way, all the constituents of this universe and this earth are dependent upon each other. Decisions in one country or continent cannot be ignored by others. Choices in one place have measurable consequences for the rest of the world. It is part of the same system."

This is very reminiscent of the famous passage in the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, on human worth, when he likened the worldwide body of Christians with the human body. All parts of the body are essential for the complete welfare of the whole, he wrote. In the same way we all need each other and the loss of any part weakens us all: there should be no discord between us. He taught his followers that the members of the church should ‘have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.’
Interestingly, the ‘body’ in this biblical context is translated from the Greek Soma, related to Sozo meaning ‘to heal, preserve, be made whole.’ We are not whole: we are wounded or spiritually impoverished if we are not a part of the greater body of faith in our community. We all need to feel that connectedness, that relationship. We need to find unity within the wide diversity of all our individual gifts. We all need each other and we all are special in the eyes of God. 

I have not mentioned the Baha’i faith in this series of blogs. Baha'i followers see Earth as one country of which we are all citizens. One of their guiding principles is that ‘the oneness of humanity is the fundamental spiritual and social truth shaping our age.’ 

Whatever our faith we can be guided by these truths. 
This is surely our responsibility.

(Sikh teaching taken from the statement compiled under the guidance of Sri Singh Sahib Manjit Singh, the Jathedar of Anandapur, who is one of the five spiritual and temporal heads of Sikhism; and Sri Akhal Takhat Sahib, his deputy. From Faith in Conservation 2003, p.141 and at

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