Sunday, January 16, 2011

Inspired by Karen Armstrong

This afternoon, I listened to Karen Armstrong speak at St. George's Anglican Church in downtown Guelph.

Ms Armstrong is a former Roman Catholic nun who has written more than 20 books on faith and the major religions. I have read The Spiral Staircase, a memoir about her spiritual awakening after she left the convent.

I am looking forward to reading her latest book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. In it, Armstrong provides realistic, practical and creative ideas that can help us translate the golden rule into our daily lives and capitalistic society.

She spoke very eloquently about the need to build a global community where all of us can coexist harmoniously. She believes that compassion is risky, but maintaining the status quo is even riskier.

Some of her comments...
  • The major religions gloss on the golden rule.
  • The Charter of Compassion must contain an admission that the major religions have failed.
  • Do not go into dialogue unless you are prepared to be changed by it.
  • Even our enemies have pain.
  • The great sages of society--Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King--worked in violent societies.
  • Businessmen want peace...compassion is profitable.
  • Acknowledge your own dark side before you try to deal with the dark side of others.
  • We blame others for what we dislike in ourselves.
  • Deal with your vulnerability as mature adults, not loud, squalling children.
  • If you turn your back on suffering, it will come back to you in a distorted form.
  • Visit your shadow and realize what you are capable of.

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