Beyond Religion – Ethics for a Whole World

Beyond Religion - Ethics for a Whole WorldIn reading Beyond Religion – Ethics for a Whole World by Tibet’s Dalai Lama, I was reminded of how I was influenced by one of the final scenes of the 1937 Frank Capra film Lost Horizon. The main character, played by Ronald Coleman goes to the dying High Lama, played by Sam Jaffe who revels that the secret for a long and happy life is to simply “be kind”. It is this implied Brotherhood of Man, which is fundamental to all major religions; yet transcends religion. Beyond Religion is about becoming more aware of how our words, thoughts and actions can affect the wellbeing of those around us. It is about “building a more compassionate and more peaceful world”.

Most modern behavior modification programs, whether for anger management, dealing with drug use or eating disorders, have as a basic premise that through changing your actions, your thought processes will change. Becoming aware of your destructive behaviors, even before they occur, is just one tool to help you substitute constructive behaviors instead. That new behavior then becomes over time, a new habit.

All humans are the same in that each of us wants to be happy and avoid suffering. It is important to first recognize that others around us also want these same things for themselves. But it is through our really caring  about others, that will help us choose to act for their benefit. Whenever we do, we benefit as well.

Beyond Religion suggests that finding inner peace and happiness within ourselves also then allows us to become more compassionate to the needs of others. To that end, part two of the book is devoted to “Educating the heart through training the mind”. Chapters are devoted to exercises in mediation that anyone can do in order to gain control over runaway emotions and replacing them with positive, constructive behavior. In other words, we CAN learn to be kind to ourselves while we also learn to be kind to others.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen


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