Tuesday, July 31, 2018

p03 The Principle that Religion's Goal is Benefit and Unity; Non-Baha'i Sources

2018 July, 31

The Principle that Religion is for Benefit, Love and Unity; Non-Baha'i Sources

Here is a brief, quick compilation that I just drew up in answer to a question on facebook about interfaith harmony and its basis in non-Baha'i sources. The Baha'i Writings often assert that all religions in their pure form aim at love and unity, but this is not delved into in detail. For that reason I have collected these quotes, which can be taken as skeletal evidence for the principle that "religion is for unity," or at least for benefit, is a more or less universal goal. I have put the quotes inchronological order, under the following categories: Philosophy (Plato), India and China, Judaism, Christianity and the Qur'an.

Philosophy (Plato)

"...what is most beneficial will be deemed sacred. (Plato Rep V p. 179)

"Can there be any greater evil than discord and distraction and plurality where unity ought to reign? Or any greater good than the bond of unity? [-he goes on to define unity as wherever sorrows and joys are the same] (Plato, Republic, Book V, p. 184)

India and China

"When a feudal lord endangers the alters to the gods of earth and grain, he should be replaced. When the sacrificial animals are sleek, the offerings are clean and the sacrifices are observed at due times, and yet floods and droughts come, then the alters should be replaced." (Mencius VII, B. 14, also cf. Mencius, Intro 37)

"He who knows My glory and power, he has the oneness of unwavering harmony. This is My truth." (Bhagavad Gita 10:7)


"For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased." (Prov 9:11)

"Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife." (Prov 17:1)

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa 11:9)

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee." [ie city of peace] (Ps 122:6)


"...whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Rom 15:4)

Addressing followers who wanted to call down fire...

"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." (Luke 9:55-6)

The teacher of God proves expertise by going to wherever the need is greatest:

"The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said,

"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." (Matthew 9:11-13)
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." (I Cor 12:7)

"...the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." (John 6:63)

An example of the principle that the purpose of religion is to build unity, and that therefore if there is disputation both sides are wrong.

"Every kingdom divided against itself goes to ruin." (Matt 12:25)

The Qur'an

"Turn to Allah and fear Him. Be steadfast in prayer and serve no other god besides Him. Do not split up your religion into sects, each exulting in its own beliefs." (Q30:29)

"(This is) a Scripture which We have revealed unto thee (Muhammad) that thereby thou mayst bring forth mankind from darkness unto light, by the permission of their Lord, unto the path of the Mighty, the Owner of Praise." (Quran 14:1, https://quran.com/14/1)

Saturday, June 09, 2018

My Online TED Talk Bike Coaches

My Online TED Talk Bike Coaches
This spring I got the bike out of the shed, filled the tires with air, got everything operational, but I found that I have just fallen out of the bike riding habit over the winter. Whatever my good intentions, I could not get myself to ride. The car is just too convenient. Weeks turned into months, and still I was taking the car every time.
The kicker was this election day, where I turned up at the polls three times, once for each member of our household. The voting station is a mere one kilometre drive from our house, but still I had to drive each family member there and back. Our shed is full of bicycles that have not been used for years. Clearly, something had to be done to save myself, if not my family, so when Kornelius came over last night, together we watched the TED talks of bicycle advocates, one after the next. It worked, I accompanied him on his trip home to the edge of town on my bike.
Anyways, if you need similar prompting, here is a summary of what we saw, which is only a small part of what seems to be available at ted.com.
One bike activist talks about how the bicycle cured him of Crohn's Disease, and how the twin cities where he lives exemplify how bike planning makes one of them a paradise, and the other highway hell. Another fellow, in Copenhagen, founded a group called Bicycles Without Age, which takes out the inmates of nursing homes, AKA long term care facilities, for excursions in electric assist rickshaws, powered by young volunteers. This gives the oldsters a chance to feel the wind in their hair while riding a bicycle through their old stomping grounds while sharing their experience with a young person.
In another video, a coach for professional bike racers laments his inability to bicycle because he is constantly travelling with the team, going to events like the Tour de France. He demonstrates his solution, a nifty folding bike that breaks down into a suitcase, which in turn folds out into a trailer that holds his other suitcase -- which must save him a great deal in taxi fare to and from the airport and hotels.
Another talk is a how-to on finding low budget adventure travelling on a bicycle camping tour. He used a "tall bicycle," a contraption that I would call a double decker bike. Everywhere he goes, he is asked, "How do you get down off that thing?" His wheels are so outrageous, he found, that they worked to his advantage as he voyaged his way across desert and mountains. Drivers were so surprised to see it in traffic that they gave him a wide berth, and fellow travellers were happy to supply him with whatever he wrote on a whiteboard sign, including food and lodging, so much so that he rarely had to use his tent and sleeping bag.
Other talks emphasized the many health benefits of biking. Many who take up biking literally are enabled to throw away their pills. The advantages are especially well documented for commuters, who arrive at work happier, stronger and more relaxed than those who come and go by motorized vehicles. After all that inspiration, how could I not get out on my bicycle?