Unfortunately, love and compassion have been omitted from too many spheres of social interaction for too long. Usually confined to family and home, their practice in public life is considered impractical, even naive. This is tragic.
— The Dalai Lama
In the July 2004 issue of Shambhala Sun, which is a Buddhist magazine, there is a page full of quotes entitled Love in Action: Thoughts on Spirituality and Politics You have already read the first, above.
Because this page is NOT available on line, I am enclosing all of the other items below the fold, as an annotated list. They come from a variety of traditions, and all are worth pondering. I hope that for each reader you will find something that will connect with you. For me, I am moved by all.
I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final say in treaty. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. . . .Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
King’s vision was all-encompassing. Well before his death he had publicly moved his action beyond the somewhat narrow frame of civil rights of African-Americans. He saw that our involvement in the War in Vietnam as a violation of the Christian message. He was criticized by many for addressing issues beyond Civil Rights. He saw peace as in clouding economic peace and justice, which is why he was in Memphis at the time of his death.
Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice, I can help in the greatest of all actions — goodwill among men and peace.
— Albert Einstein
Einstein used his world wide fame from his science to be a consistent witness for peace.
When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not care of him or her. It happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.
— Mother Theresa
This message is a direct reference, in plain language, the passage which the Orthodox read as the Gospel of the Last Judgment, from Matthew 25: 31-46.
If the concepts of the Buddhist scriptures can be used to guide humankind’s life, and its methods of meditation can be applied to help people become aware of their weaknesses, then humankind can hop to achieve everlasting peace.
— Master Shen Yen
Born in 1931, this Chinese Zen master achieved enlightenment in 1948, while serving as an Army Officer in the Nationalist Army. He first taught in the West in 1976.
Human beings are just good enough to make democracy possible. . . just bad enough to make it necessary.
— Reinhold Niebuhr
Niebuhr is considered one of the most influential Christian thinkers in 20th Century America.
From generations of soldiers and government officials on my father’s side I inherited a belief that no life was more satisfactory that one of selfless service to your country — or humanity. This service required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions. From scholars and clergymen on my mother’s side, I inherited a belief that, in the very radical sense of the Gospels, all men were equal as children of God, and should be met and treated by us as our masters in God.
* * * *
We are on dangerous ground if we believe that any nation, or any ideology has a monopoly on rightness, liberty and human dignity.
— Dag Hammarskjold
I believe this is from a book by the former UN Secretary-General entitled Markings, which is one of the most profoundly moving books I have ever read. I first read it while spending the summer in an Episcopalian Benedictine Monastery, St. Gregory’s Abbey, in Three Rivers Michigan. The passage quote may help explain why he was so respected round the world. Not all of us may feel called to the totality of service he describes, but all of us should be challenged by his words to an examination of dedicated we truly are to that in which we claim to believe. And remember that the second part comes from a man who was devoutly Christian, but included in his belief a strong sense of the humility of the Christian message.
Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.
— Thomas Merton
Born in France and educated at Columbia (where he wrote for the humor magazine), Merton converted to Catholicism and spent the rest of his adult life in a Trappist monastery in Kentucky, where he served for a while as master of novices, but also spent much of his time living by himself in a cabin. His spiritual autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain had a huge influence on the post World War II generation. And yet he moved very far beyond the man so strongly Catholic in that work to a broadly universal acceptance of much from many spiritual traditions, while still remaining a loyal Catholic. His correspondence was immense, and his thirst for true knowledge unquenchable. He opposed Vietnam, supported Civil Rights, corresponded with people like King and like the great teacher of Buddhism D. T. Suzuki. He translated Chinese poetry, wrote his own, and explored spiritual wisdom from other traditions. As I write this, I can look through the various pieces of electronic equipment to a bookshelf that hs over 30 of his works.
When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.
. . . .
In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to the heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: stop the repression.
— Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador
We have just had the 25th Anniversary of his assassination, by gunman from the right wing military units unfortunately strongly supported by some American political leaders because they were anti-Communist. This message, too, can be seen as rooted in Matthew 25. It is as clear an expression of the ideals of Liberation Theology as I have read.
When Jesus is reported to have said, go preach this to all the world, your zealous empire builders took this as an opportunity to create dominion over people. It’s similar to other crusades like capitalism, democracy or communism. A spiritual person could never think that way.
— Matthew Fox
Some have considered Fox more than a bit of a flake. And yet in this brief passage one can see a deep insight, strongly rooted in the Gospel. I would note that the Catholic Church has been highly critical of unfettered capitalism, and that the responsibility of those in power to those less fortunate has been a strong part of the message of many Popes, clearly appearing in the words of Leo at the end of the 19th Century. I believe that those that read Genesis as granting to man dominion in the sense of unfettered control badly misread — rather it is a responsibility of stewardships, of care, as serving as a viceroy for the true king, the God who created it all. In that sense any interpretation of dominion as justifying power is a contradiction both to the original Jewish understanding as well as to the interpretation offered by Jesus in the Gospel. It is a dominion of service. One hear might remember that perhaps the most important of the many titles claimed by Popes has been the Servant of the Servants of Christ.
Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity.
— The Buddha
This final passage echoes several of the messages above. But is was written 5+ centuries before the Christian / Common era began. Even if you do not normally consider the Buddhist approach meaningful, practical, or applicable in the modern West, take the time to reflect on this passage. What in your life is of service to others? Because, dear reader, if you did not care about the world beyond yourself, you would not be here reading this extended post in the first place.
I hope that this diary is of some use to someone. I also hope that I have corrected all of my typos. And I thank whoever at Shambhala Sun was responsible for the page from which i copied these quotes for taking the time to assemble a collection of words that I found inspiring and challenging. Praise goes to that person, and most of all, to the wonderful persons whose words these were.