3.2 Compassion for All Creation

Durban Signatories.jpg

At their core, all faith and wisdom traditions, including secular humanism, contain the same nugget of truth that only compassion for all Creation helps Creation thrive, whereas unbridled violence to any part of Creation cannot endure. At the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference, the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP-17), forty prominent thought leaders from various faith and wisdom traditions, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Sikh and Bahai, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, signed an Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change, which contained the following addendum[13]:

"While climate change is a symptom, the fever that our Earth has contracted, the underlying disease is the disconnection from Creation that plagues human societies throughout the Earth.

We, the undersigned, pledge to heal this disconnection by promoting and exemplifying compassion for all Creation in all our actions."

Thus compassion for all Creation is indeed compatible with every major faith and wisdom tradition in the world. His Holiness the Dalai Lama once told his 4 million Facebook friends[14],

"All the world's major religions with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether."

He used the analogy of tea and water, with water being a secular ethic, say compassion, while tea is a religion that espouses it. He said,

"But however the tea is prepared, the primary ingredient is always water. While we can live without tea, we can't live without water. Likewise, we are born free of religion, but we are not born free of the need for compassion."

We need compassion as much as we need air. That is also at the core of our quest for sustainability:

The Law of Sustainability

Compassion for all Creation is infinitely sustainable. Conversely, violence to any part of Creation is unsustainable.

Sustainability means that the particular activity can be continued indefinitely and without limits. Sustainability of a human presence on Earth is achieved when we routinely contribute more to the Earth than we consume from the Earth, like the elephants at SAI sanctuary. Compassion for all Creation or kindness to all Life is summarized in a single, ancient Sanskrit word, "Ahimsa”[15] and clearly, we can manifest this without limit and sustain it. Conversely, violence to any part of Creation, or "Himsa" in Sanskrit, is unsustainable, meaning it will stop, either when that part of Creation is destroyed or we go extinct in the process of committing that violence persistently. Usually, the persistent nature of the violence manifests itself as the “Tragedy of the Commons” and need not be espoused explicitly. If the violence is instituted in a capitalist system, then the quest for infinite profit would take us to the brink. If the violence is instituted in an autocratic system, then the quest for infinite power would take us to the brink. Finally, if the violence is instituted in a socialist system, then Jevon's paradox would take us to the brink there as well.

If every human being routinely lets compassion for all Creation guide all actions as the Durban signatories pledged, then our world would be idyllic indeed.

[13] The text of the declaration can be found here: http://www.climatehealers.org/blog/2015/8/9/update-on-cop-17-from-durban-south-africa

[14]The Dalai Lama was quoting from his book, Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World, Rider, Jan 2013, ISBN-13: 978-1846043109.

[15] See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa