|Many here love their soldiers|
"Classical heroism clashed with the Bible because while the former valued power, Christ's heroism prized truth. Other kingdoms fostered heroic deeds by cultivating racial, geographic, linguistic, religious, class, or caste pride and hatred. Jesus made love the supreme value of the kingdom of God.This love was not sentimentalism. It went beyond loving one's neighbors as oneself. Its supreme manifestation was the cross: sacrificing oneself for others, including one's enemies."
|"I have set you an example..."|
"Jesus' heroism replaced brutality with love, pride with meekness, and domination over others with self-sacrificing service.He exemplified this when he humbled himself, took a basin of water and a servant's towel, and started washing his disciples' feet. This, he said, is what the kingdom of God is all about. He was the King of kings and the Lord of lords. All power in heaven and on earth, he claimed, was his. But he had come not to be served, but to serve, not to kill but to give eternal life. These were not homilies delivered by a guru who sat on a golden throne. These teachings changed history because they emanated from a life lived in the public arena." (pg. 134,135)
That was in a section on Heroes, but the following was on Compassion. I decided to post them together because I think self-sacrificing heroes such as Jesus display not how handy they are with swords and bombs, but how caring for others and compassion can change the world.
"Nietzsche was not alone in condemning Christian compassion. Many Hindus cannot believe that the poor are not the victims of their own karma and that God cares for the poor. They cannot understand why the West gives so much charity to serve the poor and destitute in India.They deeply suspect Western philanthropy and dislike the fact that Christians deliberately choose to serve, educate, and empower lower castes and the marginalized." (pg. 300)
|Dedicated to serving|
The author then talks about how Christianity (eventually!) developed a culture of caring and compassion and how this relates to advances in modern medicine. He speaks of the "tremendous heritage" of the Islamic civilization and its part in medicine especially Abu'l-Qasim Khalef ibn Abbas az-Zahrawi who "restored surgery to its former glory and wrote a medical encyclopedia." He claimed plastic surgery developed first among his people, the Indians, because of the need for replacing noses that had been cut off when people acted shamefully such as committing adultery. He recognizes other civilizations' parts in medical history, however, he notes these things:
"With this tremendous heritage, Islamic civilization could have gone on to develop modern medicine, because Islam also believed in a compassionate God and respected Jesus Christ as a prophet. It failed to capitalize on its assets because it preferred to follow a military hero - Muhammad - in place of a self-sacrificing savior, Christ. Consequently, the Islamic tradition could not glorify self-giving service as a superior value." (pg. 308)
|Zorro ready to help!|
Karma became another philosophical factor preventing a culture of care. A person's suffering was believed to be a result of her or his karma (deeds) in a previous life. In other words, suffering, was cosmic justice. To interfere with cosmic justice is like breaking into a jail and setting a prisoner free. If you cut short someone's suffering, you would actually add to his suffering because he would need to come back to complete his due quota of suffering. You do not help a person when you interfere with the cosmic law of justice.
As human beings we Indians have as much natural empathy as anyone else in the world, but the doctrine of karma prevented us from turning that natural empathy into institutions and traditions of caring.
|Compassion from medical professionals|
Buddhism did teach karuna (compassion) as a high value, but Buddhist compassion could not develop into a culture of care. This was partly because Buddhism, too, believed in the doctrine of karma and partly because it taught that we must not get attached to anyone. The Buddha had to renounce his own wife and son to find enlightenment. He saw attachment as a cause of suffering. Detachment, therefore, became an important religious virtue. That turned Buddhist karuna into compassion without commitment to another person. Those whose commitment was to their own spiritual enlightenment did not have the motivation to develop a scientific medical tradition. (pg. 312)
|Me and My Dad|
I thought that idea of "compassion without commitment" rather interesting to consider. Is this like when we see some poor souls on television and feel sad for their plight,yet we do nothing to help? We hurt for their being raped (like in the Congo where rape is rampant) or their children starving or their families being bombed by soldiers yet we do nothing, we commit none of our time or money or energy into changing things.
What most stood out to you as you read this? Any thoughts, comments, corrections, additions?
quotes from The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi