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Compassion

"For Jesus, compassion had a radical sociopolitical meaning. In his teaching and table fellowship, and in the shape of his movement, the purity system was subverted and an alternative social vision affirmed. The politics of purity was replaced by a politics of compassion."    - Marcus J. Borg ; Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time


"If religion is to bring light to our broken world, we need, as Mencius suggested, to go in search of the lost heart, the spirit of compassion that lies at the core of all our traditions."    - Armstrong, Karen ; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions


"It is when compassion is linked to positive action that we at last start to get somewhere."    - Steven Greenebaum ; The Interfaith Alternative: Embracing Spiritual Diversity


"There is something boundary shattering about the imitatio dei that stood at the center of Jesus’ message and activity. 'Be compassionate as God is compassionate.' Whereas purity divides and excludes, compassion unites and includes. (The purity system created a world with sharp social boundaries between pure and impure, righteous and sinner, whole and not whole, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile…)"    - Marcus J. Borg ; Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time


"The opposite of fear is not courage; it is compassion."    - Peter J. Gomes ; The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus


"The test is simple: if people’s beliefs—secular or religious—make them belligerent, intolerant, and unkind about other people’s faith, they are not “skillful.” If, however, their convictions impel them to act compassionately and to honor the stranger, then they are good, helpful, and sound. This is the test of true religiosity in every single one of the major traditions."      - Armstrong, Karen ; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions


"To put it boldly, compassion for Jesus was political. He directly and repeatedly challenged the dominant sociopolitical paradigm of his social world and advocated instead what might be called a politics of compassion."    - Marcus J. Borg ; Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time


“If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”    - Jesus ; Matthew 12.11-12


"Their objective was to create an entirely different kind of human being. All the sages preached a spirituality of empathy and compassion; they insisted that people must abandon their egotism and greed, their violence and unkindness. Not only was it wrong to kill another human being; you must not even speak a hostile word or make an irritable gesture. Further, nearly all the Axial sages realized that you could not confine your benevolence to your own people: your concern must somehow extend to the entire world."      - Karen Armstrong ; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions


"'Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.' 'And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that make one circle.' In our quest to make sense of the miracle of our lives we, at some point, consciously or otherwise, make a choice . . .  To say that we believe in compassionate action is to say that we define our meaning in terms not of what we can accomplish for ourselves, but of what we can accomplish with and for others. And we welcome all, all whose spiritual paths have brought them here, to strive for a life built on compassionate action."    - Steven Greenebaum ; The Interfaith Alternative: Embracing Spiritual Diversity


"The Axial sages changed this; they still valued ritual, but gave it a new ethical significance and put morality at the heart of the spiritual life. The only way you could encounter what they called 'God,' 'Nirvana,' 'Brahman,' or the 'Way' was to live a compassionate life. Indeed, religion was compassion."    - Karen Armstrong ; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions


"First you must commit yourself to the ethical life; then disciplined and habitual benevolence, not metaphysical conviction, would give you intimations of the transcendence you sought."    - Karen Armstrong ; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions


"In the last resort, 'love' and 'concern' will benefit everybody more than self-interested or shortsighted policies."    - Armstrong, Karen ; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions


"Centuries of institutional, political, and intellectual development have tended to obscure the importance of compassion in religion. All too often the religion that dominates the public discourse seems to express an institutional egotism: my faith is better than yours! As Zhuangzi noted, once people interject themselves into their beliefs, they can become quarrelsome, officious, or even unkind. Compassion is not a popular virtue, because it demands the laying aside of the ego that we identify with our deepest self; so people often prefer being right to being compassionate. Fundamentalist religion has absorbed the violence of our time and developed a polarized vision, so that, like the early Zoroastrians, fundamentalists sometimes divide humanity into two hostile camps, with the embattled faithful engaged in a deadly war against 'evildoers.' As we have seen to our cost, this attitude can easily segue into atrocity. It is also counterproductive. As the Daodejing pointed out, violence usually recoils upon the perpetrator, no matter how well intentioned he might be. You cannot force people to behave as you want; in fact, coercive measures are more likely to drive them in the opposite direction."    - Armstrong, Karen ; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions


"Life and people are complicated. Compassion should be given and not earned. And everyone has a 'rest of the story.'"    - Dan Merchant ; Lord Save Us From Your Followers; 2006


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