During one of my recent trips, my husband and I spontaneously decided to attend a talk by Karen Armstrong at the Hall of Philosophy, erected in 1900, located on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution in the southwest corner of New York State, USA.
Karen Armstrong is an original thinker on the role of religion in the modern world. She is a former Roman Catholic nun who left a British convent to pursue a degree in modern literature at Oxford. She has written more than 20 books about the common threads in Islam, Judaism and Christianity and shares her perspective about their effect on world events. Karen founded the Charter for Compassion, a cooperative effort to restore compassionate thinking and compassionate action to the center of religious, moral and political life.
The Charter for Compassion includes: “The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.”
Karen Armstrong’s talk at the Chautauqua Institution was: “Empowering the Future: An exploration of the World’s Religions – The Mystery of Compassion” and I was deeply touched by the intensity of her belief system:
- “Make a place for the other in your mind and your heart.”
- “You must accept death as part of life.”
- “Build a world society that embraces all religions, living in peace and harmony.”
- “Feel compassion for yourself – love your neighbor as yourself. Then understand everyone feels the same compassion for themselves. As you do so, you become concerned for everyone, embracing everyone.”
- “Reach out to each other to learn to live with each other!”
Karen closed her presentation by saying, “Shalom!” – which for the Jews means Peace, Wholeness and Completion.