BLESSINGS

AN IRISH BLESSING

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be

always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

The rain fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

DEEP PEACE

Deep peace on the running wave to you

Deep peace on the flowing air to you

Deep peace on the quiet earth to you

Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace on the gentle night to you

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

Deep peace to you.

Gaelic Blessing

MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU

May the face of the Lord

enlighten you and be

gracious unto you

May the Lord turn his countenance towards you and give you peace

Book of Numbers 6.24

THE GOLDEN RULE

In all Religions there is one 'Golden Rule' and although expressed slightly differently in each, it represents common ground and understanding between them. If only the practitioners of the world's religions would focus on their similarities rather than fight over their differences, the world would be a much more peaceful place.

DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU

You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Judaism and Christianity Leviticus 19.18

Whatever you wish that men would do to you,do so to them. Christianity Matthew 7.12

Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. Islam Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 13

A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. Jainism Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence. Confucianism Mencius VII.A.4

One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire. Hinduism. Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva.113.8

One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.

African Traditional Religions, Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

The Ariyan disciple thus reflects, Here am I, fond of my life, not wanting to die, fond of pleasure and averse from pain. Suppose someone should rob me of my life...if would not be a thing pleasing and delightful to me. If I, in my turn, should rob of his life one fond of his life, not wanting to die, one fond of pleasure and averse from pain, it would not be a thing pleasing and delightful to him. For a state that is not pleasant and delightful to me must also be to him also; and a state that is is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?

As a result of such reflection he himself abstains from taking the life of creatures and he

encourages others to so abstain, and speaks in praise of abstaining. Buddhism Samyutta Nikaya v.353

A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him, "Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot". Thereupon he repulsed him with the rod which was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, he said to him, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn". Judaism. Talmud, Shabbat 31a

CHARITY

There are eight degrees in the giving of charity one higher than the other:

He, who gives grudgingly, reluctantly or with regret.

He who gives less than he should, but gives graciously.

He who gives what he should, but only after he is asked.

He who gives before he is asked.

He who gives, without knowing to whom he gives, although the recipient knows the identity of the donor.

He who gives without making his

identity known.

He who gives without knowing to whom he gives, and the recipient not knowing from whom he receives.

He who helps a fellowman to support himself by a gift, or a loan, or by

finding employment for him, thus

helping him to become self-supporting.

Maimonedes

Valuing Life - the launch of the Spiritual Euro!

How do you value your life and that of others? Is it by success or happiness, or good health, or good works? By what you get out of it, or by what you contribute and put into it? Is it about job satisfaction, a settled and happy family life, or pleasure, fun and satisfying your own needs? Is it about security and stability or risk and excitement? Is there a purpose to your life? And have you any idea what it is?

The difficulty in answering the questions is that probably it is about all of these things and finding a balance between many voices both inner and outer that demand you act in one way or another. However we live today in an increasingly material world where value is most usually measured in wealth, buying power, currency or market forces. This single axis way of measuring life is unbalanced and gives no way of valuing the spiritual. Thus we have a footballer, whose primary skill is to kick a ball around a field earning £50,000 a week, whilst a nurse who devotes her time, energy and care to others in need earns a pittance. Somehow our value system has become increasingly unbalanced. Money rules everything. Market forces alone determine what is valuable.

But what if there was another measurement? What if we not only had material currency but spiritual currency? A way of measuring the intangible spiritual contribution and commitment we made to ourselves and the world? Let us call it for the sake of the argument and to be right up to date!, the 'Spiritual Euro"!

Perhaps to lead a balanced and valuable life, we not only have to earn normal currency but Spiritual Euro's as well. Then we find things are a little more difficult. We wouldn't make decisions simply based upon which gives the best return on investment in sterling or dollars, but also which gives the best return on investment in Spiritual Euros! Maybe investments in tobacco, arms, and the like soon lose their appeal, since there are clearly few S.E's in this kind of commodity. Maybe climbing the corporate ladder is less appealing if the material achievement is not balanced by S.E. achievement!

Maybe some professions are immediately much more valuable - any that care or teach or help or contribute to the welfare of mankind in general suddenly move up the ladder of value, and those that take, destroy, and burden mankind go down it. Of course, there will be huge arguments about what is really of value. Do accountants add value? Do solicitors? Do Artists? Do Manufacturers, Farmers, Therapists, Clergy? Of course in some ways everyone does but to give a personal example, there was a point in my life although outwardly successful in normal career terms, when I asked myself what I was doing. There has, I thought, to be something more important and valuable than persuading people to buy deodarant!!!

Is there any practical way we can adjust our present systems to take account of the desire for a spiritual measurement. I believe there is. Our present taxation system has moved away from penalising high earners with tax rates at prohibitive rates, to ostenisbly provide encouragement for those with entrepreneurial skills and leadership qualities to stay in this country and lead and develop our businesses. So with a maximum 50% tax rate, those high earners take home a substantial pay packet regardless of tax, and those are the people who can afford to pay the cleverest accountants to minimise their tax liablities! What if instead, we adopted a Spiritual Tax! A way of earning Spiritual Euros. Suppose we had a 75% tax rate for all those earning over £100,000 a year. And the 25% difference didn't go directly to the government but into a pool for 'good causes'. It provided money for charity, to help the needy, to build homes for the homeless, to encourage young people to be self sufficient, to develop culture and art - in short to do ' good things' for the community. Somehow I feel, those earning such high salaries would begrudge paying such tax less, since they would feel not only are they contributing to the material wealth of themselves, their families and the country but also earning lots of Spiritual Euros as well!! The Pool could be run by a broad range of people, not just the eminent but those from all classes and walks of life. It would not be a permanent post and members of the Pool would have to turn over every couple of years to avoid favouritism. Maybe there would be 'Pools' in the plural, work locally and therefore the good works would be seen and noted in each locality, not lost in a vast general pool of money which gave no clear picture of how the money is spent.

It seems eminently simple and practical and would provide real value for everyone. A few footballers and heads of recently denationalised industries might have to eat out a little less, or downsize their cars, but it is unlikely anyone would suffer unduly. Furthermore their sizeable bank of Spiritual Euros would actually elevate them personally and publicly. Can you see a downside to this plan???!!!!! Voting for it would of course add to your own bank of Spiritual Euros as mine has been enhanced by positing it in the first place!!!

© Laurie Phillips

Thursday December 2nd 1999

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