I've been confronted by several religious people this week, what I can say about religion is how you approach me matters on whether I will listen to you. One young man was on a box of some kind, who had clearly never read or thought about the bible by what he was saying. He was saying how the bible says gay marriage is a sin, so I said, "are you reading it or are you reading into it?" Our high school class read it together, so to have some kid tell me how he justifies something that the pope and the bible suggest is fine, because people are uncomfortable with the idea is maddening. The bible is told symbolically, so you can really read into it, but many important points, such as eating shellfish are told pretty clearly. Besides that a few people said the bible was for social control after reading it, which was more than I got from it. My favorite religious idea compassion and desire and how these two inter relate. A long time ago an Indian journalist was asking me about America. He was explaining what desire is and how Bush desired power. He asked what I desired and at the time I didn't know, but I thought about it often. Some time had passed, years at least, before I started seeing it. Socrates, or at least a quote on the internet attributed to Socrates talks about desire too, basically no matter what you desire you will suffer, so you should be careful what you desire and not to let it control you. A second idea is non-attachment to this desire, when you are attached to something it controls you. The solution they offer is meditation, meditation helps you to see the desire and let go of it. This is where Buddhism and Christianity met, selfish desire is often similar to sin, they have commandments of what not to suffer for if you can help it, the difference is you are not reporting to God about the afterlife, you are doing so for reduction of earthly pain. Whether or not God exists, whether you think of God as a cosmic force or non-existant, avoiding pain can be a pretty good motivator. Post enlightened thinkers go a step further, in cbt rather than doing something to avoid pain, you appeal to virtue or values. When you do something you know is right without worrying about eternal damnation or suffering you know it must be the right thing to do. The trouble lies with what you find pleasurable, when something is pleasurable to us inevitably it is causing suffering of another. When someone else suffers the consequence is you suffer in the long run for causing suffering. This is my understanding of Karma, but keep in mind I am a westerner and not a practitioner of any religion, I'm just curious. So from the understanding that you suffer, you understand that others suffer too, so this brings about the idea of compassion, or understanding that if you suffer others suffer, so the goal is then to reduce suffering or pain. To have compassion for others you must first understand what your real needs are and how to break through the illusion of what you want. To understand how to help others you must help yourself, how does this apply to me and this blog, I am sensitive to the suffering of others but cause suffering by taking care of others, but not myself. Anyway, no matter what you do you will suffer or cause suffering, this is where ethics comes in. We need to consider the principle behind suffering and aim to reduce it, Sarte says ethics is freedom for others. Kant believes in the catagorical imperitive, that you must act in a way everyone in should act. I add to this you must act in a way that all people in your situation should act, if you were sick and asked for help, it doesn't mean all people need to ask for help, only people who are sick and need help. So what is an ethical action? avoiding sin gives us a good idea, avoiding suffering for yourself and others, and what everyone in your situation ought to do to consider the suffering or freedom of others. This is where values come in for me, specifically how Demartini defined them. Everyone has slightly different, but similar vaues. A man may value hard work while a woman may value family, but working hard supports a family. I value reading and writing, okay quotes and ranting, but I keep doing them not to avoid pain or appease God, because I value them. I make time for them, because they are important. When you seek highest values you have a positive reason to do something, instead of cleaning your house to avoid what your in laws will say, you clean your house because you like having a clean house. You clean it for your inlaws to appreciate their values, even if you like messy environments. One must then recognize the values and desires of others, but also consider needs and compassion. Maybe someone is unaware of suffering or desire, maybe they don't know what values are and have no idea how to find them, this is where compassion comes in. Our job is to teach sinners, people chasing desire, causing suffering or valueless to see their value, to be virtuous, to quiet selfish desire, and stop causing themselves suffering. I'm only at the stage of being able to write this, I've ended some caused suffering. The direction I am heading in is towards. m understanding taoism, which has to be the thickest religion I can think of. It speaks of many things Buddhism does, but adds something and isn't desire based. I haven't sat and thought about it, but if it interests you Alan Watts seems to understand it well and puts it simply. What I understood is it is about balance, rather than being good, one must understand your dark side. For every good you put into the world is a dark side to it, the good of business is efficiency allowing us a degree of freedom, the bad is ruining our environment for it. The good of my blog is having a voice the bad is people hanging on my every word or anyone's word and doing something I didn't realize was wrong to follow me. The bad is promising I will write, but not feeling up to it or getting symptomatic. In the time I took to write this other parts of my life are suffering, still better than wasted time playing video games. I'm going way off track, my point is we now have time to carefully examine religions and see parallels instead of differences. The story might be different, but love is a universal teaching and ethics is universal. If you follow a religion with the understanding that it is your favorite and another follows a different one which is thier favorite, it is okay, both will be ethical people, the only problem is using religion or philosophy to justify an unethical action. At least that is my opinion. I probably have all kinds of grammar errors and misunderstandings, this is a draft left as such to get the information out there.