I remember when John Lennon’s song Imagine came out in 1972. It was an instant hit on the charts and instantly controversial in Christian circles. Leave it to Christians to be dismissive about truths that aren’t their own.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s latest book, Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World reminds me of Lennon’s song. He makes the case that the time has come to move beyond religion toward a secular ethic. He argues that we can find common ground in our shared humanity and similar values that go beyond religious traditions and spiritual practices. He meticulously outlines how this secular ethic transcends religion, recognizing our common humanity and our interdependence on one another in the global human community.
The strength of his proposal is in removing those things that divide us (religious rhetoric) and embracing those things that draw us together (common values found in faith traditions and secular thought). He makes the case that we are so interconnected and interdependent we must make changes in how we think and act, beginning with ourselves.
Unlike most ethics books, this one is easy to understand and very practical. In fact, there are some exercises that anyone can implement as a practice. Those without any practice will find these exercises beneficial. Those who practice meditation and prayer will find these exercises easily adaptable to what is already being done.
We don’t need to look far to see that the need to address and change how things in this world are currently begin done if we want to survive. We must figure out how to work together, how to respect one another, and how to alleviate the suffering that is all around us. We must start with ourselves. Beyond Religion is a great tool.