Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Universal Ethic-Convergences 1-Hindu Traditions

Chapter I: Convergences

1.1. The Wisdom and Religions of the World

12. In different cultures, men have progressively elaborated and developed traditions of wisdom in which they express and transmit their vision of the world, and also their perception reflecting the place that human beings occupy in society and in the cosmos. At the forefront of all these conceptual theoretizations, these wisdoms--often of religious nature--transmit an experience that identifies that which helps and that which hinders the full development of one’s personal life and happy advancement of social life. These constitute a sort of "cultural capital" available in the search for a common wisdom necessary to answer contemporary ethical challenges. According to the Christian faith, these traditions of wisdom, notwithstanding their limits and sometimes their errors, display a reflection of the divine wisdom which operates in the hearts of men. They deserve attention and respect, and they are able to have great value as preparations for the reception of the Gospel.

The shape and the extent of these traditions can vary considerably. Nevertheless, they are testimony of the existence of a patrimony of common moral values shared among all men, however may be the way in which such values are justified within any particular vision of the world. For example, the “golden rule” ("Do not do to others what you do not want done to you" [Tobit 4:15]) is found, in one form or another, in the greater part of the wisdom traditions.(7) In addition, there is general agreement that recognizes that the great moral norms not only apply to a specific human group, but apply universally to every individual and to all peoples. Finally, many traditions recognize that these universal moral behaviors are demands that stem from the nature of the human being: they express the manner in which man should insert himself, in a creative and also harmonious way, into a cosmic or metaphysical order which is greater than he is, and which provides meaning to his life. In fact, this order is seen as impregnated with an immanent wisdom. It is the bearer of a moral message that men are in a position to discover.

13. In the Hindu traditions the world—the cosmos, like human society—is regulated by an order or a fundamental law (dharma) which is necessary to respect so as not to provoke serious imbalances. It is in this manner that dharma defines the socio-religious obligations of man. Specifically, the moral teaching of Hinduism is to be found in light of the fundamental doctrines of the Upanishads: the belief in an indefinite cycle of transmigration (samsāra), with the idea that good or bad actions done in the present life (karma) have influence on successive lives. Such doctrines have important effects on the behavior towards others: they imply one should have a high degree of goodness and of tolerance, a sense of disinterested action to the benefit of another, as well as the practice of non-violence (ahimsā). The main current of Hinduism distinguishes two bodies of texts: Šruti ("that which is understood," that is to say, revelation) and smrti ("what is remembered," that is to say, tradition). The ethical prescriptions find themselves above all in the smrti, most particularly in the dharmaśāstra (the most important of which are the mānava dharmaśāstra or the Laws of Manu, dated 200-100 B.C.). Besides this basic principle, according to which "the immemorial custom is the transcendent law approved from the sacred writings and from the codes of the divine legislators; so every man of the three main classes that respects the supreme spirit that is in him, should always conform himself diligently to the immemorial custom,"(8) is found a practical equivalent to the golden rule. "I will say this to you, that this is the essence of the greatest good of the human being. The man who puts into practice the religion (dharma) of universal non-harm (ahimsā) gains the greatest Good. That man who is dominated by three passions--lust, anger and greed--who is able to renounce them in relation to his being, acquires success. ... That man who considers all creatures the same as himself, who treats them as if they were his very self, and he who disposes of the punitive rod and dominates completely his anger, the possession of happiness will be assured him. ... He will not do to another what he considers harmful for himself. This is the sum of the rule of virtue. ... Neither the fact of refusing or giving, in plenty and in unhappiness, in the agreeable and in the disagreeable, he will adjudge all the consequence as if the other was his proper self.”(9) Diverse precepts of the Hindu tradition parallel the requirements of the Decalogue.(10)

(7) Cf. St. Augustine, De doctrina christiana, III, XIV, 22 (Corpus christianorum, series latina, 32, 91): "The precept: 'Do not unto others that which you do not want done to you,' cannot in any manner vary as a function of the diversity of persons." ("Quod tibi fieri non vis, alii ne feceris”, nullo modo posse ulla eorum gentili diversitate variari."). Cf. Die «Goldene Regel» religionsgeschichtlich Untersucht, Leipzig, 1929; A. Dihle, Die Goldene Regel. Eine Einführung in die Geschichte der antiken und frühchristlichen Vulgarethik, Göttingen, 1962; J. Wattles, The Golden Rule, New York - Oxford, 1996.

(8) Mānava dharmaśāstra, 1, 108 (G. C. Haughton, Mānava Dharma Śāstra or The Institutes of Manu, Comprising the Indian System of Duties, Religious and Civil, ed., by P. Percival, New Delhi, 1982(4), 14.

(9) Mahābhārata, Anusasana parva, 113, 3-9 (ed. Ishwar Chundra Sharma and O. N. Bimali; transl. according to M. N. Dutt, vol. IX, Delhi, Parimal Publications, 469).

(10) For example: "Tell the truth, to say things that are pleasing, not to declare a disagreeable truth, and not to pronounce a compassionate lie: this is the eternal law." (Mānava dharmaśāstra, 4, 138, p. 101); "Consider always the action of striking, of injuring, and of killing the good of one's neighbor as the three most fatal things in the series of the vices provoked by anger." (Mānava dharmaśāstra, 7, 51, p. 156).

1 comment:

  1. The very rich and mysterious Traditions of the Hindu world have given us such great "western" music such as HOLST's 'The Planets', and many Beatles and Led Zeppelin Hits (think 'Kashmir').

    Yehudi Menudin, famous western violinist, is said to have held Indian Music as far superior and more complex than Western, in their mysterious non-standard meter and discovery of the widest varieties of scales, modes. There is a certain "universal appeal" in some of their mixed minor modes, for instance, we find in pop hits, Holst, and even Bach, especially Rachmaninov, and Borodin.

    Their notion of Nada Brahma ("Sound IS God, Creation IS Sound") acknowledges something in common with the Old Testament Nehemiah 12, and Genesis "In the Beginning, there was Light". (Light is but an Electromagnetic Wave, which we understand only by first experiencing Sound). And of Tolkien's 'Silmarillion' "In the Beginning, there was Sound".

    Fr. LeMaitre, priest-physicist proved to Einstein there was a Big Bang, a Traceable moment or Birth in time, measurable from the Expansion rates of the Universe. What did that "sound" like?

    String theorists today show the mathematical elegance of the theory that all matter consists not of point sub-atomic elements, but of vibrating "strings", of different lengths and shapes which "quantize" waves, such as the way Pipes in an organ or valves in a French Horn dictate specific qualities. String Theory shows potential to unite Einstein's Relativity with Quantum Physics.

    Consequently, the ancient Hindu insights on Sound agree with scientific, and Judeo-Christian revelation, that "sound", or "waves" are intrinsically the "stuff" of Creation. Our deepest insights into the Universe, Science, ourselves, and God are expanded when we pay closer attention to the nature of Sound.

    Unfortunately, Hindu culture also did similar things as Judeo-Christian culture to cover-up this sound, perhaps out of envy of its gifted masters, or fear of sound's Power. Even though they knew about Nada Brahma, and we knew about Nehemiah, the ministers of sound were denigrated, made into the lowest Castes. Warrior and Brahmin Castes fashioned themselves "above" the servile musicians, or as in Mozart's time, forced musicians to enter through the back door.

    One would think that with all this hoopla about Sound being Creation and Creator itself, that its masters would enjoy an elevated, secure status. Not so.

    So there were certain penalties we all paid for belittling the ones most attuned with God's Sound, which made our respective cultures handicapped, in science, justice, and overall Progress.

    Isn't it time we atoned? Such sins offend Nature, and God is not happy with us when we are "out of tune".