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Traditional Religious Values

The following is a response to Vasu Murti to dispel his claim that 'traditional religious values' (aka Dominion) can result in meaningful compassion.

Traditional religious values' (aka Dominion) of the semitic religions:

Neria Glick

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Dear Vasu Murti.

To be very clear: I do not agree with you: Citing words of compassion in biblical doctrine or examples of those in this tradition who have remained compassionate, despite the harmful notion of dominion, does not represent the position that ahimsa is the model of compassion to be pursued. Nor does it state that it is time to replace dominion with ahimsa. If you believe you agree with me then you have not understood the meaning of ahimsa. The failure to understand the nature of ahimsa is further compounded when you choose to pursue dominion ('traditional religious values') as a model of compassion, with the hope that allowable slaughter, exploitation and violence to animals will somehow suddenly lead to compassion.

The facts remain: The vast majority of the Semitic religions eat flesh and exploit animals, as it is a right granted to them by god. There is virtually 100 % compliance with a vegetarian/vegan diet in the jain community. The principle difference between these two traditions are their teachings regarding animals. Dominion of the Semitic religions leads to greater violence to animals. Ahimsa of the jain/hindu tradition leads to compassion and respect for the rights of animals. This is not ahimsa:

'Consumption is allowed' Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

In trying to defend biblical compassion you cite verses that indicate compassion, while refusing to relinquish dominion, which is at the root of what you call traditional religious thinking...

Ahimsa has a very clear definition: It states that all lives: animal and human are due equal compassion to remain unharmed. What you call traditional religious thinking does not, it allows for the harm and slaughter of animals:

'Consumption is allowed' Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

What you call social progress says nothing about the equality of man and animals with regard to respect for their lives. In judeo.christian cultures the assumption remains that human and animal suffering is not equal and man may indeed harm and slaughter animals for human benefit.

Throughout our dialogue you have consistently failed to explain why despite the best efforts of secular thinkers such as Pythagoras and Leonardo da Vinci, secular society has not progressed with regard to compassion. Whereas in India due to ahimsa, even the secular society has made progress. You have not explained why the legislation in India is the envy of activists every where. You have have not explained why there are 400 million vegetarian/vegans in India and 4 or 5 million in the USA. You have not explained how it is that a nation such as the USA that claims to love its dogs is capable of killing 5 million a year in the name of biblical dogma.

You have not explained the failure of the Semitic religions to even consider the incorporation of ahimsa into their doctrine. One can only speculate that it is threatening because these religions are based on a hierarchy of god/man/animal and to grant equality in compassion to man and animals would shake the very foundations of these religions. A religion that is so threatened by the notion of compassion has questionable credibility.

"I have little regard for a person's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it" Abraham Lincoln

Perhaps it is time to let go of the antiquated and cruel principle of the Semitic religion: dominion, that has so betrayed animalkind with an irrational hierarchy that puts man above the animals. A concept so illogical that it grants more rights to a serial killer than to a dog who has saved a human life.

Perhaps it is time for the Semitic religions to mature and aim for a higher level of spiritual evolution, rather than persistently, desperately, deceitfully clinging to and defending animal abuse in order to preserve religious hegemony.

It is time to let go of dominion!

Letting go of Dominion:

PS. As a reminder, I've included the words of those who believe it is time for AHIMSA to replace dominion:
"Thank you for your bravery and quest for truth." Sharon Azar

"The Jains certainly make a lot of sense and really practice what they preach, unlike most religions of 'peace', which is a joke!" NJ

"Ruth, there can be no greater calling than advocating for ahimsa. But, as you well know from my seering critical remarks regarding the human race, I see little evidence that our level of enlightenment will ever approach such high standards. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep pouring your heart into getting the message of Jainism / ahimsa out there. Every soul [human and non] you save is well worth the effort, and in all likelihood is the very reason you were put on the planet." Brennan Browne

"The Jain faith leads the way. Their teachings are based on compassion for All life. It's really so simple and yet almost unattainable, but, I believe, it's the only way for humans to regain some semblance of respect, rhythm and beauty with this wonder-full Earth we live upon and are fast destroying... Open your eyes, open your minds, open your hearts. There's still time but it will take an effort of gigantic proportions.

Much Peace," Sharon Azar

'Again, thank you for your profoundly intelligent responses to the cruelty that surrounds us.' Merilee

"Thank you Ruth, Jainism is wonderful religion

which should be promoted far and wide for

everyone's benefit, especially animals.

All life should be entitled to equal respect and

compassion. Thanks again." Arthur

"...To the person on the fence or even more "enlightened," I could see how this compromising is taken as a full "green light" to continue meat eating, and even feel good about it, still claiming to love animals....To cooperate with the other side really IS evil, you get on a slippery slope of excuse making and compromising your morals, there's a certain comfort in being "normal," even though you subconsciously know it is evil. The Gandhi quote about not cooperating with evil is so very true." (LB) ("As you do good, non-cooperation with evil is essential.")

"I have to agree with you...was it the ethic that holds that what's good for humans is not necessarily transferrable to what's good for the rest of animals, sentient beings all? I happened to have a sleepless night several months ago and watched a "religious" channel. The program presented concerned Jacob, favorite, and youngest, son of Joseph. Joseph was just returning for a profitable trip somewhere and Jacob wanted to celebrate his successful business venture with a familial feast. So, he said to his other 11 sons, all of them jealous of Joseph, "...come, let us have a feast in Joseph's 's honor. We will slaughter a lamb to celebrate this occasion!" I cannot but wonder what the ewe, who's baby was to be killed for this "party" might have thought of this proposal?" Lorraine Stone

"Ruth.. every time I read your emails I am educated and enlightened...and you lead me to further deepen my belief of nonviolence towards living creatures. Thank you."

Stella Tarpanz

"Thanks Ruth, your points are excellent as usual...He (vasu murti) thinks Judaism/Christianity can become "softer" if people will just pick and choose certain kinder selections from their bibles and follow those. Yeah, right..." (name withheld by request)

"you are so right on, Ruth. I just don't see most people are listening--and this is the tragedy. the entire human race and most of its religions are based on catering to human needs which is why the Earth and all Her beings are dissolving..." Sharon Azar


Ruth Eisenbud

Subject: you're critical of a religious doctrine - not a religion!
Date: 14 Apr 2011

Dear Ruth,

If I can borrow from the Paul Newman film, "Cool Hand Luke"..."what we have here is a failure to communicate."

We've discussed these issues before.

You're critical of a religious doctrine.

And I agree with you.

What you refer to as "dominion", I refer to as "traditional religious thinking."

What you refer to as "ahimsa", I refer to as "social progress which appears to be at odds with traditional religious thinking."

I am not "attempting to defend the biblical doctrine on animals..."

Rather, I am (as you admit!) showing that there are compassionate individuals in every religious tradition.

Your incorrectly defining my intent actually happened before.

In the hard copy of the Interview with Aboltionist-Online in Australia, I said that although Judaism might not be as ethically evolved as the Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism) when it comes to animals, it has shown greater mercy and compassion than Christianity, and for that reason, it has my respect.

Deanna Fagan, a long-time vegetarian and pro-choice Catholic with whom I spent Memorial Day weekend 2008 (we were matched on, was irked. Her response to me in a phone conversation was similar to yours: that we can't generalize about religions, and that there are compassionate individuals in every religious tradition, etc.

I don't disagree with Deanna. I don't know about Jain cosmology, but according to the Hindu scriptures, we're 5,100 years into the Age of Kali, when religious principles fall to the wayside. According to the Vishnu Purana (6.1), family, clan, and caste are all meaningless in this Age.

And we can see it in mainstream society. Nat Hentoff, a self-described "liberal Jewish atheist" is a respected pro-life columnist. In one of his columns, however, he wrote about a Catholic college where the majority of students were pro-choice. Similarly, there was a leader in the church hierarchy, a bishop or cardinal, etc. complaining at the end of the '80s about Catholic politicians -- he was saying a Mormon politician or a Baptist politician is more likely to be pro-life than a Catholic politician.

Religious designations are meaningless in this Age. There are pro-life Jews, pro-life atheists, and pro-choice Christians, and there are vegetarian and vegan Christians.

And religious designations are politically irrelevant, if we're advocating a secular and nonsectarian ethic that applies to everyone, including atheists and agnostics.

Like the analogy between meat-eating and cannibalism I gave you earlier. Or comparing experimenting on animals to experimenting on human beings.

Deanna appreciated it when I sent her copies of Vegetarian Christian Saints by Dr. Holly Roberts (she has a Master's degree in Christian theology) and School of Compassion (by Debra Jones of Catholic Concern for Animals).


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