The Perfect Religion: 10 Commandments, 8-fold Path, 5 Pillars, 4 Noble Truths, 1 Creator


Christian church in Ethiopia

Okay, so back to the grind: creating, or let’s say ‘distilling’, the perfect religion. After all, we’re not trying to create something from scratch, quite the opposite, in fact, we’re trying to reconcile religions—all religions—and science, too. Contradictions, in my view, are only apparent, not real.

If we all love our kids, then we all love God, however that’s defined. All religions have central tenets, and articles of faith, of course, and so does my hypothetically perfect one, as previously noted, and most of them gleaned from the major religions.

The Five Pillars of Islam are: faith, prayer, alms-giving, fasting, and pilgrimage, all pretty basic, of which pilgrimage to Mecca might be discarded for our general use as too cult-specific, non-general, and non-attainable. Visas to Saudi Arabia are hard to come by, even for Muslims.

Image result for muhammad written arabicThe other tenets are all good and fundamental, and the inclusion of fasting is truly revolutionary, though likely degenerated over the years into daytime napping (as fasting), and nighttime partying instead, hmmm.  Sobriety is paramount in Islam; but in many ways, though, Islam is all about dignity and righteousness.

The Eight-fold Path of Buddhism is also inspiring and very fundamental: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration, or samadhi, in Sanskrit, the modern Thai word for meditation, so best understood that way, I think, and something truly revolutionary in that regard, nothingness as Being, the highest good in its simplicity.

In many ways, though, folk Buddhism is all about karma, borrowed from Hinduism, of course, the law of ‘do good, get good’ for lack of a better explanation, most important to remember that we’re talking about something above and beyond simple action-reaction.

The ‘rightness’ of all behavior might be a bit too simplistic and childish, of dichotomies and dualities that may or may not exist, but goodness is always the supreme virtue, and giving is the measure of all ‘right efforts’.

IMG_1559For any American raised on Sunday School and leftovers, the Judeo/Christian decalogue (Ten Commandments) is as well-known as Christmas trees and birthday cake. It’s all pretty basic and consists of instructions to: worship only God, to honor parents, and the sabbath; then there are prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, theft, dishonesty, and jealousy.

There’s nothing much to argue with there except maybe some definitions, generally updated and modernized to allow our common practices of banking and celebrity-worship to pass the tests of time and religious obedience.

We modern Americans do nothing if not worship graven images, ‘idols’, that is, specifically proscribed by our own Ten Commandments—celebrities and rock stars and movie stars only the most obvious self-appointed heroes at the top of which list would surely be ourselves—primped and pimped in mirrors and selfies ad nauseam to the point of self-love, ‘in love with our lives’. 

Love is arguably the most important aspect of Christianity, though, but all too often interpreted as sex and sex and sex and sex, possibly as antidote to our other best-known vice—violence—or not. We’re the manic maniacs.

But where we’ve really gone astray from the Bible’s intent is the injunction against usury, i.e. charging interest on loans. Modern apologists try to explain it away and pooh-pooh the edict, but in fact it is there, and that’s exactly what they meant—no loans at interest.

popeIf anything, the concept of usury could be extrapolated even further, to be a prohibition against profit-taking, at least on necessities such as food, but the intent is clear—no profit-taking from other people’s needs and sufferings. That of course is the essence of the capitalist system, without which America and the West would not exist as we know it today.

In fact, only Islam actively prohibits usury, hence the term ‘Islamic banks’, something we hear about here in the West far less than ‘Sharia law’, of which it is a part, to be sure. So, sure, Islam has gone astray, but so have we and all the rest. How many good Buddhist families in Thailand are supported by their long-gone Thai daughters working the night shift down in Bangkok?

No, the last thing this world needs is another religion. The ones we have can serve us well if only we could just follow them, and keep them pure. It’s never enough, of course, but we keep trying. Most important is to give: something, anything, the act of giving intrinsically good in itself; and to love; and to have faith; and to pray.

The tenets to my hypothetically prefect religion are Balance, Humility, Sexual Moderation and Sobriety; to that let’s add respect, acceptance for what good has already been given long ago, and for each other, and for life itself.