Self Empowerment: The Essence Of All Ethical Teachings

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Maybe I am not religious enough, barely meeting the requirement to even understand why, as Catholics, we had to believe in some supreme being who is beyond human comprehension. I was very young when I was told not to question God’s existence or his teachings. And, if I got into a debate with a believer who is so convinced that there is something beyond his comprehension, he’d always tell me to have faith when my reason fails to understand.

Sorry, I just can’t understand that. In fact, I refuse to give in to an argument that demands that I give up my human experience and understanding, and to take a leap of faith. Leap to what? It’s not that I don’t take risks or don’t understand what it means to take risks. When there are no more option; or that other options are just as bad as not doing anything, then risk maybe the only choice. However, in the case of leap of faith, there are options: one of which is I choose not to give my thinking.

I also don’t understand what it means to worship. But, if worshiping demands that I give up my thinking, then I don’t want to have anything to do with worshiping. I refuse to give up my individuality. I could be dead wrong about the true meaning of worship. But, for many years, I see people give up their individuality when they worship some being that escapes comprehension.

But, really, that’s all we know: what we experience, what can be experienced, thinking, feeling – that is, all we know is what humans are capable of; and they can be understood even if ‘mathematical’ or ‘logical’ reasoning alone cannot comprehend. We have that human capacity to understand the universal human conditions.

Yet, I have great respect Jesus, Mohammed, Lao Tzu, Confucius and other great moral teachers, for their teachings on how to live and how to treat other human beings. In fact, I came to understand them more deeply through the lessons I have learned from other human beings like my father, my teachers, sometimes from complete strangers like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and the people in the streets who performed great service to their fellow human beings. From them, I learned:

To think on my own

To be brave

To be responsibility for one’s actions

To respect the others and their opinions.

To believe that others have their own ways of thinking and expressing themselves.

To let go of your loved ones for their sakes even though it pains to do so.

As I spend more time reflecting on the teachings of these religious figures, the more these teachings become familiar. I soon realized that they were once taught to me: my father and other great human beings, through their actions and words, lived by them. They had shown me that these moral teachings found in religious texts were humanly attainable. But, for what purpose? To serve the High Almighty? The God or some supreme being that is unattainable and completely incomprehensible? No, It was the teaching of self empowerment.

Self empowerment is not and cannot be an act of a selfish ego that craves everything for himself. He cares for no one but himself. The selfish has not yet freed itself from the dictates of his basic instincts, from greed. On the contrary, Self empowerment is about empowering the individual so he may free himself from the outer and inner oppression that so weakens him that he would easily surrender his self to an abstraction, an ideology, be it religious or political.

The self empowered individual, through his words and actions, teaches the others self empowerment. The self empowered individual has a heightened his sense of individuality, not individualism. And, with a heightened sense of individuality, he recognizes the importance of a community, not anarchism or authoritarianism that demands blind faith, blind allegiance.

This teaching of self empowerment is, I believe, the true teaching of the great religious figures.

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Source by Jimmy Guevara

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