One Woman’s Wish May Change The Course Of World Religions

karen_armstrong.jpgSusan notes: The Charter for Compassion has been signed since I published this in September 2009. Find out more and sign it yourself here.

In February 2008, former nun and religious scholar Karen Armstrong shared a wish with the worldwide TED community.

(Scroll down to see and hear the amazingly eloquent, thoughtful and thought-provoking talk in which she made the wish.)

She asked “TEDsters” to help her assemble the Charter for Compassion, a document around which religious leaders can work together for peace.

Armstrong’s compelling rationale for creating the Charter for Compassion included a plethora of insightful comments, humourous moments and deeply inspiring thoughts such as:

…it is an arresting fact that right across the board, in every single one of the major world faiths, compassion — the ability to feel with the other in the way we’ve been thinking about this evening — is not only the test of any true religiosity, it is also what will bring us into the presence of what Jews, Christians and Muslims call “God” or the “Divine.”

It is compassion, says the Buddha, which brings you to Nirvana. Why? Because in compassion, when we feel with the other, we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and we put another person there. And once we get rid of ego, then we’re ready to see the Divine.

Following her talk and the expression of her wish, a process for creating the Charter bedan. According to the TED website:

In late fall 2008, the first draft of the document was written by the world, via a sharing website.

In February 2009 the words of the world were collected and given to the Council of Conscience, a gathering of religious leaders and thinkers, who are now crafting the final document. The Charter will be launched in November 2009.

Tomorrow, Sunday September 27, at 1 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, TED Prize wish winner Armstrong and four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates (the Dalai Lama, Jody Williams, Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Betty Williams), will unveil plans for the launch of the Charter for Compassion.

Some of the world’s most inspirational figures are slated to make short TEDTalks on the true meaning and significance of compassion. Join thousands of people around the world when they watch the event here, live-streamed over the web.

Warm up before the event or reflect on it afterward by watching Armstrong’s empassioned 2008 wish request:

Related links:

AWR TED talk favourites