How Common Themes in Religion and Philosophy Can Help Us Through Divorce and Our Everyday Lives
Feb 23, 2022 | Written by: Share|
Although I am not an expert in either philosophy or religion, with my limited knowledge I have noticed common themes among the schools of thought. Some of these common themes among philosophies and religions can help guide us through divorce and our everyday lives. They can help even if we are not experts and even if we do not practice a particular philosophy or religion. Tenets that relate to kindness, compassion, empathy, honesty, generosity, community, and serving the greater good run through many philosophies and religions.
While there are certainly differences among religions and schools of philosophy, focusing on the similarities is what can help us, especially in the context of a divorce. My knowledge of the religions and philosophies below is very limited, so I ask that you not be offended by my limitation. Please also do not consider the order in which they are listed, or the amount of text for each philosophy or religion. I am not judging these schools of thought, or providing an opinion of them.
Judaism’s most basic and fundamental beliefs arise from the Hebrew Bible and, in particular, from the Torah. These contain commandments that provide instruction on how to live your life. Even many of those individuals who do not practice Judaism are generally aware of the Ten Commandments, which are part of the many commandments in the Jewish faith. Many of these Ten Commandments relate to generally being kind to others, including “honor thy father and mother,” “thou shall not kill,” “thou shall not commit adultery,” “thou shall not steal,” “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” “thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife,” and “thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”
Christianity also practices belief in the Ten Commandments, but adds the teachings of Jesus. His teachings generally include “love thy neighbor as thyself,” “turn the other cheek” (forgive others who have wronged you), “love your enemies,” and “don’t judge others.”
The Islamic faith has some similarities to both Judaism and Christianity, and all three believe in some of the same prophets. Some of the beliefs include refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, profane language, gossip, and doing one’s best to try to get along with others. Muslims also practice fasting designed to encourage self-discipline and sympathy and are also required to provide for those who have less, by providing money, doing good deeds, and practicing good behavior toward others.
Buddhism (whether you consider it a religion or simply a way of life) follows The Four Noble Truths to deal with the suffering that humanity faces. To attain the end of suffering, Buddhists follow the Noble Eightfold Path, which includes right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
While some consider Hinduism different from organized religions, in that it does not have a single systematic approach or a set of rules, there are common threads among variations of Hinduism. Some of the key beliefs include “truth is eternal” and “everyone should strive to achieve Dharma.” The term Dharma can be broadly described as right conduct, righteousness, moral law, and duty. An oversimplification is essentially doing the right thing at all times. Similarly, Sikhism includes tenets of truthful living, service to humanity, honesty, compassion, generosity, and integrity.
Confucianism includes a belief in “Ren.” Loosely translated, Ren is kindness, an innate sense of goodness. Shinto includes belief in sincerity, having a pure heart, uprightness, and revering the basic human rights of everyone. Taoism (Daoism) includes focusing on patience and compassion for others, and learning to let things go, as we do not have control over many things in our lives. Some of the beliefs of Stoicism are serving the greater good and living a just and moral life. Stoicism also focuses on letting go of what is outside of our control, and instead focusing on our mind as that is within our control.
Many great leaders have followed similar ideals in trying to help people better themselves. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated in preaching non-violence, “hate is too great a burden to bear.” Divorce is a process where hate should not exist. Sadly, this is often easier said than done. Nonetheless, it is important to consider, as there is truth to Dr. King’s sentiment that “hate is too great a burden to bear.”
You do not need to believe in or follow a particular religion or philosophical school of thought to see the value in practicing some of these core tenets. As many religions and philosophies believe, goodness is innate in human beings. We should all strive to be good people. A family court judge once told me “most people getting divorced are good people acting badly.” Divorce is difficult, it is emotional and often painful. Other than the death of a loved one, or a serious health issue for you or a family member, it is generally one of the most difficult emotional processes to experience in one’s life. It is not easy to control our emotions, to behave properly and to be a good person during a divorce. Whether we are an individual getting divorced, an attorney, a judge, or anyone else involved in the process, we must understand this difficulty in divorce and make an extra effort to be kind, honest, compassionate, and patient. This will not only make the process much less stressful for all involved, but it will also help us continue on our path to becoming better people throughout our lives.