I HAVE apparently offended people unknowingly with my recent video and interview series on the inner lives of our business leaders: Total Success, which can still be found online.
A practising Christian and a Jewish man both complained that my subjects were mostly talking about Eastern religion, not the Judeo-Christian belief system. For instance, property mogul Bruno Grollo talked about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the father of transcendental meditation) and David Jones chairman Gordon Cairns talked about Buddhism.
Even representatives of traditional religions were more spiritual than religious. Linfox founder Lindsay Fox, who was pictured with the Pope and goes to church, said: “I don’t think of God riding a horse, or riding on a cloud …”, a concept which he described as “a bit like Disneyland”. Rather, he talked of a more esoteric belief — the spirit and faith. Cheryl Bart, a Jew, talked about her experience of climbing Everest in almost paganistic terms. She described the mountain as “Mother” and said that in keeping with native tradition she prayed to it before climbing, and sought permission.
“I really felt that when we reached the top, we were in a sacred space … And I did have a sense of awe and a sense of rapture standing there, in this extraordinary place. So for me it is also the spiritual nature of the mountain.”
One of the people I offended told me: “You are biased against traditional religions and orthodoxy.” Which isn’t true. I respect people of all denominations. But he is right on one point. I do find religious laws and rules rather pointless. And I do know my rules. I spent 15 years studying the Bible (in biblical studies) and comparative religions. I’m a chick who knows her Deuteronomy.
one Primum non nocere The multitude of laws and rules do my head in. There is rule I follow. “First do no harm”, (as in the Hippocratic oath); or otherwise put, “Harm none”. It’s a Buddhist, Hindu, Shamanic dictum which covers morality, infidelity, business ethics, self-harm, even unfitness (The body is the temple of the soul). It covers treatment of animals and trees. An insect crawling inside my door will be safe, even ants don’t get sprayed; rather I lead the sugar outside. Whose territory is it anyway, ours or are we in theirs?
How many evil deeds have been committed in the name of religion; how many deaths and atrocities in the name of God? “Above all, do no harm” is what all our great prophets and saints preached in one form or another. These simple words were often taken over and translated beyond recognition.
But there is nothing more needed than compassion and a commitment to harm none, in order to be a profoundly religious person.
Ruthostrow.com Twitter @OstrowRuth
Total Success can be found online at theaustralian.com.au/business/in-depth/total-success