Compassionate Integrity Training Final CIT training manual 11-30 - Page 28

Compa ssionate Integrit y Tr a ining A S e cu l a r Ethic s A ppr oac h to C ulti vat ing Pe rs on al, S o ci al and E n vir on me n tal F lo u r i shing through sustained practice and study. 33 This opens the – a person’s value may be only what that person can do door to exploring our human potential. If we are able to for me or my interests. But if we look deeper, we can see change our brain on this most basic level, the question that this is a somewhat shallow way of thinking about then becomes, “In what direction should we train our the value of people. We know this intuitively when we brain?” It is an extremely important shift to know that look upon a newborn baby to whom we feel affection. we can change the structure and function of our brain by The love that parents or caregivers experience when seeing 34 practice. It means that we can cultivate and practice a newborn is not based on what that child can do at that ethical skills and basic human values, and overcome much moment or will do in the future; it is based solely on his of the limited and irrational nature of our biologically-based or her existence as something precious and wonderful. compassion, expanding on our biology to expand our This is why when a child is born with a serious genetic 35 ability to be fair, compassionate and just. disorder or disease that may cause the child to die prema- turely, those who care for it rarely call for the baby to be euthanized. That child has value in the eyes of those who view it with affection, despite its apparent lack of utilitarian The Value of Every Life value to society. Fundamental for both self-care and compassion for We were also all once that baby. Even if we feel that we others is the recognition that our life has immense value, never received affection, or enough of it, the fact that we and so too do the lives of others. The more we see our survived our time in the womb and our birth, and indeed life as precious, the more we will appreciate it and en- survived up to this very point, is proof that we had at gage in the activities that lead to protecting our genuine least some value in the eyes of others. Without such value, well-being and not sacrificing our long-term well-being we would not have survived, because as unborn children for temporary satisfactions. The more we see others’ or infants, we simply cannot survive on our own. If we lives as precious, the more we will show concern and look closely, we will see that our daily existence even consideration for them, engaging in actions that promote now is supported by the kind acts of countless others their well-being and that protect them from harm. Not who prepare our food, ensure our safety and maintain the everyone is able to recognize the preciousness and value conditions that we need to survive and live our lives the of their own life, much less the lives of strangers, but way we do. Recognizing the value that we have, which CIT includes practices that explore the question of we can see through the investments that others make in whether our life and the lives of others have value, us and have made in us, provides a secure base for us to meaning and worth. grow and develop our inner qualities. Our society tends to evaluate worth on the basis of per- The inherent value of human life is illustrated by a legal formance and utility. It holds up things like fame, wealth, debate found in the Jewish Talmud. In it, Rabbah, a third level of education, physical beauty and material success, as century rabbi, asks the following question: If a man if these were true indicators of a person’s value. An overly throws a vase from a tall building and, right before it hits material focus leads to seeing people in a transactional way the ground, another man hits it with a stick, causing the Ce n t e r for Compa s sion , I nteg r i t y and S e cu l ar E t hics | L ife Uni ve rsi t y | M ar ie t ta, G e or g i a - 22 -