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The "do"s, "don't"s and sacrifices are blending and alternating in different proportions through time. Say, sacrifice was probably a frequent pagan practice - though it is not clear whether it was directed to fellow humans. Even if unpractical, sacrifice is a kind of Neurolinguistic Programing. The ancient idea is that you cannot keep everything you get - you have to be ready to give away something for what you need or desire. The modern prosperity gives an illusion that you can get and keep everything.

Asian ethical traditions are really very diverse. In particular, Zen Buddhism offers an interesting taste of "selfish" altruism: your deeds to others are not that much important to you except that they bring you closer to the Enlightenment experience. With directly selfish preoccupations, or without compassion, you are not supposed to achieve "awakening". That probably tells something about deep nature of human psychology.

On Christianity, Wikipedia states the following:

Christianity adopted the ethic of reciprocity from two edicts found in Leviticus 19:18 ("Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." NIV[1].) and Leviticus 19:34 ("But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God"). Crucially, Leviticus 19:34 universalizes the edict of Leviticus 19:18 from "one of your people" to all of humankind.
In this light, Christian teaching is progressive (or even socialistic).
by das monde on Fri Nov 9th, 2007 at 01:09:23 AM EST
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