ABSTRACT: Interfaithing is NOT about uniting religions, it is about hearing each other, and learning to remove myths and falsehoods about other faiths and live without fear of the other. Much of the fear is imaginary - like a child being afraid of the boogey man that ain't there. Let the goodness in you find the goodness in others.
Interfaith conversation is NOT about uniting religions, it is about hearing each other to remove myths and falsehoods about other faiths and learn to live without fear of the other.
It is in our interest to live freely; it amazes me how a few of us keep living in fears every moment of our lives, and much of the fear is imaginary - like a child being afraid of the boogey man that ain't there.
I draw the following from the book presented at the May partnership conference of World's religions in Chicago.
"The Parliament of World's religions is making a world of difference;
- The council seeks to promote interreligious harmony, rather than unity
- The council fosters convergence, rather than consensus
- The council's work is based on facilitation, rather than formal organizational structures.
Religious an spiritual communities can make a world of difference as they express their identity in relationship to other groups, while acting in service to the common and global good."
To be free from fears and phobias, we must resist the temptations to denigrate the other, instead we need to dig in beyond the dished out negative versions of the other. Finding the truth is one’s own responsibility and it sets one free from the misery of ill-will.
INTERFAITH: It is learning about different faiths and seeking to find the truth about other faiths. In the last decade, the inclusiveness has stepped up from Monotheistic faiths (belief in a singular version of the creator) to Polytheistic (Many representations of the creator) to earth based traditions, and now the inclusiveness includes every one whether you believe or not believe things about the creation.
INTRAFAITH: That is the dialogue within different denominations of the same faith. For example Christianity includes Catholics, protestants, presbyterians, Methodist, Baptists, Evangelists and a whole range of followers who focus on Jesus as a saviour. Among Islam there are Ahmadiyya, Bohra, Isamili, Shia, Sunni, Wahhabi and other traditions. Then there are emerging new traditions that focus on the essence of what each faith does in creating a beautiful society.
PLURALISM: Is about developing the attitudes of respecting the otherness of other, one does not have to subscribe to any (or no) version of God to be a Pluralist, but it implies respecting everywhich way one acknowledges the creator and lives his or her life in harmony with others with all the uniqueness. To lead a good moral life one does not have to believe in God, morality is fundmental to living in peace with others. One does not have to believe in God to live a normal life and life of harmony with others. Attitude of co-existence is a necessiity.
RELIGION: You may want to consider the possibility of the following definition; the purpose of religion is to bring peace and balance to an individual and balance with what surrounds him/her; life and environment. By the way, every religion, spiritual, earth based or humanistic tradition is beautiful, it does bring peace to the follower. As they say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, I would say, faith is in the heart of the believer.
SPIRITUALITY: It is what one becomes when he or she considers the whole world as one family, one is in tune with the nature and everything that nature is made of. Distinctions of race, faith, appearance don't matter, what matters is living and working together in harmony with our differences. When you truly become spiritual, to borrow the Hindu term, you become Brahma, and everything belongs to you and you belong to every one - when you achieve that, you are free from all the elements of insecurities.
ARROGANCE: Arrogance is the root cause of all problems in the world, the arrogance that my nation, my religion, my culture is superior to the point of believing that others is inferior. One cannot be religious and spiritual if one is loaded with ill-will, malice, hate etc.
Think about this formula; Arrogance and spirituality (religiosity) are inversly proportional to each other. That is higher the arrogance lower the spirituality and vice versa.
If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the genetic uniqueness of each one of us, then cionflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Justice, Islam, India and Civil Societies. He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His work is reflected at 3 websites & 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
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