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Archive for the ‘compassion’ tag

A Call for Compassion for Children Arriving From Central America

By Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño of The United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, and Bishop J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and President of the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders. Via Huffington Post.

Unaccompanied minors crossing the United States – Mexico border has become a humanitarian issue as tens of thousands of children from Central American countries arrive in the United States expecting welcome due to law challenging deportation from countries which do not share borders with the U.S. Image: Flickr User Denise_Rowlands

Last week, we, alongside Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of the California Endowment and Fred Ali of Weingart Foundation, visited some of the hundreds of children temporarily being housed at the Port Hueneme Naval Base. The stories of these children, the dangerous conditions under which they were forced to leave their homes, and their arduous journeys to travel to the United States touched us all. These children are just a few among the 52,000 children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who are currently being held in a variety of temporary shelters.

The ongoing and highly politicized public debate about immigration has quickly and incorrectly come to engulf this latest humanitarian situation. The fact that these are young, frightened children who have risked their lives and fled extreme violence to come here, often on their own, has been forgotten. This is in fact an international emergency that calls upon all of us to put the health and well-being of these children before any political grandstanding.

Like so many of our own ancestors, these children are fleeing incredible social crises, which have inspired them to make the difficult choice to leave home solely in hopes of survival. Currently, many Central American nations are struggling with extreme violence connected to drug trafficking and gangs. As we learned in a recent Reuters article, a young immigrant named Jeffrey fled his home of La Ceiba, Honduras because a local gang charged him the equivalent of $24,000 not to kill him. Like Jeffrey, many children are sent away from their homes and families to avoid being drafted into local gangs and cartels with the certain future of incarceration or death. In response, desperate parents with few alternatives have opted to send their unaccompanied children north in hopes of their finding refuge in the United States. But, instead of finding safe harbor, tens of thousands of children, have struggled on long journeys fleeing danger only to get caught in a political limbo while our nation tarries over their fates.

The status of these children poses a humanitarian dilemma. As children await a possible future of deportation, violence and possibly death, it is time for us to cast aside partisan differences and seek solutions to ensure their long-term health and safety. We can choose to use this moment to find the best in ourselves and have compassion for these children. If people from every faith and every community work together, we can live up to our shared values and take care of the most vulnerable among us. As we met these children, we learned that they are children of prayer, prayers that sustain them and give them hope.

We all know that where a child is born shouldn’t determine how long she lives, but it does. However, we must remember that under God, there is a universal citizenship — a status that makes us all equal under His eyes and worthy of love, dignity and respect, regardless of what side of the man-made border you are from. All children have basic human rights, no matter what they look like or where they come from. From universal citizenship springs unconditional love that goes beyond skin color, language and race. Around the world families desire for their children to be safe, content and healthy and if they are not able to provide such privileges, the most desperate go as far as sending their children to distant shores. As communities of faith and philanthropy, we have a responsibility to step up during this time of massive suffering among innocent children. If we don’t help the children in our society, the most defenseless among us, who will?

In 2004, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño became the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. Today, she is one of 50 bishops leading more than eight million members of her denomination. Bishop Carcaño serves as the official spokesperson for the United Methodist Council of Bishops on the issue of immigration. After serving for a term as Bishop of the Phoenix Area giving oversight to United Methodist work in Arizona, southern Nevada, and southeastern California, she was assigned in 2012 to the Los Angeles Area where she now leads United Methodist work in southern California, Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Bishop is also a participant in FaithSource, a resource for journalists looking for diverse voices of faith to speak to key issues, sponsored by Auburn Seminary.

Celebrated British Author Karen Armstrong Wins Inaugural Prize For Her Contribution To Global Interfaith Understanding

Karen Armstrong honored the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2010 with a talk on Compassion in Palo Alto, California.

I am so honoured to receive this prize. I am also most grateful to Dr Nayef Al-Rodhan and the British Academy for drawing attention in this way to the need for transcultural understanding. One of the chief tasks of our time must surely be to build a global community where people of all ethnicities and ideologies can live together in harmony and mutual respect: if we do not achieve this, it is unlikely that we will have a viable world to hand on to the next generation. Religion should be making a contribution to this endeavour but, sadly, for obvious reasons, it is often seen as part of the problem. Yet I have been enriched and enlightened by my study of other faith traditions because I am convinced that they have much of value to teach us about our predicament in our tragically polarized world.

The Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding, which is open to nominations from around the world, is a new award from the British Academy. It is named after International Relations scholar, Dr Nayef Al-Rodhan, who is the author of numerous works, including The Role of the Arab-Islamic World in the Rise of the West: Implications for Contemporary Trans-Cultural Relations (2012). This new prize – worth £25,000 and to be awarded annually for five years – is designed to honour outstanding work illustrating the interconnected nature of cultures and civilizations. Dr Nayef Al-Rodhan has said of this prize:

“Positive transcultural understanding and synergy is not only morally appropriate but also necessary for the sustainable future of our globalized world. The multi-sum security nature of our connected and interdependent world makes such positive interactions an important pre-requisite for transcultural security, national security of all states, and the security and stability of the whole global system.”

Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy, will say at the award ceremony on 4 July:

“This is the British Academy’s newest and biggest prize, and we are deeply grateful to Nayef Al-Rodhan for having initiated it. Much of the Academy’s work – in a huge range of subjects from classical antiquity to modern politics and international relations – draws attention to the elements of sharing, borrowing and even theft of ideas between different civilizations. The British Academy is delighted to inaugurate this very special prize. A distinguished jury, chaired by Dame Helen Wallace, Foreign Secretary of the Academy, selected the winner. From a large and impressive field they have made a brilliant choice.”

A former Roman Catholic nun, Karen Armstrong is well known for her work on comparative religion. She has drawn attention to the commonalities of the major religions, such as their emphasis on compassion. She rose to prominence in 1993 with her book A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Her substantial body of work (translated into 45 languages) also includes:

•           Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths (1996).

•           Islam: A Short History (2000)

•           Buddha (2000)

•           The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (2000)

•           The Spiral Staircase: A Memoir (2004)

•           A Short History of Myth (2005)

•           The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions (2006)

•           Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time (2006)

•           The Bible: The Biography (2007)

•           The Case for God: What Religion Really Means (2009)

She has been notably active in bringing together different faith communities to encourage mutual understanding of shared traditions. In 2005, at the inauguration of Alliance of Civilizations, a UN initiative sponsored by the Prime Ministers of Spain and Turkey, she was appointed a member of the international High-Level Group that was asked by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to diagnose the causes of extremism and to propose measures to counter it. She is a Trustee of the British Museum and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

She has received many awards and prizes. In 2008, on receiving the TED Prize, she called for the creation of a Charter for Compassion, which was unveiled the following year (www.charterforcompassion.org). The Charter was written by leading activists and thinkers representing six of the major world faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The Charter has now become a global movement, and is particularly active in Pakistan, the Netherlands, the Middle East and the United States. Armstrong and other activists are now creating a network of “Cities of Compassion”. She has said: “My hope is to ‘twin’ some of these cities, so that a city in the Middle East can twin with one in the USA to exchange news, and encourage email friendships and visits. In Pakistan, we are creating a network of Compassionate Schools to train the leaders of tomorrow, and in September 2012, the Islamic Society of North America endorsed the Charter, making its schools ‘Schools of Compassion’ and urging its mosques to become ‘Compassionate Mosques’.”

 

July 3rd, 2013 at 7:00 pm

The Science of Compassion

Dr. James Doty is Chair of the Dalai Lama Foundation Board of Directors, and serves on the International Advisory Board of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Photo: Festival of Faiths

A Many Splendored Jewel

By Dr. Jim Doty

Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world’s resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, “It’s the economy, stupid,” based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, “It’s the lack compassion, stupid.”

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Photo: Wikipedia

I recently attended the Templeton Prize ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and have been reflecting on the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with Arianna Huffington: “If we say, oh, the practice of compassion is something holy, nobody will listen. If we say, warm-heartedness really reduces your blood pressure, your anxiety, your stress and improves your health, then people pay attention.” As director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University (one of the two organizations recognized in the Templeton Prize press release), I would agree with the Dalai Lama.

What exactly is compassion? Compassion is the recognition of another’s suffering and a desire to alleviate that suffering. Often brushed off as a hippy dippy religious term irrelevant in modern society, rigorous empirical data supports the view of all major world religions: compassion is good.

Our poverty in the West is not that of the wallet but rather that of social connectedness. In this modern world where oftentimes both parents work, we are spending less time as a family. People are living farther away from extended families and perhaps more disconnected than ever before as suggested by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone. Putman observes that we thrive under conditions of social connection but that trust and levels of community engagement are on the decline. Loneliness is on the rise and is one of the leading reasons people seek counseling.

 

Close Enough to Share a Problem

One particularly telling survey showed that 25% of Americans have no one that they feel close enough with to share a problem. That means that one in four people that you meet has no one to talk to and it is affecting their health. Steve Cole from UCLA, a social neuro-genetics scientist, has shown that loneliness leads to a less healthy immune stress profile at the level of the gene – their gene expression makes them more vulnerable to inflammatory processes which have been shown to have negative effects on health. Research by expert well-being psychologists Ed Diener and Martin Seligman indicates that social connectedness is a predictor of longer life, faster recovery from disease, higher levels of happiness and well-being, and a greater sense of purpose and meaning. One large-scale study showed that lack of social connectedness predicts vulnerability to disease and death above and beyond traditional risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, obesity and lack of physical activity.

The Dalai Lama is a founding patron of CCARE and has spoken at Stanford on compassion. Also, His Holiness serves on the International Advisory Board of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. Photo: CCARE

The Dalai Lama is a founding patron of CCARE and has spoken at Stanford on compassion. Photo: CCAREWhile many pay attention to their diet and go to the gym regularly to improve their health, they don’t think of social connectedness this way. Just like physical fitness, compassion can be cultivated and maintained. Chuck Raison and colleagues at Emory University have demonstrated that a regular compassion meditation practice reduces negative neuroendocrine, inflammatory and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Exercising compassion not only strengthens one’s compassion but brings countless benefits to oneself and others. In fact, Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia and others have shown that, not only are we the recipient of compassion’s benefits but others are inspired when they see compassionate actions and in turn become more likely to help others in a positive feedback loop.

As human beings, we will inevitably encounter suffering at some point in our lives. However, we also have evolved very specific social mechanisms to relieve that pain: altruism and compassion. It is not just receiving compassion that relieves our pain. Stephanie Brown, professor at SUNY Stony Brook University and the University of Michigan, has shown that the act of experiencing compassion and helping others actually leads to tremendous mental and physical well-being for us as well. While survival of the fittest may lead to short-term gain, research clearly shows it is survival of the kindest that leads to the long-term survival of a species. It is our ability to stand together as a group, to support each other, to help each other, to communicate for mutual understanding, and to cooperate, that has taken our species this far. Compassion is an instinct. Recent research shows that even animals such as rats and monkeys will go through tremendous effort and cost to help out another of its species who is suffering. We human beings are even more instinctually compassionate; our brains are wired for compassion.

At Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), in collaboration with colleagues in psychology and the neurosciences worldwide, we aim to further research on compassion and altruism. CCARE sponsors an ongoing series of programs. Many pioneering researchers of compassion, including several mentioned in this article, have been presenters and will be again in future programs. We invite you to join us. For more information, please click here.

Dr. Jim Doty is the Chairperson to the Board of Directors of The Dalai Lama Foundation, and serves on the International Advisory Board of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.

This article appearing in the May 15, 2013 issue of the Interfaith Observer has been republished with permission.

This article was originally published by Huffington Post on June 7, 2012.

Global Spirit: An Interview with Robert Thurman and Karen Armstrong on Religion and Compassion

Photo Credit Global Spirit

Karen Armstrong and Robert Thurman being interviewed together in New York.

from The Huffington Post

We call Global Spirit the first “internal travel” series, because the topics and the discussions so often lead to a kind of inner exploration. Unlike programming on Animal Planet or National Geographic, Global Spirit is not about discovering anything that is outside of yourself. The opening program in our series, “The Spiritual Quest,” was one of our more exciting and challenging to produce

For Karen and Bob, it was one of those “first-time meetings” that we try to achieve on Global Spirit — to bring two people together for the first time, in this case, two highly articulate teachers and authors from distinct religious traditions, who have always wanted to meet each other. You can sense a kind of magic in the air, as they both experience the sheer delight of discovering things about each other they’ve always wanted to know. Yes, it was an uplifting show, with a good amount of spontaneous humor.

Click here to read the full article and watch a clip of the interview

The Science of Compassion

James Doty

by James R. Doty
from the Huffington Post

Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world’s resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, “It’s the economy, stupid,” Based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, “It’s the lack compassion, stupid.”

I recently attended the Templeton Prize ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and have been reflecting on the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with Arianna Huffington: “If we say, oh, the practice of compassion is something holy, nobody will listen. If we say, warm-heartedness really reduces your blood pressure, your anxiety, your stress and improves your health, then people pay attention.” As director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University (one of the two organizations recognized in the Templeton Prize press release), I would agree with the Dalai Lama.

What exactly is compassion? Compassion is the recognition of another’s suffering and a desire to alleviate that suffering. Often brushed off as a hippy dippy religious term irrelevant in modern society, rigorous empirical data supports the view of all major world religions: compassion is good.

Click here to read the full article

CPWR Trustee Featured on the Yoga Hour this Thursday

Dr. Anantanand Rambachan (a CPWR trustee) will speak with Rev. Ellen Grace O’Brian (also a CPWR trustee!) online this Thursday.

from the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment:

Awaken Love and Compassion through Discovering the Atman, the True Self
Dr. Anantanand Rambachan
on the Yoga Hour Online Broadcast,
Thursday, March 29 at 8 am PT 10am CT

Love and compassion are the natural endowments of the soul. When we are freed from the narrow confines of self-interest and discover our oneness with all that is, we find a source of happiness and satisfaction that previously escaped us. The Bhagavad Gita offers profound wisdom for living in love and infusing our action with compassion. Join Dr. Anantanand Rambachan, author of Gitamrtam: The Essential Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, and Rev. Ellen Grace O’Brian from the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment on The Yoga Hour online broadcast for this insightful exploration of the true nature of the Self.

Dr. Anantanand Rambachan, is Chair and Professor or Religion, Philosophy and Asian Studies at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota, USA, where he has been teaching since 1985. Prof. Rambachan has been involved in the field of interreligious relations and dialogue for over twenty-five years, as a Hindu participant and analyst. He is currently an advisor to the Pluralism Project (Harvard University), a member of the International Advisory Council for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and a member of the Theological Education Committee of the American Academy of Religion. Prof. Rambachan delivered the invocation address at the historic White House Celebration of the Hindu festival of Diwali in 2003 and also in 2004.

 

His Holiness and the Art and Science of Interfaith Cooperation

by Eboo Patel from Huffington Post

What’s the Dalai Lama’s secret? He’s got over two million Twitter followers, people buy his books in droves, his speeches sell out stadiums. In a highly cynical age, he’s held the public’s attention for over two decades with some pretty elementary ideas: the essence of human nature is to be happy, human beings are happiest when they help others attain happiness, all major religions nurture the most basic ingredient of happiness, namely compassion, but you don’t have to be religious to be compassionate, you just have to live up to the basic goodness of your human nature.

Like Socrates saying “I know that I know nothing”, it’s not just the simplicity of the message that attracts people, it’s the remarkable journey of the man who is articulating it. The story of his escape from Tibet into India, his successful establishment of a government in exile, his continual advocacy for peaceful negotiations with his Chinese occupiers even while the culture and lives of his people are crushed day after day — these things are well known, and more than enough to command admiration and attention.

But what is astounding about the Dalai Lama is how much more he is than the spiritual, symbolic and political (although he’s stepping down from that role) leader of the Tibetan people. For those of us who believe religion is a source of inspiration and a bridge of cooperation, at a time when people presenting religion as a bomb of destruction are ruling the airwaves, the Dalai Lama is our single most powerful example. It is this part of his mission — Dalai Lama as interfaith leader, which is also the subject of his most recent book, “Towards a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together” — that has brought him to Chicago for a set of presentations sponsored by the Theosophical Society.

Like much of what the Dalai Lama does, the book and his presentations have been deceptively simple. He states clearly that inter-religious cooperation has to be one of the central priorities for our world, and says that it is one of his three core missions in life, along with promoting the basic human values of compassion and happiness, and finding a solution to the crisis of Tibet…

Click here to read the full article

Karen Armstrong: Compassion in Action

Karen Armstrong spoke this past month at a special gathering hosted by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Palo Alto, California. The celebrated author and founder of the Charter for Compassion addressed the ethos of compassion and the work of the Charter.

“Compassion is not just an attitude of sloppy benevolence, it requires practical action. It requires a sense of responsibility,” said Armstrong. “It’s not an impratical dream. It’s a necessity for our survival. We have to treat people, whoever they are, with respect.”

Armstrong also lifted up the collaborative nature of the work of the Charter for Compassion, and highlighted the partnership between the Charter and CPWR, particularly the integration of the Charter with the work of the Council’s Partner Cities Network

“This is the task of our time…to make the compassionate voice of religion, spirituality, morality a clear, luminous, and dynamic force in our troubled world.”

Conference on Religion, Conflict and Peace

2nd Annual International Conference onimages

“Religion, Conflict and Peace”

Walking The Talk to Compassion and Harmony

Featuring live virtual addresses by

Huston Smith, Rabbi David Rosen,

and Karen Armstrong

To Be Confirmed: Tariq Ramadan

June 11-13, 2010

Henry Ford Community College
Dearborn, Michigan USA

A Multi-disciplinary, Multi-cultural Conference
that is
an Official Partner and Event of

the Charter For Compassion

and

the Parliament of World Religions

Sponsored by:
Common Bond Institute,
Co-Sponsored by:
International Humanistic Psychology Association (IHPA), Henry Ford Community College, Parashakthi Temple, Pathways To Peace, Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, Muslim Presence Ottawa
Endorsed by over 100 universities and organizations internationally

Full Conference Details at:
www.cbiworld.org/Pages/Conferences_RCP.htm

~ Registration is Open All ~

We Invite You To:
an inclusive, highly interactive 3-day public forum promoting Inter-religious and Intra-religious dialogue to explore the challenges of Extremism, Intolerance, Scapegoating, and Islamophobia, and the promise of Reason, Understanding, Compassion, and Cultural Harmony.

Join 45 Presenters and Facilitators as we explore:
1) The mutual dilemmas of religious ignorance, extremism, intolerance, negative stereotypes, prejudice, demonization and dehumanization, scapegoating, and fear of “the other,” that lead to toxic divisiveness, polarization, and social paranoia, including the current example of Islamophobia and it’s impact on the Muslim community,
and
2) The promise of personal engagement through dialogue in nurturing a shared consciousness of peace – and in doing so promoting the religious experience as a healing remedy rather than problem.

Geshe Gendun Gyatso, Sonya Friedman, Najah Bazzy, Brenda Rosenberg, Gail Katz, Padma Kuppa, Shahina Begg, Patricia Harris, Victor Begg, Saeed Khan, Bill Secrest, Ventra Assana, Lily Mendoza, Jim Perkinson, Manveen Saluja, Robert Cohen, Kari Alterman, Imad Hamad, Steve Spreitzer, Daniel Tutt, Steve Olweean, Farha Abbasi, Rene Lichtman, Sheri Schiff, Mike Whitty, Myron Eshowsky, Nettie Kingsley, Betty Kingsley, Mohammed Dajani, Zeina Barakat, Shari Rogers, Jackie Teunessen, Shelina Merani, Mary Assel, Mouhanad Hammami, Jehan Olweean, Betsy Kellman, Venkat Hari, Maida Besic, Susan Lebold

FORMAT:
An outstanding, diverse gathering of presenters for 3 Days of keynotes, workshops, panels, dialogue groups, exhibits, social/cultural events, multicultural community, and rich networking for collaborative application beyond the conference.

“It does not require that we be the same to be appreciative of, at peace with, and secure in our relationships with each other; only that we be familiar enough with each others story to share the humanity and trustworthiness that resides in each of us.”

Location: Henry Ford Community College
5101 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI. USA
Schedule: Fri. June 11, 10:00 am -to- Sun. June 13, 2:30 pm
(On-site Registration opens 8:30 am)

FOR FULL DETAILS on the 3 Day Program, Registration, Fees, Program Ads, and Exhibits CONTACT:

Common Bond Institute
Details at Website: www.cbiworld.org
Steve Olweean, Conference Coordinator
12170 S. Pine Ayr Drive, Climax, MI 49034 USA
Ph/Fax: 269-665-9393 Email: SOlweean@aol.com

Connecting for Compassionate Action in Seattle

The Compassionate Action Network will host a Pre-Parliament Event titled “Connecting for Compassionate Action” this upcoming October 17th.  Participants will structure the event around the question: “How shall we create a regional compassionate action network that meets the needs of local communities and active people and also scales to a global level?”  For more information, click here.