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Announcing His Holiness the Dalai Lama & Dr. Karen Armstrong Are Coming to the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions

It is with great pleasure that we announce  two of the esteemed keynote speakers of the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions:

 

His Holiness The Dalai Lama

& Dr. Karen Armstrong

 

Read their biographies below

*Both of these acclaimed leaders will also be featured in the Get Golden Banquet at the 2015 Parliament.

Who better to help lead the interfaith world in reclaiming the heart of our humanity than two of the most acclaimed teachers of compassion?

Returning to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2015, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso the XIV Dalai Lama and Dr. Karen Armstrong will cross-pollinate the religious, scientific, and civic institutions we represent with the seeds of compassion and kindness.

We are honored to present these pillars of wisdom to share their expertise on the themes of the next Parliament:

  • Widening Wealth Gap and Wasteful Consumption
  • Climate Change and Care for Creation
  • War, Violence, and Hate Speech 

Still haven’t registered for the 2015 Parliament?

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Exhibit, Sell, & Sponsor

Hundreds of booth spaces are available to display, showcase or sell your books, gift items, or pieces of art. It can be about your faith, your organization, your passion, or your business. Parliament participants are highly educated, highly networked, and highly philanthropic; best of all, people who attend Parliaments are dedicated to promoting healing action across the world. Click here to exhibit…

Be a Presenter at the Parliament

Share the stories of how different religions work with each other for common good, tell others about your faith, and recruit people who can tell your story better. Engaging the leadership of young and emerging adults, women, and indigenous communities in the Interfaith movement is especially considered programming for the 2015 Parliament!  Click here to propose a program to present at the 2015 Parliament….

Attend the Golden Banquet at the Parliament

We are planning a fabulous dinner to celebrate practitioners of the Golden Rule! Join us as we honor some of our champions who exemplify compassionate living, and are teaching the world to do the same. The 2015 Parliament Get Golden dinner will benefit the future of the interfaith movement. Reserve your seat when you register!

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. This Nobel Prize winning peace activist is known for his unswerving commitment to love, compassion and non-violence, and has moved the world with his spiritual teachings on “the universal religion of kindness.” Since 1967, His Holiness has traveled and met with adherents, leaders and scholars in over forty-five countries and has authored or co-authored more than sixty books.
Dr. Karen Armstrong is a religious thinker who has written more than 20 books on faith and the major religions, studying how our faiths shaped world history and drive current events. Her new book is entitled Fields of Blood: Religions and the History of Violence. Armstrong’s 2008 TED Prize wish asked us to help her assemble the Charter for Compassion, a document around which all of us can work together for peace. It has since inspired the Charter for Compassion movement sprouting in hundreds of cities around the world.

Parliament History Sets Stage for Future Interfaith (PICTURES)

The Parliament of the World’s Religions tells a 121-year story of extraordinary, inspired people from around the world- belonging to literally hundreds of faith traditions- coming together with global leaders to create a better planet. Where common bonds and prayers transcend spiritual paths and national origin, these luminaries and lay leaders collaborate to empower the worldwide interfaith movement. This collective of interfaith activists work through a shared love of humanity to create a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.

Take a glimpse inside the vaults of Parliament history to see that another world is possible, and what those who have experienced the life-changing encounter have to say about the Parliament of the World’s Religions. .

“A Parliament, in essence, is a big conversation.”

-Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Parliament of the World’s Religions


1893 Parliament

The Birth of a Movement

Chicago, USA

“What we need is such a reinforcement of the gentle power of religion that all souls of whatever colour shall be included within the blessed circle of influence.”

 – Fannie Barrier Williams, the only official African-American presenter at the 1893 Parliament


“The solemn charge which the Parliament preaches to all true believers is a return to the primitive unity of the world…The results may be far off, but they are certain.”  John Henry Barrows, 1893

  • The 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, held on the shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago, was the largest and most spectacular event among many other congresses in the World’s Columbian Exposition.
  • The World Congress of Religions marks the first formal gathering of representatives of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. Today it is recognized as the birth of formal interreligious dialogue worldwide.
  • A captivating Hindu monk, Swami Vivekananda mesmerized the 5,000 assembled delegates, greeting them with the words, “Sisters and brothers of America!” This speech, which introduced Hinduism to America is memorized by school children in India to this day. Swami Vivekanada became one of the most forceful and popular speakers in spite of the fact that he had never before addressed an audience in public.
  • 19 women spoke at this Parliament, an unprecedented occurrence in 1893.

 

“If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: “Help and not Fight,” “Assimilation and not Destruction,” “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.”

-Swami Vivekananda


1993 Parliament

Towards a Global Ethic

Chicago, USA

“The Parliament’s keynote address spelled out clearly the destruction that humans have wrought upon the planet, and this theme was echoed throughout the week. What better time for Earth-centered spiritual paths to enter the conversation.”

 – Sarah Stockwell


“The 1993 Parliament emphasized the moral values which religions share. Toward a Global Ethic called on believers to commit to non-violence, a just economic order, tolerance and truthfulness and gender equality.

-Marcus Baybrooke
                                    

  • In 1993, 8,000 people came together, again in Chicago, for a centennial Parliament to foster harmony among religious and spiritual communities and to explore their responses to the critical issues facing the world.
  • The pitch: “One hundred years ago, Chicago brought the people of the world together. There is no better time than now for this to happen again.”
  • Those assembled gave assent to a groundbreaking document, “Towards a Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration.” The declaration is a powerful statement of the ethical common ground shared by the world’s religious and spiritual traditions.
  • At the time it was believed, “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions.” – Hans Kung, Theologian and Author of the Global Ethic

“I always believe that it is much better to have a variety of religions, a variety of philosophies, rather than one single religions or philosophy. This is necessary because of the different mental dispositions of each human being. Each religions has certain unique ideas of techniques, and learning about them can only enrich one’s own faith.”

– Tenzin Gyatso, the XIVth Dalia Lama

“The Parliament’s keynote address spelled out clearly the destruction that humans have wrought upon the planet, and this theme was echoed throughout the week. What better time for Earth-centered spiritual paths to enter the conversation.”

– Sarah Stockwell

 

“The Next Generation became more than just the title of the youth plenary. It evolved into a group of concerned youth from ten different religions talking about all the problems of the world, religions, and the ways in which we as youth could generate more interfaith dialogue for the years to come.”

– Jim A. Engineer, editor of Youthfully Speaking in the FEZANA Journal vol. 5, no. 4 Winter 1993


1999 Parliament

A New Day Dawning

Cape Town, South Africa

“In the year 1999, you gathered in our own continent, Africa, in the city of Cape Town. You inspired us. In 2002, IFAPA (Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa) was founded. It embodies the spirit of the Parliament.”

 -Dr. Ishmael Noko


No government or social agency can on its own meet the enormous challenges of development of our age. Partnerships are required across the broad range of society. In drawing upon its spiritual and communal resources, religion can be a powerful partner in such causes as meeting the challenges of poverty, alienation, the abuse of women and children, and the destructive disregard for our natural environment.We read into your honoring our country with your presence an acknowledgement of the achievement of the nation and we trust in a small way that our struggle might have contributed to other people in the world. We commend the Parliament of the World’s Religions for its immense role in making different communities see that the common ground is greater and more enduring than the differences that divide. It is in that spirit that we can approach the dawn of the new century with some hope that it will be indeed a better one for all of the people of the world. I thank you.”
-  Madiba, Nelson Mandela

  • The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions hosted the second modern day Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa in December 1999, attracting 7000 participants from 80 countries.
  • The religions and spiritual communities of South Africa were integral in ending the system of apartheid that prevailed until 1990. Holding the 1999 Parliament in Cape Town provided thousands of people the opportunity to witness firsthand the role that religion and spirituality played in creating a new South Africa.
  • Each Parliament fuses local and international themes. The International AIDs quilt was brought to the 1999 Cape Town Parliament to bring the crisis into focus at the Parliament. Also, A new plan for the global interfaith movement of the next millennium addressing religions, government, business, education, and media was introduced at the 1999 Parliament: “A Call to Our Guiding Institutions.”

 

 

“The diverse religions and cultures are fully recognised and respected; religious and spiritual communities exist in harmony; the wisdom and compassion taught by these traditions are prized, and service is seen as one of the essential and uplifting religious acts; the pursuit of respect, trust, justice, and peace in the world is nurtured by the influence of religions and dialogue between them; the earth and all life are revered and cherished.”  – A Call to Our Guiding Institutions

 


2004 Parliament

New Pathways to Peace

Barcelona, Spain

“The most important lesson I learned in my role as Parliament Chair was that interfaith dialogue and engagement empowers us to understand that our differences present us with an opportunity to go deeper. Beneath our differences we share a common humanity. It is this vision of our deep unity amidst our diversity that gives me hope and keeps me doing the work I continue to do.” 

-Rev. Bob Thompson, Chair Emeritus of the Parliament of the World’s Religions


“…let us, the true followers of Buddha, the true followers of Jesus Christ, the true followers of Confucius and the followers of truth, unite ourselves for the sake of helping the helpless and living glorious lives of brotherhood under the control of truth.”

– Shaku Soyen

  • The 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions welcomed 9000 participants from 74 countries to the site of Barcelona’s Universal Forum of Cultures. These people of faith, spirit, and goodwill came together to encounter the rich diversity of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions, listen to each other with open hearts and minds, dialogue for mutual understanding, and reflect on the critical issues facing the world and commit to discovering new pathways to peace.
  • Occurring three years after September 11, 2001 and only three months after the Madrid train bombings, the 2004 Parliament was a solemn reflection on those tragedies as well as a strong and visible commitment to peace.
  • Hundreds of members of the Sikh community came to the Parliament to feed the attendees langar, a free meal cooked and served, daily as a show of the Sikh faith.

 

 

“…The CPWR, we want to thank them, they showed us the paths, pathways to peace. We came to Montserrat, it was a pilgrimage, people have been praying there for thousands of years, we walked on Holy ground, and the Mayor of Barcelona, allowed us to pitch our tent here in marquees to have a place of worship, where we could eat together, sit together, exercise love, humility, benevolence, you made it possible, we salute you. The words of the Lord, the Creator, the Infinite, and our Guru, came to Barcelona, and we had forty eight hours of continuous Prayer, and then we had the initiation, which is equivalent to ‘baptism’, I just came from there. We are humbled that we could be given such honour and dignity, such love that you could give us we have no words to thank you, the Holy Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s message is universal. If each and every hair on my body could say thank you, I would go ahead and say thank you Barcelona, thank you the people, all the faith religions, all the faith people, thank you everybody.”

- Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ji, GNNSJ


2009 Parliament

Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth

Melbourne, Australia

“Only the Parliament, the largest interfaith gathering on earth, has the potential to serve as a platform to mobilize interfaith social justice movements on a global scale.” 

-Valarie Kaur


“I find strength in people like you, who join from around the world to speak the common language of the conscience and the heart. What we have in common is more powerful than our difference. And in your leadership I see hope for dignity and peace.”

-
Queen Rania of Jordan

  • A multi-religious, multi-lingual, and multicultural city, Melbourne was selected as an ideal place to host 6500 people for the 2009 Parliament.
  • Melbourne – the culturally vibrant home to many indigenous and aboriginal spiritualities, was chosen as the theater for the Australian government to issue a formal apology to its indigenous and aboriginal peoples.
  • Focusing on Healing the earth, Indigenous People, overcoming poverty and inequality, and food and water security, the 2009 Parliament shed light on and brought hope and action to the most pressing challenges of our time.
  • As a Capstone to the “Educating Religious Leaders” program piloted by prestigious seminaries across America, more than 100 students convened at the 2009 Melbourne Parliament to build relationships as emerging faith leaders in a changing multi-religious world.

 

“This is what Paradise would look like and taste like, I decided: people of good will on a pilgrimage of discovery, to greet and meet one another with respect, curiosity, and an openness to observe and share religious practices, to discuss our differences without making excuses for having differences, and to confront the most urgent problems of the globe with the understanding that there were collective problems that deserved collective solutions.”

-Ruth B. Sharone, Minefield & Miracles

“I was asked to join the youth initiative team for the Next Generation which gave me the opportunity to work with brilliant young people as well as religious leaders from around the world. This was an incredibly powerful experience for me for many reasons. I was able to dialog with religious leaders and created connections with people around the world to support me in projects that I have started at home. Most importantly, I felt like I had a voice. One that was not only heard, but listened to. That was an opportunity that I will be forever grateful for.”

– Ms. Allison Bash, CT, USA

 

The Dalai Lama says on the final night of the Melbourne Parliament in 2009, “we really need constant effort to bring closer all the religions, that’s what I think, and then we can make more effective role to bring compassion on this planet. Also taking serious discussion about environmental issues. This is something very important. This is something very, very, urgent. So, we must be more active, that’s very important, and then we can fulfill the original idea I think, and also to begin to living this, so must be active, so thank you very much.”

 


A Legacy for the Future


“The Parliament was an opportunity for people with different ideas getting together, discussing issues for better understanding. Religions plays such a big role in so many people’s lives, that if we can manage to get people to be tolerant towards each other where religion is concerned, other problem areas should be a lot easier to sort out.”

– Ms. Hettie Gats, Cape Town, South Africa

I watched a Muslim youth and a Jewish youth join hands on the stage of Good Hope Center. Each sang a prayer, one in Arabic and the other in Hebrew, and I wept at the profundity of their simple gesture.”

– Rev. Pete Woods

“With open hearts and minds, the Parliament’s participants will be returning back to their neighborhoods in our shared global village enriched with new experiences, friendships and new success stories after a joyful six-day long intensive listening and learning experience. Many of them will be making their personal commitments in writing on how they plan to change the world”

-Abdul Malik Mujahid

Golden Rule Meets Beloved Community at Heart of Compassionate Atlanta Inaugural Celebration

Compassionate Atlanta kicks off in beloved community on Feb. 2 at the Carter Center.

Winding down from World Interfaith Harmony week would be a backwards way of saying it.  For event organizers like the Compassionate Cities campaigners in Atlanta, the work is only just beginning.

This is true of Rev. Bob Thompson, Board Chair Emeritus of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, who is now championing a metro-wide effort to bring the Charter for Compassion to life in Atlanta. The Compassionate Atlanta kickoff event was held at the Carter Center on February 2 with co-sponsorship of the Parliament’s Faiths Against Hate campaign, and as a participating entity of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week observance. Incidentally coinciding with the beginning of Black History Month in the United States, the Compassionate Atlanta launch embodies the  beloved community vision of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By launching the campaign, Rev. Thompson is primed to share how a Compassionate city campaign works, and what the Charter means to Atlanta. In a recent conversation with the Parliament, Thompson explains how Atlanta pulls interfaith and interracial harmony under the same umbrella, and why partners like the Parliament’s Faiths Against Hate campaign and other common causes can find a local focus to live out the Charter.

Rev. Bob Thompson kicks off with Compassionate Atlanta Feb. at the Carter Center.

Parliament:  Before we talk about the Charter, what can you share from your favorite memories of your time on the Parliament board?

Rev. Thompson: I cherish so many luminous memories from my tenure. From the Parliament in Cape Town to leading a small group of trustees to meet with the Dalai Lama—these and many significant encounters linger in my memory.  But probably the most significant recollection  occurred after 9/11 when we hosted a large interfaith gathering in a Chicago-area mosque.  Following that gathering many of us in the Chicago interfaith community literally stood with our Muslim sisters and brothers outside of Chicago-area mosques for a number of subsequent days as a statement of our solidarity.

 

Parliament: How does the Charter for Compassion relate to its offspring movements, like Compassionate Action International, the Compassion Games, and Compassionate City campaigns?

Rev. Thompson: The Charter For Compassion was first articulated by Karen Armstrong in her “Make A Wish” TED talk in 2008.  Her wish was granted and the Charter For Compassion was subsequently drafted by a “Council of Conscience,” consisting of interfaith global religious and spiritual leaders. The Charter is the blueprint for the International Campaign for  Compassionate Cities and Compassion Games which serve as concrete expressions of the Charter for Compassion.

Parliament: What does it mean for a city to create a Compassion Campaign?

Rev. Thompson: Every city campaign reflects local capacities.  But each and every city campaign is rooted in the Charter For Compassion.  However we organize in our cities, the message is the same, “treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Parliament: How have municipal leaders taken to the Charter? Do governmental entities agree to change their practices to promote Compassion?

Rev. Thompson: When a city government declares itself a “compassionate city” it issues a proclamation that embraces the Charter for Compassion while working together with its citizens to develop a compassionate action plan that reflects the vision and capacities of that municipality. These efforts ultimately have the power of changing the public conversation and consciousness.

A Proclamation in honor of Compassionate Atlanta was signed by the Atlanta City Council for the kickoff celebration.

Parliament:  What new and different outcomes can a city embarking upon a Compassionate Cities campaign expect, or hope to see happen?

Rev. Thompson: I live by the mantra, “communities consist of conversations. We change our communities by changing our conversations.” We learned from the Civil Rights movement and more recently from LGBT movement, when the conversation changes, communities inevitably change. I believe that compassion and compassionate action are conversation changers that are powerful enough to transform the communities in which we live.

Parliament: Your kickoff event attracted a large crowd of multi-religious and racially diverse faith leaders at the Carter Center in Atlanta over the Feb. 2 -3 weekend. How does the interracial network of faith leaders collaborate in Atlanta as compared to what you saw in Chicago? Moreover have you learned anything organizing in Atlanta which could help aspiring community leaders advance the beloved community in racially segregated cities (like Chicago)?

Rev. Thompson:The diverse Atlanta interfaith community has been the driver of the Compassionate Atlanta campaign.  As an aside, when we were organizing to host the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) in the summer of 2012, I looked around at members of our organizing team and realized I was the only white man on the committee of 12.  That was a very different experience than I had while doing interfaith engagement in Chicago.

Interfaith advances the Beloved Community through the Charter for Compassion in Atlanta at their kickoff event in February 2014.

The interracially diverse interfaith community in Atlanta reflects in part, the cultural complexity of Southern history.  This diversity was also evident at our Compassionate Atlanta launch at the Carter Center. It has been my experience that the Atlanta interfaith community is intentional about living out the vision of the Beloved Community as Dr. King so eloquently articulated. In terms of residency, most of our cities are racially segregated, Atlanta included.  But if we become conscious and intentional about WHO we engage in our conversations—we can make the Beloved Community real in terms of everyday life.  It all begins with being conscious and intentional and culminates in developing relationships that change how we see ourselves and each other.

Parliament: What happens next for the Compassionate Atlanta campaign?

Rev. Thompson: The purpose of our February 2nd Compassionate Atlanta gathering at the Carter Center was to call all citizens in metro Atlanta to concrete actions that invite cities in the metro area to:

  • 1. Declare their city as a Compassionate City
  • 2. Invite organizations to sign on as Charter Partners or
  • 3. Initiate conversations in our communities around the Charter for Compassion and the question of “what does compassion ask of us?”

We plan to gather again at the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel at Morehouse College on April 3rd for a Compassion Celebration to report back on what we have done and learned in this two month compassion experiment.

Parliament: The Faiths Against Hate campaign of the Parliament is a co-sponsor of Compassionate Atlanta. How can (and why should) an organization become a co-sponsor?

Rev. Thompson: The Faiths Against Hate Campaign is a very important first step! When CPWR Chair Malik Mujahid called me last April asking if we could organize a Faiths Against Hate event in Atlanta, my immediate response was “Yes!”  Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we needed to mobilize people around something concrete and positive.  I checked out the compassionate cities movement and asked Malik if we could use this as our organizing strategy.  He was very enthusiastic and supportive.  So the Parliament has helped to make the Faiths Against Hate campaign real in Atlanta through the Compassionate Cities movement. Each and every locality must find their own way to give expression to the Faiths Against Hate initiative.  Finally, we are all in this together.  If we want to bring change to our world we must think globally and act locally.  This is what we have done in Atlanta.

Parliament: Are there any lessons you picked up during your time leading the Parliament that have contributed to how you inspire interfaith and compassion now?

Rev. Thompson: The most important lesson I learned in my role as Parliament Chair was that interfaith dialogue and engagement empowers us to understand that our differences present us with an opportunity to go deeper.  Beneath our differences we share a common humanity. It is this vision of our deep unity amidst our diversity that gives me hope and keeps me doing the work I continue to do.

Rev. Robert V. Thompson - Chair Emeritus. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Bob Thompson graduated from Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (Graduate Theological Union) and was ordained an American Baptist minister in 1973. He served American Baptist Churches in Kansas, Ohio, and for 30 years, as Senior Minister of the Lake Street Church in Evanston, Illinois. He retired in November of 2010. During the 1980′s Thompson became an activist pastor focusing on issues such as homelessness, racial reconciliation and advocacy for LGBT rights. He is recognized as Minister Emeritus of the Lake Street Church and Chair Emeritus of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Over the years he has contributed articles to periodicals including The Christian Century, The Chicago Tribune (op-ed), Sound Vision (a Muslim outlet), and others. He is the author of A Voluptuous God: A Christian Heretic Speaks (CopperHouse, 2007) and a contributor to the book for preachers, Feasting On the Word, Westminster John Knox Press.

Upon retirement he moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he is actively engaged in the Atlanta interfaith community.

 

Dalai Lama Enlightens CPWR Youth Supporters in New Zealand

The Dalai Lama offered words of hope and encouragement to a youth delegation of world faiths organized by CPWR Ambassador

Youth Delegation Supporters of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions learn from the Dalai Lama on June 10 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Lachlan MacKay during a three-day tour of New Zealand.  The Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel Peace Laureate shared 20 minutes with young people representing a range of different spiritual and faith backgrounds at the Chateau on the Park Hotel in Christchurch, New Zealand on June 10.

The meeting, to introduce youth supporters of CPWR to the Dalai Lama, centered on the question, “What is the most important thing for young adults and youth to remember when it comes to supporting the interfaith movement and the vision of a world of peace and compassion?”

Offering advice on how youth can work together in harmony both within their faith communities and in the global interfaith movement, the Dalai Lama shared his view that although religions have diverse philosophical perspectives on life, they all share an emphasis on love and compassion.  “Religion is about cultivating a more peaceful mind, so it’s very disappointing if religion becomes a source of conflict,” explains His Holiness. “Our traditions share a common message of love and compassion, patience and tolerance. If we also remember the instructions about forgiveness, there’ll be no basis for conflict.”

The youth delegation of about a dozen people included representatives from Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Baha’i, Quakers, the Sri Chinmoy movement and other spiritual backgrounds. Raving about the experience, CPWR Ambassador Lachlan Mackay said,

Lachlan MacKay is greeted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. MacKay is the National Vice-President of the United Nations Association of New Zealand and an international ambassador for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.

The audience was an overwhelming spiritual experience which will not be forgotten by any of the delegation. We regard His Holiness as one of the greatest peace and interfaith heroes of our time. It was an honour and a privilege to be in his presence. I hope the experience and the message His Holiness offered to us will inspire those present at our meeting with him to work tirelessly for interfaith dialogue and collaborative action with all youth in Aotearoa irrespective of their chosen religious or spiritual path. It is a firm belief of those in the interfaith movement that we have to increase our building of bridges of trust, love, understanding and peace amongst all cultures and ethnicities if we are to counteract the many problems facing our very polarised and conflicted world.

Article edited from original by Lachlan Mackay, International Ambassador and Member of the Ambassadorial Advisory Council, CPWR, and  Tom McGuire, Member of the Interfaith Youth Movement in New Zealand

Delegation of Interfaith Youth Leaders in Aotearoa. Delegation Head: Lachlan Mackay – Baha’i, Wellington and International Ambassador for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. Deputy Head: Matt Gardner – Catholic, Christchurch and Irene McDowall – Presbyterian/Multicultural, Wellington. Rebekah Sands – Baha’i, Hamilton, Tom McGuire – Sri Chinmoy, Auckland Nadiah Ali – Muslim, Christchurch<br />Grace Reeves – Spiritual, Wellington. Robin de Haan – Buddhist, Auckland (mentor – over 30). Jonathan and Char-Lien Tailby – Quakers, Hutt Valley (mentors – over 30)

Literature Awards Shine On Interfaith Memoir

Advancing the Interfaith movement more into the mainstream, top awards in two literature competitions were snagged by peace builder and interfaith activist Ruth Broyde Sharone’s book. A veteran CPWR activist, Sharon is being celebrated for authoring the groundbreaking a memoir selling the benefits of Interfaith, MINEFIELDS & MIRACLES: Why God and Allah Need to Talk.

Placing first for “religious non-fiction” in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the memoir pushes Interfaith forward by garnering top honors in the 2013 International Book Awards in the category of “social change.” Featuring  a chapter entitled “A Taste of Interfaith Paradise,” the history of the Parliament and its current mission are chronicled for their transforming effect on Broyde Sharon.

From the official announcement,

At a time of heightened religious conflict and unrest around the world MINEFIELDS & MIRACLES comes as a breath of fresh air and a statement of renewed hope. Broyde Sharone’s riveting memoir—regaling readers with what she calls her interfaith “adventures and misadventures”– has been endorsed by more than 30 religious leaders including H.H. the Dalai Lama. Paul Chaffee, editor of The Interfaith Observer, describes the book as “a page-turner, a compelling, fearless quest to reach across the toughest interreligious boundaries . . .”

Creator of the Golden Rule Poster, Paul McKenna says MINEFIELDS & MIRACLES should be required reading for anyone who is serious about interfaith dialogue. “I have been involved  in interfaith work for more than 30 years . . . and I have seen and heard interfaith stories from around the world, but I have never encountered an interfaith testimonial with the depth and breadth of this one.”

Professor Cornel West at Princeton says: “I strongly support this book.” Best-selling author Marianne Williamson concurs. “This book is a MUST READ for individuals who seek to be collaborators with the Holy in the quest for peace.”

An inspirational speaker, filmmaker, and journalist, and a recognized champion for interfaithengagement, Broyde Sharone was recently inducted into the Martin Luther King Board of Advisors of Morehouse College. Ruth’s documentary, GOD AND ALLAH NEED TO TALK, took top honors earlier this year as the best short in the 2013 World Harmony Interfaith Film Festival.

A former CPWR staff member, Broyde Sharon is currently Co-Chairing for a third term a grassroots interfaith body called the  Southern California Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Los Angeles, where she’s known for initiating, innovating, and co-producing interfaith programs in Southern California, in the U.S. and abroad.

The book is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the author’s website , and shortly as an ebook.

Dalai Lama Speaks in Favor of Female Successor

The Dalai Lama, self-proclaimed feminist and Spiritual leader of Tibet, recently sat down with British journalist Cathy Newman. “I would be pleased if my successor was female,” the Dalai Lama said.

The Telegraph reports,

But the bigger problem is the Dalai Lama doesn’t get to choose who takes on his Buddhist baton. In fact, I also asked him if he could “do a Pope”, and quit when he gets too old and frail. The answer was no.

A new leader emerges after a search by the high lamas. Traditionally, they search for a child born around the same time as the current Dalai Lama dies. It can take several years, and involves looking out for a number of mysterious signs. They might have a dream about where thenext Dalai Lama comes from. Or if the current incumbent is cremated, the high lamas might watch which direction the smoke blows in, or go to a holy lake – Lhamo Lhatso – in central Tibet and watch for a sign from there.

But in theory, whereas Catholic women are categorically excluded from becoming Pope, Buddhism is rather more enlightened. The Buddha himself was the first religious founder after the Jains who allowed women into his order, and that was more than two and a half thousand years ago. In practice, though, women weren’t given the same opportunity to educate themselves as men, so the idea of a woman being installed as Dalai Lama was as notional as the sign from the lake.

April 24th, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Dalai Lama Taps American to Bridge East and West at Tibetan Monastery

Nicholas Vreeland, newly appointed abbot of Rato Monastery in Southern India.

by Kim Lawton
from The Washington Post

The Dalai Lama has given Nicholas Vreeland, director of The Tibet Center in New York, a daunting new assignment. On July 6, Vreeland will be enthroned as the new abbot of Rato Monastery in southern India, one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism. He will be the first Westerner to hold such a position.

In making the appointment, the Dalai Lama told Vreeland, “Your special duty (is) to bridge Tibetan tradition and (the) Western world.”

“His Holiness wishes to bring Western ideas into the Tibetan Buddhist monastic system, and that comes from his recognition that it is essential … that there be new air brought into these institutions,” Vreeland told the PBS program “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.”

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July 1st, 2012 at 10:55 am

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.

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Beastie Boys Co-Founder, Buddhism, and Islam

Photo of MCA of the Beastie Boys, who became a Buddhist, as well as a champion of mutual understanding between the US and Muslims. Photo from the Guardian

by Omid Safi
from Religion News Service (RNS)

If you are of a certain age (not gonna say it) and your impression of the Beastie Boys ends with “(You Gotta) Fight for the Right (to Party)”, “Sabotage”, or even “Intergalactic”, you might not have been keeping with the evolution of the Beastie Boys from hip-hop punks in the early 80’s to elder statesmen of the Hip-Hop world, converts to Buddhism, and defenders of the Tibetan cause.    Adam Yauch, also known as MCA, was one of the co-founders of Beastie Boys.

Born to a Catholic dad and a Jewish mother, MCA eventually found his spiritual home after meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the 1990’s.  This is how he expressed his own spiritual yearnings:

The feeling I get from the rinpoches and His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] and Tibetan people in general. The people that I’ve met are really centered in the heart; they’re coming from a real clear, compassionate place. And most of the teachings that I’ve read about almost seem set up to distract the other side of your brain in order to give your heart center a chance to open up. In terms of what I understand, Buddhism is like a manual to achieve enlightenment—there are these five things and these six things within the first thing, and all these little subdivisions. And despite all of that right-brain information, it’s very heart-centered. At least that’s the feeling I get from the Tibetans. Also the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism have been passed down for a long time now. They have that system pretty well figured out.

MCA’s passing away was mourned by none other than His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
Adam had helped us raise awareness on the plight of the Tibetan people by organizing various freedom Tibet concerts and he will be remembered by his holiness and the Tibetan people.

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Dalai Lama Wins Templeton Prize for Work on Science, Religion

by Chris Herlinger
from Religious News Service

The Dalai Lama is best known for his commitment to Tibetan autonomy from China and his message of spirituality, nonviolence and peace that has made him a best-selling author and a speaker who can pack entire arenas.

But somewhat under the radar screen, the Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel Prize laureate has also had an abiding interest in the intersection of science and religion.

That interest won Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, the 2012 Templeton Prize on Thursday (March 29), a $1.7 million award that is often described as the most prestigious award in religion.

The Dalai Lama is the highest-profile winner of an award that in recent years had been given to physicists and theologians not well known to the general public, but earlier had been given to the likes of evangelist Billy Graham and the late Mother Teresa.

“With an increasing reliance on technological advances to solve the world’s problems, humanity also seeks the reassurance that only a spiritual quest can answer,” said John M. Templeton, Jr., the president and chairman of the Pennsylvania-based John Templeton Foundation and the son of Sir John Templeton, who founded the prize in 1972.

“The Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion underpinned by a love and respect for spiritually relevant scientific research that centers on every single human being.”

For his part, the Dalai Lama, in a video statement released during a live webcast announcing the prize, struck a modest note. He said he was nothing more than “a simple Buddhist monk,” despite the 2012 Templeton or his 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

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