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Parliament Women’s Task Force Announces Tibet House Partnership Presenting Multi-Religious Speaker Series

The Parliament of the World’s Religions Women’s Task Force is excited to announce its participation in the Multi-Religious Speakers Series on the Sacred Feminine and the Vital Nexus of Religion and Women’s Issues organized in partnership with the highly esteemed Tibet House in New York City.

Program speakers featured in the series will be accessible to women around the world through the Parliament Webinar Series later in 2014.

The series will premiere with Ukranian spiritual teacher Nadia Reznikov hosting an advanced Tantric and Shamanic workshop for women at Tibet House April 4 and 11.

More information on the Tibet House schedule and how to register for the premiere event is available here. 

Nadia Reznikova

Nadiia Reznikova or Nabhasvati (“Shining”) is an extraordinary spiritual practitioner and teacher from the Ukraine who is making her first appearance in the United States at Tibet House. She has developed a system of tantric, shamanic, and psychotherapeutic practices for women which can produce immediate and dramatic improvements in emotional balance, joy, relationships, physical health, and inner and outer beauty. The practices are designed to naturally and powerfully elevate mood and energy state, enabling even new students to manifest desired changes within, as well as in their relationships and environment. These simple, daily practices have been proven effective tools of spiritual transformation for women of all walks of life and in all areas of life. Her shakti energy has been found to be directly transformative by many, and at the same time Nadiia teaches daily practices which may be done by students on their own.

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 Surprising–and Continuing–Influence of Swami Vivekananda

The swami Vivekananda, the Bengali monk who brought yoga to the United States, meditating in London, in 1896. Courtesy of the Vedanta Society

by A. L. Bardach
from the Wall Street Journal

By the late 1960s, the most famous writer in America had become a recluse, having forsaken his dazzling career. Nevertheless, J.D. Salinger often came to Manhattan, staying at his parents’ sprawling apartment on Park Avenue and 91st Street. While he no longer visited with his editors at “The New Yorker,” he was keen to spend time with his spiritual teacher, Swami Nikhilananda, the founder of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, located, then as now, in a townhouse just three blocks away, at 17 East 94th Street.

Though the iconic author of “The Catcher in the Rye” and “Franny and Zooey” published his last story in 1965, he did not stop writing. From the early 1950s onward, he maintained a lively correspondence with several Vedanta monks and fellow devotees.

After all, the central, guiding light of Salinger’s spiritual quest was the teachings of Vivekananda, the Calcutta-born monk who popularized Vedanta and yoga in the West at the end of the 19th century.

These days yoga is offered up in classes and studios that have become as ubiquitous as Starbucks. Vivekananda would have been puzzled, if not somewhat alarmed. “As soon as I think of myself as a little body,” he warned, “I want to preserve it, protect it, to keep it nice, at the expense of other bodies. Then you and I become separate.” For Vivekananda, who established the first ever Vedanta Center, in Manhattan in 1896, yoga meant just one thing: “the realization of God.”

Click here to read the full article.

Muslim Students Have a Right to Privacy

By Erica Shaps
From Huffington Post

When I was on a Brandeis University Hillel first year retreat, it never crossed my mind that the police might be watching me. It sounds silly and irrational. However, after the Associated Press disclosed a New York Police Department (NYPD) program monitoring and investigating college students involved with Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) last week, this worry is entirely legitimate, especially for my Muslim peers across the Northeast.

I am a Jewish undergraduate born in the Chicago area attending college in Boston. Why does this matter to me?

I think about how much I cherish my campus’ religious diversity. I recall the distrust directed at the Jewish community historically and feel obligated to speak out. As a student involved with religious life on campus, when I read about the NYPD’s surveillance program I can’t help but feel violated.

I was most appalled while reading that an undercover officer joined City College of New York Muslim Students on a rafting trip, wrote down their names and recorded how many times a day they prayed. On my retreat two years ago, I prayed three times a day. Does this make me more threatening? If I were Muslim and not Jewish, would my name be on a list filed with my local police department? My ability to send e-mails to the Hillel listserv without concern that someone may be reading them feels like a luxury.

It is particularly upsetting that these secret investigations happen on college campuses. Call me idealistic, but I see the university as hallowed ground: a unique space for young adults from incredibly diverse backgrounds to form a community around the shared values of education and open-mindedness. Two weeks ago, Brandeis Hillel and MSA hosted their second annual joint Shabbat dinner and Friday evening program. We exchanged stories and traditions and built relationships over shared food. This event, in direct contrast to the suspicion caused by excessive monitoring, represents the epitome of American values and academic ideals.

Yes, the NYPD has legitimate security concerns and a right to investigate potential threats. However, a broad surveillance of university MSAs, including those outside of New York, is excessive and unwarranted. Justice Louis Brandeis, my university’s namesake, was a firm believer in the right to privacy. He was among the first to provide a legal framework for this concept in his landmark dissenting opinion in Olmstead v. United States.

Click here to read the full article

I Was Wrong About Occupy

The movement does need public space

by Donna Schaper
from Religion Dispatches

Last week I argued in these pages that the Occupy movement might be diverted by its focus on getting physical outdoor space. I felt that the movement had gone viral—we were everywhere, and didn’t need a particular space any more. I was wrong.

We do need physical outdoor space. Trinity Church in Manhattan, sometimes meanly—and unfairly—referred to as a real estate corporation with an altar, could even give it. They own an empty downtown space at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street that is gated (providing security for occupiers) and accessible to public transportation so that allies, visitors, and media could join them. I really thought this demand was a sideshow until Thursday. Then I changed my mind.

That morning a dozen occupiers addressed forty or so clergy. We clergy were all somewhat skeptical of the demand for public space. You could hear the ministerial, rabbinical hrumph,hrumph in the room. (Most of us had never occupied Zucotti Park and a downward trend in temperature wasn’t going to improve on that.) But the occupiers edged toward the theological as they articulated a need for communal, inspirational, face-to-face contact in which they could “appear” to one another.

Secondly, they talked about the nearly complete privatization of municipal public space in a way that made a deep and tragic sense. Where can you go if you don’t own something? Does a public even exist if it has no space? The great irony is that they have been called the virtual demonstration, and here they were talking about old-fashioned, in-person, human interaction.

Third, they talked about the increasing surveillance of most space, private or public—the self-surveillance on Facebook, the constant camera, and the ask-no-questions “security” cordons. They reminded me of one of my first posts on this whole matter: we no longer march and the police pen us for “our own good.” What nonsense. A completely nonviolent movement does not need to be penned up for its own good.

And finally, they spoke of a new monasticism, in which people have given up everything to jump to a future they can only imagine. In the most recent newsletter posted by Occupy Theory [as of this posting, the site is down Eds.], occupiers describe how sad they were about their lives, both present and future, until they found each other. If you were worried about “young people today” before, you will be terrified after you read about the emptiness, the bought-and-soldness, the futility, the lack of any place to be or person to be.

Click here to read the full article

Out of the Shadows of 9/11

Auburn Seminary, Millennials, Moral Vision, and Movement-Building

by Valarie Kaur

“We need to have an ‘American spring’… nonviolent change where people from the grassroots get involved again.”  – Former Vice President Al Gore, August 2011

We’re hungry for a movement. Faith and moral communities around the globe are tired of politics that maintain the status quo. Here in the U.S., a rising generation is finding brave new ways to channel moral vision into action: we’re marching in the streets for immigration reform, holding the banner of marriage equality, pushing back on anti-Muslim rhetoric, and demanding an end to partisan politics.

But we’re not being heard. A small segment of the American population still holds the monopoly over ‘morality’ on the airwaves and in the halls of power.  As we near the end of the 9/11 decade, these voices continue to dominate public discourse and proclaim the language of faith for restrictive political agendas, stripping the dignity of immigrants, denigrating LGBT people, and fueling anti-Muslim ideologies.

The moment is ripe for people from across faith and moral communities to take action.  This ten-year anniversary of 9/11, our congregations and communities are holding vigils, walks, hearings, screenings, and community service projects that stand for compassion, renewal, and religious diversity in all 50 states.  What would happen if we connected the dots and saw ourselves as part of one movement?  What would happen if we announced ourselves as part of a groundswell of people across faiths and beliefs committed to heal and repair the world?

We could form the beginning of a new multifaith movement for justice.

I’m part of a multifaith coalition, based out of Auburn Seminary in New York City but extending across the country, working to inspire a groundswell of community this ten-year anniversary of 9/11.  We’re chronicling, connecting, and resourcing events across the U.S. that bring people together in healing and hope.  We’re inviting people to sponsor Ribbons of Hope to New York City, which we will weave into a diverse tapestry that represents the groundswell.  And we are mobilizing a multifaith network to surge into national and local media to eclipse anti-Muslim rhetoric and ideologies – now and through the 2012 election.

We believe that the end of the 9/11 decade marks the rise of a new generation ready for meaningful change. The Millennial generation, young people born roughly in the 1980s and 1990s, belong to the most open and diverse generation the country has seen. We form real and virtual communities that transcend old divides: right and left, black and white, religious and secular At the same time, we have come of age in the shadow of major crises: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the threat of climate change, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a punishing economic recession. Many of us mobilized to elect President Barack Obama but widespread disillusionment with the political process has since set in.  We want a movement that’s not about a political identity, particular tradition, but a shared moral vision for a better world.

We don’t need to wait for this moral center to emerge.  Thousands of faith and moral communities across the U.S. are already working from a sense of moral calling that has nothing to do with politics – alleviating poverty, protecting immigrants, and facilitating multifaith cooperation this 9/11 anniversary for example.  They’re just working alone.  The light of social justice flickers in brave corners but fizzles in isolation.  To achieve meaningful change in a networked society, we must shine that light in a bold constellation.

With the rise of a new generation, innovations in online organizing, and widespread hunger to respond to social challenges as interconnected, we can build a movement of faith and moral communities networked for change in the run-up to the 2012 election.  Together, we offer a brand new voice in the political system – faith and moral communities willing to transcend old divides, organize around shared moral imperatives, and take action on urgent social causes.  America needs this voice, now more than ever, to come from outside Washington, rather than from within it.  We just need to proclaim our voice as one, starting now. Join the groundswell.

Valarie Kaurdirector of Groundswell, is an award-winning filmmaker (Divided We Fall, 2008), Harvard-trained theologian, and social justice advocate.  She studies at Yale Law School, where she teaches visual advocacy as director of the Yale Visual Law Project.  Housed at Auburn SeminaryGroundswell is a new multifaith social action network that generates the moral force around urgent social causes.

Want to learn more?  Auburn Seminary will host a special teach-in “Out of the Shadows of 9/11: Millennials, Moral Vision, and the Global Groundswell” with thought leaders, including Valarie Kaur, on September 6th at 7pm in New York City.  Click here to RSVP or to watch live streaming.

Join the groundswell.  Send a Ribbon of Hope to Ground Zero on 9/11/11.

 

My Take: Burial at sea shows compassion of Islamic law

By Khalid Latif
From CNN

I was sitting in a KFC in Brooklyn on Sunday night (halal for those who are worried) with two of my students when my phone started to buzz like crazy as friends, colleagues and family let me know that Osama bin Laden was dead.

As we drove back to Manhattan, President Obama began his address and we watched it on an iPhone and played the audio from 1010 WINS-AM radio.

The students then went to their dorm, and I drove around Manhattan. I found groups gathering here and there, including a larger one in Times Square, but I made sure to make downtown my final destination. I knew I would find something there that my eyes had wanted to see for a long time.

I was 18 years old when the 9/11 attacks were carried out against us. Since that time I have stood at the Ground Zero site as a student, as an NYPD chaplain, as a New York Muslim leader, but all the while as a New Yorker.

I’ve stood there at times when the streets are full as well as times when they are completely empty. I’ve seen people cry there, people argue and fight, but last night was the first time that my eyes have seen so many people come and stand together, regardless of their differences.

Click here to read the full article

May 3rd, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Prayers for Japan Reflect City’s Diversity

Interfaith Time of Reflection for Japan, New York Cityfrom the New York Times

First came the Muslim imam, singing an Arabic prayer in an undulating melody. Next came the rabbi, chanting in Hebrew, followed by the Hindu leader praying in Sanskrit, the Christian in English, the Sikh in Punjabi and the Buddhist in Japanese.

One by one, they stood in the chancel of Riverside Church on the Upper West Side on Sunday evening and beseeched the heavens for support of the victims and survivors of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

For all the city’s ethnic diversity, there are surprisingly few occasions, outside of subway cars and rush-hour sidewalks, when the population truly blends in a common pursuit. The service on Sunday — called Interfaith Time of Reflection for Japan — was one of those moments.

Click here to read the full article