THE SACREDNESS OF THE FAMILY: A New Look at Father’s Day

By Rev. Leland Stewart
Once again in our full calendar year, there is no special day for family, as important as family is to the success of our civilization as a whole.  Carle Zimmerman, one of the most outstanding family sociologists of the recent past, author of Family and Civilization, said that there is an important parallel between the success of the family and the success of the civilization as a whole.

It is interesting that we have a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day but no Family Day.  Is it any wonder that families are having such a struggle staying together and supporting the children they bring into the world?  We have yet to fully comprehend the importance of the family, and that mothers, fathers, and children are all part of the family unit.  We also do not have an official Children’s Day either, even though some religious groups have taken on that task.

If we take on two out of three parts of a unit, namely the family, and do not look at the unit as a total entity, we fail to give the proper recognition to the family unit as a whole.  For many years now I have spoken out on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day about the family and its importance as a unit.  I am waiting, but not so patiently, for the establishment of Family Day as a separate day in our yearly calendar.  How long must we wait for Family Day to be established?

If we had a Family Day, we really would not need to have a separate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, because they would be included in Family Day.  Then we could give time within Family Day to fathers, mothers, and children.  Granted that there are many different types of families, but many of the same rules apply.  We need to show respect for each other, to listen to each other, and to provide occasions when as many as possible of the family get together during the year.  If that is not possible person-to-person, then it can be arranged by phone or skype.

If families are working well, there will usually be time that can be devoted to community, nation, and world.  If families are not working well, then most or all of the time available will need to be devoted to struggling to maintain the family or to suffer from its loss.  Today’s families have a rather small percentage of success, so they deserve our attention and our help to be maintained.  If a family is not working well, then the best solution may be to dissolve that family and perhaps create one that does work better.

Let’s give some time during this year and until our next Mother’s and Father’s Day to emphasizing the family and its importance.  One way to do that would be to have a meal together that included all available family members.  Or perhaps the family could go on a trip together or watch a movie together.  There are many ways in which a family can show its solidarity.  A good friend of mine has a son who married an Israeli woman, and they now are living in Israel and have two sons.  My friend has established a project that encourages him to go to Israel periodically, and it turns out that his son is involved in the project.

Let us celebrate this Father’s Day with the wide vision of the family as a whole.  What are we doing to help sustain our family?  What could we be doing that would be helpful in that direction?

May peace prevail on earth!!!

MOTHER’S DAY THOUGHTS FOR PEACE

By Leland Stewart

Today is a special day that occurs once a year, and our world situation requires that we give Mother’s Day a unique character based upon the time in which we find ourselves.

It is clear that there is a rise in the place of women in world affairs, which is brought about by the need for balance between the contributions of men as more aggressive and head-centered approaches, to the more heart-centered contributions of women.  This is particularly true of mothers, who are given the responsibility of caring for children.

My calling at this time is for all women, but especially mothers, to come forth with their heart-centered capability and help transform the world into a caring society, one which transcends war and violence in favor of peace and harmony among all peoples.  The world has much to learn about how to live harmoniously, and the time has come for this learning to take place.  We need to respect each other and to listen to each other’s thoughts and prayers.  We are one global community, and we need to act as a responsible community of people who care for each other and know we are being called upon to come together as one global society.

Whenever I think about Mother’s Day, I immediately think of the importance of the family, in which mothers, fathers, and children need to become one unit that respects each other and acts accordingly.  We have Mother’s Day, and we have Father’s Day, but the unit is the family, and both the mother and the father need to play their part in raising a family.  It is time that we established Family Day and paid more attention to seeing the relationship between mother and father, and of course children as well.

As a Unity-and-Diversity World Council, we need to put our focus on the balance of mothers, fathers, and children.  They are a unit, and within that unit is a great diversity of age and perspective.  It is our opportunity at this time to put our attention on harmonizing these different perspectives.  While there are many different types of families, there are some basic values that are common between them.  Most of all, each member of the family needs to respect the other members and respond to their concerns.

A family is a unit when each of the members of that family does listen to the views of the other members and acts accordingly.  The diversity consists of the different perspectives of the various members of the family, whereas the unity is the cooperative spirit that arises when each of the family members respects the others and acts accordingly.  The family is the most intense unit in our society because of the closeness of the members’ interactions, so it requires a special effort to listen carefully and respond to meeting the needs expressed.

On this Mother’s Day, may we become more conscious of our families and the effort it takes to keeps them functioning as a total body.  May that consciousness grow with each day in the future.

OUT OF THE MANY, ONE!

“The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music. where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord.” ~ Baha’i Faith, Science and Spirituality, page 192

The birth and development of democracy in the United States of America was centered around two key phrases: “E pluribus unum” and “In God we trust”.  “E pluribus unum” is the Latin version of “Out of the many, one”.  It is on many of our coins and bills, and it is a phrase that bears bringing into consciousness and applying in our lives.  Democracy is built upon the idea that many peoples of different races, cultures, and religions can come together and become one diverse society.  The notion of a Muslim ban, or building a wall to keep Latinos out, is very much the opposite of what this country is supposed to be about.

Now is an excellent time to go back to our roots and rediscover who we are as a society and what are supposed to be our central values.  Democracy is no longer just for this country but is increasingly what the world is discovering and putting into practice.  The United Nations is a product of this emerging awareness applied to the world as a whole.  We as a nation need to give the proper place to the United Nations and let it take on the role of applying democracy to the nations of the world.

Riane Eisler has two books that develop this idea in terms of dominator vs. partnership as a way of being.  Democracy is a partnership model, and the more we can make a place for every race, culture, and religion, the more we will be actualizing the potential of democracy.  Her book The Power of Partnership spells out in great detail the role of cooperation and mutual respect as a basis of modern society.  Her second book, The Real Wealth of Nations, develops the idea further as it relates to what she calls caring economics and the importance of partnership in global society.

In terms of the second phrase as applied to democracy, the notion of “In God we trust” deserves some serious attention.  What is God that can be applied to everyone in our democracy?  God is not just a theological concept that one can easily disregard while in search for life’s meaning.  God is the One in relation to the many, the unifying factor in the midst of the diversity of race, culture, and religion.  It is the center of the circle of life, the central purpose of meditation and inner awakening.  It is time to begin or resume our quest for God (Spirit, Oneness, Ultimate Reality – called by any name or no name).  It is no longer adequate to dismiss that Infinite Beingness as if we had gone beyond where it is of any value to us.  When we do that, we are simply limiting our vision as to what life is all about.

We are living in the presence of an exciting experiment to discover the infinite depth of understanding that will enrich our life.  That search is never ending.  We cannot go beyond it; we can only further awaken to its beauty and richness of value.  In this time of great challenge in the world around us, it is an especially important time to go within and find the peace and sense of meaning that will help us to be more healthy and to live a longer and more fruitful life.

Spirit is One; paths are many!

AN APPROACH TO THE NEW WORLD

     “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.”                      ~~~Jelauddin Rumi, Science and Spirituality, page 188

 

In our modern search for meaning, we need to provide for our work in the world and also for that which is beyond the everyday work.  Rumi touches on this aspect of life in the above quote, which is so well known.  It is the place of wholeness, of spirit, of transcendence.  Living life in that consciousness is what makes it worth living.

There are many possible names for this state of being, but the idea is the same regardless of the name.  Some call it being with God, while others see it more as an energy that fills our lives with transcendent meaning.  It gives us something special to live for, an ongoing cause to devote ourselves to.  Those who have that something as a reason for living usually live longer and healthier lives, while those who do not have it tend to die longer and be less healthy.

___0___
x  l  —

In the above diagram, this rather simple expression has a profound meaning.

The plus and minus symbolize the everyday world of living and acting.  It is the world that we live in most of the time.  On the other hand, above the line is that which transcends the everyday world and enters the spiritual world which is beyond time and space, right and wrong, better and worse.  It is the world that Rumi is talking about.

Those who discover that world and choose to live in it are the ones whose lives are constantly filled with meaning.  Victor Frankl lived a long time in a concentration camp and survived, while many others who went through the same experience passed away.

I call the life which combines living in the everyday world and also going beyond that state as a theology for the new world.  It can also be called by different names, such as living a life of meaning.  In that state every moment of our lives is purposeful and joyous, regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

The life of someone who has discovered that spiritual state of being is likely to go through a major change of direction.  When that change took place in my life, my parents could no longer understand me or share my awareness.  I had previously been earning my living in engineering, whereas afterward I left that field and began studying for the ministry at Harvard Divinity School and writing the book entitled World Scriptures.  My life has never been the same since then.

If you are seeking a life of meaning and of greater health and longevity, you will find it in discovering why you are on this earth at this time.  If you follow that direction, then you will find happiness as you fulfill that dream wherever it might lead you.

Spirit is One; paths are many!

PEACE SUNDAY! Interfaith and Community Peace Event for LA area

Date:     Sunday, September 18, 2016, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Venue:    IMAN Cultural Center, 3376 Motor Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034

Theme:   SUSTAINABILITY: Positive Local-to-Global: Transformations at Every Level

In these tumultuous times, Peace Sunday is an opportunity for peace-loving people to come together and stand in solidarity in the spirit of Peace.

Established in 1982 at the Rosebowl, Peace Sunday has continued annually through the efforts of Unity & Diversity World Council.

Last year Peace Sunday was hosted at Agape and this year, the event will be held at the IMAN Center in Palms (3376 Motor Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034),

The day begins with an Interfaith Service at 10am, followed by a Persian lunch at a cost of $6 per person. From 1-2.30pm, there will be various workshops dealing with issues pertaining to peace building. From 3.30 – 5.30pm is the main program featuring speakers and performers.

 

Schedule for Peace Sunday:

10 a.m. – 12 noon = Interfaith Service (faith leaders and interested individuals are cordially invited to participate).

12-1 p.m. Luncheon (reservations needed; call or email UDC).

1-3 p.m. Workshops based on Peace Wheel (choose one and participate).

3:30-5:30 p.m.  Final program.

THE FUJI DECLARATION

Igniting the Divine Spark in the Spirit of Humanity

for a Civilization of Oneness with Diversity on Planet Earth

 

A new phase in the evolution of human civilization is on the horizon. With deepening states of crisis bringing unrest to all parts of the world, there is a growing need for change in our ways of thinking and acting.  We now have the choice of either spiraling into deepening peril, or breaking through to a world of dignity and wellbeing for all.

Throughout its history, humanity has been guided primarily by a material consciousness.  Fearing scarcity, we have continued to pursue material gain beyond necessity, taking from others and depleting the Earth’s natural resources.  If our aspirations continue to focus only on what is material and finite, our world will face inevitable destruction.

 

What is our true nature?

In order to make more enlightened choices and change the course of our history, we need to return to the basic question concerning human life.  Each and every one of us must ask, What is our true nature?” and seek a meaningful and responsible answer.

The great spiritual traditions of the world have always been telling us that, at its root, human life is inextricably linked to its universal source.  Today, the latest advances in the physical and life sciences reaffirm this perennial insight.  When we rediscover our connections to nature and the cosmos, we can re-align our life with the universal movement toward oneness and harmony in and through diversity.  We can restore the divine spark in the human spirit and bring forth our innate love, compassion, wisdom, and joy to live a flourishing life.  The time has come for every one of us to awaken the divine spirit that resides in our heart.

 

What is the purpose of our existence?

We have been born at a critical juncture in history, in a world in transition, where it is possible to guide the advancement of humankind toward peace on Earth.  Living peace and enabling peace to prevail on Earth is the ultimate purpose for all of us.  We can and must embrace it in every sphere of our existence.

By living consciously and responsibly, we can draw upon our inherent freedom and power to shape our destiny and the destiny of humankind.  Our task is to collaboratively create a world in which every individual gives expression to his or her highest self, in service to the human family and the whole web of life on the planet

Toward a new civilization

 

It is imperative to bring together individuals from diverse fields – scientists, artists, politicians, business leaders, and others – to create a solid multidimensional foundation for catalyzing a timely shift in the course of history.  The time has come for all people to become courageous pioneers – to venture beyond their personal, cultural, and national interests and beyond the boundaries of their discipline, and to come together in wisdom, spirit, and intention for the benefit of all people in the human family.  By so doing, we can overcome the hold of obsolete ideas and outdated behaviors in today’s unsustainable world and design a more harmonious and flourishing civilization for the coming generations.

 

The paradigm of the new civilization

The paradigm of the new civilization is a culture of oneness with respect for diversity.  Just as the myriad cells and diverse organs of our body are interconnected by their oneness and work together in harmony for the purpose of sustaining our life, so each and every living thing is an intrinsic part of the larger symphony of life on this planet.  With the conscious recognition that we are a part of a living universe consisting of great diversity yet embracing unity, we will co-evolve with one another and with nature through a network of constructive and coherent relationships.

 

The Fuji Declaration

As individuals responsible for the future of life on Earth, we hereby declare:

Affirming the Light of Consciousness Within All Beings

We affirm the divine spark in the heart and mind of every human being and intend to live by its light in every sphere of our existence.

Commitment to Creating Lasting Peace on Earth

We commit ourselves to fulfilling our shared mission of creating lasting peace on Earth through our ways of living and acting.

Intention to Live and Act in Behalf of all Life

We intend to live and act so as to enhance the quality of life and the well-being of all forms of life on the planet, recognizing that all living things in all their diversity are interconnected and are one.

Freeing the Human Spirit for Deep Creativity

We will continually strive to free the human spirit for deep creativity, and to nurture the transformation necessary to forge a new paradigm in all spheres of human activity, including economics, science, medicine, politics, business, education, religion, the arts, communications and the media.

Mission to Advance a Harmonious Human Civilization

We shall make it our mission to design, communicate and implement a more spiritual and harmonious civilization – a civilization that enables humankind to realize its inherent potential and advance to the next stage of its material, spiritual, and cultural evolution.

 

Copyright 2015 The Fuji Declaration

http://www.fujideclaration.org

 

SERVING OUR COUNTRY AND THE WORLD

-by Rev. Leland Stewart

“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.  Help someone’s soul to heal.  Walk out of your house like a shepherd.”

  • Jelaluddin Rumi, Science and Spirituality, page 183

 

This is Memorial Day Weekend.  It is a time our country honors its veterans of military service.  It is appropriate that people who have served the United States in this way be honored.

The problem is that we are now in a state of perpetual war.  One warlike action leads to another, and at this point it appears that the process is never ending.  At some time soon we must take a different direction in order to save lives and to discover that there is a better way to live.

I have always felt that I had a mission in life that I must devote myself to fulfilling.  It was and is a mission of nonviolence, of service at a moral and spiritual level.  I could not risk going into the military service and possibly being killed in the process, because then I could not fulfill my sacred mission.

My reasons for not going into the military service were as follows:  I was 4F, which means that I was not physically fit, although at first the recruiters were going to pass me through the tests without reservation; I was 4D, which was because I was studying for the ministry at the time; and I was 1AO, which is a conscientious objector.

Conscientious objectors oppose war and their participation in it.  For me, I had another way of serving my country and the world.  Because I did not yield to going into the military service, I was able to continue with my mission from then until this day.  My mission is moving forward in increasingly important ways, but it is far from being completed.  I trust that it will continue to motivate my life until my dying way, which I hope will be numerous years into the future.  I am blessed to be able to be fulfilling my mission, and it is most of all because of the heightened energy that commitment gives me that provides energy and longevity to my life.

I would like at this time to call on others who have a similar commitment in their lives to begin working together and to devote themselves to ending war and violence at home and around the world.  This is a huge task, but the more people who have this mission, the sooner war will end and the future made more secure.

President Obama has just been in Japan and has pledged to working for the elimination of nuclear weapons.  At the same time, the United States is in the process of updating its nuclear weapons at the cost of billions of dollars.  Would we not be better off to work with the nations of the world to mutually agree to eliminate these weapons altogether?

May peace prevail on earth!

DEVELOPING A GLOBAL CODE OF LIVING

The Los Angeles Interfaith Network, an activity of UDC, spent a number of months developing a Global Code of Living within the last couple of years.  The project is not completed, but it appears that the time for enlarging the number of individuals and groups seeking to participate in and complete the project has now come.  The urgency has become even more crucial with the national Presidential campaign and the ethical and spiritual issues which it is raising.

Below are both the Global Code of Living and Twelve Universal Avoidances for your consideration.  If you would like to be part of this project, please respond by email or phone, so that you can be included in helping to make the final decision before we start to use these two documents.

 

A GLOBAL CODE OF LIVING

When we seek fulfillment in our lives by following a particular path, so that we may realize our total potential, and if we can relate to the many other paths, we should be able to find a place for the following twelve guidelines:

 

(1)           Be in touch with the Spirit of All Life, called by any name or no name.

(2)           Practice meditation, contemplation, and/or prayer.

(3)           Show all-embracing love toward all beings.

(4)       Experience the true nature of our self and our universe.

(5)           Cultivate truth, respect, and gratitude.

(6)          Live simply and harmoniously with our whole self.

(7)       Use our energy for vigorous and constructive activity.

(8)           Rejoice in our connection with all human beings and all life.

(9)    Strive for peaceful family and community development.

(10)             Get involved in improving the world’s condition.

(11)              Preserve the best of our universal heritage.

(12)             Take heart and act upon our ideals.

 

May we experience each of these dimensions of our total being and discover their interconnections.  At the same time, we ask to become a responsible participant in the emerging global civilization based on the dynamic integration of diversity among all peoples and all life.

 

TWELVE UNIVERSAL AVOIDANCES

A Global Code of Living is an affirmative declaration of principles to live by in the unity-and-diversity global civilization now emerging.  However, while we are affirming what to do, it is also important to state what types of conduct are essential to avoid in order to clear the way for what is possible.  Below are twelve such avoidances:

Those who seek to be fulfilled individuals will resolve to avoid the following temptations;

(1)  Living as if no Higher Power exists.

(2)  Needlessly killing any living creature.

(3)  Committing adultery.

(4)  Taking what is not ours.

(5)  Telling lies.

(6)  Gambling, overeating, or hoarding material goods.

(7)  Being prejudiced against any ethnicity, culture, or religion

(8)  Hating another person or form of life.

(9)  Living in fear and anger.

(10) Damaging or destroying property

(11) Smoking, drinking excess alcohol, or using other drugs

(12) Doing anything which keeps the energy of the Higher Power from expressing itself in every aspect of our life!