CONNECTING THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND INTERFAITH MOVEMENTS

The environmental and interfaith movements are both large and very much growing.  They do need to listen to each other and to be connecting with each other.  The question is how to bring this condition about without either being diluted and therefore less effective.  My impression so far is that both movements are less effective in their efforts to connect with each other than they could be.  This tendency needs to be overcome if the interrelationship is to be truly productive..

The Unity-and-Diversity World Council has developed a Peace Wheel which sees Peace at the center, with twelve sectors and four quadrants, three sectors being in each quadrant.  The environment is one of these sectors, and interfaith is another sector.  In addition there are a total of twelve sectors, which means that education, media and the arts, science and technology, and a number of other dimensions of life need to be included if we are to have peace.  It is not enough to have any two fields interact with each other if we are to develop an all-inclusive worldview.  Instead, we need to include all aspects of life within our consideration.
To do this requires a unity-and-diversity approach.  To accomplish this challenging task, it is important to provide time for each sector to have time to develop its perspective.  Each sector may well have several different dimensions within itself, and these dimensions need to be given recognition within the sector.  Once the sectors have each developed their sense of relationship, then a convergence process will start bringing them together.  If time permits, there should be at least two levels of convergence: from sectors to quadrants and then to the total group.  In this convergence process, one begins to build understanding and relationships, hopefully resulting in greater understanding and a sense of the wholeness of the different areas to which participants are exposed.
What needs to be experienced in common is the sense of global community based on a common set of values, what we have generally called a Global Code of Living.  Albert Schweitzer described this growing awareness as that every civilization needs to have a common ethic to hold it together. The global civilization is what is ahead of us, and it is time that we developed such a global ethic.  In the light of a global code of living, which includes ethics and spirituality, we can then proceed  with the various dimensions of the civilization that is unfolding.  This is the task that lies ahead of  us in the days and years to come.
                                        Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

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!

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF MORAL AND SPIRITUAL VALUES

~by Leland Stewart

May we experience each of (the Declaration’s) dimensions of our total being and discover their interrelationships. 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.

  Concluding paragraph of the Declaration, World Scriptures 2, p. 136

For more than a year the World Interfaith Network of Los Angeles has been exploring various teachings that might be included in a global code of living.  Now that the Unity-and-Diversity World Council has entered into its 50thanniversary, the Interfaith Network has chosen to begin the outreach phase using some appropriate code of living.

The core group of the Unity-and-Diversity Fellowship some years ago put together such a code, and it is published inWorld Scriptures, Vol. 2.  It includes the Universal Declaration of Moral and Spiritual Values, an Expansion on These Guidelines, and a set of Twelve Universal Avoidances.  These are all part of the effort to provide the different aspects of a global code of living.  The code itself was based on the research done by Prof. Charles Morris at the University of Chicago and later at Harvard University.  I had the privilege of studying with Prof. Morris at Harvard and have adapted his work to the code of living.

In beginning to outreach with the Universal Declaration of Moral and Spiritual Values, we will undoubtedly find that some parts of it will change, including possibly the title.  We will need to make sure that any changes are an improvement in the document, but we should not be insistent on keeping everything the same.  The goal needs to be to create a code of living that meets human needs.  The absence of such grounding at this time makes it difficult to know what values are essential for establishing the global civilization.

In 1993, at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, a Global Ethic was introduced and discussed by many of the faith’s leaders.  No changes were allowed at that time.  Perhaps no changes have been allowed since then.  A book has been written based on the Global Ethic, and an organization has been formed to continue the work.  What was created was not a Global Code of Living but rather a much longer document which focused particularly on the ethical aspect of the code.  A Global Code of Living needs to cover both the ethical and the spiritual dimensions.  The idea of God needs to be part of the code, with an understanding of this spiritual reality that people can accept.  There could be many different names, or perhaps for some people it could be nameless.

You are cordially invited to get a copy of the Universal Declaration of Moral and Spiritual Values and read it thoroughly.  Your comments and suggestions are welcome, and you are invited to help with this process in whatever way you can.  Together we can assist the process of providing a more stable base for the conduct of individuals, groups, and networks in the emerging global civilization.

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

THE IMPORTANCE OF RESPECT

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people.  A nation does not have to be cruel in order to be tough.

– Franklin Roosevelt, qtd. in Science and Spirituality, page 160

The violent events that took place in Paris in the last few days bring up two principles that seem to be in conflict with each other.  One is freedom of speech, and the other is the need to avoid violence.  A magazine in Paris prided itself on its satirizing of important matters: in this case the person of Islam’s prophet Mohammed.  Instead of treating him as the revered figure he is for millions of Muslims, he was belittled and made light of.

The contrast was that religions are supposed to be nonviolent and respectful of different opinions.  It is well known that Muslims are very sensitive about how their religious leader is treated.  The magazine did not take that into account in its pages.  While one can say that the principle of free speech would allow different opinions to be aired, it is not respectful to downgrade any individual, and especially the head of a religion who is held in high esteem by millions of people.

These two contrasting principles came into conflict in Paris because of the way in which the magazine pushed the limits of free speech.  The result was a violent confrontation that resulted in the death of a number of people and the unsettling of a major city and its surrounding communities.

One of the most needed attitudes in order to have a world at peace is respect.  The world’s religions generally teach respect as one of their most important values.  In the present period of transition, this sacred value and others have found themselves ignored, with other lesser values take their place.  The situation in Paris is a good illustration as to what can happen when the basic human values, which are supposed to be taught and followed by religions, are not kept in the consciousness of the world’s peoples.

Perhaps the simplest way of teaching this principle so that it is remembered and applied is The Golden Rule, which now is most quoted as “Treat others as you would have them treat you”.  UDC’s Interfaith Celebration in the Los Angeles area has been focusing for the last year on developing a Global Code of Living.  Now that we have entered 2015, which is UDC’s 50thanniversary, we are moving into applying the teachings of a Global Code of Living.  We invite those who are concerned about having such a code of living as guidelines for our present and future ways to live are invited to join us in this effort.

Spirit is One; paths are many!

~Rev. Leland Stewart