UDC’s Rev. Stephen Longfellow Fiske recently updated his website. He helps lead regular interfaith events in the Los Angeles area and plays music internationally at a variety of events. You can attend, follow along with what he’s up to, or check out his artistic accomplishments here.
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..
Peace in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. …Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.
—The Dalai Lama, Science and Spirituality, page 177
During the Culture of Peace Series, which began in January 2013 and ended in April 2014, the series started with Inner Peace and ended with Social Justice and Human Rights. This design was based on the Peace Wheel, which contains twelve sectors and four quadrants. Peace is at the center of the Wheel, which means that it necessarily contains an inner and an outer dimension.
Until recently, peace has tended to be only outer, and oftentimes it becomes caught in social issues where people hold polarizing points of view that then lead to hostility and sometimes violent clashes. Many examples could be given today where such opposite perspectives are leading toward misunderstanding and hostility. The idea of diplomatic solutions to these hostile positions is found to be difficult to achieve.
The Peace Wheel was designed with the idea of helping people to have a more holisitic understanding of life, which means that they are trained to meditate and thus to be more centered in their life outlook. Instead of reacting to first opinions and perspectives, they would evaluate both sides of an issue and seek to resolve any disputes through dialog and nonviolent decision-making.
The theme of the International Day of Peace this year is: People Have the Right to Peace. In particular, children have the right to grow up in a safe and respectful home, where they can be encouraged to respect others and to go on to a higher education, which is not likely to happen if they are forced to go out and earn money at an early age to help support their families.
The religions of the world generally have a moral and a spiritual aspect. While not all religions are based on a personal God, they usually proclaim a Universal Spirit, an Ultimate Reality, or a Life Force. A simplified form of a universal ethic is the Golden Rule proclaimed in some form by virtually all religions, which is Treat others as you would have others treat you.
One of the projects of UDC through its World Interfaith Network is that of developing A Global Code of Living. A global ethic would focus largely on the ethical side of the code, where a code of living would recognize both the moral and spiritual dimensions of conduct. The Golden Rule is a good place to start, but there is much more to say. If you are interested in being part of this project, please contact UDC.
Spirit is One; paths are many!!!
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For those who are hearers and not doers, they are like the ones who observe their natural faces in the mirror; they observe themselves and go away, at once forgetting what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers that act, they shall be blessed in their doings.
— James the Apostle, Science and Spirituality, p. 431
Religion contains both moral and spiritual dimensions. Those who want to substitute “spiritual” for “religious” have a tendency to leave out the horizontal dimension of morality, which connects us to all human beings and all life. Today we have many religions, and yet if in fact we tune into some form of Higher Power we often neglect to connect that Higher Power to living a moral life in the world. With all of the corruption in our society, and the great amount of misunderstanding and violence now present, we cannot afford just to live within a cocoon that keeps us from acting in line with our beliefs.
Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra have been doing a series of meditation experiences that help to link us with our deeper natures and help us to find personal and spiritual meaning for our lives. All this is good, and the language used seems to move beyond words that are apt to cause blockages in terms of being sectarian or tied to one religion. All this is most helpful. But neither should meditation be only about ourselves. We live in a world that needs our help, and part of the meaning of our lives should lead us to serve others and the world. We are challenged to find ways of serving that are in tune with the universality of the Life Force, called by any name or no name.
Beyond political parties and antagonistic points of view there is that Essence that unites and helps to remind us that we are part of that Wholeness which is the Life Force itself. Our living of a nonviolent life is one of the major challenges of our time, and we need to be able to apply that attitude at many levels as we live our daily existence, and in particular when we are faced with those who have a different point of view than we do.
The Peace Wheel that the Unity-and-Diversity World Council has developed contains twelve different sectors that show the many different interests and fields that make up our society. In the midst of the Oneness of the Spirit, there is the manyness of everyday life in which we are all involved. In a democracy we are called upon to live in both worlds and to encourage others to do the same. Together we can find our way through the maze of the modern world and the coming of the global civilization.
Spirit is One; paths are many!!!