We live in a time of great change and challenge. The only way that we are going to be able to move through this time of transition is to awaken to a new vision that allows us to relate to the emerging global community, the community of all races, cultures, and religions.
The challenge of this time of transition has produced an ever-increasing amount of interaction among the faiths of the world, and numerous programs have resulted. All of this activity is necessary and healthy. However, it is important to know that dialog among faiths is not the same as producing a spiritual awakening. Dialog is important, yet the nature of religion is beyond dialog and is of an experiential nature. The new kind of religious experience does not require the giving up of one’s faith to join some other faith. What it does require is the experiencing of pluralism and the deeper implications of freedom and democracy. it requires the inner discovery that life in the new world is of a different nature than that which existed earlier.
In many cases it will require the experience of the role of science and consciousness. It is very likely to include a vision of a world in which both science and religion have a role to play. It is necessary that we discover a new level of faith that permits us to unite with all peoples and to experience our connections with all life, organic and inorganic. This experience of living in a pluralistic world challenges us to respect different paths, to become good listeners so that we give place to those whose faith and culture are different from our own.
Life today is being lived in a very different context from previous times, and our form of worship needs to reflect that change. Religion is not supposed to be an influence that holds us back and keeps us bound to a culture and faith of past generations. Rather, it needs to lead us courageously into an often unknown future. We new live in a world of great diversity, and we therefore need to create patterns of worship that absorb that diversity into our own understanding of life.
How we solve that problem within our particular ministry is to create a Unity-and-Diversity Center, one which welcomes religious diversity and builds it into the activities and programs of the Center. Guest speakers from different faiths will help us to accept their teachings and life values. Hearing from scientists who work on human consciousness will give us a broader view of the universe in which we live. Artists and philosophers can also help us to move beyond our otherwise limited understanding of faith and culture.
World Scriptures helps us to understand the faiths of the world and to appreciate the teachings they bring. But what is also necessary is that we explore the teachings that have been given in later times, ones which help us to see the values which have been emerging since the historic religions began. The reason there is a religions called Christianity is that there was a New Testament to add to the Hebrew scriptures, which became known to Christians as the Old Testament.
In the case of World Scriptures, the new material has become World Scriptures Vol. 2. It is designed to serve a similar function, which is to bring together scriptural-type material to help provide guidance for people throughout the planet to live in this interdependent world and find meaning for their lives.