THE INTERNET AND THE INNER LIFE

“Life is the center where the material and spiritual forces of the universe seem to meet and to be reconciled.  Spirit is born in life.”  –Edmond W. Sinnott, Science and Spirituality, page 182

 

The internet offers a whole new range of possibilities for reaching out to the world and connecting more directly and quickly than ever was possible in the past.  It is a product of technology, and it can be a help or a hindrance to the cultivation of the inner life.  With the advent of science and technology, there has been a tendency to feel that we now live in a world of machines, robots, and other things mechanical.  Is there room in this kind of world for a deepened spiritual life?  The first conclusion has been that the inner world is no longer as important as it once was, but then we need to look at this question more carefully.

The choices we make are based on our values, and if life is sacred, then we need to provide time for reflection and meaningful decision-making.  There needs to be a balance between facts and values.  Facts give us data about what is going on, but it takes human values to make decisions as to what is important.

The world we now live in seems to be getting increasingly taken up with computers, iphones, ipads, and other things mechanical.  Does this mean that we must give up our thoughts about what matters in life and be told by our technology how we are to live?  Are our religions becoming less important, since they are the source of many of our most important values?  Our services of worship, by whatever name they are called, need to be an important part of our lives; we need the inspiration they provide to guide us in our value choices.

As much as I value the work of Farmers Markets in terms of the foods they provide, I am very concerned that holding them on Sunday mornings takes us away from the time which for most people needs to be devoted to the quest for the awakened spiritual life.  I realize that some faiths do not worship on Sunday mornings, but the vast majority do.  If for some people, other times for worship are provided, then the problem is solved.  But my impression is that many people in our society do not take time to seek the awakened life for one reason or another, and I have to say that no life is complete unless it includes an ongoing time to go within and reflect on the meaningfulness of our personal lives.

In the educational world, more time needs to be devoted to human values for this same reason.  Learning about facts is important, but unless we are equally aware of the values we live by and the sacredness of life itself, we will be as a boat adrift at sea with no rudder to steer our life in a meaningful direction.

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

-by Rev. Leland Stewart

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!!!

SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS TO WORLD PROBLEMS

“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 the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.”

              —Dalai Lama, Science and Spirituality, page 177

 

Moral and spiritual values have been developed by the various religions of the world, and at the end of the civilizations of past generations these values have often come into conflict with each other.  One of the obvious ones right now is the conflict between the Sunnis and the Shiites in Islam.  These two sects, having had their point of origin with the birth of the same religion, they have had slight theological differences which have been magnified into major areas of contention.

The differences between religions have been sources of disagreement that have often led to conflict and even war.  What we need to be aware of is that we are now moving beyond these separate civilizations into the need for a planetary civilization.  This is not to say that the previous civilizations are going to disappear.  What is needed is what we call “unity-and-diversity”.  It is the necessity of accepting different ways of life – different races, cultures, religions, and life styles – and at the same time a new creation that encompasses all of these differences as well as their similarities.

What is being called for is a global ethic and spirituality which is powerful and which has the capacity to unify all of these differences.  Some people have called this state of affairs “oneness”.  At the spiritual level this is true, yet at every other level we have differences to accept and live with.  That is why the Unity-and-Diversity World Council has come to use the term “unity-and-diversity” as the actual need.  We cannot and should not expect all differences to disappear in the process of finding peace and harmony. Rather, we need to be good listeners and to respect the differences that are very real and need to be understood and appreciated.

To resort to war is to have failed to find more lasting solutions that involve understanding and mutual respect.  These ethical and spiritual solutions take more courage and responsibility.  The world is gradually rising up and saying that there is another way, and that it is time to find that way and put it into practice.  Mahatma Gandhi called it “satyagraha”, which means to declare your own truth and live by that truth while accepting the consequences of your action.  Martin Luther King called it “nonviolence”, which sounds negative but is really a new way to live without violence.

We are at the time when a global ethic and spirituality are necessary, and all of us need to do our part to help bring it about.

Spirit is One; paths are many!!

~Leland Stewart