Saturday, April 23, 2011


VIEWS AT INTERFAITH DIALOGUE PANEL - Leaders of five different religious backgrounds discussed how their traditions allow them to understand and confront contemporary issues.  The religious officials commented from a faith perspective, asked by moderator Russell Meyers.  On the topic of suffering and tragedy in the world, the panelists all acknowledged they could not give a clear answer as to why bad things happen. “I think that suffering and evil are simply brute facts of the world, facts that are as inexplicable as they are undeniable,” said the Rev. Jim Liggett of St. Nicholas’ Episcopal Church.  “It’s just the way it is.” “Everything happens for a purpose,” said Rabbi Sidney Zimelman of the Temple Beth El in Odessa, who called humankind’s struggle with suffering and pain “one of the most vexing obstacles to faith”.  

Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, the current spiritual leader of the Kauai Hindu Monastery in Hawaii, said natural disasters are bound to happen while living on a dangerous planet like earth.  “God didn’t guarantee us a planet free of imperfections,” he said.  “The fact that it is imperfect goads us on to grow spiritually.”  The religious leaders tackled politically charged questions, such as religion’s place in politics, abortion and the ability to pray at schools.   The panelists also were asked to share what they believed to be the ultimate goals in their faith journey.  Though the religious leaders had starkly different opinions on some issues, many said they appreciated the openness and respect their answers received.

This week, leaders of five different religious backgrounds confront contemporary issues in Texas, USA.  “I think there are misconceptions about what these different faiths believe.”  “It’s a chance to talk about the things that make us different. We’re not all the same,”  Jay Mayo, pastor of adult ministries of Stonegate Fellowship, said.  Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami from the Kauai Hindu Monastery in Hawaii appreciated the opportunity to share their perspectives.  “Community always benefits from tolerance. I’d say the viewpoints that have been gathered are wonderfully diverse and respectful of each other,” he said.

Every individual has his peculiar nature distinct form any other. So, obviously individuals will vary in their opinions and tastes and this is quite natural. It is an unnatural thing to attempt forcibly to encage individuals into one fold, faith or particular ideology. Accordingly cultivation of tolerance of others’ views is essential for world-peace and unity.  Indian sponsors of religion appeared to have got that insight and tolerance; hence many independent views have cropped up in India and have flourished simultaneously.  Want of tolerance makes us sectarian and that spirit motivates us for forcible conversion of others which brings turmoil and unrest in the world. Religion should give equal scope to all the individuals for their respective spiritual development according to their attributes.

Śrīla Bhakti Dayita Madhava Mahārāja :
“Realistic Solution for Diverse Humanity”
Speech at a ‘Spiritual Summit Conference’ - 1968 Calcutta.
Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math -

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