When Religions Finally Unite, Heaven on Earth is Inevitable
By Stephen Dinan
A few weeks ago, I was delighted to attend the Parliament of World’s Religions in Salt Lake City with my wife Devaa and our Director of Peace, Philip Hellmich.
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect but I came away so heartened by the prospects for our future. Like so many in "new paradigm" or "evolutionary" circles, I've tended to focus more on spiritual and transformational practices rather than religion. What became clear to me at this event was just how wrong-headed that is. In fact, some of our closest allies and deepest support for co-creating a new world come from traditional religions.
Whether it was the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist leaders who teamed up for the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, working to end the unnecessary deaths of more than 1500 children every day in India through improved sanitation, toilets, and clean water or the Jewish and Muslim women from Israel and Palestine practicing "bosom-to-bosom" diplomacy through the Abrahamic Reunion, it was evident just how many peace-loving, problem-solving, practical change agents there are in the world's religions.
And the generosity was amazing - the Sikhs had a Langar lunch in which literally everyone at the conference - more than 10,000 people - could eat for free. And this is not something they just roll out for big events but something practiced every single day.
The event was the first Parliament in which women were more than 50% of the speakers and there was a full women's assembly dedicated to uplifting women and girls worldwide. Indigenous peoples played a significant role in ceremony and plenaries as well as breakouts focused on Indigenous healing and reconnecting the whole human family.
I spoke in two jammed-packed sessions (even at 8 in the morning!) with Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Jean Fleury, Saniel Bonder, and Audri Scott Williams all focusing on how we can unite globally on December 29th at noon Central Time to mark the 125th anniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre and use this as a moment for collective healing and prayer worldwide to help end future wars and massacres. (Click here to support this important campaign.)
From whirling dervishes of the Mevlevi Order to Jains who have masks to cover their mouths to Buddhist monks in their simple robes to a massive children's choir with children from every major religion singing, "We're One Family" it was deeply inspiring to see that the world's faiths CAN unite in a spirit of peace and with a commitment to healing, equality, and justice.
Other key conference themes looked at sustainability in a deep way, from a plenary video from Al Gore to the tree-planting vision of Marc Ian Barasch, who spoke at a Shift staff retreat two years ago. The Parliament took on issues of income inequality, poverty and hunger.
I came away firmly convinced that we CAN have the world's religions unite us and focus our spiritual lives on ensuring that we have a planet that is healthy, sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous. The world's religions are at the core of creating heaven on earth, if we link hands with our brothers and sisters of spirit and faith to really do the work that is required.
It was a beautiful event and I highly recommend attending the next with us!
Stephen Dinan is the CEO of The Shift Network and a member of the prestigious Transformational Leadership Council and Evolutionary Leaders group. As the former Director of Membership and Marketing at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, he was the driving force behind the Shift in Action program. He is also the author of Radical Spirit(New World Library), and a forthcoming book Sacred America, Sacred World. Stephen directed and helped to create the Esalen Institute’s Center for Theory & Research, a think tank for leading scholars, researchers, and teachers to explore human potential frontiers.
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This article appears in: 2015 Catalyst, Issue 21: Co-Creating Heaven on Earth