The Sixth Parliament of World Religions – Claiming the heart of our humanity …through loving kindness
A few months ago, a seed was planted in my soul by a friend when he asked me if I was going to the Parliament of World Religions. “You couldn’t miss such an opportunity to have a foretaste of what the Mansion World can be, at least the first one.” Already on the trip from Montreal to San Francisco and then to Salt Lake city, most people that I interacted with were on a quest, either with a swami, a spiritual teacher, with an organized religious group like Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, or even with God himself. Some were even affirming that they were studying a Revelation! Barbara from Santa Barbara who was sitting beside me on the flight from San Francisco was so enthused about the upcoming event. She has been on a spiritual quest for 40 years embracing so many different teachings and was now teaching meditation classes, her way of giving back what she so abundantly received, as she said. In the lobby of the hotel, I met Karen, a flight attendant from Delta Airlines who flew that same day from Amsterdam; she told me that the flight was filled with people coming to the Parliament and that it was her best flight ever, after 25 years in the business. “People were so kind, gentle, loving and sweet, all of them. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the world would be like that?”
So, here we are, 10,000 religionists from more than 80 countries and 50 different faith paths gathered for this extra-ordinary event, the sixth Parliament of World Religions, held in Salt Lake City, Utah for five days, from October 15 to 19–2015. The first Parliament which is now recognized as the occasion of the birth of formal interreligious dialogue worldwide was held in 1893 in Chicago; it was the brainchild of the Swedenborgian layman and judge Charles C. Bonney. One hundredyears later, over 8,000 people came to Chicago for the second Parliament in 1993. In 1999, the Parliament reunited the faith people in South Africa and then in Barcelona in 2004 and again in Melbourne in 2009. Here is a glimpse of what was proposed to the attendees this year. “You should attend if you are concerned about war, terrorism, and hatred; if you care for creation and are worried about climate change; if you are troubled by the widening wealth gap and wasteful consumption; if you care for religions and nations working together in harmony for the good of humanity. You will also find: trainings in dialogue, interfaith activism, fundraising, and organizing, World-class religious music, films, exhibits and performances.”
What happened there? How can we give you a good perspective of what people have experienced? Here are a few word symbols that were heard repeatedly over the five days: “Compassion, God’s Love, goodness, loving service, love is the feeling, caring, mother Earth, Universal Father, we are one, we are all connected, inspiring, unity in diversity, we are all part of the Supreme, so many new personalities, new friends, new people to discover, adaptation, interconnectedness, enthused, energized, differences, unfairness, injustice, no, stop it, the world is in chaos, hope, instant recognition, instant friendship, adaptability, war, conflicts, greed, hatred, joy…”
The best way to give a fair and better perspective of what happened at the Parliament would be to gather many points of view. In the union of our souls, all points of view are valuable and in bringing them together in a collage, we feel that it will help us have a better overview and help each of us mobilize more wisdom. As a popular band was singing many years ago, I just get by with a little from my friends, mainly Urantia Book readers and students.
From Kamala: One word has touched and anchored my soul throughout the Parliament and continues to have a sounding resonance every day, “Humility.” Humility resounded from the soul of so many of the presenters from all over the world. When they spoke, humility and compassionate action stood brilliantly in the light of “Power.” When ego showed its face in many ways it was and must be lit up for service to God and Humanity. This is what still lives in my heart and soul each day. May I be one of service in this light.
From Fred: There are as many paths to God as there are people to walk them.
From Evette: We are one beautiful family. Brothers and sisters are we!
From Arlene: So many people of all faiths actively working on solving our earthly problems in unity with diversity.
From Susan: It’s inspiring and energizing to know that 9,500 people are basically speaking the same language of the heart and mind. And, that there are probably millions more that could not attend. Love you.
From Arthur: The move from secular religion to group awareness of planetary worship of a “One Planet People’s.”
From Tommie: I immediately remembered the profound peace of sharing such an incredible soul-growing experience with so many and vastly-varied, kindred spirits; but, then I envisioned the amazing potential which was begun here, within and through each of us and the collective all of us and I am awed to tears by the power… Much love as we continue in sharing and service.
From Pato: The deepest impression I received within my Soul at “The Parliament of World Religions” is that everyone I met and conversed with, desired to live in a world of peace, where they could “openly practice” the Religious Traditions of their choice; “openly profess” the truth that they held closest to their hearts without the fear of being criticized or chastised; and “openly partake” in a loving hug in our joint desire to love and be loved in return.
From Meredith: Hope for Light and Life! At the Parliament it seems possible we might get there. The spiritual unity among all those of different faiths was impressive. Lastly the Divine Feminine was rising in Melbourne at the last Parliament but here in Salt Lake she is pounding on the door of established religion and demanding entrance. We women have waited a long time.
From Jake: Impression? I have become even more impressed with the marvelous and wonderful diversity of mankind and how, even though there is so much diversity, we should all except and love each other like we were family.
From Sandra: The deepest impression I received in my soul from my experience was that there are so many wonderful people in the world, and so much beauty. There is power in numbers. As someone notes quite often when people gather at his house to study The Urantia Book: “When two or more are gathered in my name I’ll be there.” Well, concerning the Parliament of World’s Religions, I was thinking that this is what may happen when nearly 10,000 are ‘gathered in my name’.” To me, it felt that good. There were many miracles happening—and I know the world is opening up to the Urantia Revelation. Personally for me, I felt blessed to be totally uplifted and carried along in spending day and night with my dear friend and mentor, “Le’Ruth. She has so much to offer and share, in terms of knowledge and experience, but also most specifically in terms of showing how truly to love and connect with ALL people; as I walked around with her—she would quickly become caring friends to every person she met (people working in the hotel, people participating on panels, people she met on the street and hallways, etc.).
From Thomas: Humanity is, indeed, on a march to a great and unrevealed destiny. Attending the Parliament gave me an opportunity to be in a community of ten thousand other humans that have set out on this journey willingly and with great conviction. I am deeply saddened having seen what others have been through dealing with the ravages of war, hate, prejudice, poverty, and every other form of injustice. I am ashamed for my country and its role in creating much of the chaos on the planet. I am humbled when I see the great works others do and the huge sacrifices they have made to help others. The question in my soul is: How can I contribute to the betterment of humankind? How can I intelligently, lovingly and wisely go forth to bring light and truth to the people of a struggling planet? Thank you for an opportunity to reflect on my experience at the Parliament. All the best.
From Doreen: I saw the unique beauty in the hearts of so many from around the world. The desire to understand each other searching for our common goals to live in peace and serve one another justly. Then there were some that were truly transformed by the spirit as they spoke with love and soul consciousness sharing their enlightenment with many communities, educational institutions, religious organizations inspiring those who are receptive.
From Natascha: Compassion is deeper than a simple feeling or emotion towards others’ conditions; it is an educated, full and complex understanding of another’s situation. More effort needs to be put into being truly compassionate than I thought prior to this parliament. Thank you :)
From David: My deepest impression was the general feeling of friendship, compassion, cooperation and genuine curiosity among the participants. Everyone I met was willing to share their experiences, beliefs and convictions in a loving and peaceful manner. There was a sense of brotherly affection and love throughout the event. It was an honor to be able to share the Revelation with those who were interested and equally enjoyable attending the presentations and visiting the various booths that were available during the Parliament. I’m sure the angels were pleased to see such a blending of joy and spiritual unity on exhibition. In good cheer…
From Christina: We took the roof of the building at the Salt Palace Convention Center with Gard, Pato, Moustafa, and Ben Bowler’s simultaneous workshops. There were so many people inspired to learn more about The Urantia book that they were buying four at a time at the booth! Each person spoke from their own personal experience. The quality of video created by Richard Jernigan and Pato Banton was so high that it spoke to the creativity The Urantia Book inspires of us. Pamela Chaddock introduced Ben Bowler with Brian McLaren. We had a performance by Pato, where he said everybody that they are each indwelt by a loving fragment of our Father God. Stir it up with sugar! I admire the courage of each of us who attended this event, as we planted many seeds in with fellow believers this feast of faiths, the Parliament of the World’s Religions. This will be happening every two years now, they announced yesterday. That means in 2017 we could potentially have 300-500 students of The Urantia Book attend!
From Mark: My deepest impression at the 2015 Parliament is substantial evidence affirming truth of the first two sentences in The Urantia Book Foreword: “IN THE MINDS of the mortals of Urantia—that being the name of your world — there exists great confusion respecting the meaning of such terms as God, divinity, and deity. Human beings are still more confused and uncertain about the relationships of the divine personalities designated by these numerous appellations.” If you would ask people, ‘What kind of god is God?’ you would get many different answers. The many religions with their ancient traditions so passionately emphasized at the Parliament indicates humanity is far from global unity under one God. People are still worshipping “Mother Earth.” People are taught to preserve traditions. I see that as looking backwards for authority and preservation. I sense there is growing interest and desire in caring for people and this will lead to greater desire for unity. I do feel satisfied in seeing we are headed in the right direction, although so slowly! The growing desire for peace, even with different understandings of Divine, may be a driving force to change governments and political activities to eliminate war. The interfaith movement may be the right force in love to change nations. Best regards and blessings for all.
From Miranda: I heard a beautiful message repeated by many religious leaders acknowledging that we are all connected through love, through our hearts, and through being one family of humanity…even though our beliefs are different in some ways. I felt so much hope of people being able to unite and work together to effect positive change in the world…hopefully sooner rather than later :)
From Karen K.: My spirit was deeply touched by excellent multiple experiences at POWR. I have recommitted my earthly life to more teaching. As an author, researcher, and speaker I can still empower humanity to do good. I have always been interested in commonality rather than differences.
From Geoff: The Parliament afforded me an opportunity to experience spiritual unity. Having spent hours in deep, soul-to-soul conference with my brothers and sisters was a wonderful experience of celebrating our spirit origin, purpose, and destiny. One such interaction was a heartfelt conversation with a Ba’hai sister who shared with me a desire to seek God’s will for how to best function as groups. We both hope that the Parliament will evolve to be a conscious space for religionists to be united in spirit and by spirit.
Belief has attained the level of faith when it motivates life and shapes the mode of living. The acceptance of a teaching as true is not faith; that is mere belief. Neither is certainty nor conviction faith. A state of mind attains to faith levels only when it actually dominates the mode of living. Faith is a living attribute of genuine personal religious experience. One believes truth, admires beauty, and reverences goodness, but does not worship them; such an attitude of saving faith is centered on God alone, who is all of these personified and infinitely more. [Paper 101:8.1, page 1114:5]
Belief is always limiting and binding; faith is expanding and releasing. Belief fixates, faith liberates. But living religious faith is more than the association of noble beliefs; it is more than an exalted system of philosophy; it is a living experience concerned with spiritual meanings, divine ideals, and supreme values; it is God-knowing and man-serving. Beliefs may become group possessions, but faith must be personal. Theologic beliefs can be suggested to a group, but faith can rise up only in the heart of the individual religionist. [Paper 101:8.2, page 1114:6]
From Dave T: I was greatly inspired by the Parliament, so feel inspired and feel I can be inspiring in this post as well! My deepest impression: I was very moved by the Parliament as a whole, and particularly by the rising tide of the Divine Feminine / engagement with the presence and concerns of Mother Spirit, which was so much more evident than in past Parliaments. Meredith and I attended the Women’s Assembly and Plenary together which we experienced as very inspiring and encouraging, and viewed it as a major turning point in “herstory!” The essential interrelatedness of the Parliament’s emphasis on women, climate, income inequity, social justice, peace, and spirituality was clearly evident. Whereas the combined presentations made it painfully clear that we have much work to do, and that there is an urgency about addressing these concerns, my hope in the collective “heart of humanity” was renewed. I believe there was a common recognition that the words needed to be followed up by individual and collective action, and that even if only a few thousand of the total attending respond to the numerous calls to action then significant good progress toward light and life will unfold. I also enjoyed having time and some deep or meaningful discussion with many Urantia Book related friends, and some from three other groups/organizations I am associated with. We were glad to see our 18 y.o. daughter Alanna, who flew in from Taiwan (with the aid of a scholarship) and who afterwards is heading to India (and then Thailand) all as part of her Global Studies coursework for Long Island University. One favorite moment I remember was walking by someone who was just beaming with love and light and life, as was I at the time, and we seemed to “recognize” each other, (or the One within both of us), although “strangers,” and instead of walking past each other we just mutually turned toward one another and laughingly embraced while greeting each other verbally as “brother” and then walked on our respective ways! I also was pleased that Mer and I were able to conjointly offer our presentation on “Divine Patterns of Male/Female Partnership,” something we both feel is an important contribution to our planetary culture and about which The Urantia Book provides a valuable and unique perspective. With love and light and life.
Since sharing our inner life is God-like, divine… thanks for all who have contributed.
Blessed are the peacenmakers, poster
As the years passed, this young carpenter of Nazareth increasingly measured every institution of society and every usage of religion by the unvarying test: What does it do for the human soul? does it bring God to man? does it bring man to God? While this youth did not wholly neglect the recreational and social aspects of life, more and more he devoted his time and energies to just two purposes: the care of his family and the preparation to do his Father’s heavenly will on earth. [Paper 126:2.5, page 1388:5]
From studying The Urantia Book for many years here are some of the incomparable teachings of Jesus from Part IV. After what Jesus taught us about our personal relationship with our Father and in keeping in mind what the Melchizedek revealed to us on religion, being a personal experience of God, here are a few thoughts that have emerged in my simple ascending mortal mind and some elements I have been reflecting on since the Parliament: a chapter of my/our eternal quest. Are religious groups coming together to get closer to God and His Divine Presence within? Are religionists sharing their individual ways to serve in order that all gain morontial wisdom? Are religionists coming together to feed and nurture their soul? Should organized religions be involved in politics and economy? Can we fit the words ‘parliament’ and ‘religions’ together ? What is the task of the individual religionist? What is my task as an individual religionist?
After this experience, is there within me a feeling that I had a foretaste of the Mansion Worlds? Well, I have never been there but if I reflect on the Parliament and combined it to what we are told will happen on the first two Mansion Worlds where many physical and intellectual elements will be rectified, I would say most likely.
Tabamantia, agondonter of finaliter status, who has survived from one of the quarantined spheres involved in the first rebellion ever to take place in the universes of time and space and now sovereign supervisor of the series of decimal or experimental world, can we call on you to share with us how you feel since we know whereof you speak? In seeing what happened at the Parliament, do you still have the same feeling about our world that you had over 60 years ago?
Now to you, superiors far above me, I come as one placed in temporary authority over the experimental planetary series; and I come to express admiration and profound respect for this magnificent group of celestial ministers, the Mystery Monitors, who have volunteered to serve on this irregular sphere. No matter how trying the crises, you never falter. Not on the records of Nebadon nor before the commissions of Orvonton has there ever been offered an indictment of a divine Adjuster. You have been true to your trusts; you have been divinely faithful. You have helped to adjust the mistakes and to compensate for the shortcomings of all who labor on this confused planet. You are marvelous beings, guardians of the good in the souls of this backward realm. I pay you respect even while you are apparently under my jurisdiction as volunteer ministers. I bow before you in humble recognition of your exquisite unselfishness, your understanding ministry, and your impartial devotion. You deserve the name of the Godlike servers of the mortal inhabitants of this strife-torn, grief-stricken, and disease-afflicted world. I honor you! I all but worship you! [Paper 108:3.6, page 1189:2]
You certainly would have the same praise for our Thought Adjusters but how about our world, do you still feel the same way about it? Do you have better hope with what was unfolding at the Parliament?
And then I was wondering if the seraphim would have the same thoughts about our group that he had for his subject:
Much of my difficulty was due to the unending conflict between the two natures of my subject: the urge of ambition opposed by animal indolence; the ideals of a superior people crossed by the instincts of an inferior race; the high purposes of a great mind antagonized by the urge of a primitive inheritance; the long-distance view of a far-seeing Monitor counteracted by the nearsightedness of a creature of time; the progressive plans of an ascending being modified by the desires and longings of a material nature; the flashes of universe intelligence cancelled by the chemical-energy mandates of the evolving race; the urge of angels opposed by the emotions of an animal; the training of an intellect annulled by the tendencies of instinct; the experience of the individual opposed by the accumulated propensities of the race; the aims of the best overshadowed by the drift of the worst; the flight of genius neutralized by the gravity of mediocrity; the progress of the good retarded by the inertia of the bad; the art of the beautiful besmirched by the presence of evil; the buoyancy of health neutralized by the debility of disease; the fountain of faith polluted by the poisons of fear; the spring of joy embittered by the waters of sorrow; the gladness of anticipation disillusioned by the bitterness of realization; the joys of living ever threatened by the sorrows of death. Such a life on such a planet! And yet, because of the ever-present help and urge of the Thought Adjuster, this soul did achieve a fair degree of happiness and success and has even now ascended to the judgment halls of mansonia. [Paper 111:7.5, page 1223:7]
To quote a brother and friend in Spirit “there should be over seven billion religions on this planet since religion is a personal and genuine experience with our Universal Father through his Divine Presence that indwells each of us.”
In closing the event, the organizers announced that while the Parliament will continue to be hosted by different cities around the world, it will now convene every two years instead of five.
All of us have greatly benefited from the incomparable teachings of The Urantia Book. It has enhanced our understanding and our cosmic perspective and deepened our spiritual perception and receptivity. It would certainly do the same for all the religionists that are walking on this planet. We all know that spiritual growth is mutually stimulated when we unite morontially and that love supplies the soil for religious growth…
What the world needs now is love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of… Love is really the desire to do good to others… and actually do it.
Such a life on such a planet!