Interfaith is not about conversions or proselytizing, it is about learning the otherness of other. You will be surprised to learn that many things we know about the others are myths and falsities, propagated by parties who have an interest in making the others look bad – and cash on it from the gullible.
It is like everything else in life, there will be a few who will abuse their privileges, be it the presidents, priests, rabbis, imams, pastors, pundits or shamans… or doctors, engineers, politicians, fathers, mothers and the ordinary you and I.
Interfaith is no exception, its intention is to hear the other and learn first hand what they have to say about themselves, rather than believing the dished out versions by the media or the frightened (right wingers) ones.
The organizing principles of the parliament of world’s religions are worth learning; http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/
• Promotes interreligious harmony, rather than unity
• Based on convergence of purpose, rather than consensus of belief and practice
• Operates through facilitation, rather than formal structure
• Seeks to build trust as much as agreement
Truth sets one free, the myths we have come to believe about others and subsequent negative attitudes we carry towards others harm us. We are guilty about the mis-perceptions of Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews and others; it is time to clean our hearts from impurities and tune in with the pure cosmic energy that permeates all of us. It’s like being home.
I have cherished Karen Armstrong’s writings where she say, if you read a sentence in any of the scriptures, and it bothers you, keep reading until you find the real meaning that God loves us all, then you would have understood the essence of that religion. I would add, don’t give up until you get it, even if your pastor, rabbi, shaman, pundit or imam says otherwise, you have to bear the anguish on your own. Finding the truth is your own responsibility, it will set you free. Interfaith is an honest effort to tell who each one of us is rather than believing the propaganda. A few most certainly come to hunt and harvest the poor souls, but most are there to learn.
Learning about others need not mean infidelity to your own faith, but it means enrichment of one’s own faith, knowing that all the faiths, in their own ways are making an effort to create a better world. Indeed, that is the truth.
My own faith is stronger today than it was ever before and I am secure enough in my faith to declare that, my faith works for me as your faith works for you and I will not claim that my faith is superior to yours, as it amounts to arrogance… religion is about humility and not arrogance, arrogance gives birth to conflicts where as humility builds bridges and brings people closer. And that is what our creator wants; for us to co-exist in harmony with the given differences.
Interfaith is a good thing; my daughter exclaimed once, “Gee Dad God can be worshipped in so many different ways.”
Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Pluralism and Islam and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day; a frequent guest on the media. His work can be found in three websites and 22 blogs listed at www.MikeGhouse.net