Do you wonder why our society is so divided? Are we destined to be hopelessly polarized? Is a world where we treat each other like brothers and sisters just a fantasy?
Picture waking up to witness people from every continent across the world wearing a variety of colorful clothes which represent over 90 religions with the political, social, and cultural divisions melting into a sea of oneness. Well, that is a taste of what it's like at the 2023 Parliament of the World's Religions held in Chicago, Illinois.
This is the third time I've attended a Parliament, and each time I participate, I have renewed hope for the future of humanity. The Parliament aims to "cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to achieve a just, peaceful, and sustainable world.”
In response to a question on bringing greater harmony amongst religions, one Buddhist teacher said we must sparingly hold our point of view. When we do not, it creates an "I'm right, and you're wrong" mentality that often leads to conflict. The teacher went on to note we must have an expanded point of view to see a more extraordinary array of solutions to the seeming challenges we face.
Having such an expanded point of view can not only help bring about greater peace and understanding between religions and cultures, but it can also help us rise above our problems by giving us access to the “Ideasphere." In the Ideasphere, there are only divine solutions. As spiritual beings, we can self-reflect, giving us the power to choose. Other species do not have this capability.
As I witness the gatherings at the Parliament, it reaffirms that the path from divisiveness to realizing our oneness is to take time to understand people who may appear different from whom we are familiar with, since there is a tendency to fear that which we do not know or understand. The more we seek to understand people who may have a different religion or culture, speak a different language, or appear to have a different philosophy of life, we discover that the essence of who we are is the same. Most of us yearn for health, peace, and joy, to be part of a loving family or community, and to live out our purpose in life.
Events like the Parliament of the World’s Religions give participants a renewed sense of purpose, and an understanding that when we release attachments to a particular point of view, we open ourselves to the divine possibilities for humanity, rise above the illusion of separation, and realize our oneness. Ultimately, we know we have the power to create the change we want to see in our world.
Peace and Blessings,