Nearly 5,000 people of faith from around the world came together to hear each other and to highlight some of the most effective strategies to help people of faith and goodwill transform the world through real action in their own communities.
“You name the religion, whether it be a ‘new religion’ or one of the traditional faiths, they were there,” said Sam Muyskens who was invited to make a presentation on one of his favorite topics, Dialogue in Action. His presentation was filled with real life experiences where interfaith dialogue resulted in transformative acts of kindness and compassion.
Two years ago Karen was offered $100,000 by the prestigious TED Foundation to grant her one wish that would change the world. Her wish took their breath away:
“I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.” (Feb. 28, 2008)
Charter for Compassion
A call to bring the world together…
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and emphatically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the center of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings – even those regarded as enemies.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
After reading the Charter for Compassion and meeting seven of the Charters’ authors at the Parliament of World Religions, Sam Muyskens signed the Charter. Sam is not the only one. Since the launch thousands of people from diverse nations and traditions have endorsed it. A copy of their names has been sent to leaders of nations engaged in armed conflicts. You can also sign the charter by going to: www.charterforcompassion.org.
Perhaps the following videos will help you understand the charter’s vision and inspire you to take further action!
From Sam’s Journal – a beautiful piece of art
From Sam’s Journal – the indigenous Aborigine
From Sam’s Journal – Sacred Music and Dance
From Sam’s Journal – the Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama believes that the purpose of life is to be happy. He says,“From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering.” He also says that the more we care about the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. The Dalai Lama would therefore say, with a smile on his face, that we must remove the two greatest hindrances to happiness: anger and hatred. These powerful emotions overwhelm our entire mind – they control us. “Anger and hate,” says the Dalai Lama, “eclipse the best part of our brain: its rationality. So the energy of anger is almost always unreliable.” I know my first response when I am angry is to retaliate, which in my experience has almost always been destructive. That is why I am going to frame a picture of the Dalai Lama, and hang it next to my desk. I think I should also record his laugh and listen to it every morning. The Dalai Lama says, “It is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister, no matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior… our basic natures are the same.”
From Sam’s Journal – Parliament to be a home for all
From Sam’s Journal – a closing thought
On September 1, 2009, I had a cry – a peaceful, personal cry. I was watching “Good Morning America,” and they had Whitney Houston on as one of their guests. I have always loved listening to the velvet voice of Whitney Houston. She began to sing, “I Look to You,” and the tears began to flow. If I want to be happy like the Dalai Lama, if I really want to believe that we, the people of this globe, will learn to respect each other, then all I can do is ‘look to you’ – my sisters and brothers of this global family, which I am privileged to experience each day of my life. Together, we will learn to live at peace with each other.