CELEBRATE, COMMEMORATE, AND ANTICIPATE
Interfaith Event at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center
Prayerful Reflection: Kanwal Prakash Singh
May 09, 2013
The recent Interfaith Event at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington was a very beautiful affair. The program featured the sacred Buddhist prayer-chants, spiritual expressions and readings from different faith traditions, and ceremonial commemorations of the tenth anniversary of the dedication of the Kumbum Chamtse Ling Monastery by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Boxing Champion and legend Mohammad Ali. The Interfaith Event was organized as a special prayer for the success of the "Engaging Compassion" pilgrimage of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet to Louisville, Kentucky in May.
Dr. David Carlson, Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin College, literally and spiritually connected us "Shoulder to Shoulder Interfaith Witness Concept" forming a circle inside the beautifully decorated Sanctuary where we offered prayers, reflections, and affirmations of unity and solidarity, and heard reminders of peaceful coexistence and unconditional compassion toward all God's Children from various faith traditions. That followed another spiritually uplifting experience: the planting of Rose Bush in honor of His Holiness and Mohammad Ali under a sunny blue sky. It was a symbolic connection with Creation, Divine, and our temporal world through a sacred act of veneration of Nature and the nurturing of human spirit.
As always, there was a spirit of warm welcome and fellowship, a gracious invitation to the faith leaders and all the attending guests (students, teachers, Tibetan monks and faithful, members of the media, and friends of the Center) to share blessings and perspectives from their diverse faiths traditions and spiritual experiences during the ceremonies and reception that followed. There was a reverberating positive energy and a sense of anticipation that such interfaith efforts may someday bring about greater understanding, a welcome humanitarian embrace where no one is a stranger. The faiths, cultures, and people often unite at the Center to serve the cause of peace and help us recognize and honor our interconnected destiny.
The grounds of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center exude an aura of serenity and sanctity of a place of continuous prayer. This is hallowed ground, visited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama six times since 1989. It is open to all who come in peace; most visitors often leave immeasurably blessed. The Center is gaining the reputation as a major place of pilgrimage in the Heartland of America, thanks to the leadership of a truly dedicated Buddhist teacher and Center Director, the Venerable Arjia Rinpoche.
REFLECTING ON OUR COLLECTIVE HUMANITY AND REPONSIBILITY
A world that daily reminds us of so many heart-wrenching challenges and of undreamed-of opportunities, the people of faith and enlightened vision have a responsibility to explore ways to harness the power of engaging compassion. To make this vision a reality, we need to build new fields of dreams, unite to raise concern when human life is burdened with unspeakable hardships; end injustices, inequality, and assaults against human dignity; create spaces and an environment of peace and fosters goodwill that transcends ethnicity, religion, culture, geography, and gender. Caravans of humanity are moving across once formidable frontiers and gathering in new places to seek fortunes and shape new dreams.
ENGAGING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
These migrations are causing strains. Then, there is the menace of destructive armaments, ethnic and tribal conflicts, global terrorism, and the problems of world hunger, basic healthcare, clean water, educational and job opportunities, demands on human resources threatening humanity’s future. Major diseases, like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other dreaded health problems need urgent and sustained focus and critical research. It was wonderful to see that one week after the shocking Boston Marathon bombing by terrorists, the Susan B. Komen Race for Cure in Indianapolis attracted over 21,000 supporters who participated in the 5K walk and run.
Such resolve is reassuring amidst the cloud of darkness. We need to stay together in the face of blatant crime and violence against humanity and remember that the work of healing, discovery, and improvement of the human condition must go on. As a civilization, at this time of incredible abundance, interdependence, and instant communication, we need to help those caught in the vicious cycles of poverty, incredible deprivation, denial of basic rights and freedom, devastating diseases, and natural and manmade disasters. Nations must strive to make our sacred spaces: schools, theaters, places of worship, shopping malls, places where generations gather for fun or to support worthy causes as violence-free places. It is important that the human neighborhoods remain safe: free from fear, violence, and threats to our dignity and pursuits we hold sacred.
FAITH IN OUR COLLECTIVE DESTINY
Each individual has a lot at stake that the human civilization moves forward. To make this vision a reality, each of us committing to be a part of an engaging compassion that builds trust, creating and expanding hope, caring for our environment and critical resources, and embracing imaginative responses and bold initiatives, would be a promising beginning. Sharing hope and blessings is a lesson and a commandment that forms the foundation and advocacy of all major faiths and spiritual traditions. The Sikh faith reminds us that, “No one is outside the Circle of God’s Love and Benevolence,” and therefore, no one should be outside the circle of our thoughtful consideration, humanitarian understanding, and engaging compassion.
The commemoration of great events, exemplary lives, and the daring legends of extraordinary souls are a treasured and timeless inspiration. When we fully engage in endeavors that reflect an inclusive focus, unconditional compassion, assurance for our rights to inalienable dignity and shared humanity, we can anticipate positive outcomes. We need to enter into faith with our collective intertwined destiny with all that is manifested before us.