Well, what do you know? At a meeting of religious and spiritual masters at an international peace meet in Seoul organized by Korean War veteran and peace advocate Man Hee Lee, Chairman of ‘Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light’ (HWPL), expatriate Indian gurus were the ones who represented India! Does this mean we now live in a truly globalized world without borders?
Not exactly. Even as the Jamsil Olympic Stadium here resounded with music, dance and fireworks, and an amazing performance of what is called “card section” – where cards are rearranged and held up by scores of participants in the audience seats in the stadium – making images and words like banners, celebrating the goals of peace and harmony, tragic violence struck Kashmir in India and New York in the US. A horrific attack in Uri, Kashmir killed 17 Indian soldiers; an explosion in New York’s Chelsea, in Manhattan, left 29 people injured and shaken.
Undoubtedly we continue to live in a world full of conflict and pain, perhaps largely due to perceived religious differences that have escalated into mindless violence. Precisely why the chairman of the two-year-old new movement for peace convened a meeting of religious leaders in Seoul (September 17-19) to discuss ways of creating greater understanding and establish harmony and peace across the world.
What did gurus and masters work out at the two high-level panel discussions held behind closed doors? Says the Los Angeles-based Bhai Sahib Satpal Singh Khalsa, the ‘chief religious and spiritual authority of Sikh religion in the western hemisphere’ (a nomenclature handed over to him by his father-in-law Yogi Bhajan): “That HWPL is bringing people together to work out ways to achieve peace is a great thing, and no one among us would deny that. But making one seamless faith or establishing one world government might not be achievable goals – yet in the journey, it is good to interact with everyone and share ideas and ways of creating greater understanding. At least the peace message gets across to a great deal of people,” he says, adding that he supports the HWPL peace cause as the world is in dire need of such initiatives.
Another Sikh leader, Rupinder Singh who is chairman of Sikh Vision, Montreal, Canada, shares that the first session saw all religious leaders delivering their speeches. The second session was a panel discussion on ‘which is the most trustworthy scripture’? Could this be ascertained by studying and comparing scriptures of different religions so that the most trustworthy one (with consensus) could be the overall religion? “What we really need to do is to remove ignorance, for according to me, ignorance is the biggest crime in the world. So we need to study differences and find common ground, and celebrate the differences rather than do away with them. For a Hindu would hold up Hinduism as a very peace-loving way, and another might hold up his religion as the best way to promote peace. Why not make room for all and create more understanding?”
Twenty-one-year-old Jordan Bowen Nirankari who lives in Poland quotes his grandfather Nirankari Baba : ‘All scriptures are trustworthy’ – moreover one needs to look beyond scriptures to create a peaceful world based on love, compassion, and service.
Other expatriate gurus here include Jaffna Tamil Phaskaran Kurukkal who administers the Shankara Sri Kamakshi Ampal Temple in Hamm, Germany (established with the blessings of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu), Iskcon member Nikhil Trivedi from Brooklyn, New York, Buddhist Ven Bhante Dhammanag of Maharashtra who lives in UK, and Iranian Grand Ayatollah Syed Reza HossainiNassab who is based in Toronto, Canada who advocates education as the best way to promote peace.
Taoist leader from China, Zhong Lian Xu has this to say: “Leaders from five different religions were here, to discuss how to resolve differences, make peace. We have five fingers and they are attached to one hand; similarly, we have different faiths but one goal.”
Burmese Buddhist master from San Francisco Ashin Acara was optimistic that the world will indeed experience peace one day but it is difficult to bring all religions together to make one religion, he said.
The consensus seemed to be that ironing out religious and/or political differences might take a while but it is also important to celebrate and respect differences for we are all working towards the same goal – that of achieving peace and harmony. The best way to do this would be to work closely with women and youth, and include peace studies in education in schools and colleges.
A spectacular peace festival held at the Jamsil Olympic Stadium, Seoul, saw several parades, traditional and modern dances and music, track events and a grand finale that included a peace tree around which a large dance ensemble performed in colourful clothes. Fireworks added sparkle to the calm night sky and peace doves were released into the sky. But the highlight was the card section that wowed the audience with the precision and synchrony with which images changed and sentences formed in a flash, contextualizing the entire celebration. A bit of modern history too was narrated via cards, starting with the two World Wars, the Korean War and ending with a plea for peace from HWPL chairman Man Hee lee, International Women’s Peace Group chairwoman Nam Hee Kim, and International Peace Youth Group Director Duhyan Kim as they all work together to achieve “heavenly” harmony and peace on earth.
Extracted from blogs.timesofindi