UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE Southeast Asia & the Pacific Regional E-Newsletter

REFLECTION: What role religion?

A Reflection by Mother Mangalam* from the Pure Life Society in Malaysia

Countless schools of thought have emerged to this day about Man, his relationship with nature or with the Unseen Power that charges us almost everyday in our sleep in order to enable us to get up refreshed to face another day. This Unseen Entity has been given a name and some have given It a form. The result is we countless books published on religious topics. How? Why did this happen? You must ask Man’s mind. And, people say that Man’s mind is linked with the Cosmic mind. Part and parcel of the Cosmic Mind! But what is the Cosmic Mind?

Now let us take the word “religion”. The origin of this word has its roots in the Latin word re-ligare which means “to bind back”. To bind back to what?

Let’s consider the individual mind. the nature of the mind is to wander. The more it wanders, the more confused it becomes—becomes very insecure, just like a child without parents, going about in fear, making blunders. There is something that has been said by a certain writer: “The human-soul was sent into the world to see the show of life and thus to gain the needed experience. But when it came here it became completely absorbed in the show and lost all recollection of the Lord, like a child who goes out to see a fair, holding on to his father’s hand, but lets go the father’s hand and is soon lost in the crowd. He is then no longer able to enjoy the fair nor can he find his father. As a result he wanders from place to place, lost and filled with fear and misery.”

This feeling of insecurity is something that almost every being suffers from. It is this feeling of insecurity that makes a young man or a young girl seek a mate. It is this feeling of insecurity that makes the parents get attached to the children with the hope that they may at some time be a source from which they can obtain security.

But once Man realizes that the feeling of security is something to develop from “within” him he stops looking “without” for this. But this realization comes in very late in life or sometimes never at all. Therefore, individuals who feel this deficiency go in search of dynamic beings who act as spiritual guides. Such guides of vibrant dynamism are known as Avatars in Hindu parlance. And the Voice that guides is recorded and becomes a religious text of scripture.

Those of us who are born in a century where such vibrant dynamic beings are not seen, have to rely on religious scriptures or their interpreters for consolation and guidance. Therefore, as long as man is weak in spirit he needs something to nourish it so that he can pick up those loose ends of his life and find himself a place in society. It is here we have the Guru and disciple relationship. By Guru I mean spiritual Guru who is a reflection of God’s light on earth.

Vivekananda in one of his talks said: “In all living beings there are three sorts of instruments of knowledge. The first is instinct which you find highly developed in animals, the second instrument of knowledge is reasoning. You find it highly developed in man and the third instrument is inspiration. So instinct, reason and inspiration are three instruments of knowledge. Instinct belongs to animals, reason to man and inspiration to God-Men.”

All the three, of course are found in every man in different proportions according to each man’s inner development.

Amongst the three, the reasoning mind can sometimes go off at a tangent and lead us to destructive ways. This is where the inspired sayings contained in religious texts show us the way.

*Mother Mangalam is the president and spiritual leader of The Pure Life Society. For comments or questions you can e-mail her at: info@purelife.org.my

URI Statement on the Crisis in the Middle East

(Approved by the Standing Committee on behalf of the Global Council of
the United Religions Initiative)

As trustees of the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, we write to urge an immediate and complete ceasefire of violence that is currently happening in the Middle East, and a commitment by all parties, including the international community and the world's religions, to find the will to complete, implement and invest in a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We write as leaders of the URI, a global interfaith organization active in 70 countries, through the work of 400 member Cooperation Circles. URI's purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. We have many members in the Middle East, including Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians. The URI has consultative status at the UN through ECOSOC.

As leaders of an interfaith organization dedicated to resolving conflict without resorting to violence, we recognize and laud the heroic work of Palestinians, Israelis and peace advocates all over the world who are dedicated to rising above the violence and working for peace, justice and healing.

We believe that a new day is possible when a comprehensive, just peace will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We call on all involved - Israelis and Palestinians, people of other nations, international bodies, religions, and grassroots groups working heroically for peace - to take the following steps to speed the dawning of that day:

* To stop the violence immediately.

* To supply immediate humanitarian aid to address urgent suffering and long-term aid to rebuild.

* To commit to negotiate, invest in and implement a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

* To invest in every means possible to weave a fabric of genuine, mutually honoring community among Palestinians and Israelis at the grassroots level.

* To invest less in armaments and more in social and economic infrastructure.

We commit to do all we are able, beginning with support for URI member Cooperation Circles in Israel and Palestine, and engaging our members around the world to help these steps be fulfilled.

And we commit to pray and meditate that violence will cease, peace prevail and a life of hope be restored to the long-suffering people of this region.

URI Global Youth CC Statement on the current situation in Gaza.

We, the members of the Global Youth Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, wish to express our concern at the current situation in Gaza. Conflict creates hardship and fear for people on both sides and takes its toll on civilians, both young and old, and the livelihood of communities and economies.

As a youth network we sympathise with our fellows, the young people who are caught up in the crisis, in both Gaza and in the Israeli communities that live in fear of rocket attacks. Young people are the future of any community and we feel that they should not have to live amidst a cycle of violence and hardship. In order for young people to make meaningful and healthy contributions to society, it is imperative that they grow and develop within a space of security and integrity.

We are also concerned about those who are vulnerable in these times, such as the elderly and the sick. They need access to medical resources and clean, safe environments. In times of crisis these people suffer the most because basic facilities are less accessible.

They also need to live without the fear created by constant attacks. This situation is robbing people on both sides of basic human rights that are theirs by international law.

We implore both sides to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation and reduce hostilities so that aid and supplies can reach the people of Gaza to alleviate their suffering and so the Israeli people can live without fear. It is our hope that both sides can cooperate in order to achieve a lasting peace and quality of life for all people. Our goal, as members of a global interfaith community, is to achieve this all over the world.