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


Listening is the essence of true dialogue. It is about silencing our minds so that we can hear what is in the heart of the “other.” This space is for essays and articles from friends and supporters of the Circle. We invite you to engage in the spirit of dialogue by “listening” to what is being said with openness, respect and understanding.

Peace Among Religions: A Taoist Perspective

by Mr. Tan Hoe Chieow*

Each and every religion teaches mankind to be peaceful, righteous, virtuous, kind and loving.

All conflicts, be they political, religious or racial must be resolved WITHOUT violence.

To quote some verses from the Tao Te Ching (Chapter 8), the sacred scripture of Taoists:

The sage’s way, Tao is the way of water.
There must be water for life to be, and it can flow wherever.
And water, being true to being water is true to Tao.

Those on the way of Tao, like water need to accept where they find themselves;
And that may often be where water goes to the lowest places, and that is right.

Like a lake the heart must be calm and quiet having great depth beneath it.

The sage rules with compassion, and his word need to be trusted.
The sage needs to know like water how to flow around the blocks and how to find the way through without violence.

Like water, the sage should wait for the moment to ripen and be right: water, you know, never fights, it flows around without harm.

Man, especially political and religious leaders, need to learn how to flow like water. Like water flowing around blocks, they need to learn how to find the way through challenges WITHOUT violence.

All conflicts must be resolved at the negotiating table, through negotiations and dialogue. All avenues must be exhausted to achieve a peaceful solution to conflicts.

Malaysia had often been looked up to as a model country where its citizens of diverse religions, cultures and races living peacefully and harmoniously together. One of the main reasons is that Malaysians display the highest level of TOLERANCE. But more importantly is UNDERSTANDING. Inter-religious dialogue should be held more often to promote understanding of each others’ religions. Understanding comes with respect. We must respect others if you want others to respect you.

As it is said in Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching:

"Follow the nothingness of the Tao; and you can be like it, not needing anything, seeing the wonder and the root of everything.”

This means we must be humble and Selfless.

In Chapter 3 it was mentioned:

“If the sage refuses to be proud, then people wont compete for his attention.
You see if there is nothing to fight for, then there is nothing that can break the flow.”

We must be humble and generous and graceful in what we do, without ever claiming any merit. Our greatness lies in taking no credit.

We must be selfless, we are nothing, we are not important and always look after the interest of others. Then we can see the goodness and the root of everything.

Man must live in peace and harmony among religions. We must be tolerant, understanding, respect and trust one another. All these are universal values of all religions that must be practiced.

We must adopt the Golden Rule that was the fruition from the last conference on Religious Harmony:
“Do unto others what you want others to do unto you“ and “Do not do unto others what you do not want others do unto you.”

This conference on Peace among Religions had indeed brought people of various religions together working in close cooperation to promote Peace among Religions, globally and regionally, But it should not stop there. It should go down to the basic unit, the man on the street, to the villages and housing estates.

Malaysia’s unique “Open House” for Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Christmas and Deepavali should be continued as these activities provide interactions among the races.

I would suggest that residents Association or Rukun Tetangga be roped in to organize inter-religious dialogue and conferences that will promote peace among religions.

Tao zu chi bei!

Mr. Tan Hoe Chieow is the Secretary General of Federation of Taoist Association in Malaysia. He presented this article during the Peace Among Religions interfaith conference organized by InSaF URI KLCC on March 18, 2007 held at the Singhasana Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

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.