On January 1 I was invited to speak at an interfaith summit of religious leaders in New Delhi. Organized by Dr B.K. Modi, a renowned Indian businessman and humanitarian who was instrumental in the founding of the UN's World Council of Religious Leaders, the event convened leaders of all the major religions of India in an attempt to help see beyond their differences and find the common value shared by all: that God is love. A world united in peace and harmony is the goal of all the major traditions of humanity.
The event sowed the seed of the Global Citizen Forum, an international network of spiritual and world leaders, change makers, nobel laureates and academics dedicated to expounding a more global vision of life, transcending the prejudice, separation and conflict generated by fear-based behaviours and inspiring the world to unite as one human family. By focusing on the common source inherent in each individual, instead of on the differences that separate us, we can begin to transform the world around us from the inside out.
As a member of the core committee, I view this Forum as an inspiring and deeply significant initiative. The time has come for all humans to take responsibility for the world they live in through the expansion of love-consciousness, which directs each individual's actions towards a world based in unity. Unity is an internal experience. When I realize that I am the world, my nature is solely to give.
I left the summit with the task of bringing the Global Citizen Forum to Mexico in October 2014. Itself a hub of spirituality and cultural fusion, Mexico is a central point where leaders, academics and thinkers from North and South America can converge for this unique encounter, bringing traditions, religions and philanthropic initiatives together in a common goal of the betterment of humankind. The event will focus on the underlying experience that is beyond our intellectual differences: the love-consciousness that transcends duality, within which we are all one. From this space of commonality, the event will address pressing issues such as racism, gender equality, caring for the elderly, environmental sustainability, human rights and conflict resolution. The event will encourage spiritual evolution, reaching beyond the individualistic view of life to perceive the world in a more global sense, irrespective of religion, nationality, color or gender.
How can I contribute to a more peaceful world? This will be the focus of the event.
Throughout history, champions in the field of human rights have inspired the downtrodden to rise above abuse and discrimination. Many of these individuals have shown, through their personal struggle, that hardship and oppression can be overcome, that the trials and tribulations of life do not have to limit our achievement; that we can move beyond our shackles and find greatness if we trust in ourselves and stay true to our hearts.
These individuals do not come as saviors but as living examples of the potential of humankind. Let us use the awe and veneration they inspire in us to activate those qualities in ourselves. If we are to create a just, compassionate society, we must all contribute through our own personal transformation.
We may not be directly involved in peacemaking initiatives, altruistic activities or conflict resolution, but the cultivation of inner awareness ignites the desire to give in all of us; by healing ourselves, we are all becoming peacemakers.
I hope the Forum will inspire its participants to foster change within themselves; to establish inner growth and personal responsibility as the driving force behind all initiatives and programs focused on the betterment of human life, for the foundation of any significant social change lies in the hearts of those involved. Let's explore some ways in which inner change leads to a more peaceful world.
Prejudice comes from a superficial view of life, for on the surface, we are all different. Human diversity means different cultures, different talents, different personalities.
Yet when we cultivate a deeper vision, we see that, on a fundamental level, none of our differences matter. We find common ground: we all share self-awareness. We are all alive, and the flame of life speaks a common language: the language of peace, the language of love. Different religions have given it different names; each culture, each language, and ultimately each individual will have its own unique interpretation, but we must go beyond the words used to describe the indescribable and find a common experience if we are to unite as one human family. This is where true equality is found: beyond the surface level of diversity, in the heart of being. There we discover our wholeness, and when we do, we can appreciate the beauty of all life; we can see the flame of life in every person. Cultivating an inner awareness of the experience that unites us all is fundamental if we wish to see beyond our differences and come together as one.
The best way to promote empowerment in others is to empower ourselves through love-consciousness; then people will see the love-consciousness that shines forth from our being, and it will inspire them to cultivate the same within themselves.
When we are full of love, we feel empowered. When we accept ourselves and trust in ourselves, we feel inspired. Negative criticism no longer weighs so heavy on our shoulders, for we value ourselves too highly to let it in. If someone values their car, they keep it clean and well maintained; likewise, if we value our heart, we keep it positive and open. True empowerment must come from within. This represents the difference between empowerment and encouragement: other people can encourage us, but only we can empower ourselves through our own feeling of self-worth.
Promoting Peaceful Behavior
If we mistreat ourselves -- judging ourselves, beating ourselves up, regretting past mistakes, repressing natural urges -- we will mistreat those around us. If we are gentle and loving toward ourselves, our actions and interactions will become peaceful and loving. We will become beacons of peace, radiating tranquility and love into our environment.
The idea of "fighting for peace" is contradictory; you cannot put out fire with fire. If you see injustice, cruelty and violence in your surroundings, eliminate them within yourself. This is the most concrete and potent way you can contribute to healing the world.
You can become a member of the Global Citizen Forum here.