Leigh Taylor-Young and I participated recently in the Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia. We gathered with over 10,000 fellow peacemakers, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Although this was Leigh's first visit to the Parliament, I attended in 1999 when the Parliament was held in Capetown, South Africa. At that time, I spoke during the Peace Pole dedication ceremony on Robben Island, the site of the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela attended that Parliament as well and spoke of his "debt" to religion throughout his life.
A prime theme of the Parliament this year focused on "Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World". The Parliament brought together the religious/spiritual world with the scientific/secular world as a means to address our environmental crises, including the global warming so powerfully affecting our planet.
Early on Saturday morning this year, Leigh and I presented an "observance" --- a category of presentations at the Parliament where a religion or group offers a form of worship, practice, meditation, or invocation. We chose to present an Invocation of the Light along with chanting Ani Hu, a form of worship and chanting that we teach in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA). We called in the Light, and then the group chanted together Ani, an ancient term that brings forward the quality of empathy, and Hu, an ancient name for God.
Following a moment for the group's quiet inner contemplation, I presented an annotated version of the Gathering of the Peacemakers meditation that I had recorded in 1989. During the guided meditation, I described our crossing through a river that cleanses and purifies, serving as a baptism of the Spirit in All. This meditative baptism gives us the opportunity to let go of the past and move forward refreshed and renewed. In addition, I spoke of the opportunity we all have to join other peacemakers in this inner journey, which I see as a calling for all peacemakers.
Leigh introduced her long-time ministry which supports planetary healing and restoration of the natural world. She spoke of her many years of devoted service as a representative to the United Nations as well as the Institute for Individual and World Peace (IIWP). Leigh then presented a new version of the Spirit of Peace meditation that she had recorded in 1989. This new guided meditation invoked a beautiful presence of peace and healing for ourselves and our planet as Leigh noted repeatedly "and it is good".
A quintessential moment at the Parliament occurred as part of a presentation on the "Green Patriarch", a reference to Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church which reportedly has over 250 million followers at this time. The presentation was sponsored by the Forum on Religion and Ecology established by professors at Yale University. Patriarch Bartholomew traces the oldest uninterrupted lineage of Christian Church leadership, long before the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church, all the way back to the first of the Patriarchs, none other than the Apostle Andrew. Since 1997, Patriarch Bartholomew has led an international effort through joint symposiums with leaders from Christian, Catholic (including the last two Popes), Muslim, Hebrew, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and several indigenous traditions along with prominent ecologists and scientists.
During this presentation, we viewed a film in which a group of over 200 leaders and major news media personnel traveled by ship to an arctic location in Greenland where the largest ice cap in the world has been melting at an alarming rate. On the bow of the ship which was anchored at the foot of an immense glacier, the religious leaders joined hands with Patriarch Bartholomew while he led the group in a prayer. The group continued holding in silence and then turned to face the glacier with their prayerful offerings. At the same time, the local Inuit and Saami tribes gathered in kayaks upon the waters below.
As the environmental crisis appears to be worsening, many people fear that the combined measures taken so far are insufficient to correct and restore our natural world. Many fear we are not able to provide what is needed to avert increasing cataclysmic occurrences from affecting the entire planet and everyone of us on Earth. A significant portion of the ecological and scientific world is acknowledging that what is called for now is a leadership of the masses of humanity. What is needed is inspiration on the order of the miraculous --- actions positively affecting millions upon millions across every land and into the seas and the skies.
Religious leadership is seen as a far greater influence upon the masses than any other form of leadership, including political or ethnic groups. More of the religious leadership, involving hundreds of millions and billions of people around the world, need to call upon their followers locally and globally to take corrective measures that would turn the tide. Suggestions include churches, temples, and shrines around the world demonstrating energy and pollution-reducing measures, such as the use of solar panels and more greening of their many land holdings..
We are certainly being called upon to send our prayers and Light for the highest good of all. Our individual and collective actions are vitally important to help make our individual world and the world at large a better place. What do I see? With God all things are possible. With the highest God, we are not called into fear and worry nor the callings of those in the line of Cassandra or Chicken Little. We are called upon to move into the presence that loves and cares for all, including all the natural forms of the creation.
Those leading this call to action at the Parliament, including Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim of Yale University and Martin Frick of the Global Humanitarian Forum along with many other presenters, encouraged us to move to the awe and wonder of our world. With that inspiration and hope, we can then become full participants in change for the better. Such change begins with you and me.
At a follow-up discussion for Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Benedictine, and other prominent leaders of the world's religions, Leigh initiated a petition for that leadership to make an appearance at the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference. Can you envision the leadership of the world's religions calling upon the entire world to make a radical change to heal and restore the planet to its harmonic balance with flourishing becoming the result?
John-Roger. D.S.S. said, "What You Can Behold, You Can Become." What we can behold for the world, can become. Our imagination is not limited unless we allow it to be so. It begins with each one of us individually.
Perhaps right now you can pause for a moment to call upon God and the Christ within you to bless our planet, envisioning all who are in leadership and those who are called upon to help to make a change for the best. Let us also invoke the Spirit of Peace in All and see ourselves enjoining in the Gathering of Peacemakers. Let us become the blessings that already are for ourselves, for the world, and for all of God's creation. Let us let go and let God.
Baruch Bashan (the blessings already are)
John Morton, D.S.S. is the author of two inspiring books, The Blessings Already Are and You Are the Blessings: Meditations and Reflections on Life, God and Us. To learn more about John's works, visit www.theBlessings.org. Contact John at JohnMorton@theBlessings.org.