Religious plurality must create social harmony

The Dalai Lama offered words of hope and encouragement to a youth delegation of world faiths during his visit to New Zealand last fortnight.

The Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel Peace Laureate met the members of the Interfaith Movement in Auckland on June 10.

He advised the group to work together within their faith communities and in the global interfaith movement.

He advised the 12-member group, comprising representatives from Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Baha’i, Quakers, Sri Chinmoy movement and others, to work together for the benefit of all human beings.

He said that that although religions have diverse philosophical perspectives on life, they all share an emphasis on love and compassion.

“Religion is about cultivating a more peaceful mind. It would therefore be very disappointing if religion becomes a source of conflict. Our traditions share a common message of love and compassion; and patience and tolerance. If we also remember the instructions about forgiveness, there will be no basis for conflict,” he said.

Interfaith hero

The audience was an overwhelming spiritual experience, which will not be forgotten. We regard the Dalai Lama as one of the greatest peace and interfaith heroes of our time. I hope the experience and the message that he offered will inspire us to work tirelessly for interfaith dialogue and collaborative action with all youth in New Zealand, irrespective of their chosen religious or spiritual path.

The Interfaith Movement believes that we must bridges of trust, love, understanding and peace amongst all cultures and ethnicities to counteract the problems facing our very polarised and conflicted world.

The Dalai Lama’s connection with the ‘Free Tibet’ Movement, his principles of unity, peace, compassion and popularisation of Buddhism in the West, make him a sought­-after figure, with his talks selling out at all locations during his New Zealand tour.

He resigned his post as the political leader-in-exile of Tibet in 2011, to focus more on spreading Buddhist teachings and promoting inter-religious unity.

His latest books, ‘Beyond Religion’ and ‘Towards a True Kinship of Faiths’ advocate a universal ethics for all humanity based on common values and kinship between different faiths of the world.

Lachlan MacKay is National Vice-President of the United Nations Association of New Zealand and an international Ambassador for the ‘Council for a Parliament’ of the World’s Religions. The Parliament was first held in Chicago in 1893, during which Swami Vivekananda, the renowned Hindu Monk, offered India’s timeless message to a spellbound Western audience.

The next Parliament is likely to be held in Latin America in 2015. The Parliament convenes usually every five years to bring together various religious and spiritual communities in an atmosphere of harmony and mutual understanding. It also aims to share common values, work through common problems and find common solutions which affect all human beings.

The Group picture appearing here shows the Dalai Lama with (from left) Tom McGuire (Sri Chinmoy), Irene McDowall (Multicultural), Lachlan Mackay (Bahai), Nadiah Ali (Muslim), Char-Lien Tailby, Jonathan Tailby (Quaker), Robin De Haan, Hynn Chin (Buddhist), Grace Reeves (Spiritual), Matt Gardner (Christian) and Rebekah Sands (Bahai).

Photo : The Dalai Lama with Lachlan MacKay in Auckland on June 10

Pictures by Cally Stockdale, Jeremy Russell and Jacqui Walker

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