A Re-Commitment to Spirituality for Building Mutual Understanding and Peace
A Middle East-Asia Dialogue -Beirut, Lebanon, November 12-14-2006
Her Holiness Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi’s Message
Om Namah Shivaya
To the embodiments of Divine Love and the Supreme Self, Amma offers her salutations.
Revered Aram I and distinguished dignitaries, let me first express my regret for not being able to attend the function due to having committed to other programs long in advance. My heartfelt support will always be there for meetings such as this one and for any initiatives generated from this conference.
Dialogue between the religions and the religious leaders of the Middle East and Asia who have come together here is extremely important. The Middle East has three important Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Asia has given birth to religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Sikhism, Jainism, Taoism, etc. Together these comprise the major religions of the world.
Most of the conflicts in the world in the name of religion have originated in the Middle East. As such, it is appropriate that such conflicts should come to an end there as well. Amma requests that the religious leaders and the representatives of this conference make a vow to spread from here the message of peace and understanding.
The main problem for practitioners of religions is that they have become influenced by outside forces. But if they are ready to think and act as a united force, they will definitely be able to achieve unity and peace, as impossible as that may seem at present.
Religions were not created to cause problems, but to end them. But when religions get entangled with politics, they become like arrows that have veered off target. Once released, the path of such an arrow is very difficult to correct. The religious scriptures, the religious leaders and their teachings are like the quiver, the bow and the arrow. The real goal is spirituality. The arrows of religious teachings that the leaders take from the quiver of the scriptures should be able to awaken spirituality in the followers. When this target is missed and religions become vehicles for protecting individual interests, problems begin to arise. However, when the goal is spirituality, peace and unity automatically prevail. If one meanders from the goal, everything crumbles down.
How many wars has the human race waged? How many tiny children and innocent ones have been killed? How many billions have been spent in war and weaponry? How many millions of people become mired in the darkness of fear, hunger and poverty? What have we gained from all of this? For whose benefit have we done all this? Political and religious leaders, social workers and cultural ambassadors are constantly making speeches about peace, but today peace is just a mirage.
If we don’t try to find creative solutions to the existing problems and implement them, people will lose faith in such conferences. That should not happen. This conference should produce at least a glimmer of hope. If that is achieved, it can slowly grow into a raging fire, which will then become radiant like the sun and illumine the entire world. May this become a reality.
Praying that the blessing of the Supreme Self makes this goal achievable, Amma conveys her best wishes for this conference.
-Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
12 – 14 November 2006 — Beirut, Lebanon
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi was invited to attend a Middle East-Asia Inter-religious Dialogue “A Recommitment to Spirituality for Mutual Understanding and Peace” organized by the Global Peace Initiative of Women in partnership with Catholicos Aram the First and held in Beirut, Lebanon from 12th to 14th November 2006.
The event brought together around 50 participants from different religions and religious sects. The attendees included His Holiness Catholicos Aram I (Patriarch of the Armenian Orthodox Church), the Honourable Master Sheng Yen (Buddhist, “Dharma Drum Mountain”), His Holiness Swami Parmeshananda (Hindu), His Holiness Bour Kri (Buddhist-Cambodia), Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian (Armenian Primate of Tehran), Sheikh Muhammed Najaf (Shiite from Iran), the Venerable Guo Yuan (Buddhist, Taiwan), Archbishop George Saliba (Syrian Orthodox), Dr. Ugyen Tashi (Tibetan Hindu monk-Taiwan), Dr. Hamid Ahmad El-Rifai (Muslim-Sunni, Lebanon), Sister Maureen (Hindu, Brahma Kumari), Dr. Abbas Halabi (Druze Faith, Lebanon), Mr. Hares Chehab (Maronite Catholic) and Archbishops from Eastern churches in Iraq, in addition to Dr. Joan Campbell (Former General Secretary of the US Council of Churches) and Rev. James Dean Morton (Interfaith Center, New York).
The topics discussed included “Compassion and Tolerance,” “Prayer: The Heart of Spirituality,” “Sacredness of Life: a Gift and a Call to Spirituality.” Discussion groups were formed after each session.
Due to her pre-booked schedule, Amma was not able to attend the event. She did however send a written message to the gathering, which was read during the morning session of the 14th by Priyan (Lawyer Fuad Nassif, a Lebanese resident of Mata Amritanandamayi Math, Amritapuri.) Amma’s words went straight to the hearts of the audience, who responded with great enthusiasm, showing their deep appreciation of her message. Read complete message…
The conference included visits to the Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, to the Grand Mufti of the Sunni Muslims and to the Mufti of the Shiite community. There were also visits to residential neighbourhoods in Beirut destroyed by air raids during the recent war, and encounters with youth, orphans and disadvantaged children.
The conference’s recommendations were adopted in the concluding session. These included words from Amma’s message that religion should be separate from politics, as well as the need for deeper continuous dialogue and the need for the spiritual leaders who participated in the conference to work together to for the common good.
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