|Green Gulch Farm & Zen Center|
Last month I attended one of MIC’s religious leaders’ gatherings at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon, California. As is customary with these gatherings, three leaders from three different religious traditions spoke on the same topic or theme, followed by small group discussions and Q&A with the presenters.
At this gathering, we explored and shared “how we can speak from our different faith perspectives in a way that not only honors our similarities but also honors our diversity and places of disagreement.”
The Rev. Stephen Hale of Green Gulch Zen Center said Zen teaches practitioners to honor the similarities and differences of all faiths. Zen also stresses impermanence and seeks to end suffering. With respect to theism, trying to prove or disprove the existence of God(s), efforts are futile because “ultimate reality is beyond comprehension.” Rather, one’s efforts are better expended in cultivating and acting with kindness, generosity, and compassion towards all.
Moina Shaiq, President of the Tri-City Interfaith Council and founder of the Muslim Support Network, has dedicated her life to dispelling misunderstandings of Islam and its followers. She maintains that all religions and their practitioners are different so we must look beyond exterior appearance. She advocates getting to know one’s neighbors in the surrounding area of forty homes in diameter
Neighborly neglect seems more the norm in contemporary society than in earlier times. Nowadays people focus on careers and acquisitions, and families relocate more frequently, in my view. I think her suggestion is a good one. We humans fear what we do not know, so the obvious remedy is to listen and learn, and to reciprocate.
When queried about the prescriptions, prohibitions, and exhortations in sacred text, she responded that one is judged based on piety over obeying texts. This statement directly contradicts the interpretations of the precepts of the Koran by those who seek to eliminate or convert all non-Muslims by jihad. I welcome Moina’s alternative views.
The third speaker, the Rev. Rob McClellan, Senior Pastor at host congregation Westminster Presbyterian, said that when he was at Reed College in Oregon, either he or a group with which he was affiliated issued an apology by testifying to all the wrongs done in the name of religion.
Generally speaking, I love these opportunities for religious people to share their views, beliefs, and experiences in an appreciative, non-judgmental milieu of multi-faith colleagues. I’m grateful to Stephen, Moina, and Rob for their sharing and to Marin Interfaith Council for providing the opportunity.
[Please bear with me, readers, because since my stroke I cannot write clearly and quickly. I’m interpreting some sloppy notes, hoping they are accurate.]