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Interfaith Paradigm for Learning to Live Together
Introduction and Welcome Address-23rd April
In this era, when hatred can be expressed with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, we urgently need to hear some unifying story. In view of the current events and unanswered questions, shaking our faith, we need to become more acquainted with all prophets through the cascade of familiar, forgotten, rejected and unheard teachings. Let us admit that similarities and commonalities do exist among all faiths. Let some True Light radiate from each one of them.

Let’s thrash out Interfaith Paradigm for learning to live together. All that we wish to do is to systematically organize thoughts and wisdom of the spiritual leaders of all faiths.

The Interfaith Paradigm comprises a common theological platform, universal human values, basic message of unity, a universal language, culture, manners in a nutshell some sort of unity of mankind. Today, there is a need to change the mindset of our religious leaders. They should undergo a modernizing program. The value system of every religion is its soul, whereas institutions and rituals constitute its body.

The starting point of this paradigm is that God is one, the wise call it by many names. There is total agreement among all religious leaders that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. He is the creator, preserver and destroyer. Everything exists in him and He exists in everything and exists outside too. Secondly, we are all children of one God. He is the Soul of Souls. He is timeless, formless, birthless and deathless. Thirdly, we should sing his glory. And lastly, we should serve God in the wellbeing of all, irrespective of caste, color, creed and nationality etc. Service to God needs no boundaries. Thus, serve the whole mankind. All religions Scriptures stress on the righteous deeds. It is possible to identify universal human values which form an important characteristic of the Interfaith Paradigm.

A Hindu who meditates on Brahma.
A Muslim who praises Allah.
A Sikh who sings the glory of Akal Purakh.
A Christian who magnifies Jesus.
A Jew who magnifies Adonai.
A Zoroastrian who honours Ahura Mazda may have differing interpretations of God’s nature, name and ways, but in a united way, they are all reaching out to the same Creator.

The social concept termed “the golden rule” is found in all writings. All Holy Scriptures and books of ethical philosophy are replete with positive and negative expression of the Golden rule.

Religious power like any other power can be used for a good cause or a bad one. What we need so desperately in our world today is mobilization of religious power on behalf of world peace. This power, if mobilized among the right people all over the world, it can usher in a golden period in human history.

It is well - known that the Asian religious and cultural traditions have made significant contribution to creating an environment of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. This continuing legacy has a great relevance for the intercultural and intercivilizational dialogue, which needs to be projected and highlighted in the contemporary world.

Every effort of interfaith and intercultural dialogue is a new initiative and a new beginning. Let this initiative cross the narrow national boundaries and exclusivism. Let us highlight the shared wisdom and light of the great religious teachers of the world. May this light shine brightly. May there be peace on Earth. May diverse cultures and civilizations coexist.

The Colloquium this morning has been organized to explore, discover and formulate Interfaith Paradigm to Live Together – which we should learn, understand and follow in day to day life so that we can live together in peace, harmony, love, brotherhood. So that we stop fighting with each other and we reunite mankind. So that we could restore the pristine glory of religion.

In this embattled world, bedeviled and vitiated by double standards, ignorance, distortion of the messages of prophets and misinterpretation of Holy Scriptures. We recognize one thing that religion is a great power like nuclear energy, which can be put to positive use or destructive purposes. I believe as religious people we have tremendous responsibility to present truthful and unbiased interpretation of Holy Scriptures.

Interfaith Paradigm is not meant to eclipse other faiths, much less replace them. It is not a synergy of all faiths. It is not a syncretization or a mix of all faiths. It should represent a samagam of the Universal Human Values embodied in all religions. It begins with the premise that subject matter of all religions is the same. Allah is one. We are all his creation. We should remember him 24hrs and sing songs of his glory. That we should do good and righteous deeds and worship the Lord in the wellbeing of all (chapter XII, Gita).

Hukam Badshah but Khalkat Khuda ke. In fact, a person who understands and follows his religion correctly, embraces all. Guru Nanak says: there is no Hindu, there is no Muslim. Meaning thereby, that all are children of the same God. It is essential to understand the difference between Body and Soul. At the level of Soul all are the same. There is no Hindu, no Muslim, no Pakistani, no American etc. All these designations are external designation.
 
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