As you read this article, there are approximately 25 religious wars taking place on our planet (http://www.religioustolerance.org/curr_war.htm). No wonder the Baha'i Faith in 1949 designated the third Sunday in January, this year on the 17th, as World Religion Day. The intention of the day is to:
- promote understanding and dialogue between the followers of all religions
- call attention to the common foundation of their spiritual principles
- emphasize that religion must be the cause of unity
It’s quite difficult to have a conversation with someone from a different religion from yours when yours is the dominant or majority religion in the area. One can begin to assume that there really aren’t other religions or that they are really of no consequence. It might be helpful to note at this point that not all of the approximate 400 churches or religious gatherings in Jackson, Mississippi, are Christian. Known as “The City of Soul,” Jackson is also home to followers in the religious traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and other spiritual practices.
Let’s look at just some of the examples:
Jackson Zen Group on Old Canton Road 601-982-0402
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha Hindu Temple on Greenway Drive http://www.swaminarayan.org/
Mississippi Muslim Association on Old McDowell Road http://mmajackson.org/
International Museum of Muslim Cultures on East Pascagoula Street http://www.muslimmuseum.org/
Beth Israel Congregation on Old Canton Road http://ms001.urj.net/
Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple on Welota Drive 601-922-8202
To find our common foundations with other religions, it might be helpful to begin with the Golden Rule. Almost every religious tradition has its own version of it. We are probably most familiar with the Christian version of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But the Buddhist version is “hurt not others in a way that you yourself would find hurtful.” Hindus subscribe that “this is the sum of duty: do naught to others which if done to thee would cause thee pain.” The rendering in Islam is “no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” The Jewish tradition refers to their version as the entire law: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary.”
What if we all lived our lives as if the Golden Rule were the most important principle in human relations and that everything else was just complementary? Perhaps the result would be harmonious unity, one of the goals of World Religion Day.
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