Michael Mauldin: The biggest recent event you never heard of
What if I approached you and said, “I’m going to invite all the leaders and any representatives of the religions and spiritual traditions of the world to meet with me at one time at one place?”
Not only that, but “these religious leaders and people would not spend one minute talking about how special or holy or better their religion was with each other.” And also, “not one person would proselytize or bring up any dogma issues.”
By now you would be turning away and walking fast in the opposite direction.
Well, this is what actually happened Oct. 15-18 in Salt Lake City at the Salt Palace convention center. Some 50 religions and spiritual traditions represented by people from 80 countries joined together … some 10,000 of us … Reclaiming the “Heart of Our Humanity” to work together to increase compassion, peace, justice and sustainability in our homes, neighborhoods, villages, towns, cities, countries and the world. I bet you didn’t hear anything about it on the news.
My wife, Susan Smith, had planned for us to go to the event some time ago as it only comes around every five years — until now — going forward they will hold the Parliament every two years starting in 2017. To our delight, the event was wonderfully overwhelming in heart and mind and spirit.
Consider this, Grass Valley has about 10,000 residents, imagine having all of us together in one place with one purpose; improving Grass Valley, its environs and people. Everyone at this imagined meeting, no matter the politics or the religion, would commit themselves to improving our environment, improving the dignity and rights of women and children, and creating new ways to improve the lives of the homeless and poor while respecting all who were involved.
This was my experience at the Parliament where the “rule,” was the “Golden Rule” which is at the heart of all religious and spiritual and humanistic traditions. To experience this ‘reality’ in action was itself worth the trip.
So for five days we lived in this real “city;” a kaleidoscope of diversity. As it turned out there were in fact about 20 people from Grass Valley at the Parliament … most of us didn’t know that until we got there and “bumped” into one or another at one of the 1,200 workshops/presentations or plenary sessions or film festival, or entertainment stages going from 7 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. each day. The one big frustration was that I could only be at one place at one time. There were so many interesting and thoughtful presentations and discussions going on simultaneously — if only I could have bi-located, but alas I’m not that evolved!
Day One was the inaugural Women’s Assembly Program Initiative for Global Advancement. This was a historic meeting of women of faith from all traditions working on upholding the dignity and human rights of women. A first for the Parliament, my wife and I were filled with the enthusiasm of the speakers and energy of the participants: about 2,500 women and 500 men. “Grandmothers” of many indigenous traditions, tribal elders from Native American and First Peoples tribes where well represented.
Another highlight of the event was a “free lunch” each day, provided by the Sikh community. Sikhs from around the world came to provide “Langar” a tradition of feeding the poor and whomever needs to eat. Yes, the lines were long but moved quickly considering that 5,000 to 10,000 people were filing in to the makeshift Sikh dining hall. Hundreds of well-organized volunteers made us feel welcome and helped us to get in and settled and fed delicious spicy vegetarian food … all you could eat, no hurry, it was amazing to experience such a generous gift. And after feeding so many if there was food left, and somehow there was, the Sikhs went out into the town and fed people at the homeless centers.
The emphasis of the event was “action.” The Dali Lama among others, gently but firmly guided us to go back into our communities and “get busy.”
There’s so much more to say (and do) about the Parliament. I recommend that you check out the website and join one or another of the fine charitable organizations that are a part of our community in Nevada County. Here is the info on where to find out more: http://www.parlimentofreligion.org.
Michael Mauldin lives in Grass Valley.
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