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Interfaith Summit Service 2007

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IFFACT Summit Service 2007 Venue
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Canberra Sukyo Mahikari Centre

Sukyo Mahikari on Line

Interfaith Summit Service

 

Sunday 16 December 2007 2pm-3:30pm.

 

Hosted by Sukyo Mahikari Centre Canberra,

Australia-Oceania Regional Headquarters

 

in cooperation with Interfaith Forum ACT (IFFACT)

Rev Dr James Haire
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Introduce Theme

Theme: “The Heart of Service”

 

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Givers & Gifts

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Welcome to Canberra Sukyo Mahikari Centre

Interfaith Gathering Program

  • 1. Acknowledge the Ngunnawal People by Master of Ceremonies, Mr Rod Rutherford, Chair, Centre Support Team, Canberra Sukyo Mahikari Centre.
  • 2. Welcome Ms Jennifer Quinn, Director, Canberra Sukyo Mahikari Centre
  • 3. Introduction Rev Professor James Haire, Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
  • 4. Scripture readings from representatives of IFFACT groups.

Each representative made an offering of a food gift which was afterwards presented to the Salvation Army, by Mrs Alma Armstrong, Community Liaison Officer of the Interfaith Forum ACT.

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Bright Light Koto Recital

    • 5. Address The ‘Heart of Service’ from the Sukyo Mahikari perspective.
    • Dr Andris Tebecis, Regional Director, Sukyo Mahikari Australia-Oceania Region.
    • 6. “Duo for flute and viola” by Franz Hoffmeister ‘The Maruki Duo’, Mr John Gould and Ms Anne Stevens.
    • 7. Prayer for the World Ms Margaret Thomson, Organiser of “Pause for Peace”.
    • 8. Koto recital “Bright Light” by Mr Luke Bartolomei, Sukyo Mahikari Australia-Oceania Regional Youth Group Coordinator.

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Baha'i ACT

Bahá’í reading by Ms Shephalie Williams

It is appropriate and befitting that in this illumined age - the age of the progress of the world of humanity - we should be self-sacrificing and should serve the human race..... Love ye all religions and all races with a love that is sincere and show that love through deeds ..... action is best. (see below for full text)

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Brahma Kumaris

Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre: Ms Panna Patel

In Raja Yoga, the highest form of service is to reveal the love of God to everyone through our every thought, word and virtuous actions. The highest donation is considered to be the donation of virtues and spiritual powers to humanity. Our service is to awaken and strengthen the original virtues that are within each and everyone of us - divine virtues such as love, peace, humility, benevolence, gratitude and gentleness.

 

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Buddhist

Buddhist reading by Dr Willie Senanayake

.... According to the teachings of the Buddha, it is important that we nurture and practise loving kindness and compassion towards others. They are the great removers of tension, the great peace-makers in social conflict, and the great healers of wounds suffered in the struggle of existence. They level social barriers, build harmonious communities, revive joy and promote human brotherhood. .... (see below for full text)

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Ecumenical Christian

Duties of Christians; Romans 12 v 1-21. Read by Ms Jill McKenzie

And so I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy - the kind He can accept. When you think what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honouring each other. Never be lazy in your work but serve the Lord enthusiastically. (see below for full text)

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Hindu

Hindu reading by Mrs Veena Agarwall

We humans are social creatures. All things in the world are not intended for the exclusive enjoyment of any single person. They are to be shared by all. Our survival depends on each other and is very important for our wellbeing. We cannot exist without one another helping in some way. We must convince ourselves that life cannot continue for long without others serving one another. Master-servant, ruler-ruled, employer-employee, parents-children, all these are bound by mutual service. Everyone is a sevak (servant). .... When right action is coupled with spiritual wisdom (Janaana) there is true service.To feel that one should be the sole enjoyer of the results of one’s actions is a sign of selfishness. (see below for full text)

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ACT Jewish Community

Jewish reading by Dr Anita Shroot, President, ACT Jewish Community.

"The world depends on three things: on Torah study, on the service of G_D and on kind deeds". Talmudic era teaching of Rabbi Shimon the Righteous of the Great Assembly.

"Be not like servants who serve the master for the sake of receiving reward, but ratherbe like servants who serve the master for the sake of the awe of Heaven to be on you" Simon the Righteous via Antigonas.

"Good for the sake of good - for the sake of Heaven". (see below for full text)

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Canberra Islamic Community

Muslim reading by Mr Ahmed Youssef, President, Canberra Islamic Centre

Readings from the Qur’an delivered in Arabic followed by English translation.

And know that God’s Apostle is among you: were he to comply with your inclinations in each and every case, you would be bound to come to harm (as a community). But as it is, God has caused your faith to be dear to you, and has given it beauty in your hearts, and has made hateful to you all denial of the truth and all iniquity and all rebellion against what is good. Such indeed are they who follow the right course. No calamity can ever befall (man) unless it be by God’s leave: hence, whoever believes in God guides (his) own heart (towards this truth) and God has full knowledge of everything.

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Sathya Sai

Sathya Sai reading by Mr Mark Durr.

To me Service is a practical method of developing spirituality. Sathya Sai Baba says “The best way to Love God is to Love All and Serve All” and “Hands that help are holier than the lips that pray”.....

.... The service activities that we undertake are meant to experience unity in society. It is a great mistake if you think you are serving others. In fact you should not consider anybody as ‘other’, for all are embodiments of divinity. .... Once man realises that God is all-pervasive, he will be free from suffering. In order to get rid of suffering, man has to practise the principle of unity in society. (see below for full text)

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Address by Dr A Tebecis Regional Director

Sukyo Mahikari reading by Ms Jennifer Quinn.

followed by the Address by

 

Dr Andris Tebecis, Regional Director, Sukyo Mahikari Australia-Oceania Region

 

“I teach the spirit of service and try to enable members to offer service by establishing various systems for this. The aim is to enable everyone to grow spiritually and be of service in promoting the present stage of God’s plan. Unfortunately, some people think that God exists only to grant them blessings and favours. There is nothing worse than faith that tries to take advantage of God for one’s own ends. To grow steadily, centres need to enable members to understand the meaning of service and help them to offer service on their own initiative. God is trying to establish a new civilisation in this age of ways contrary to divine principles. Strive to harmonise your innermost attitude with the will of God so that you will be able to play a role in His great plan. It is important to abandon the desire to let God do all the work and to cultivate the sincere desire quickly to become a soul who can be of service to Him. In faith directed toward God, your innermost attitude is what is important to God. This is why service offered with gratitude on your own initiative will lead to the growth and prosperity of your centre.” From “Golden Teachings” by Kotama Okada, founder of Sukyo Mahikari.

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Ms Anne Stevens

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Mr John Gould

Entertainment:

“Duo for flute and viola” by Franz Hoffmeister

 

‘The Maruki Duo’,

 

Mr John Gould and Ms Anne Stevens.

Luke Bartolomei
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Light Fingered Music

Koto recital “Bright Light” by Mr Luke Bartolomei, Sukyo Mahikari Australia-Oceania Regional Youth Group Coordinator.

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Visitors Relaxing

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Visitors
















The Readings


Bahá’í reading by Ms Shephalie Williams

It is appropriate and befitting that in this illumined age - the age of the progress of the world of humanity - we should be self-sacrificing and should serve the human race. Every universal cause is divine and every particular one is temporal. The principles of the divine Manifestations of God were, therefore, all-universal and all-inclusive.

 

Every imperfect soul is self-centred and thinketh only of his own good. But as his thoughts expand a little he will begin to think of the welfare and comfort of his family. If his ideas still more widen, his concern will be the felicity of his fellow citizens; and if still they widen, he will be thinking of the glory of his land and of his race. But when ideas and views reach the utmost degree of expansion and attain the stage of perfection, then will he be interested in the exultation of humankind. He will be the well-wisher of all men and a seeker of the wealth and prosperity of all lands. This is indicative of perfection.

 

Thus, the Divine Manifestations of God had a universal and all-inclusive conception. They endeavoured for the sake of everyone’s life and engaged in the service of universal education. The area of their aims was not limited - nay, rather, it was wide and all-inclusive.

Therefore, ye must also be thinking of everyone, so that mankind may be educated, character moderated and this world may turn into a Garden of Eden.

 

Love ye all religions and all races with a love that is sincere and show that love through deeds and not through the tongue; for the latter hath no importance, as the majority of men are, in speech, well-wishers, while action is best.

 

Abdu’l – Baha

 

Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre reading by Ms Panna Patel

As Brahma Kumaras and Kumaris, we live our lives based on four pillars:-

Spiritual knowledge

Meditation (Raja yoga)

Putting the knowledge into practice

Service.

 

To the extent that we study the spiritual knowledge, have yoga (union) with God, and imbibe that knowledge into our lives, to that extent, the desire to be of service emerges naturally and easily.

 

The love of God is at the heart of service. When we experience God’s love and divine virtues through yoga, we become the instruments to pass on those experiences to others

 

In Raja Yoga, the highest form of service is to reveal the love of God to everyone through our every thought, word and virtuous actions. The highest donation is considered to be the donation of virtues and spiritual powers to humanity. Our service is to awaken and strengthen the original virtues that are within each and everyone of us - divine virtues such as love, peace, humility, benevolence, gratitude and gentleness.

 

We send vibrations of peace, love and power to the world, particularly to affected areas and peoples. By linking with God in yoga, and by having the pure desire to send positive vibrations with a true and honest heart, you feel as though you are actually present and giving power. In fact once a month, all BK centres around the world, participate in a World Meditation Hour for peace.

 

The University has undertaken a number of projects to serve the world and continues to do so. During the UN Year of Peace (1986), the organization launched The Million Minutes for Peace project world-wide with a purpose of  emphasising that peace begins within each individual. Currently we are promoting a global programme called ‘Just a minute’. This programme encourages people to take time out, to reflect and to reach out to our families and communities. Practised regularly, just one minute of silence is guaranteed to change your life for the better

 

Throughout the world, BK centres play a significant role in the local community. Activities are designed to involve people in identifying and implementing the positive spiritual values, ethics and understanding necessary to improve the quality of family, community and professional life. Ultimately giving blessings and receiving blessings is our service. The opportunity to be of such service is a blessing. The consciousness of God’s love is a blessing. Our service is to awaken this awareness in others through sharing of the ancient practice of Raja Yoga - linking with the Raja - the king of souls – God.

 

Buddhist reading by Dr Willie Senanayake

I focus my reading on “loving kindness and compassion” the two very important human qualities that have been given great emphasis in Buddhism. According to the teachings of the Buddha, it is important that we nurture and practise loving kindness and compassion towards others. They are the great removers of tension, the great peace-makers in social conflict, and the great healers of wounds suffered in the struggle of existence. They level social barriers, build harmonious communities, revive joy and promote human brotherhood.

 

Loving kindness is a prominent feature of the Buddhist way of life promoting good will, care and consideration to all beings , without exception, to your friends and relatives as well as those who would harm you. This aspect of Buddhism is very challenging as it is often quite natural for us to dislike or feel anger towards those who do us harm.

 

Buddha said “All good works whatever are not worth an iota of the love which sets free the heart. Love which sets the heart free comprises good work. It shines, gives light and radiance”.

From Dhammapada 1: 3-5 “Hate is not overcome by hate. By love alone is hate appeased. This is the eternal law”.

From Metta Sutta Buddha said “Just as a mother, even at the risk of her life, loves and protects her child - so let man cultivate this Universal Love - towards the whole universe”.

From Metta Sutta “Whatever living creatures there be, without exception, weak or strong, long, huge or middle sized, or short or bulky, whether visible or invisible, and those living far or near, the born and those seeking birth, may all things be happy”.

 

One way of developing the feeling of broader love towards others is through loving kindness meditation. This is simple and when applied consistently is also very effective. This essentially involves you generating feelings of loving kindness:

 to yourself,

 to a close family member or friend,

 to a neutral person - someone you know, but have no special feelings toward,

 to a hostile person - someone with whom you are currently having difficulty.

In this way feelings of hostility are washed away and the destructive energy that has been directed towards the person in mind can be redirected down more positive channels. The pursuit of happiness is not difficult if we have the right mental attitude. All human beings have the potential to give and receive love. The more love we give the more we shall receive in return.

The Buddha taught the following to one of his disciples, Rahila:-

“Rahila, practise loving kindness to overcome anger. Loving kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return. Practise compassion to overcome cruelty. Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return. Practise sympathetic joy to overcome hatred. Sympathetic joy arises when one rejoices in the happiness of others and wishes others well-being and success. Practise non-attachment to overcome prejudice. Non-attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally. This is because self and others are not separate. Do not reject one thing only to chase after another. I call these the four immeasurables. Practise them and you will become a refreshing source of vitality and happiness for others”.

1 loving kindness ; 2 compassion; 3 sympathetic joy; 4 non-attachment.

 

Duties of Christians; St Paul’s letter to the Romans 12 v 1-21. Read by Ms Jill McKenzie

And so I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy - the kind He can accept. When you think what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.

As God’s messenger I give each of you God’s warning. Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.

God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, then prophesy whenever you can - as often as your faith is strong enough to receive a message from God. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If you are a preacher, see to it that your sermons are strong and helpful. If God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it. If God has given you administrative ability and put you in charge of the work of others, take the responsibility seriously. Those who offer comfort should do so with Christian cheer.

Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honouring each other. Never be lazy in your work but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble and prayerful always. When God’s children are in need, you be the one to help them out. And get in the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night.

If someone mistreats you because you are a Christian, don’t curse him; pray that God will bless him. When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Work happily together. Don’t try to act big. Don’t try to get into the good graces of important people, but enjoy the company of ordinary folk. And don’t think you know it all.

Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through. Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible.

Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for He has said that He will repay those who deserve it. (Don’t take the law into your own hands) Instead, feed your enemy if he is hungry. If he is thirsty give him something to drink and you will be “heaping coals of fire on his head”. In other words he will feel ashamed of himself for what he has done to you. Don’t let evil get the upper hand but conquer evil by doing good.

 

Hindu reading by Mrs Veena Agarwall

We thank the organisers of this gathering for having a prayer meeting on the theme ‘Heart of Service’, much needed at a time when the year is ending and we are preparing for the new year ahead.

 

We humans are social creatures. All things in the world are not intended for the exclusive enjoyment of any single person. They are to be shared by all. Our survival depends on each other and is very important for our wellbeing. We cannot exist without one another helping in some way.

 

We must convince ourselves that life cannot continue for long without others serving one another. Master-servant, ruler-ruled, employer-employee, parents-children, all these are bound by mutual service. Everyone is a sevak (servant). Our dependency and the need to serve one another is a key form of spiritual practice for the Hindu. Particulary selfless service when one performs right action and one achieves purity of heart it leads to the acquisition of the higher spiritual knowledge. When right action is coupled with spiritual wisdom (Janaana) there is true service.To feel that one should be the sole enjoyer of the results of one’s actions is a sign of selfishness.

 

Jewish reading by Dr Anita Shroot

 

"Be not like servants who serve the master for the sake of receiving reward, but ratherbe like servants who serve the master for the sake of the awe of Heaven to be on you" Simon the Righteous via Antigonas.

 

"Good for the sake of good - for the sake of Heaven".

 

 

Muslim reading by Mr Ahmed Youssef

The readings from the Qur’an are first in Arabic. The English translation is below.

And know that God’s Apostle is among you: were he to comply with your inclinations in each and every case, you would be bound to come to harm (as a community). But as it is God has caused your faith to be dear to you, and has given it beauty in your hearts, and has made hateful to you all denial of the truth and all iniquity and all rebellion against what is good. Such indeed are they who follow the right course.

 

No calamity can ever befall (man) unless it be by God’s leave: hence, whoever believes in God guides (his) own heart (towards this truth) and God has full knowledge of everything.

 

Sathya Sai reading by Mr Mark Durr.

To me Service is a practical method of developing spirituality. Sathya Sai Baba says “The best way to Love God is to Love All and Serve All” and “Hands that help are holier than the lips that pray”.

Human life is one of compassion; time is sacred; the heart is pure and the mind is nectarous. Having been blessed with such a sacred human birth, what is man supposed to do? What is the foundation on which the mansion of life is to be built? Every man aspires for peace and happiness. How can one lead a peaceful life?

 

It is possible only when he puts human values into practice. Human values do not need to be acquired from outside; they are latent in every man. If such values are forgotten how can man progress in life? In the first instance, man should enquire into the purpose of his birth.

 

Human life is based on samata (equality) , samaikyata (unity), saubhratrutvam (fraternity) and saujanyam (nobility). They constitute the very foundation of the mansion of life. Life will be meaningless even if one of them is absent. Everone must cultivate and safeguard these four virtues. First of all, man should recognise the meaning of humanness.

 

Truth fosters neeti (morality); righteousness confers khyati (reputation); thyaga (sacrifice) is the Jyoti (light) of life; manava jathi (human race) is a combination of these three - neeti, khyati and jyoti. But man today is neglecting the principles of truth, righteousness and sacrifice. He has to adhere to these principles not for the sake of society but for his own redemption. If you expect to be respected by all, you have to develop self-respect, which is the basis of human life. One who lacks self-respect cannot command respect from others. First and foremost, man should respect others and share his love with others wholeheartedly. This is the primary duty of man. Man is not merely a vyashti jivi ( individual), he is a samashti jivi ( part and parcel of society). Viaashti relates to jivudu (individual), samashti relates to devudu (God). Man has to travel from level of individual to level of society. What is the path prescribed for this?

 

Firstly man has to recognise the common principle of jeevana jyoti (light of life) that is present in all. The principle of Samatvan (equality) can be experienced and practised only when man understands the principle of ekatvam (unity). The service activities that we undertake are meant to experience unity in society. It is a great mistake if you think you are serving others. In fact you should not consider anybody as ‘other’, for all are embodiments of divinity. But man is not making efforts to realise this truth. Hence he is subject to difficulties. Once man realises that God is all-pervasive, he will be free from suffering. In order to get rid of suffering, man has to practise the principle of unity in society. Once he understands the principle of unity, he can attain the Cosmic principle.

 

Sukyo Mahikari reading by Ms Jennifer Quinn.

By Kotama Okada, founder of Sukyo Mahikari, from “Golden Teachings”.

 

“I teach the spirit of service and try to enable members to offer service by establishing various systems for this. The aim is to enable everyone to grow spiritually and be of service in promoting the present stage of God’s plan. Unfortunately, some people think that God exists only to grant them blessings and favours. There is nothing worse than faith that tries to take advantage of God for one’s own ends. To grow steadily, centres need to enable members to understand the meaning of service and help them to offer service on their own initiative.

 

God is trying to establish a new civilisation in this age of ways contrary to divine principles. Strive to harmonise your innermost attitude with the will of God so that you will be able to play a role in His great plan. It is important to abandon the desire to let God do all the work and to cultivate the sincere desire quickly to become a soul who can be of service to Him.

 

In faith directed toward God, your innermost attitude is what is important to God. This is why service offered with gratitude on your own initiative will lead to the growth and prosperity of your centre.”

 

IFF ACT is supported by members of Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian Denominations, Muslim, Sikh, Baha'i, Sathya Sai, Brahma Kumaris, & Sukyo Mahikari communities.