I grew up in a Sikh family attending the Gurudwara (God’s Doorway) Temple from a very young age. Equality, love and acceptance is the basis of the Sikh faith founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the 15th Century. The Sikh Temple is open to all, and the kitchen (where a daily meal called “langaar”) is served and is free and open to any hungry person entering the temple. If the gunman, Michael Page, entered the Milwaukee Sikh temple wanting a meal that day, he would have been welcomed and served a hearty “langaar”. Instead today we are served another portion of a gruesome reality – the news of the temple shooting which leaves 7 dead. In the aftermath we can examine the reasons for the shooting. As with any incident like this one there are always thoughts in my mind (and I’m sure others) about the shooter, “What type of person does this, and why? As the days pass we will hear more about the shooter, about his life style, etc. and then we return to our lives, still filled with many questions. The only truth I know is this: If Michael Page would have gone to the temple needing help of any kind (food/shelter/warmth/prayer)…my Sikh brothers would have welcomed him and made him comfortable. Surinder Moore
The Yarra River, and all my global friends I am leaving behind. It will be a long airplane ride to home where I am loved. My family and friends have worried about me – they questioned whether I had the strength to make this trip. I know that I have a sick heart. My heart attack took a lot out of me. But, I am recovering, and my heart muscles are repairing themselves. I am blessed with more energy every day. I do not know how many days, months or years I have left on this planet but no one knows that. I do know one thing, however, and it is this: peace will only come to this world when we learn to respect each other.On September 1, 2009, I had a cry a peaceful, personal cry. I was watching Good Morning America,â€ and they had Whitney Houston on as one of their guests. I have always loved listening to the velvet voice of Whitney Houston. She began to sing, I Look to You, and the tears began to flow. If I want to be happy like the Dalai Lama, if I really want to believe that we, the people of this globe, will learn to respect each other, then all I can do is look to you my sisters and brothers of this global family, which I am privileged to experience each day of my life. Together, we will learn to live at peace with each other.
I had lunch with a Tibetan Buddhist monk. She said Wherever I am, the people I am with are my family. She was such a peaceful and happy woman. She has never experienced an earthly family, but is a disciple of the fourteenth Dalai Lama.The Dalai Lama believes that the purpose of life is to be happy. He says, From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering He also says that the more we care about the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. The Dalai Lama would therefore say, with a smile on his face, that we must remove the two greatest hindrances to happiness: anger and hatred. These powerful emotions overwhelm our entire mind “ they control us. Anger and hate, says the Dalai Lama, eclipse the best part of our brain: its rationality. So the energy of anger is almost always unreliable I know my first response when I am angry is to retaliate, which in my experience has almost always been destructive. That is why I am going to frame a picture of the Dalai Lama, and hang it next to my desk. I think I should also record his laugh and listen to it every morning. The Dalai Lama says, It is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister, no matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior our basic natures are the same
The spiritual observances and performances of sacred music and dance experienced at the Parliament of World Religions are reason enough to attend. Wouldn't it be great if we could all learn to experience each others traditions and allow the width and breadth of Gods love to radiate within each of us?
I took a break from the Parliament workshop and found a quiet place to meditate on the banks of the sacred Yarra River. The Yarra River must have looked quite different before Melbourne was born and all the buildings were built. What a gift it is that the Parliament chose to meet along the Yarra River, a river that has played a central role in the practices and beliefs of the Aborigines. As I continued to reflect, I was suddenly honored with the presence of an indigenous Aborigine elderly man who willingly shared the struggles and spiritualities of the Aborigines. He suggested I visit the museum of Aborigine art, which I did and found it hard to leave because, it was so fascinating. The depth of spirituality expressed in the Aboriginal art work is breath-taking.
Several Buddhist monks spent their time creating a piece of art with colored sand from the ocean. Day after day they carefully spread the sand out on a large canvas placed on a table. I asked a monk, What will happen to this beautiful piece of art? When the artists are finished, replied the monk,we will enjoy the work for a moment, and then the sand will be placed back into the ocean How can they spend so much time and energy on a piece of art that will be thrown back into the sea? I asked. The monk replied, That is what happens to all of us, we are a beautiful piece of art, here on this earth for a little while and then we are returned to the earth (or the ocean floor) to become a new piece of art.
It was a beautiful August, 1949 afternoon. The chickens were finding their food, the cows were in the pasture, and the apples were nearly ready to be harvested, when Maria and Roberta knocked on the door of our two story home. Maria and Roberta were Mexican migrant workers who had lived in a brooder chicken coop for several weeks while picking sugar beets. Maria and Roberta, along with other migrant workers, had visited our home several times after their long hours in the hot sun. As Maria and Roberta entered our home, Maria was carrying a beautiful, hand-made casserole bowl and gave it to my mom. My mom cried and her eight-year old son, Sammy, have never forgotten that proud day.
My father was the pastor of a rural church in Northern Minnesota a church that was not as welcoming of migrant workers as he would have preferred. So, my Dad and Mom would invite the migrant workers to our house, and serve freshly cooked meals. The day Maria and Roberta came to our home with the casserole bowl is a sacred image I carry to this day. They were leaving our rural village and simply wanted to say thank you. That day I knew I wanted to be like my Mom and Dad who lived in respectful presence of all.
Over the years I have learned that living in respectful presence of all means that we must learn to listen, listen, and listen some more. One day while in India I had the chance to visit with a Hindu priest whose temple was located high on a mountain side. On each side of me as I climbed the steps leading to the temple were gods and goddesses that looked very weird and different to me. The gods and goddesses had animal and human heads, eyes that were always open, and their bodies might be that of an elephant, horse or human.
After reaching the temple, I was greeted by the smiling priest in a tattered brown robe. We sat down on the ground near a small fire. After visiting with the priest long enough to feel free to ask what I considered a probing question I inquired, How many gods and goddesses do you have? Oh said the Hindu priest, a million times a million. I replied a bit startled, that many? Yes said the priest, as many gods and goddesses as there are people in this world Our many gods and goddesses the priest further explained, are only human depictions of what the one God must be like. Why do the gods and goddesses have four arms? I asked. The priest replied, Because in the Hindu faith we believe that God reaches everywhere. Why are the eyes of the gods and goddesses always open? I inquired. With a quiet love one can only experience, the priest replied, Because we believe that God is an all-seeing God that never lets us down
That moment was a born again moment for me, and I think for the Hindu priest as well. We both realized how different we are and yet we had so much in common. The ancient Muslim Sufi poet once wrote,
Beyond our differences
There is a field,
I will meet you there.
I look forward to meeting all of you at that field. Lets search for the field beyond our differences and share our casserole dishes with each other. Living in Respectful Presence of All is a reachable goal we can obtain. Rev Sam