Saturday, 30 June 2012

Interfaith gathering - 'World Peace Pilgrimage'

'Go to the sacred places of the Earth to pray for peace, and have respect for the Earth which gives us our food, clothing, and shelter. We need to reactivate the energy of these sacred places. That is our work' - Mayan elder

If you live in the States - as many of my readers do - you may be interested in the annual 'World Peace Pilgrimage' to Mount Baldy.

Revered for it's powerful energies, Mount Baldy is located in the San Gabriel Mountains, 50 miles east of Los Angeles.  It has been worshipped by the San Gabrielino/Tongva native Americans for generations - and for the last 50 years, by The Aetherius Society and other religious followers.

With over 200 people coming together to send 'love and light to the world' and blessings to Mother Earth;

'the interfaith World Peace Pilgrimage is an inspirational and deeply spiritual experience bringing people of all faiths together for a common and noble cause. It is an experience which you, your friends and family will find truly memorable and uplifting amid surrounding natural beauty.

Pilgrims from all cultures have been climbing Holy mountains throughout history to send out spiritual energy to the world and for their own personal enrichment. In these critical and challenging days, spiritual energy is needed more than ever...

Ceremonies are held in three different locations upon the mountain so that people of all ages and hiking ability can participate. At each of these locations the ceremony will include prayers, mystic chants and sacred music from several different spiritual traditions...'

"It is good that all the paths, all the traditions ...(come) together for one purpose" - Venerable Bhante Pannaloka

To learn more head to

You might also be interested in my pilgrimage story. See 'memoirs of a pilgim' in June archives.  Click 'labels' below to find more posts on this topic.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The practise of 'pure' altruism - a Buddhist perspective


Every day we see examples of altruism all around the world.  As a principle of action, it can be defined in relative terms as an ‘unselfish regard and concern for others'. Global awareness and concern for fundamental human rights and the wellbeing of others expresses itself through various formats in our local communities and the international arena, where hundred of thousands of people and organisations continue to work tirelessly to assist the plight of people and communities living in disadvantaged conditions.

It is evidenced in the spontaneous outpouring of collective concern, grief and support for the victims and survivors of war, famine and disease, natural and man made disasters. And on a lesser scale, through small - and sometimes random, acts of kindness. But how can we define and perceive altruism from a spiritual perspective, and what is at the heart of its application in the world, in terms of the evolution of humanity?

In addition to the deep concern and regard for others in need, to fully transcend the barriers and bias that continue to separate all people and cultures, the drive that compels individuals or groups to altruistic action or service must include the innate recognition of our shared humanity. For at any time, should circumstances be different or when conditions change, ‘there but for the grace of God go I’.

It is here, within that recognition and all-encompassing perspective, that an ultimate Truth manifests and in doing so begins to assist the spiritual evolution of humanity. Dass talks of this Truth in his book How can I help?, ‘Those who choose to enter the arena of social action must learn to go deep to the place where we are One. And the vision must be profound and all-inclusive, an affirmation of heart and soul…’

This sentiment is echoed by Chapotin - international coordinator of The Theosophical Order of Service, who speaks of a framework within the Order ‘in which social action as spiritual practice is supported and nurtured’. Throughout the world members are ‘deeply involved in hands-on service as a natural part of their spiritual practice, as a natural part of their expression of the ideal of Universal Brotherhood without distinction’ (Theosophia, Vol. 71, NZ. 2010).

In Mahayana Buddhism the development and practice of Bodhicitta - ‘awakened mind’, epitomizes this ideal. Motivation in terms of the application of altruism as a spiritual practice is of primary importance. For without ‘pure’ motivation, even kind intentions and compassionate acts can often be driven by self-serving and seeking attitudes such as praise, recognition, acknowledgement and self gratification.

The Buddha emphasized, “the validity and benefit of any expression, activity, outward appearance, or practice in the world is totally dependent on the purpose, the philosophy and the motivation behind it.” (cited p.26 Tai Situpa, Awakening the Sleeping Buddha)

Recognition of ‘Oneness‘, without bias of any form, is a fundamental and inherent part of Bodhicitta, which moves beyond a conceptual understanding of the commonalities connected to the human condition - those triumphs, trials and tragedies associated with our shared existence.  Awareness and knowledge of the ‘limitless potential’ that dwells within each individual is both the heart and foundation from which Bodhicitta blooms.

The ancient eastern symbolism attached to the lotus has been widely used to depict this inherent spiritual quality. Rising from the muddy waters, the lotus bud unfolds, its beauty and perfection unstained by its murky environment.

Likewise, trapped in a state of conditioned existence, engaged and participating in self centered beliefs, thoughts and actions which often result in suffering, each one of us has a pristine, pure, enlightened nature, which given the right conditions, manifests and liberates. Residing deep within, that divine consciousness is recognized and spoken of in the famous Buddhist mantra Om mani padme hum - ‘the jewel in the heart of the lotus’.

Bodhicitta springs forth following a period of profound awakening - often generated over many lifetimes. It elevates the practitioner to a highly evolved level of spiritual awareness. Motivated by the arising of universal compassion, full liberation for oneself in order to be of maximum service to the spiritual well-being of others, generates within the practitioner a readiness to assist, regardless of consequences.

Ultimate service to others becomes a primary focus for spiritual practice and growth. The attainment of Bodhicitta is also assisted by the knowledge and recognition of the tenuous fragility associated with human existence. Awareness that any moment life can be taken from us, generates within the practitioner, deep appreciation for the precious opportunity human rebirth provides - the chance to engage in spiritual practice to attain full liberation.

Ethical and moral behaviour and practice inform and shape all thought and action in order to eliminate negative karma - causes and conditions which perpetuate and determine the state of our current and future rebirths. The attainment of full spiritual enlightenment is seen as the only way to transcend suffering in its entirety, so freeing us from this continuous cycle.

The development of specific human virtues and attributes are considered of paramount importance. ‘Limitless’ in their potential, particular qualities such as equanimity, loving kindness, compassion and joy are considered primary virtues which assist the development of Bodhicitta. The generation and application of these four virtues once again centers the practitioners self-less thoughts and subsequent actions on and around how best to view and serve the well-being of others.

Bodhisattva’s - those with ‘awakened essence’, such as the Buddha, epitomize and embody the full expression of this Mahayana ideal. Having attained full enlightenment, such individuals choose to remain in the world voluntarily, to assist humanity in its ultimate spiritual quest.

As the principles and ideals behind the practice of Bodhicitta show, the mindful, 'self-less' dedication of our thoughts, efforts and actions - spiritual and otherwise, for the betterment of all, allows us to generate those conditions within which foster the development, practice and perfection of altruism.

The benefit is twofold. For in doing so we nuture and ready the ground for the eventual realisation and blossoming of the boundless potential at the very core of our Being, ‘that shining jewel residing deep within the heart of the lotus’.

Copyright, S.L. 2012 - not to be reproduced without expressed permission

You might also like 'Back to a state of limitless grace' in the May archives

Monday, 25 June 2012

Aboriginal liturgy - 'Maisie Cavanagh'

'My Mother's land can be dry and harsh. Yet every tree, every cluster of rocks, mountain, waterhole, river, cave is sacred - every feature.  The billabongs and the places where the spirits live are all landscapes of the soul. For we as people see these mountains, rivers, trees, animals, wind, as brothers and sisters, and we are part of the one thing.

Thinking in these terms pitches you into a different psychology. So we take notice of the call of the black crow, or the laugh of the kookaburra, or the change in the wind. We pay attention to the willy-wagtail when he comes to visit, or the magpie who sits on the clothes line even here in the hustle and bustle of city life.

That is why we enjoy our Aboriginal liturgy in the bush, where we can have a fire, walk through the smoke, sit in a circle and have the earth beneath our feet, and feel the sun and the breeze, and see the clouds in the sky as we celebrate our smoking ceremonial liturgies...'

- Maisie Cavanagh

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Quiet reflection - 'Jung'

image sourced from

'Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes'

- C. Jung


click 'labels' below to see reflections by Hafiz, Tariq Ramadan, Rumi and more

Monday, 18 June 2012

Advocates for Peace - Mata Amritanandamayi


"Where there is compassion, God is there. God dwells in the hearts of the compassionate...if one has compassion for his fellow beings, it is like gold with fragrance. Its value and greatness is beyond all words."

- Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

Every day thousands of people travel to an ashram in South India, where they stand in line, often for hours, to be embraced by Mata Amritanandamayi Devi - such is the spiritual power of her presence. 

Born into a poor family in a remote Indian village, Sudhamani - now known affectionately as Amma - showed all the signs of being a very special child.  Displaying a passionate, heartfelt reverence for Lord Krishna from a very early age, as a young girl, whenever she could, she spent every waking moment immersed in the divine - meditating, chanting, dancing or praying to God, even though she was badly ridiculed by her elders and treated as a servant by her family and relatives. 

She writes, 'from birth itself I had an intense liking for the Divine Name.  So much so, I would repeat the Lord's Name incessantly with every breath, and a constant flow of divine thoughts was kept up in my mind irrespective of the place where I was or the work I was attending to...'

A deeply compassionate child, although she had a hard and difficult life, the suffering of those around her often led her to give what little she had to others - selfless acts which regularly resulted in more hardship for her, from her family.  

It wasn't until Amma was in her twenties that her true spiritual worth and vocation was finally recognised.  Spiritual seekers began searching her out and a community of devotees and followers built up around her, which today has extended to the hundreds of thousands.

Her selfless acts of service to others has seen dozens of humanitarian iniatives started, such as universities, schools, hospitals, vocational and medical training centres, counseling services, food, housing and flood relief programs, and earth care projects. 

Amma has continued to be recognised, 'by the international community as a treasured repository of practical spiritual wisdom, who has the capacity to guide the world towards a better, brighter future. She has been a featured speaker at the United Nations on three occasions, most recently when she was presented with the 2002 Gandhi-King Award for Non-violence.  Presenting the award, Dr. Jane Goodall referred to Amma as “God’s love in a human body'.

To learn more about Amma's work, head to

click 'labels' below to see other Advocates for Peace

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Sea of Faith Conference - August

I am re-visiting this post which is mentioned in the May archives.  If you are in Brisbane during August you may like to check it out.

 Focusing on our 'shared Humanity and the place of Religion, Faith and Meaning as expressions of the human spirit', the Sea of Faith 2012 Conference has a great program hosted by a range of different speakers - some of whom have books mentioned in Great Reads in the Pages section

Human diversity is explored, interfaith consciousness and perspectives, spiritual expression and thinking in the 21st century, and much more.

The program suggests "Difference exist between and within religions, each offering a different question and solution to the human condition, and exemplar of the path. Yet at their core, the major spiritual traditions espouse similar ideals of one-ness, unconditional love and compassion. Many look to universal ideals ... that move individuals beyond particular boundaries..."

For full details about the event check out

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Interfaith contacts and resources

Should you wish to learn more about interfaith organisations in Australia and elsewhere, I have just posted a list of contacts in the Pages section.  I will keep adding to the list as more details come to hand.

Please contact me if you belong to an interfaith group or organisation, and would like your details included in the list.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Wise words - 'Albert Einstein'

The most beautiful and most profound experience

is the sensation of  the mystical.  

It is the sower of all true science. 

He to  whom this emotion is a stranger,

who can no longer wonder

and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.  

To know that what is impenetrable to us

really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom

and the most  radiant beauty which our dull faculties

can comprehend only in their primitive forms -

this knowledge, this feeling

is at the centre of true religiousness.

- Albert Einstein

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Quiet reflection - Rumi

Sourced from

'Out beyond ideas of wrong doing, and right doing,
there is a field.  I’ll meet you there'.

- Rumi

Charter of Compassion

'The Charter of Compassion is a document that transcends religious, ideological and national differences.  Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter activates the Golden Rule around the world'

As I post this blog, 84,814 people from around the world have signed the Charter.  Committed to restoring compassionate thinking and action to 'the centre of religious, political and public life', it emphasises the fundamental importance of building and fostering a global community of peace.

In today's interconnected world and culturally diverse communities, the Golden Rule 'has become an urgent necessity'.  People of all cultures can no longer live in 'isolated communities', as we once did before.

Compassion must become, ' a key word in public and private discourse, making it clear that any ideology that breeds hatred or contempt ~ be it religious or secular ~ has failed the test of our time. It is not simply a statement of principle; it is above all a summons to creative, practical and sustained action to meet the political, moral, religious, social and cultural problems of our time'.

'Unveiled to the world' on November 12, 2009, The Charter for Compassion is the culmination of Karen Armstrong's 2008 TED Prize wish.  It invites 'each of you to adopt the Charter as your own, to make a lifelong commitment to live with compassion'

The Charter 

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
To find out more, go to