Archives for the ‘ Interfaith ’ Category

Spirituality of Compassion

By • Apr 23rd, 2024 • Category: Interfaith, Islam, Lectures

Compassion is a hallmark of authentic religion. The infusion of compassion into religious life was the culmination of a spiritual transformation in Axial Age (a 600-year period in history between 800 BC to 200 BC). Pre-Axial religion was mostly concerned with rituals and animal sacrifice; as such, religion did not have much ethical and spiritual content. Axial Age sages and prophets gradually shifted the focus of religion from rituals to a spirituality of compassion. Henceforth, authentic religion would be less concerned with beliefs, dogma and rituals; its primary aim would be to change the believers at a profound level: to empty them of their selfishness and fill them with a genuine concern for “others”. In this presentation, we will discuss how compassion became the defining feature of authentic religion.

Why Is Religion In Decline?

By • Mar 8th, 2024 • Category: Interfaith, Lectures

All surveys show that religious membership is in decline in America- to the tune of a 23% decrease over the past 20 years. This is a huge decline, given that religious affiliation tends to change slowly over generations. For some odd reason, America began to be less religious starting in the early 1990s. Sociologists have investigated why young Americans are abandoning religion by the millions today. In this presentation, we will examine the statistics, the factors behind the decline of religion, and some solutions offered to restore acceptance of religion.

Spiritual Resolutions for New Year

By • Feb 9th, 2024 • Category: Interfaith, Islam

The new year resolution is a meaningful tradition; it embodies a willingness to change some things in our lives that are less than desirable. This tradition has its roots in religion. Ancient Babylonians began their new year with a promise to their gods to do better in the coming year, to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. The new year resolution survived in the modern secular West- with a twist. Nowadays, people make promises to themselves (not gods) to make mundane changes to their lives (such as eating healthier, exercising more and saving more money). In this presentation, we will discuss: 1) the history of new year resolution; 2) how we can turn our resolutions inward, to improve our soul and character; 3) some examples of spiritual resolutions.

Faith and Science

By • Jul 23rd, 2015 • Category: Interfaith, Lectures

Science and religion are two powerful forces that have shaped our civilization. In pre-modern era, the province of religion used to be much bigger than today; it reached into the law, government, arts and sciences. Overtime, the ‘legitimate’ and ‘acceptable’ domain of religion shrunk considerably as modernity set in, and ‘specialization’ became a dominant theme in social organization. Yet to this day, religion and science interact in our daily life- and sometimes they collide. So the question is: what is the nature of the relationship between religion and science? Are they destined to negate each other? How can these two powerful forces live side by side in peace?

Pitfalls of Religious Life

By • May 28th, 2014 • Category: Interfaith, Lectures

Religion has been a major force shaping human history. It survived the Age of Reason, Enlightenment and Modernity. And by all accounts, it is still quite pervasive in the personal, social and political life of the contemporary world. Even though authentic religion is a force for compassion and justice, religious life is not without peril or pitfalls. It can make people intolerant, violent and full of prejudice. In this lecture, we will explore a few pitfalls of religious life.

Faith And Social Activism

By • Aug 24th, 2013 • Category: Interfaith, Lectures

Religion has been a powerful force shaping the human history. However, the social impact of world religions has not been uniform. At times, world religions have been a force in the service of compassion, peace, justice and equality; while at other times, they have promoted hatred, fanaticism, discrimination and naked brutality.

Unfortunately today, religion is increasingly becoming a destabilizing force in the life of many nations- and in the international scene. For the sake of world peace and prosperity, it is important to remind ourselves what the founders of world religions aspired to promote in human life, something the Dalai Lama so eloquently summed up: ‘the whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility and forgiveness.”

In this lecture, we will explore the founding principles of world religions, and the challenges facing them in the modern times.

Salvation: One or Many Paths to God?

By • Apr 12th, 2013 • Category: Interfaith, Lectures

At some point, every person of faith will ask herself: Is my religion the best and truest? Does my religion provide the only valid path to God? How should I view other religions? Are they completely false, partly true or perhaps different but equally valid for their followers? While it is true that most people around the world tend to view their own religion as better and superior, there are practically 3 distinct views on the preceding questions: exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism. These viewpoints have adherents in all world religions. Hence, there are Jews, Muslims and Christians who believe that salvation is exclusively available only in their own community, just as there are Jews, Muslims and Christians who reject this notion all-together. Instead, they argue that the observable fruits of faith and spirituality are spread more or less evenly among different cultures and religions. This lecture explores religious exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism, and offers examples from the Muslim community.