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URI – 10th Anniversary Celebration – Closing Remarks 09/10/2010

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by Mr.  P.C. Shivadas


P.C. Shivadas


What do we take away at the conclusion of this event to mark the 10th Anniversary of United Religions Initiative?

For me, at least , there is the realization that we have heroes in our midst, heroes who rise above race, colour and creed to champion the cause of humanity , that being one despite its diversity .

Beneath our skin we are all the same. It is how we see ourselves, think and act that differentiate one from the other.

Each one of us is unique as confirmed by our finger prints , despite the fact that there are six billion people crowding this planet.. That is just one of the myriad wonders of creation we have discovered so far and are continuing to discover as we journey through time. The more we know the more there is to know. It seems ;like an unending process. As long as we are fixated on the world outside it will be truly an unending quest to put our finger on the mysteries of creation .

We will only find closure hen as individuals we go inwards to find the simple truths of our existence and our connections . Who are we , what are we here for a where do we go from here are fundamental  questions that the different faiths answer in varying degrees and emphasis.

Those who chase after only the material tend to go off at the tangent , the same as those who go after just the spiritual. Since we are made up of  both matter and spirit we have to  find the balance to exist both materially and spiritually.

But then it is always a matter of choice and like all choices we have to live with the consequences – good  and bad.

That is what our free will and choice is about  – to find the balance .Given our mental and physical make – up and the nature each one of us is endowed with , is it any wonder that we have to live and deal with difference.

It is how we view and react to our differences that make or break us. Our imperfections – imperfect  senses, tendency to lie and cheat and suffer illusions – are at the root of our mistakes. If we learn from them well and good. If not , we repeat them and suffer as a consequence. It is from our mistakes that we are presented our best opportunities to learn and this is where our heroes , the ones we are talking about assume  leadership  roles. They have gone through the process and found the enlightenment they were seeking because  they were sincere in their quest.

United Religions Initiative is an idea whose time has come. Need has always been the catalyst of change. URI was born 10 years ago in America .Why America ? because the founding fathers were American.

We have Rev Canon Charles Gibbs and Kay Lindehl with us. The other is  Bishop Swing whose is minding the “shop” at home. It has not been easy but despite all the challenges they had to face they have kept the faith and the  movement has certainly grown.

The United nations is trying to take care of the material side , keeping the lid on world wars but seemingly unable to prevent limited conflicts erupting very now and then  in nations and societies .Then there is poverty , environmental degradation , health and social problems that have reached endemic proportions  and causing global concern.

Treating symptoms may bring temporary relief but it is the root causes that have to be tackled .The finger is clearly pointed at humans , at each and every one of us .We are the root cause .Unless we change for the better we will keep sliding down the slippery road to really terrible times if not complete destruction.

The year 2012 is being talked about as heralding cataclysmic changes and the birth of a new change . The message  is stark and simple .If we change for the better we can mitigate some of the effects of our excesses .If not , beware. We are changing but whether it is well enough , fast enough and broad enough only time will tell.

Addressing conflict at the basic level is step one .This is where religions come  in. They are just the means at  an end – finding and nurturing our spiritual selves. Those who have done  so cannot but do the right thing.

Swami Satyananda was our very own long before URI . History is dotted with names such as Mahatma Gandhi , Martin Luther King , Ikeda , names which comes easily in the mind.

The founding father of URI have inspired a world -wide inter – faith  movement that has caught on simply because it appeals to the human spirit . It is an idea whose time has come and will  grow and gather in strength as long as there are people , the unsung heroes , the ones moved by it and who devote themselves to promoting it.

Good leaders who generate good followers practice the three C’s , namely Commitment , Consistency and concentration .

Everything  starts and end with us. Let us give a big hand to the heroes in our midst , Rev Canon Charles Gibbs , Swami Agnivesh, Kay Lindehl , Datin Paduka Mother Mangalam , Dr  Amir Farid Bin Dato Isahak. The organizers and every one  in the audience must be praised .

Some time we regard the silent majority as not playing an active role in society but that is not true. Just being good , hard working , honest people in itself is huge contribution to society. Their sense of decency and goodness is invariably rooted in their own spiritual awareness .

Listening  to today’s speakers not only provides connection but inspiration for following in their foot steps . In bettering ourselves , society as a whole betters itself. We have to be the change and listening to our speakers today inspires us to do so.

Good leaders need good followers . In both cases it is proper self – leadership that does the trick.

We are not for want of this  quality and we can take heart from the growing legions , from the activists who attempted to bring symbolic aid to the Palestinians in Gaza to the adherents of the various religions , and other movements seeking to heal the wounds inflicted by fanaticism , greed , corruption and abuse of power. Being positive in thought and deed can only come with making the spiritual connection with ourselves and the rest of the creation we see before us.

We have only ourselves to blame if we fail.


The Panel of Speakers

Swami Agnivesh from New Delhi, India

URI Founding Father & President Bishop William E. Swing

Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs from USA

Ms Kay Lindahl from California, USA

Dr Amir Farid Bin Dato Isahak - INSaf Chairman


Participants - from another angle

Q & A Session

Participants' View

"Any More Questions?" - Sathia Narayan