Glimpses of the Presentations at
the Millennium World Peace Summit
of Religious and Spiritual Leaders
status: notes almost complete, formatting to follow
[also took a few photos, somewhat faded,
but hope to scan them in and include them at some point]
1 October, 2000
Disclaimer: This is a purely personal report. No guarantee is made for the accuracy of any of its content, though if you notice any errors, then I would be grateful if you could let me know.
This document consists of personal notes taken during presentations at the Summit, by one who was present in the capacity of a registered ‘observer.’ The aim is to try to capture some of the atmosphere, intents and initiatives, expressed by each of the speakers. Some personal comments and opinions are added from time to time. Some URL’s are also added for further exploration.
All delegates [religious and spiritual leaders], whether speaking or not, were required to submit a short speech, so it is hoped that all these will be made publically available in due course. Here then are just a personal selection of quotes, which will in the main be just a subset of the speeches. However, there was a certain amount that was not part of the official submissions and many others aspects that plain text does not readily convey.
I wish to take the opportunity of thanking the organisers and all those who encouraged me to attend the summit, especially the staff at the International Interfaith Centre (http://www.interfaith-center.org). It was a great privilege to be present.
A Question and a Suggestion
I would like to know what kind of record will be kept for posterity? The speeches alone offer tremendous potential as a resource that can be shared for education. I take the opportunity of suggesting that all the papers be digitally encoded, with special care on how they should be encoded so as to maximise their future use. To this end, it may be appropriate to encode them in XML, the extensible markup language, that is designed for the capturing of meta data and document interchange. This is an idea I have put forward to the organisers, who may already have some plan. I would be pleased to know other people’s opinions.
(Note that De Paul University has taken responsibility At the Parliament of the World Religions.)
The Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders took place between August 28th and 31st 2000, organised over a period of about 3 years, under the direction of Bawa Jain, the Secretary General. It brought together about 1,000 religious and spiritual leaders from a very large number of countries and traditions, amply covering each tradition represented in the circle of symbols that form part of the Summit’s logo (as can be seen at the official site:http://www.millenniumpeacesummit.org)
The event was significant in several ways: most notably, it was the first time that the United Nations had opened its doors to such a largescale gathering and allowing it to be hosted for one and a half days in the General Assembly Hall. The United Nations does not yet have any official body that is explicitly representative of people who work in a religious or spiritual capacity. Indeed, this event was not officially sanctioned by the UN, but the importance to the UN was recognised by H.E. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, as he came to address the gathering himself. Furthermore, this summit was keen in timing as it took place one week before the largest ever gathering of political leaders was due the following week at the UN.
On reading these notes, it will become evident how complicated and problematic is this area and the event itself was overshadowed by various concerns, some of which were generally recognised as serious mistakes. Most notable among these were the omission from the invitation lists of prominent exemplars such as H.H Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace prize winner, and some important organisations such as the Temple of Understanding; there were no groups of young people invited for the duration: about 40 individuals who had been involved in a ‘Summit of Emerging Visionaries’ were allowed only to attend the opening day.
Most delegates were sharply aware of at least some of these ommissions, yet on weighing up the situation, they felt the gathering was so needed, that they had come because they wanted to make it work.
So here we all gathered in the General Assembly Hall, ablaze with a thousand and one colours. [On looking at the 70’s(?) architecture, the concave enclosure felt like being in a core of a fruit, and it was evident that the makers of the James Bond movies had obviously been inspired by this design – some recognition perhaps of the UN’s importance for the world].
A Note about the event’s organisation and time-keeping procedures
Organising any event with a 1000 delegates is a substantial undertaking, but to organise one for such a culturally diverse group is rather mind-boggling. So many of the delegates are big fish in their own pools, some big fish globally, but the majority somewhere in between. Almost all of them would have liked to give a presentation, but only a small fraction could feasibly be granted the opportunity.
Glancing through the programme, it is evident that the organisers had attempted to squeeze in a large and wide-ranging sample. However, this did require disciplined time-keeping. Speakers had been asked to speak for up to 7 minutes and no longer. The strategy for ensuring this was planned at two levels, though a third measure proved necessary (see Tuesday’s schedule):
The programme was already optimistic when considering the long list of intended speakers, but in eventuality proved even more so when extra speakers were brought in from time to time!
The opening was delayed at the expense of the walking mindfulness meditation that had been scheduled to be led by Ven Thich Nhat Hanh. [That would have perhaps been helpful to focus our minds and maintain a clear sense of purpose and specific targets]http://www.plumvillage.org/
However, there were still many deep means of introducing the scene. We were given a rousing welcome by the Shinji Shumekai Taiko Drummers, whose disciplined rhythm resounded around the hall. There followed music and a wonderful performance of ‘Amazing Grace’ by Hope Campbell Owens of the United House of Prayer for All People. [It only took about 1 bar of the introductory signature tune to recall to mind this tune].http://www.taiko.com/
Next were the opening invocations: the blowing of the Conch, by Swami Bua, an Inca Blessing by Q’Ero Elders from Peru and a Call to Prayer by the Sufi, Sheikh Ahmed Tijani Ben Omar.
Following this were a series of prayers – will they one day be part of wider proceedings at the UN?
Monks from Swami Narayan, chanted the Shanti mantra. This Hindu order is responsible for the construction of the extraordinary temple in Neasden, London, quite well known for some miracles – a research colleague at Kingston University reported how his sister received milk from a statue of Ganesh).
This was followed by Thai Buddhist monks performing some chants recounting the qualities of the Enlightened Ones. This was led by Somdet Phra Phuttakhosachan, indicated as Deputy to His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand [the Sangharaja].
[I didn’t take notes for the opening day, so I am stepping through the programme, recollecting what I can. I apologise for any inaccuracies. A full copy of the programme is available from the official summit Web site at:http://www.millenniumpeacesummit.org, though in the event there were one or two absentees (e.g. Professor Hans Küng couldn’t make it due to illness) and quite a lot of rearrangement.
On the programme, there followed the Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, and His Eminence Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria. It was good to plan two from the Middle East next to each other, as if to show in miniature that this event wished to promote the dialogue within a global setting.
There followed His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, President of the Pontifical Council on Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican, and His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of the Armenian Orthodox Church, another interesting, perhaps apposite, juxtaposition?
Next was the Most Reverend Kuni Kuniaki, the Jingu Daiuji
[Tuesday: "The Ice is Melting … "]
[Personal Note: my camera had come to an end just outside the building and would not rewind, so I bought a disposable Kodak camera. Hope that the pictures will be alright]
[9.15 am settle in the 4th floor balcony, of the Gen Assembly Hall.
Start due: 9.25am
There was a "dance of welcome" from a Liberian group, Baba Olatunji and Ensemble, playing Traditional African Drums and three dancers moving in time on stage. It was explained that this was the welcome given in 1875 to a group of European visitors [check details]
The opening blessing was from the Grand Mufti of Iran. As if picking up the enthusiasm and significance that had been established before, he expressed a deep wish that the intended speaker – HE Dr Abdul Rehman Bin Abdulaziz al Sudais, Imam and Khateeb of the Haram of Mecca – could be there..
And there followed thanks by Bawa Jain, especially for members of the Executive Council: Maurice Strong (assisted by his wife Anna) and David Finn, Chairman. Mr Jain made a point that this gathering would leave the room charged with spiritual energy for the forthcoming gathering next week of political leaders. However, he also urged the leaders assembled not to wait for them in their work, claiming 87% of the world’s population was represented here.
Bawa Jain invited commitments to some targets for 2025, including the end of poverty and the abolition of weapons of mass destruction. For this summit, he urged all participants to join:
1. A commitment to Global Peace through signing a document for specific commitments and a plan of action
2. A Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders for the United Nations, where wisdom would guide the healing and peacemaking in conflict. The Council would be a partner, a resource for the UN
[This was a fine note with which to start, but these specifics were not reported further, so I cannot say whether they were subsequently developed… ]
Bawa Jain asked for 3 commitments (and rather optimistically called for the UN Secretary General to deviate from his prepared speech and respond immediately in public):
[The onlooker may wonder what are the efforts to create such a substantial presence at the UN. There are actually many ideas and initiatives that are pointing in similar directions and thought has been given to the organisational structures – in terms of Councils and forums - that will provide an effective operational setup. ]
He went on to recount an image that stuck in his mind: it was of a picture displayed on the 29th floor of the UN: "Prince of Peace," a large figure dwarfing the UN buliding, knocking on it. In his mind this figure was now being represented by the religious and spiritual leaders. Bawa Jain also pointed out that around this time ‘Time Magazine’ had Kofi Annan on its front cover with an article that described how he was a man of faith…
[His Excellecy Kofi Annan]
Kofi Annan gave his address and announced that the timing could not be more auspicious, that it was a service in troubled times; that made sense in the senseless, with its strength to challenge, its place in community, holding families together, and valuing compassion and morality.
Kofi Anna emphasised its fundamental role: "We pray therefore we are."
"Let us reaffirm the freedom of religion to write, publish and teach both at home and abroad. … The problem is not with the faith but with the faithful."
For the leaders, he urged justice, reconciliation and peace, and to set an example of interfaith. He quoted a previous UN Sec Gen, Dag Tjeimsdahl: "The UN stands outside all confession, but nevertheless [it is in itself] an instrumental faith … inspired by the great religions in the world."
Session 1: A Call to Dialogue
[ Chair: Dr Karin Singh, Member of Parliament, Upper House, India ]
There followed an introduction by a Catholic priest, Archbishop Renato Raffielo Martino, to His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, describing a little of his life story – senior as he was, this was something of a luxury in view of the constraints on time.
The Cardinal began with a message from His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who had been following with great interest the developments leading up to this summit. [Although the pictures show him as physically frail it is quite clear that his mind is still alert and active]. The Pope stated that politics cannot ignore the transcendence of experience. Here was an opportunity and the only religion worthy was a religion of peace. He acknowledged that no problem was solved in isolation and saw the role of religious and spiritual leaders as one of providing wisdom and moral advice rather than providing technical solutions. With one voice peace is possible.
He then offered a few words of his own, asserting that first there was needed a conversion of heart, the kind of message that was to be echoed many times, though it seemed to sit more easily with some than others. The Pope’s representative then proceeded to emphasise at some length the burden of debt – the Vatican has been pushing hard on this issue for some while.
[ His Excellency Abdullah al-Obaid Islam, Secretary-General, World Muslim League ]
I’m sorry I made no notes here – perhaps the speech was in Arabic, and I couldn’t figure out how to operate the translation device …
[ Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau Judaism, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel ]
The rabbi had prepared some verbal dramatics. He quoted Pandit Nehru, "We don’t ask what will be? We ask what shall we do?!" Then he asked a question, "What was the first demonstration in the world?" A pause for reflection. He then proceeded to elaborate describing the creation account in the Bible: on the third day were created trees and on the 6th day was created man and the trees protested as they could see trouble ahead …
[The Most Reverend Kuni Kuniaki Shinto, Jingu Daiguji (High Priest) of the Grand Shine at Ise]
The Jingu Daiguji offered a reflection on early history with the natural environment embodying the spiritual … a way of harmony, with honesty and purity of souls the highest ideals. This was contrasted with the environmental concerns today, where an appropriate model is needed, (e.g. the need to recycle waste etc … ).
[Prayer – William Commanada from the Algonquin Tradition]
Will Commanada urged us to work together and acknowIedge mother Earth. I found this presentation quiet and humble, in contrast to many others.
His Eminence Ayatollah Abdollah Vaeze Javadi (Iran) Islam
Presenting the message of His Eminence Ayatollah Khamenei
I have no notes, but as I recall, His Eminence was very enthusiastic about the summit and wished that Ayatollah Khamenei could be present. He spoke in the closing plenary.
[ The Reverend Dr. Konrad Raiser Christianity, General Secretary, World Council of Churches
The message started off by painting a grim picture of divisions between communities in an age of secularism, where there is misuse of power. There should be a deep respect of authentic religion, a culture of mutual respect… a global free space … ?
[Dr. L. M. Singhvi Jainism, Jain Scholar]
Dr Singhvi started by urged a call to dialogue: faiths in the future, with awareness, to build bridges and reclaim innate and intrinsic spirituality, giving examples from India. He described how there is unity in many expressions; and non-violence is best [shown] in the faith traditions, for which he quoted Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893, the 1993 Parliament of the World Religions, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther-King. – who "brought Jesus back to my life."
"Religion must work together for each other … for a global ethic, … a new international order … that proclaims the primacy of moral order … A new convenant … against egocide [?]… to transform the charter of the UN itself … men and women of religion and spirituality as a whole … let peace on earth prevail …"
[The Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen Buddhism, The Dharma Drum Monastery]
Pointed out that there is poverty even in the United States.
His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Ji Maharaj Hinduism
Spiritual Leader and Head of the
Bachasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam (BAPS)
This was the organisation that had kindly furnished everyone with a fine engraved glass memento to adorn many a mantelpiece.
[ Music – Frank Menusan, Native American Flute ]
Religion, Peace and the UN – Dr. Maurice Strong
Chair, International Advisory Board,
Millennium World Peace Summit
President, United Nations University for Peacehttp://www.upeace.org/
Keynote address – Dr. Ted Turner
Honorary Chair, Millennium World Peace Summit
Vice Chair, Time Warner Incorporated
Here was the man who has offered considerable sponsorship to the UN for this and other events. A man perhaps best known professionally as the boss of CNN, owner of vast amounts of land.
[His presentation was quite spectacular – immediately honest, physically demonstrative, and making important points. ]
He had been born into a Christian family and had wanted to be a man of a cloth: "a missionary like you!" He recounted how he studied the world religions and (with obvious puzzlement appearing on his face) wondered "If only 1% of the world’s population is going to heaven, then heaven’s going to be a mighty empty place!" "It can’t be right!" And he continued to recall how during the past 10 to 20 years he changed and learnt that all have the same love … of families, birds, … , swimming ,, <a long and eclectic list>. "Maybe there is One God manifest in different ways?"
[By now, I felt the audience was quite enthralled, as Dr Turner flapped his arms and punched the air. However, many of the key issues were well expressed.] He then reported that in the old days fighting was not such a big deal – you could knock someone down and they’d get up again, but in the last 50 years technology had transformed the situation.
"We’re just one human race … we all came from Africa" (lots of cheers) " … the bears in the North, the bears in the South are black… The religions that survive are the ones that build on love … technology ain’t safe (you can’t get Concorde out of Paris [more applause]) … [so] nuclear missiles safe? Don’t you believe it!" [more applause]
No, there had to be a better world ..
[There was general speculation afterwards as to whether the whole of this speech would go on CNN… which would have been a very popular decision.]
One of many interviews:http://www.emagazine.com/january-february_1999/0199conversations.html
Session II: THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION
Chair: Reverend Nichiko Niwano
President, Rissho Kosei-kai
[Rissho Kosei-kai is a Japanese lay Buddhist organisation that was founded in the first half of the 20th Century. It is in the Mahayana tradition and members recite daily from the Lotus Sutra. It has over 6 million members in Japan.]http://www.kosei-kai.or.jp/english/
Reverend Jesse Jackson Christianity
Founder, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
I was not present for the Reverend’s speech.
[His Excellency Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro Islam, Grand Mufti of Syria]
I was still having problems with my ear-piece and ended up listening to echoes from others. Catching just a little indicated a rather message that did not hold back from using forceful language, where others dare not tread: " … root out the false fakers in the market place … shoot and fight together … "
The Most Venerable Eshin Watanabe Buddhism
255th Zasu of Tendai Buddhism
The Zasu started by stating a commonly accepted synopsis: the 20th Century was one of war. He continued with impetus, "We must stand against injustice … must work hard, … sometimes war is justified in the name of religion, [but] primary role is for peace and security. The world religions had rapidly convened in inter-religious dialogue: Pope Paul II had visited Japan and stated that Saicho was the greatest Japanese religious teacher.
The highest action is for the benefit of others. He indicated some initiatives around the world, including in 1986 the World Day of Peace, the gathering at Assisi, and in 1997 the 10th Anniversary on Mount Hei, where they met with representatives of Japanese religions to discuss how to transform conflict into compassion.
[the delivery by this stage had become somewhat loud and bold, not so soft on the ears]
He left us with an enigmatic quote: "A fish net cannot catch a single bird" and a prayer to the Buddha for peace.
[The official English-language web site of Hiei-zan Enryakuji, the world headquarters of the Tendai-shu: http://www.hieizan.or.jp/enryakuji/econt/index.html ]
Sri Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi Hinduism, Hindu Spiritual Leader
Early on she stated: "Real change must happen within ourselves." Religion could lead to both division as well as diversity. She observed that Science and technology reduces barriers, but we haven’t become closer in heart. She continued to indicate that we have the opportunity to create heaven: we have to make a choice … and overcome the lack of awareness.
An appeal was made to recognise religion as the science of the mind and by implication much needed in the context of modern science as it trys to clone human beings, without knowing how to create inner perfect being. She continued to describe how we are seldom aware of inner pollution of mind, which is more serious than chemical pollution. In summary, we seldom live up to our ideals and the means seemingly outweight the goals: the analogy was given of crossing a river.
Further lessons were painted in images. One of them contrasted the effects on the young and old like this: if you walk several times through grass, you quickly make a path; if you climb among the rocks on a hillside, then it takes much longer to mark a route…
Sri Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi drew her teachings to a close with a more practical focus, urging all nations to share their materials for she regarded sharing as the real language of religion. Those who engaged in the crimes of the past needed to rebuild the peace.http://www.ammachi.org/ (contains full text of speech)
Dr Abune, Ethiopia
He stated that the single cause of conflict was man’s lack of observance of the laws of God, the lack of love of God and humans – the first two commandments of Moses. He quoted St. Paul, who had taught that all deeds are worthless if they are not based on love, and surmised, "We lack peace because we have rebelled against God." It was a speech delivered with much passion – the delivery was strong.
Peace, he said, was why we had gathered. The peacemakers are the children of God. "… The champions of peace have been … massacred." So he asked of the religious and spiritual leaders, "What can we do to stop the bloodbath?"
The answer, he said, was to bring about self reconciliation with God and the revival of international morality, "We should reassure the right to life, including the unborn child." Regarding poverty he had this to say: "Whilst millions die without bread, others die of over-eating…"
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Judaism, Talmudic Scholar
Sorry, I don’t have any notes to hand.
(interview with About.com:http://www.judaism.about.com/religion/judaism/library/weekly/aa110499a.htm) http://www.shavuot.org/journeys_twelve.htm
Dr. Wande Abimbola, Yoruba Priest and Scholarhttp://www.blackworld.com/proffs/whowho/abimbola.htm
Wande Abimbola started with a salute to ancestors and considered the theme ‘Religion and Peace in Africa.’
He invited us to imagine arriving in Nigeria, jetlagged and then waking up at 5a.m. every morning to the sound of the Muslim call to prayer on amplifiers and then later on, the Christians with their church bells. "We live with this because we are all brothers, but there is an underlying point … the issue of religious pluralism.
Religion had been used as a tool for conquest, which had led to war and conflict. The wars had increased on the African continent during the 20th Century. Despite the harmful activities, millions of dollars had been pumped into evangelisation. It was, he asserted, high time that indigenous leaders spoke out against these "atrocities." The people had been enslaved in the name of religion, … hundreds of years of greedy and selfish leaders and Africans had participated in this conquest.
Although the speech was prepared, it was as though he was thinking aloud as he looked for a way forward from this "mess." He felt that the nature of indigenous leaders was tolerant and that one could learn from their non-violent practices, which he felt could be applied in regulation by making it illegal to abuse other religions (though the "pollution" in amplifiers could remain, he said jokingly), whose practices should be replaced by interfaith advocacy.
Most African societies, he argued, are plural societies, so there was a need to put an end to bigotry. He made a plea "Leave us alone to worship the Gods of our ancestors" and felt he spoke for the indigenous peoples of the world. "Let us agree that no-one has the right … to co-erce."
[the head of the Muslim league walked out during this presentation]
Bishop Fu Tieshan Christianity
Vice Chairman, Chinese Catholic Conference
[A delegation representing several different religions had been sent by China?]
"Blessed are the peacemakers." For the Chinese, he stated, "Harmony is the most precious in human relationships." He claimed there had always been an open and tolerant position in China.
He continued to state that different religions have good tradition … a true religious war had never occurred in China – there had been "religious freedom since the earliest days." As if to cap the irony, the bishop summed up the situation as a "golden age for religion in China."
[The volume of delivery increased during the presentation]
Three aspects were highlighted: religious purity, forgiveness and reconciliation, with the need to face up to religious beliefs and differences; and the importance of prayer for peace.
?? International Islamic Committee for Dialogue
I’m sorry I’m not sure about the speaker or the organisation (I’m not aware that this speech was scheduled in the programme).
The speaker saw eternal values encapsulated in the simple phrase: "one world," in which the interests of mankind have become "a single indivisible whole." Divine religious values were the starting point for directing us … to justice.
The exhortation was made that we must understand the summit’s historical importance as one of the glorious and eternal days. A day which must preserve dignity: balance was needed in the scientific and technological; in the sharing between man and woman; and in human rights and duties.
[voice became raised]
Globalisation had come about by disregarding religious values, so an International Advisory Council was much needed, with a universal covenant of divine values.
Prayer – S. N. Goenka Buddhism, Buddhist Meditation Master
"Religion is only religion when it unites … when it divides it is no more religion," so started Sayagyi U Goenka. He continued, "Conversion should be from misery to happiness," and was greeted with ripples of applause from the audience.
His message emphasised the exhortation, "Know thyself." His speech had a number of subtle inflections, such as his pronouncement about the universal law of hatred: "I am the first victim of my anger." Nature would start rewarding those who had no negativities.
He went on to quote Emperor Asoka (3rd Century BCE): "One should not honour only one’s own religion and condemn others’ important message. Instead once should honour other religions."
This was a teaching rather than a prayer and it received quite a lot of applause, though the bell sounded many times before he retook his seat!
12:45pm–2:30pm: Banquet Lunch for Summit Delegates with the UN Secre-tary-
General and Mrs. Annan (by invitation)
United Nations Delegates Dining Room
Nope. I didn’t receive an invite!
3:00pm: Opening Prayer – Rabbi Samuel Rene Sirat Judaism
Former Chief Rabbi of France
Towards a World Movement for Nonviolence
The Rabbi prayed that there be a turning away from rebellion, and recounted the atrocities of Auschwitz,
He prayed that rights and duties may be respected. "You know Lord, we are trying, …, we are working for redemption."
Chair: Indu Jain
Chair, Times of India Group of Publications
[Here flowers was presented for the first time!]
This session was composed entirely of women speakers, which made their absence on the platform in other sessions all the more conspicuous…
The Chair quoted Mahavira, the founder of the Jain religion, "Violence is inherent in the very opening of human eyes."
She continued, "Today youth is a global citizen, who understands [this to be so]. Let us nurture the quality of love in youth." The art of living is a youth movement.
She also urged, "Give women a chance … and non-violence will be effortlessly part of the new Millennium!"
There followed an African welcome to invoke the spirit of ancestors, including another bold presentation from the man who was escorted away from the podium the previous day – only to outside the Hall, where he could be later seen calmly sitting on a bench in the foyer. Here was another chance for him.
Honorable Ela Gandhi, Member of Congress, South Africa
Grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi
Regarding her presence here, Ela Gandhi remarked that it was … "A greater privilege as an African woman."
She proclaimed, "Africa’s voice is rising … " and went on to quote the Dalai Lama, who was asked, "Do we need a new religion?" to which he replied, "We have already many religions - we need better human beings." This brought great applause around the hall.
Ela Gandhi went on to indicate that nonviolence is active: the debt burden needs to be brought to the UN, there is the issue of land, and so on.
Ms. Betty Williams
Nobel Peace Laureate
"It is not as simple as that: we are preaching to the choir. The real work begins when this summit finishes"
"Non-violence is the hardest work – it is not a natural tendency."
She insisted that it was the women who had brought peace to Northern Ireland as they were the ones who had turned to non-violence – "to stand up in the Creator’s name and tell the truth!"
"[There is] Talk about sexual immorality … but talk about starvation is immoral."
Another quote from HH Dalai Lama, who was asked, "good Catholic … bad Buddhist?" He replied, "Same thing!" [the Dalai Lama has consistently urged people to deepen their faith rather than hop superficially from one to another].
Reverend Bishop Vashti McKenzie
African Methodist Episcopal Church
The Bishop’s presentation was quite theatrical through humorous repetition – "We all want … peace in our homes, peace in our families, peace in our communities, … , peace more than anything else, .. peace, peace, peace! We have this, we have that, … where is the peace..???"
"Dare we examine our role in conflict..? Too hard?" "We need to set an example … and the world will follow."
Ms. Jane Goodall
Ms Goodall explained how she had spent years in the forest, which she described as like a cathedral, and was trying here to express the voice of all the animals. She even gave a demonstration of the call of a chimpanzee. Another first for the UN?
For young people, she talked about work in which she was involved - roots and shoots, in which each one would practise in 3 projects for environment and societies. [This was one of the first speeches to bring in the young in this way…]
Music – Sussan Deyhim
Separdic Jewish song and Sufi music of Iran
Session III: TOWARDS FORGIVENESS & RECONCILIATION
[ Chair: Dudu Chili, Member, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa ]
Sri V.R. Gauri Shankar Hinduism
Presenting the message of The Shankaracharyaji of Sringeri
[Hosei Norota, Japanese Defense Minister, flanked by a Zen monk and Shinto priest]
The unexpected presence of a defence agency chief was signifiicant recognition by a government for the important role that religion has to play. He announced that he was a strong advocate for security, "That is why I participate in the summit." It would have been even more significant if there had been larger numbers of such officials.
The Minister carried a message from the Prime Minister of Japan, who wrote, "Politics is for people. Religion serves for harmony of mankind, grounded in peace in the hearts of people… the purpose of religion and politics are inseparable." The message continued, stating that we can’t live without religion, religion being the power of life… the teachings of God and the Buddha should dwell in our hearts.
"I myself am Buddhist and have come into contact with various religions … must respect and reconcile with each other."
Chief Rabbi Johnathan Sacks Judaism
Chief Rabbi of England
A very oratorical presentation:
"Who is a hero? One who turns an enemy into a friend."
"Why are heroes sometimes afraid? … It takes courage to forgive."
"Are we part of the solution or part of the problem?"
"Religion has more than power – it has influence."
This was an extraordinarily animated and full of emotion,
"How many have to die? 6 million?"
He called on religious leaders to declare that they are ready to travel to any part of the world. [The idea has been raised quite widely of ‘parachuting’ religious leaders of many faiths into conflict zones where religion is of importance.]
Somewhat unrepresentative of English reserve and understatement.
Venerable Samdech Preah Maha Ghosananda Buddhism, Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism
Venerable Maha Ghosananda had a calming influence, starting by paying homage to the Buddha and then quoting from his teaching:
"Namo tassa bhagavato arahatto samma sambuddhasa …"
"To all who suffer … may they be relieved. Just like a mother protects protects her only child, we must value every human being without limitation."
He continued, "Non-action is the source of all action… We begin with silence, meditation and prayer… We require: karuna, metta … mindfulness; selflessness, the root to make peace, striving not for fame, honour, glory etc; wisdom, step by step; equanimity, non-duality, non-attachment… the Middle Way of wisdom and compassion.
His Holiness Swami Dayananda Saraswati Hinduism
Sanskrit and Vedanta Scholar
Swami Dayananda pointed out that no-one had yet mentioned the work done by the team at the Harvard University [a paper was presented entitled, Religion, World Order, and Peace]. He drew a lesson from it: "leaders have to look into their theologies to see if these have caused conflict."
"Who am I to forgive whom? I have no powers to forgive – to be part of humanity that destroys live cultures. What was religion that moved people to create monuments of human genius? Greece, Egypt. [We were asked to imagine the response if someone tried to destroy these monuments]
The natural instinct, he maintained, was to survive, so we should look into the practice of freedom of religion, and we cannot destroy any other religion.
Dr. Albert Lincoln, Secretary-General, The Bahai
Dr Lincoln expressed the hope of Bahaullah that leaders will unite and form a council together, to administer to the disease of the afflicted world. He claimed that children are growing up in a moral vacuum, victims of spiritual and material poverty. He felt the Council’s task was to:
[At around this point I left the room to fetch a drink, which proved more of an outing than I anticipated, so I missed a couple of the speeches.]
Reverend Anne Graham Lotz Christianity
Daughter of Reverend Billy Graham
I missed this presentation, where Revd Graham Lotz apparently attempted to proseltyze with a rather exclusive message of a particular form of salvation. She also spoke for so long that in the end a third method of time-keeping was attempted: the microphone was cut off. However, she was undaunted and continued until the microphone was switched back on! She had managed to finish by the time I took my seat again.
[This brings back some memories when I went to Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland to listen to Billy Graham, who even at 70 radiated a charismatic energy.]
His Holiness Jatehdar Joginder Singh Sikhism
Jatehdar Akal Takht, The Golden Temple
I’m sorry I missed this speech.
"Greatest service is ahimsa, non-hurtfulness… Greed is the basis of all evil."
His Holiness Karekin II Christianity, Catholicos of the Armenian Church
"Who remembers the genocide of Armenia?"
He looked to South Africa and Northern Ireland for inspiration… A path of faith guided by God… in human solidarity.
His Eminence Drikung Chetsang Rimpoche Buddhism
Founder, The Drikung Kagyu Institute, India
His Eminence noted that His Holiness the Dalai Lama had sent special delegates to the religious peace summit, representating each of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
The head of the Drikung Kagyu order extended greetings, "Tashi Delek," and was pleased to see the leaders together in one voice to speak for peace. It was a great joy to be here, to be part of this. "My belief: for world peace, we must have peace of our own mind… 1,000 people like 1000 rays of the sun will illuminate from here to beyond this world."
He then delivered a message from the Dalai Lama, "Dear Brothers and Sisters, I join you in spirit… as you discuss ways to engage the power of religion to bring peace."
Food for the mind, a wonderful idea rather than divide, power of peacemaker, development of innter peace, the true foundation of peace? Cherish the gift and hand over to future generations.
An important choice … there was the need to develop mutual respect for others … we can make a sustained effort to respect the traditions of other faiths.
In the 21st Century of peace and dialogue, advances in Information Technology makes this a closer place – armed conflicts will be seen as an outdated way of settling differences." But there will be no peace whilst there is poverty, injustice, inequality, …, environmental degradation.
He finished with a prayer for world peace.
[??, Modi Foundation, World Peace Summit co-ordinator]
India was the home of the Vedas and Sanatha Dharma, the birthplace of religion, with a following of the third of the world’s population. He then went on to introduce Sri Sathya Sai Baba as a divine soul, whose message he read out:
"I have come armed with the power of formless God to correct mankind, to raise human consciousness…. Peace is a stage in which the senses are controlled, maintained in balance, love is shared, peace reigns… Prayer of shanti, unity of all, … , change will come, the time is now, love, a light will shine up to each leader to shine as example. God will manifest in your life, drawing you closer to the divine source, and will become like a mirror… One world religion is the ultimate goal."
Imam W. D. Mohammed Islam
W.D. Mohammed Ministries
Sorry, I have no record of any speech.
Poems from Korea – Ko Eun
"The glimpse of peace is coming…"
This was delivered in Korean and so I had to rely on the translator, who kept the delivery very calm whilst on stage the poet was very loud!
Session IV: ENDING THE VIOLENCE OF POVERTY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
[Chair: Juan Somavia, Director General, International Labor Organization]
Juan Somavia made two very serious points:
[The Most Reverend Njongonkulu Ndungane, Christianity, Archbishop of Capetown]
Unfortunately, the archbishop could not be present at this time, but was able to speak in the closing plenary session.
[Chief Oren Lyons Indigenous, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation]
"The Ice is melting: A message from the indigenous peoples"
The second day extended late into the evening, so that by about 8pm only a small proportion remained to listen to the final presentations. Those who remained were witness of an extraordinary message, which I felt was delivered in one voice.
A group of about 20 or 30 indigenous peoples, mainly from North and South America (Incas, Mayans, Eskimos and others) plus Northern Europe (Suomi), gathered on the stage. A story was told about an exchange between two people: the one was proseltyzing and promoting an exclusive message of salvation. The other asked, "What happens when you get to heaven? Will you be there?"
[This reminded me of a story concerning a Buddhist lady, about whom there was a discussion between two people at some college. One of these people had known about her, but the other had not, and maintained that without accepting Jesus Christ as their [only] saviour, then the lady would be doomed. To which, the other replied, "I’d rather be in ‘hell’ with that lady than in ‘heaven’ with you!" One further note: Buddhas and other awakened beings visit all realms out of compassion]
The spokesman proclaimed an urgent message from a runner in Greenland. Fifteeen years ago the runner had noticed trickles of water from the fascia of mountains. Now it was pouring, pouring. This glacier mountain had apparently lost 4,000 feet of ice, and the rate of melting was increasing…
He welcomed parity and equity, especially for women, children and the indigenous people, together with reconciliation between peoples and the natural world, "… the essence, spirit of life." Spiritual laws transcended generations.
He was also saddened that "Elder Brother His Holiness the Dalai Lama" could not be present... Peace and reconciliation should begin here.
There were strong words of warning: "We see the acceleration of the winds, the fires in North America, and the suns rays are causing cancer. We are already helpless… We will now see the spiritual powers that govern the world."
[Jehangir Oshidari, Zoroastrian High Priest, Iran
Metropolitan Pitrim, Christianity, Patriarch The Russian Orthodox Church, Washington
All I recorded was: peace and charity
The Venerable Mahathero Sobita Buddhism
The Bodhiraja Foundation
A note about the environment: the Buddha taught "Cut down the forest of your passion and greediness, but not the real forest!"
[Sir Sigmund Sternberg was invited to the platform, but was not present [and not scheduled at this point]]
His Holiness Dada J.P. Vaswani Hinduism
Sadhu Vaswani Mission
[Always smiling and cracking jokes – he had one after the other at his session of ‘Facing the Challenges of Life’ at the 1999 Parliament of the World Religions in Cape Town. known for laughter sessions in India]
Toward Global Responsibility – Dr. Hans Kung Christianity
Professor Emeritus, Tübingen University
Alas, the Professor was unable to attend owing to illness.
Presentation of The Earth Charter
Dr. Steven Rockefeller, Chairman, The Earth Charter Drafting Committee
Dr. Kamla Chowdhry, Co-Chair, The Earth Charter Commission
This was not presented at this time, but there was a resume the following morning.
Closing Remarks – Mr. Bawa Jain
Closing Prayer – Riad Jarjour Christianity
General Secretary, Middle East Council of Churches
A Prayer ‘Towards global responsibility’
First Nations, Canada
A representative of the First Nations people of Canada related a dream he had the previous night, in which he saw himself speaking from the platform as he was doing here tonight and as he stood, children came running up to him and they were singing, som that their voices could be heard. He was sad not have to have representations from young people and expressed the hope that there would be children at the centre in future meetings. So the prayer was offered for the children.
8:00pm: World Peace Summit Concert Starlight Roof
Proceeded by Reception
Directed and Produced by Zeyba Rahman
Chair, World Music Institute, New York
Introduced by The Very Reverend James Parks Morton
President, The Interfaith Center of New York
An invitation to this gathering was open to all attendees, so I sneaked in a little after 9pm (about halfway through). It featured music from Northern Africa and Korea. One of the performers related how he had worked at the Waldorf in the 60’s. He had at that time experienced racism and considered it a challenge to see if he could walk in, so he dressed up as smartly as he could to generate the right "airs and graces". [Now he was here as a special guest!] He took the opportunity of paying tribute to some great musicians and heritage.
<><> end of the second day <><>
THE WALDORF-ASTORIA HOTEL
Introduction to the Third and Fourth Days
The final two days were intended to be quite different in tone, consisting minaly of parallel sessions of workshops on particular themes. There was also a shift of venue from the UN to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The presence of so many nationalities did not go unnoticed – I saw one gentleman look around in some bewilderment as robe-clad people filled the reception areas. "What’s going on here? Is there some congress taking place?"
The Waldorf had been the base for the summit organisers and indeed registration had been taking place since Sunday. It was rather hectic at times - there had been a late surge in acceptances, which had led to room shortages, displacing some people to the neighbouring ‘W’ hotel, which someone told me had apparently rated 7 stars. [The observer is content to say that he stayed elsewhere!] Registration and the meetings took place on the 3rd floor, taking over the Grand Ballroom, and some other finely appointed areas.
Facilties were pretty good: there were available wireless receivers with half a dozen channels to receive translations. Beliefnet.com, which had a specal deal with the organisers, had chunky bandwidth to demo its streaming (I guess it must have been a digital line since Real media was set to download at 100Kbps.)
Dining was catered mainly for delegates and the rest had generally to make other arrangements, which is not so difficult in Manhattan!
My coverage at this stage becomes much less complete as I took time off to chat with some of those present. It should also be noted that some of the sessions were closed.
7:00am–7:45am: Meditation and Prayers
(Basildon Room and Jade Room)
I am sorry I am unable to report on these sessions – I contented myself with meditation at around this time in my hotel room.
7:45am–8:45am: Earth Charter Roundtable Breakfast
With the Earth Charter Commission and Earth Charter Leaders
Dr. Maurice Strong
Dr. Steven Rockefeller
Dr. Kamla Chowdhry
Dr. Wangari Maathai
Dr. Maximo Kalaw
Dr. Rick Clugston
Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp
Dr. Brendan Mackey
I was not present for this high powered breakfast.
9:00am–11:00am: PLENARY SESSION Grand Ballroom
"From Dialogue to Action"
(Translation into UN languages, plus Japanese and Korean)
Chair: His Excellency Maurice Strong
President, United Nations University for Peace
Presentation of The Earth Charter
Dr. Steven Rockefeller, Chairman, The Earth Charter Drafting Committee
This was inserted (had been scheduled for previous day).
Dr Rockefeller gave a r sum of the charter, briefly indicating some key meetings in history, including Stockholm in ’72, which drew up an agenda for the Earth, Rio Earth Summit in ’92. He described it as a world-wide people’s movement to change values, including a declaration of fundamental ethical values for a peaceful world. It recognises diversity and local commitments and it is critical to awaken to a sense of global interdependence … for a greater community of life, … , which must become part of our deep moral concern.
He expressed the view that caring for people and caring for the Earth are two dimensions of the same. This had led to a new broader conception of sustainable development covering many areas, including science and international laws. Many of the 700 declarations drafted by religious leaders had built upon and complemented the work of Hans Kè ng in the Global Ethic, which was addressed to business, government, … [many institutions].
Chair: Dr. David Little
Director, Center for the Study of Values in Public Life, Harvard University
The Chair reflected that for the UN there was the imperative of universal co-operation, but it was contrasted with the frustrations in trying to bring it about.
However, he indicated that there was cause for optimism, referring to some findings in a book entitled, "People vs. States: Minorities at Risk in the 21st Century." The good news was that according to this book conflict had peaked in 1995 and he cited two reasons for this: the norms of non-discrimination and tolerance had been taken on by governments; and the negotation and conciliation that had been carried out.
Qur’anic Recitation – Sheikh Ahmed Dewiddar Islam
Phra Rajavaramuni (Thailand) Buddhism
Rector, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Thailand
Phra Rajavaramuni started with a declaration of support for further summits like this one to take place every 10 years at the UN. He also supported the proposal for a Council.
The Rector went on to draw a parallel, stating that the mission of religion was similar to the aim of the UN – peace. He quoted from the official mission of UNESCO: "It is in the mind of men … that peace is constructed."
How to transform the mind of prejudice to love? How to eradicate blind faith and discrimination?
He described the Buddhist approach as conquering anger with love, evil with good. How? By cultivating the mind. He echoed the statement that the problem was not with the faith but with the faithful who supported "holy wars" No war was a holy war.
Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef (Saudi Arabia) Islam
Former Secretary-General, World Muslim League
Dr Naseef identified as a crisis that religious people were not paying much attention to control the situation.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier (USA) Judaism
Founder and President, The Appeal of Conscience Foundation
He started by recalling that in 1966 the front cover of Time magazine announced, "God is Dead." He then indicated the crowd in the room and proclaimed, "Look at this gathering … God is alive!"
He recalled the call of God to Abraham, "You shall be a blessing to humanity," and gave an example. In 1991 he approached the patriarch of Serbian Orthodox Church: the politicians were failing, so the religious leaders had a moral obligation. The Patriarch replied, "How can I sit with Catholic bishops when they have not asked for forgiveness … with Muslims when so many churches have been desecrated?"
Rabbi Schneier had replied, "When God created man he gave the capacity of memory. An angel said, ‘You can’t do this to man. You must give them the capacity to forget.’ You have to look forward." Subsequently there was the first conference between the different religious leaders in Berne.
[quote from somewhere:"Great causes cannot be confined within strict timings, but people must accept disciplines!" ]
There followed an exchange [in general such dialogue was rather limited] and initiatives were volunteered. For instance, the Phra Rajavaramuni (Thailand) Buddhism announced that in November there would take place a Buddhist summit in Bangkok which would address the situation in Sri Lanka. In one of the few responses from the floor, a Sri Lankan wanted to convey the positive side of his country, describing the beauty of its shrines.
[I then stretched my legs and wandered over to the Beliefnet stand]
His Holiness Abune Paulus Christianity
Patriarch of Ethiopia
10:00am–10:55am: Trialogues II
Chair: Sir Sigmund Sternberg
Chairman, International Conference of Christians and Jews
Chairman, Three Faiths Forum
Sir Sigmund started by pointing out that he was not a religious leader, but just "a humble businessman."
He addressed the UN context, informing us of business leaders’ pledge to human rights in a global contract, … that summarises the goals of education and development for wealth and prosperity. Business leaders would meet the following week at the UN.
He ended his introduction with the formula, "Prayer and action must go hand in hand."
The Elimination of Poverty
Sister Christine Tan (Philippines) Christianity
Sister Tan was from Manila, living in a poor region. She depicted a grim environment and was here to share the sentiments and questions from the standpoint of the poor. "Religious and spiritual leaders have become intertwined … the world is crying to be saved … we must develop a social force recognised and beneficial to the poor."
In order to become direct instruments of social transformation, it was necessary to speak with one clear voice, against injustice. She asked, "Has anyone spoken against globalisation, … , multinationals, … , evil practices of governments? … Consumerism, egotism is fake, not of people, … , more tension., …, privilege and symbolic capital." She asserted that the root causes of poverty were overpopulation and corruption.
She urged the presence of religious and spiritual people … to get themselves dirty instead of being just lissome figures in temples and meeting halls. "The poor are waiting and becoming cynical."
Dr. Saleha Abedin (Saudi Arabia) Islam
Dr Abedin gave thanks, whilst also acknowledging His Holiness the Dalai Lama, describing how following an interfaith peace service in Philadelphia, she went on to Dharamasala. She recalled there was no problem in introducing him and thought that this summit was poorer for the loss of his humour.
She went on to consider the theme of education for meaningful living. The new "war" was to fight against injustice, against the globalisation of poverty. She recommended the creation of a Convention for the Elimination of Poverty Around the World (CEPAW), to consist of multi-lateral treaties against genocide, racial discrimination, the abuse of rights …
She pointed out that Islam’s law of inheritance helped women as they inherited from their fathers.
Dr Zaki Badawi, Three Faiths Forum
[He was not on the programme]
Dr Badawi briefly described the Three Faiths Forum (between Christians, Muslims and Jews). He said that they were often asked about it expanding to include other faths, to which the response was that when this family was well, then it could take on others.
He described some characteristics of the Forum: good will, amity common sense and affection, where religion could mobilise in a positive way and encourage the dialogue.
[He was not on the programme, either]
Discussed the coming together of Religious leaders + political leaders + business leaders, for the latter there was needed "flourishing ethical business."
Reverend Eldin Villafane (Puerto Rico) Christianity
I don’t know if she spoke
[Prayer – Maha Mandaleshwara Swami Satya Mitra Nanda Giri Hinduism]
(A prayer in Sanskrit. "The Universe is our family.")
There followed some questions and other response from the audience. (Some time during this session there was then reported the curious account of a Chinese delegation having had confiscated by US Customs copies of a book entitled, ‘Religion and Deep Concern for World Peace.’ The audience found this quite amusing.)
A lady from the African Spiritual Churches addressed clergy and said, "We think you know better than us because we cannot speak directly. Therefore priests are very important … " The onus was on them to protect and preserve nature, not to subdue it.
A professor at George Washington University argued that "environment" was somewhat erroneous in view of its externalising conotation – it is part of us, not outside. He thought that non-Western religions were the last to awake to environmental issues. He also mentioned the philosophy of nature and wanted to see the extnsion of religious ethics.
A Kenyan quoted a figure of 70% of all refugees being in Africa and asked what could be done in substance and immediately? One answer that came was first to define the problem - a meeting should convene in Africa for Muslims, Christians and indigenous religions.
Steve ,Co-Director of BeliefNet
[Not on the programme]
He announced that BeliefNet was the Net partner for the summit. Technology was being used to pursure ancient goals of peace, respect, dialogue; trying to show interfaith dialogue.
He described some facilities, including a kit to enable houses of worship and interfaith organisations to have an on-line presence. He mentioned an on-line survey that had been put on-line asking people for their questions for the summit. Here were three responses:
Steve concluded with an invitation to use the facilities [which were pretty good].
Prayer – His Eminence Ravil Ganitudi Islam
President, Council of Muftis of Russia
Environmental Preservation and Restoration
I don’t know what happened to this session, as I have no record of it …
Dr. Wangari Maathai (Kenya) Christianity
The Greenbelt Movement
Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Iran) Islam
Professor, George Washington University
Dr. Han Wenzao, (China) Christianity
President, China Christian Council
11:00pm–1:00pm: WORKING SESSIONS I
Four parallel sessions.
I tried to stick with just one – next time I shall probably circulate as I heard that the sessions did vary quite considerably. The third session was apparently the most participative, with people placed in an oval.
I was present at the first session, which was closed to press, so I do not report on it.
1. Conflict Transformation: the Balkans Grand Ballroom
(Translation into UN languages, plus Japanese and Korean)
Chair: Rabbi Arthur Schneier
Organized by The Appeal of Conscience Foundation
Archbishop Busovic of Cracow, Catholic Church of Croatia
Dr. Mustafa Ceric
His Eminence, Raisu-I-Ulama of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Monsignor Marko Zovkic,
Vicar-General, Archdiocese of Sarajevo
His Excellency Dr. Rexhep Boja
Grand Mufti of Kosova
His Grace Sofronie Drincec
Bishop of Gyula
His Eminence Josip Bozanic
Archbishop of Zagreb
Most Reverend Marko Sopi
Bishop of Kosova
His Grace, Bishop Mitrofan
Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Eastern America
Representing His Holiness, Patriarch Pavle
His Eminence, Theodore McCarrick
Archbishop of Newark
His Grace, Bishop Sofronie of Gyula
Representing His Beatitude, Patriarch Teoetist
Romanian Orthodox Church
2. Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Global Challenges, Local Initiatives
(English only) Astor Room
Chair: Rabbi Johnathan Sacks Judaism, Chief Rabbi of England
His Excellency Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro Islam
Grand Mufti of Syria
Cardinal Monseigneur Nassrallah Butrous Sfeir Christianity
Maronite Patriarch for Antioch and all the East
Reverend Dr. Andre Karamaga Christianity
President, Presbyterian Church (Rwanda)
Father Ignatius Ismortono SJ (Indonesia) Christianity
Department of Inter-Religious Dialogue, Indonesian Bishops Conference
Dr. Muzaffar Chandra (Malaysia) Islam
President, International Movement for a Just World
Venerable Mahathero Sobita (Sri Lanka) Buddhism
The Bodhiraja Foundation
Reverend Won Yong Kang (South Korea) Christianity
South Korean Christian leader
3. Poverty: Is This How the World Should Be? Jade Room
Moderator: Wendy Tyndale
Coordinator of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (http://www.wfdd.org.uk/)
The format for this session was distinguished by putting everyone as near as possible in a circle and allowing everyone to speak.
Monsignor Alvar Ramazzini, Roman Catholic Bishop of San Marcos, in the western
highlands of Guatemala, will give examples from his diocese of some of the
causes of poverty and signs of hope. His introduction will be followed by group
discussions, which will highlight possible areas for action. Also speaking will be
Bob Edgar, Secretary-General, National Council of Churches.
4. Environment: The Scope of the Crisis and Basildon Room
The Religious Response
Chair: Jonathan Lash
President, World Resources Institute
Honorable Jane Goodall (England)
Phra Rajvaramuni (Thailand) Buddhism
Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg (USA) Judaism
Archbishop Harry Ngada (South Africa) Native Churches
Mme. Asako Hirose, Oomoto (Japan) Shinto
Pastor Jose San Luis Cruz (Bolivia) Christianity
Dr. Maximo Kalaw Jr. (Philippines)
Executive Director, Earth Council
1:00–3:00: Lunch for Delegates (by invitation) Starlight Roof
Sponsored by Dr. Seung-Heun Lee, Dahnhak
I discovered how what is said in the programme is not the final word and had a pink ticket reluctantly shoved in my hand, allowing access to this lunch on the 18th floor of the Waldorf. This had been the venue for the concert on the previous evening and this time it was full of round tables, most of which were full by the time I tiptoed in.
It was an opportunity for Bawa Jain to say more thank yous and for eminent and pre-eminent leaders to continue with networking.
Service was attentive, food was good, it was nice to relax with the friends who had secured my ticket, and I took a photo of the scene outside.
3:15–5:30: WORKING SESSIONS II
1. Conflict Transformation: Russia and Central Asia Grand Ballroom
(UN languages plus Korean translation)
Chair: Rabbi Arthur Schneier
Organized by The Appeal of Conscience Foundation
Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk Christianity
Patriarchal Exarch of Belarus
His Holiness Karekin II Christianity
Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians
His Excellency Sheikh-ul-Islam Pashazade Islam
Sheikh of Azerbaijan
The Very Reverend Leonid Kishovsky Christianity
Ecumenical Officer, Orthodox Church of America
Metropolitan Pitirim Christianity
Metropolitan of Volokalamsk and Urievsk
Rabbi Avraham Shayevich Judaism
Chief Rabbi of Russia
Mufti Kimsnbai Abdurakhmanov Islam
Chairman, Spiritual Council of Muslims of Kyrgystan
Mufti Nasrullah Ibn Abadullah Islam
Chairman, Spiritual Councils of Muslims of Turkmenistan
Mufti Ravil Gainutdin Islam
Director, Islamic Center of Moscow
His Eminence, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian Christianity
Primate, Armenian Church of America
Vladimir Minavarov Christianity
His Eminence, Archbishop Vladimir Christianity
Tashkent and Central Asia
2. Forgiveness and Reconciliation: The Middle East Astor Room
Chairs: Dr. Zaki Badawi, President, Muslim College, London
Rabbi David Rosen, Director, Anti-Defamation League, Israel
Rabbi Ron Kronish (Israel) Judaism
Director of Inter-religious Coordinating Council of Israel (http://www.icci.co.il/)
Dr. Kamal Al Sharief (Jordan) Islam
3. Poverty: Revitalizing the Religious Institutions Jade Room
to Tackle the Issue of Poverty
Moderator: Gideon Mandara, Tanzania.
Organized by the World Faiths Development Dialogue
Dr. Azizam Baharuddin, Associate Professor in the Department of Science and
Technology Studies at the University of Malaya, will focus on the issues surround-ing
science and technology and faith and ethics. With particular reference to
Islam, she will highlight some of the challenges the religious communities will have
to face, if they are to be effective in engaging more directly with the critical issues
of our day.
This introduction will be followed by an interview with Dr. Agnes Abuoum from
Kenya. Group discussions will then focus on the role of the religious institutions in combatting poverty, with suggestions for the kinds of actions that might be most fruitful.
4. Environment: Trustees of the Earth Basildon Room
Responses of Indigenous Peoples
Chairs: Vickie Downey, Navajo Nation
Angaangaq Lyberth, the Eskimo Nation
Don Andres Apaza Jap (Peru)
Arvol Looking Horse (USA)
Gatjil Djerrkura (Australia)
Benjamin Waparia (Brazil)
The Amazon Region
Chief Winifred Awosika (Nigeria)
Tonia Moya-Carlsson (Sweden)
The Saami Nation
I was present for most of this session, which could have been held in a larger room – it reached full capacity quite quickly, with quite a few people having to stand. Representatives from Alaskan Eskimos, Mayans, Amazonian Indians, Suomi, and others conveyed messages that showed strong commonality in their respect and understanding for the Earth. It was a strong contrast with many other presentational styles at the Summit: "I didn’t go to school - I learnt from the Universe, in the streets, .."
6:30–8:30: "Objects of Joy" Interfaith Center of New York (http://www.interfaithcenter.org/)
Special Exhibition of Sacred Art (old and new)
in honor of the Summit 40 East 30th Street
Wonderful exhibition space for a fine collection of art that spanned two millennia: from a Greek vase, through a medieval triptych to a contemporary work in aquatic blues.
THE WALDORF ASTORIA HOTEL
9:30am – 5:30pm
7:00am–7:45am: Meditation and Prayers
(Basildon Room and Jade Room)
8:45am–10:30am: PLENARY Grand Ballroom
8:45: The Universe Story
Slide presentation by Dr. Brian Swimme
California Institute of Integral Studies (http://www.ciis.edu/)
Dr Swimme introduced himself as a scientist of 25 years, a professor, author of books and videos. He paid warm tribute to Father Thomas Berry, with whom he had produced, "The Universe Story," (A few days earlier Fr Berry had been speaking to a gathering of youth at St. Bartholemew’s Church nearby about the importance of nurturing sacred relationships with the environment, not just seeing it as object to be manipulated.)
He quoted Kofi Annan, "There is a need for humans to find their place in the cosmos." Dr Swimme surmised that we have lost our way and singled out instrumentalism as evidence. A better orientation was to regard the universe not as ‘neutral stuff,’ but as a communion of subjects as primary revelation. He indicated that this could often challenge our heads, claiming that it was difficult for Einstein to enter his own universe, i.e. the universe implied by his equations.
He proceeded to show a series of images from the cosmos.
Picture 1: looking through the Hubble telescope
Of particular interest was how the universe evolved since its early moments.
Picture 2: looking back in time: the early universe
There was talk about a quantum vacuum, with pure generativity leading to the forming of elementary particles, with fluctuations and vibrations – "primordial music." The description used quite a lot of imagery. The universe had its sense of timing, with the galaxies forming 12 billion years ago. Each star has its lifecycle… "Our beginning is with the stars… origin in the universe."
The expansion of the universe expansion is a special number – a "perfect rate for life and intelligence."
9:00: Engaging Religious Leadership in
the Work of the United Nations Grand Ballroom
Chair: His Excellency William Luers
President, United Nations Association of the United States of America
Prayer – Aquilar Maria Euge, Nauat Pipil Maya Tradition
At this stage Bawa Jain wish to acknowledge the contribution of the Hinduja Foundation, particularly Mr Vinood Hinduja.
The Chair then reflected that for him the Mayan prayer, which involved all elements in one heart
He drew attention to two areas:
Then His Excellency gave a very quick history of the UN Development Programme: in the strong humanism of 70’s, the Cold War of the 80’s with the UN having a reduced effect, to the 90’s with opportunity and optimism.
He referrred to Kofi Annan’s vision report, "We the peoples," prepared for the Millennium Summit that was to follow in a week’s time, and in particular to a passage talking about "new wings," trying to bring in the excluded. The UNDP is the hub, with 136 offices, working in 160 countries, giving a political voice to the poor.
‘We the Peoples’
UN Undersecretary-General, Disarmament Affairs
The UN Undersecretary-General explained that dialogue was taking place in many fields: on chemical and biological weapons as well as on weapons of mass destruction; it was working to counteract illicit trafficking in the small arms trade.
Some statistics were quoted: the number of nuclear weapons today totalled 30,000 as opposed to 70,000 at a previous date. However, it was conceded that the Geneva Convention on disarmament has not been able to fulfil its role for several years. There was other discouraging news: 96 comprehensive nuclear test bans had still not been implemented, global military spending has been rising – last annual figure is [a staggering] $780billion, which contrasts starkly with annual spending of $5 billion to eliminate illiteracy and $70 billion for clean water.
Aye Aye Thant
Daughter of former UN Secretary-General U Thant
She quoted her father, the late U Thant (who died of cancer), "The only alternative to co-existence is no existence." Her prayer was, "Christians should be better Christians, …"
She declared that the minimum age for going to war should be raised from 15 to 18.
[It was at this stage that I departed to offer lunch (rather, Waldorf’s brunch) to some Thai monks, so I do not have any more details from this session. One of the monks expressed a growing sentiment: there had been a lot of talk, but little action - this had to follow the summit].
UN Undersecretary-General, Department of Economic
and Social Affairs
Mark Malloch Brown
Administrator, UN Development Program
Director General, International Labor Organization (http://www.ilo.org/)
President, United Nations University for Peace (http://www.upeace.org/)
Followed by question and answer session
Prayer – Swami Sushri Indira Betiji Hinduism
10:30am–12:50pm: WORKING SESSIONS III
1. From Conflict to Reconciliation:
Challenges to Peace in Africa Grand Ballroom
(Translation into UN Languages, plus Korean)
Chair: Dr. Anthony Lake, Former National Security Advisor, USA
Ethiopia & Eritrea
Reverend Gunnar Stalset Christianity
Bishop of Oslo
His Holiness Abune Paulus Christianity
Patriarch of Ethiopia
His Holiness Abune Filipos Christianity
Patriarch of Eritrea
Dr. Douglas M. Johnston
President, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (http://www.icrd.org/)
Reverend Ezekiel Kutjok Christianity
Vice Moderator, Presbyterian Church of the Sudan (
Former General Secretary, Sudan Council of Churches
Dr. Abdul-Rahim Ali M. Ibrahim Islam
Director, Inter-religious Dialogue Association International
Friendship Council, Nigeria
Chief Mrs. Winifred Awosika Indigenous
Alhaji Ado Bayero Islam
Dr. Teresa Okure, SHCJ Christianity
2. Conflict Transformation: Sierra Leone East Foyer
Chair: Dr. William Vendley
3. Poverty and the Need for Action: An Interfaith Dialogue Jade Room
with Secular Institutions
Chair: Michael Edwards, The Ford Foundation.
Organized by the World Faiths Development Dialogue
Katherine Marshall (World Bank)
Naresh Singh (UNDP)
Dr. Kamla Chowdhry (India)
Father Bill Ryan S.J. (Canada)
4. Environment: Religious Perspectives
for a Sustainable Future Basildon Room
Chair: Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion and Ecology
Professor, Bucknell University
Martin Kaplan Judaism
American Jewish Committee
Father John Chryssavgis Christianity
Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary
Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr Islam
George Washington University
Dr. Tu Weiming Confucianism
Master Sheng-yen Buddhism
Dharma Drum Monastery
Reverend Munemichi Kurozumi Shinto
Dr. Karan Singh Hinduism
Member of Parliament, India
5. Restoring the Earth and Its People in Accordance Astor Room
with Spiritual and Natural Laws
Chairs: John Hoyt, President, Earth Restoration Corps
Hanne Strong, Chair, Earth Restoration Corps
Michael Edwards, The Ford Foundation.
Prayer – Brontoi Bedurov, Altai, Mongolia
Carolina Garcia, Earth Restoration Corps
Dave Courchene, Jr.
John Eagle Day
Lelei Le Laulu
6. Business Roundtable: The Global Compact West Foyer
Chair: Sir Sigmund Sternberg
Chairman, International Conference of Christian and Jews
1:00pm–2:45pm: Lunch for Delegates (by invitation) Starlight Roof
Sponsored by the Namdhari International Trust
3:00pm–5:30pm: CLOSING PLENARY:
The Emerging Role of Religions Grand Ballroom
(Translation into UN Languages, plus Korean and Japanese)
Chair: Bawa Jain
Secretary-General, Millennium World Peace Summit
The Most Reverend Njongonkulu Ndungane Christianity
Archbishop of Capetown
The Archbishop stated, "If you want peace, you have to work for justice." He urged a ban on the sale of arms.
Prayer – Bishop Isaias Gutierrez Christianity
"Only when we know the pain of the other can we truly love each other."
Father Thomas Berry – The Environmental Commitment
Fr Berry emphasised connection, talking about us being "different, not separated" in the "great beauty of creation." The environment was a "single differentiated reality," and "we depend on our outer world for the inner world… the sense of divine [comes] from the outer world."
He expressed the view that humans didn’t come into the world until there was a special beauty, echoing Dr Swimme’s note about timing.
Rabbi Tony Bayfield – A Call to Social Justice
Chief Executive Reform Synagogues of Great Britainhttp://www.refsyn.org.uk/
Rabbi Bayfield reflected that there was rather too much talking. He referred to Hans K ng, "No peace in the world without peace among the religions," and felt that this week could be the start.
Echoing Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, he asserted that minorities can have influence in conflict resolution.
Rooted in Jewish tradition, peace was not possible without justice and human rights.
He felt that humility came as a blessing to humanity… and that true dialogue involves periods of close personal relationships where the most intimate beliefs can be talked about – to go to someone else’s garden, return and see better the weeds in one’s own.
Reverend Bob Edgar – Towards the Elimination of Poverty
Secretary-General, National Council of Churches in Christ in the USA (NCC)
A representative spoke on Rev Edgar’s behalf. He talked about the ‘7 Pillars of Peace’ [Political Accountability, Economic Accountability, Legal Accountability, Liberation and Empowerment, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Human Dignity and Rights, Preservation of the Environment], especially about Liberation and Empowerment and human rights, arguing that religious institutions be advocates for social and systemic change. The Jubilee 2000 campaign was highlighted.
NCC Web site:http://bruno.ncccusa.org/
Piilars of Peace:http://bruno.ncccusa.org/about/pillars.html
Sanford Cloud – Overcoming Racism
CEO and President, National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ)
Sanford Cloud expressed many thanks and respect to Bawa Jain and to the audience.
He reported that in 1998 President Clinton asked the NCCJ for a sustained initiative against racism. The results had been "tremendous." Among the NCCJ initiatives, Sanford Cloud described the NCCJ as a clearing house of faith based programmes, details of which would be made available on the Web. Racism was named as a problem of the heart.
Reverend Welton Gaddy – Interfaith Call to Action
Director, Interfaith Alliance (http://www.interfaithalliance.org/)
Director, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (http://www.cpwr.org)
Jim Kenney asserted that to speak the truth to those in power, we had first to speak the truth to ourselves. He described the rolling power of the inter-religious movement itself, and quipped, "We’re really getting better at this."
He gave a glimpse of the work of the Council for a Parliament of the World Religions, highlighting the common statement of values and the recent Call to Our Guiding Institutions that resulted from the last Parliament held in Cape Town in December 1999.
He mentioned many other interfaith organisations such as the International Association for Religious Freedom, the World Conference of Religions for Peace, and the International Interfaith Centre at Oxford.
[Although this summit was a gathering of peoples of many different spirirtual and faith traditions, it is generally considered that it is not an ‘interfaith’ event as such, where the emphasis is explicitly on interaction, dialogue and exchange, etc. This was one of the few occasions that there was formal input from an interfaith perspective.]
Rev Gaddy urged the following:
Chief Lions started by inviting all the indigenous peoples to come to the front and remarked, "… Survivors of your proselitysation!"
For those who missed the message given on the second day, Chief Lions repeated it: "The ice is melting." A paradigm of change was needed. "We have tipped the balance of nature against our children … the winds, fires, … , and sun rays are causing cancer."
He spoke of the qualities of First Nations people: love, respect, unity and faith in God
Hinduja Foundation Video: Mantra for the New Millennium
This was a video of about 10 minutes duration, a copy of which was made available for delegates. It was glossy with lots of special effects, images taken in space, in different continents, with an upbeat tone, rather reminiscent of a corporate video. It talked about channelling higher aspirations into new partnerships between business and consumers.
[A few days earlier I had the privilege of watching a preview of a feature length film called "I AM," the work of Joseph Firmage of the International Space Sciences Organisation. It was also visually spectacular, and concerned evolution, though a considerably larger undertaking, that has received deep consideration and gradually unfolds a most absorbing story.]
His Eminence Ayatollah Abdollah Vaeze Javadi (Iran) Islam
Presenting the message of His Eminence Ayatollah Khamenei
The Ayatollah delivered the message of H.E. Ayatollah Khamenei, who stated that international peace was the essence of religion … of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. It was a long speech.
Music – Paul Winter
Mr Winter described "voices from a greater symphony" – the creatures of land, sea and air, giving an example of the complex music of the whale, a symphony which changes each year.
He had carefully studied the cries of the wolf and invited the audience to join him in a "howlellujah chorus for peace." [responses should not be addressed to this observer, please!]
Reverend Calvin Butts – The Challenge for Religions
Reverend Butts insisted that religion must transcend culture and raised three challenges:
He also urged, "not justice, but forgiveness."
Rabbi David Rosen – Can There Be Peace Among Religions
Director, Anti-defamation League, Israel (http://www.adl.org/)
Sorry, no record.
Master Hsin-Tao – Fostering a Culture of Compassion
Founder, Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society
Master Hsin-Tao recalled that he was orphaned at the age of 4, during the war.
His experiences have led him to work for global education that promotes respect – in the form of youth conferences and on-line activities. He described a special project: the Museum of World Religions, to be officially opened in Taipei in March 2001, which will bear a message of tolerance, peace, and kinship. Its Web site will host interactive displays.
Museum of World Religions:http://www.mwr.org.tw/
Brother Achalananda – Creating a Worldwide Prayer Circle for Peace
"Change yourself and then you know that there is one less rascal in the world."
Prayer – Cantor Joseph Malovany
Fifth Avenue Synagogue
There followed a number of other speakers, most of whom were not in the original programme.
Music: Jewish Cantor
Dr Karin Singh
Dr Singh spoke enthusiastically about "a new chapter of creative symbiosis" and went on to quote a poem by Sri Aurobindo, ‘Who?’
Subsequently it was announced that on the previous day there had been a long meeting between members of a Hindu delegation, some Buddhists and Christians, including Cardinal Arinze, in which there was an agreement that humanitarian aid not be employed as a tactic for conversion. The assertion was made that
Article 18 of the declaration of human rights cannot be construed as authorisation for the organising of proseltyzing, which would impair interfaith tolerance and harmony.
Modi Foundation Web site (includes a list of South Asian observers):
David Finn – Concept for World Academy of Ethics and Non-violence
Chair, Executive Council, Millennium World Peace Summit
Bawa Jain – Concept for International Advisory Council of Religious
and Spiritual Leaders, Secretary-General,
Millennium World Peace Summit
Alas, this did not materialise.
Voluntary Sharing of Waters from Around the World as a Symbol of
the Commitment to Dialogue and to the Environment
Many people came forward to offer blessing water, which was poured into a large shining bowl.
Closing Ceremony: Blessings for the World by Religious Leaders
There followed a Tibetan blessing from the office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama together with scarves.
Others were invited to offer their blessings, including Sulak Sivaraksa, who talked of mindfulness and also urged people to take themselves less seriously, plus the need to have good friends.
The audience was invited to participate in singing the tune from "Dance then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the dance said He…" with the following words:
"Be there wherever you may be
because you are the person I can’t be
We’ll do whatever wherever we may be
We’ll be together in the life that will be."
Participation was mixed.
Music – McCullough Sons of Thunder
After a false start, this jazz band strode forward confidently and played a lively tune, lively enough for some summit organisers and other senior folk to get up and dance.
Photo to appear here(!)
Some time during the last session, some of the many summit organisers duly took their place on the stage to be introduced and thanked.
United House of Prayer for All People
6:30pm–8:00pm: Closing Reception Starlight Roof
I was not present. Instead I went to visit a Burmese Buddhist monk, who observed that the summit had not seen much dialogue.
These are observations in response to the speeches and not to the event overall.
It was noticeable how some of the speakers became very excited. Many speakers raised their voices beyond the expected – even some of those whom I would have expected to retain a quiet disposition. It was evidently quite difficult to contain enthusiasm, some of which was undoubtedly due to the opportunity to speak in the hallowed UN chamber, but just as much seemed to emerge on discovery shared humanity. Many big fish from local pools can get along together in the ocean. The audience response was also lively at times – one or two would leap to their feet in sprightly manner and clap to show their support. Others, were restrained, some of whom out of necessity for retaining mindfulness!
For many of the speakers, this was the first time that they had given a presentation in such a plural setting, among many other leaders from different traditions. What was remarkable was the sense of common purpose – something subtle that cannot be quantified in resolutions and declarations, but will nevertheless have a lasting effect.
Here lies an opportunity, especially for workers in interfaith, who can help continue the processes, furthering the awareness of shared visions, establishing further connections, locally and globally.
BeliefNethttp://www.beliefnet.com has nice streaming video coverage from the first two days: it is in Real Networks format and streamed at 100kbps, which means quite good quality, but requires a digital line for continuous play back – if you use a 56K modem with a dial-up connection, you will often have to wait whilst it buffers the data before playing in short bursts.
List of ‘Delegates’ (includes observers, but does not list everyone who was there) at:http://www.millenniumpeacesummit.org/news000905.html