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Answering Your Interfaith Questions

If compassion is taught as the heart of all religious traditions, why is it that religion seems to divide us?
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 Rabbi Ted Falcon, Pastor Don Mackenzie, and Sheikh Jamal Rahman, known collectively as the "Interfaith Amigos," have been learning and teaching together since 2001. They blog for YES! Magazine.

Warsaw, Poland Wall of Peace, photo by Éole Wind

Photo by Éole Wind.

We three amigos have taken a break from keeping this blog up to date in order to focus on writing our second book, Religion Gone Astray: What We Found at the Heart of Interfaith. At this moment, it is in the hands of our editor, and we expect it back soon.

We had also taken a break from traveling for this writing project. As I write this, we are on our way back to Seattle from a speaking engagement in San Bernardino, California. In coming weeks we will be in Sarasota, Atlanta, and Denver.

We learn a great deal when we travel. The question and answer segment of our presentations is our favorite because we learn what is on peoples’ minds. Their questions often stimulate a deeper kind of teaching, where we learn at least as much as they. This is truly exciting for us.

So we started thinking of doing some future programs based on “Questions We’ve Been Asked,” and then thought this would be a great format for this blog.

We believe that all authentic spiritual paths are avenues to a shared Universal, a Universal greater than any particular path.

We will respond to some questions we’ve already been asked, and invite our readers (that’s you!) to consider what issues you would like us to address, or what questions you have for us. 

The three of us, Imam Jamal Rahman, Pastor Don Mackenzie, and I, have been actively working together for almost 10 years. We began shortly after 9/11, without any real idea of where we were heading. We knew that we all wanted to find ways of reclaiming the universal spiritual insights in each of our traditions. We knew that those insights tend to get covered up by the needs of the institutions created to support them. We wanted to reclaim those principles because with that shared wisdom we can create the dialogue needed for effective collaboration on the major issues confronting us as humankind.

Bird houses photo by See-ming LeeHope Amid Hatred :: 
Our polarization and anger are signs of hopelessness. What can interfaith dialogue teach us about healing our wounds and coming together?

We believe that all authentic spiritual paths are avenues to a shared Universal, a Universal greater than any particular path. Many call that shared Universal God, and others call that inclusivity Life, or Love, or Being. Perhaps we use many names to point to that which is beyond any name. By whatever name we use, that Universal Being contains us all, and also awakens within each of us.

All spiritual paths have some formulation of the “Golden Rule,” because it is less a command than the natural consequence of awakening to the absolute interconnectedness of all Being.

If compassion, expressed as the Golden Rule, is taught as the heart of all religious traditions, why is it that religion seems to divide us? 

“Do not do unto others that which you would not have them do to you” appears in the Tao, in Judaism, and in many other traditions. “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” appears in Christianity and other traditions. 

In those moments of greater wakefulness, we know that pain we cause is pain for us all, and love we share is love for us all. What we give is what we are most open to receive.

But if compassion, expressed as the Golden Rule, is taught as the heart of all religious traditions, why is it that religion seems to divide us? Why does religion appear to separate us and not unite us?

We’ll begin with that question. Pastor Don’s response will be posted in a week. Stay tuned.


Ted Falcon bio pic 2Rabbi Ted Falcon, Ph.D., wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Rabbi Falcon has taught Jewish traditions of Kabbalah, meditation, and spirituality for over thirty-five years. He is the author ofA Journey of Awakening: Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tree of Life and co-author, with David Blatner, of Judaism For Dummies

Interested? 

  • More from the Interfaith Amigos
  • A History of Happiness
    We can learn a lot from older traditions that focused on being good rather than feeling good and measured happiness in lifetimes, not moments.
  • Freeing the Spirit of Change
    Ethical behavior and loving generosity are at the core of faith—so why is the world hurting? Rabbi Ted Falcon on why paying attention to our interconnection is the first step toward healing.

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