What does Interfaith mean to you?


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a figment of your imagination
Is it a dialogue between religions?

Is it allowing others to believe as they wish and not imposing?

Is it learning from other traditions and both gaining and insight to their ways, and utilizing some of their thought which does not conflict with your own?

I ask because I run into people/ogranizations that claim they are interfaith but they really seem to have the goal of opening a dialogue with the end result being you participating in their belief system.

At wikipedia they indicate that Sikh origin is interfaith, and I've run into a Sufi sect who appears that way as well. And when I say interfaith, you can join their celebrations and participate with them while staying firmly grounded in your religion. They have a component of honoring and respecting all belief systems.

On the flip side, and I look to be corrected. Bahai seems to me to have an interfaith component which indicates that all religions have grown toward Bahai, and that Bahai is the culmination of a religous evolution. Not really interfaith as I am understanding...more of an umbrella method to absorb all?

While it sounds like I am pointing a finger there, I'm really trying to learn as I see the same component in other faiths, ie we are all born Muslim, or we are all Christian as soon as we accept Christ as our lord and saviour....

thanx in advance for your responses....
Hi wil--

Good question. To me, interfaith means exactly that. People from various traditions, cultures, belief systems, etc., coming together in order to understand one another.

Speaking as someone from a Christian background, I'd say it is sometimes difficult for people to believe that I am here for the purpose I stated above. I'd say this is due in great part to what is referred to as "The Great Commission" in Christianity. Moreover, I sometimes catch "hell" :D from some Christian brothers and sisters who feel that I am not following Christ if I do not reject all other streams of thought or try to sway others from them. I have even been, on more than one occasion, blatently accused of what I would define as "double espionage". :eek:

But I see the interfaith environment--places like CR--as my educational host. Within the guidelines set forth here, I am able to learn. I even learn from being the suspect sometimes! It may be difficult, but it is worth it.

I think it is deceitful when institutions claim the title "interfaith" with the intent to create a new religion or doctrine. And to deliberately fly the interfaith flag with the notion of bringing folks into an existing belief system is a dirtier trick. (And I am not talking about religions such as Baha'i, which to me, seems to be quite forthcoming about its inherent purpose.)

I don't want to be misunderstood here--if someone specifically inquires into a tradition of mine (I'm thinking I actually have more than one :eek:, at least in the eyes of this world), then I will certainly be there to respond to them. To do otherwise would just be rude, silly, and uncaring.

It really is a fine line. I am what I am, and so is it possible for me not to convey in my words and actions what comes from my heart? All I can do is try and respect the exchange of ideas in the spirit of learning and sharing.

It's tough, wil! Even my explanation here has got to sound a bit like some sort of sermon, huh?

I repeat--very good question. Thanks. :)

Re: My above post. Too late to make any more editing revisions, so I'll just do it in this separate post.

I wrote:

I think it is deceitful when institutions claim the title "interfaith" with the intent to create a new religion or doctrine. And to deliberately fly the interfaith flag with the notion of bringing folks into an existing belief system is a dirtier trick. (And I am not talking about religions such as Baha'i, which to me, seems to be quite forthcoming about its inherent purpose.)

I wanted to add that I do not see the Universalist organizations as deceitful, either. They state their mission in their title.

(sigh--this really gets complicated, doesn't it. On paper (or screen) anyway.)

If I have said anything that sounds terrible, I apologize right now.

Namaste In Love...

It is quite the dance isn't it.

Wanting to learn all the steps without stepping on toes.

Gotta take time to strectch and limber up first I suppose.

To be ready to not only lead but follow, and not worry about a little stumble by either party...be prepared to support and be supported...

Is there anything that doesn't lend itself to analogy and metaphor?
wil, InLove, others,

I wanted to offer something here, because I feel that the spirit of this thread comes from the very heart and soul of CR ... so beautifully put into form with your help, wil, and your nurturance, InLove.

On a personal note, in a few months a close college friend of mine, who is finishing his 2-year contract with the US Army after 1.5 years in Iraq (I thank God for his safe passage back stateside), will be coming to room with me till year's end.

Zach is pursuing an IT certification with the local University, and his presence will be quite welcomed, since I have only seen him once (last month) since well before his Army contract began. Zach's has the same BA in philosophy from UNC Asheville as myself, and what's more, Zach has been a Baha'i since even prior to his college days. So there are a number of blessings in this.

I have had more than a few conversations with Zach over the years, both about the Baha'i Faith, and Theosophy, as well as numerous points in between ... but often about things only peripherally related, or of course, not at all! {When are the aliens coming, will they have 3 fingers or 6, do they have good coffee on their home planet, that sort of thing.} ;) :p

What I especially welcome is the closer presence in my personal life of a friend who shares most of the same values, while yet preserving certain philosophical differences - and I would say spiritual distinctions (a positive relationship, this) - as to particulars. This is all I wanted to share at the moment along these lines, though I'm hoping that if Zach ends up rooming here, I can talk him into a visit or two to the CR site, as I am certain he would have much to offer, as well as much to gain, from the experience. :)

On a related note, I hope you won't mind, wil, InLove, and others, if I shared something from the website of the Theosophical Society in America. I don't know how often I'll be posting on CR in days ahead, and wil, your thread seems to invite full disclosure, honesty and frank, candid discussion - if ever a thread at CR did so! ;)

That said, my point - beforehand - is that sometimes, especially if a spiritual viewpoint, or philosophical mindset is in the minority, we can be faced with a tremendous challenge, as well as a great opportunity. On the one hand, we have before us a chance to introduce something of that Spiritual Path or Faith Tradition which has meant so much to us, to one or two others, maybe to several dozen, or conceivably even to hundreds, thousands & more! :)

This is wonderful, a true privilege and one we don't always come across every day! Yet there is also a challenge, and even a grave Responsibility that comes with this privilege. To my own, great personal embarrassment, I have found - and remembered far too late - that if we aren't very, very careful, the first, and subsequent impressions that we make ... may not go quite as we had hoped, or intended.

True, the fault is not entirely our own; for certain, we all wear a set of colored or tinted glasses through which we perceive reality, even including other people and their cherised philosophies, religious ideas & ideals. We might want to deny it, or scramble to remove these preconceptions and well-worn opinions, once we see that we've been wearing them. Yet they always seem to be there, even when we're sure we've removed them! :p

Perhaps this also indicates that it's possible to over-compensate, as if we should be apologetic - even from the outset - regarding our spiritual path, or religious beliefs. I find myself saying, hold on a second ... I'm afraid to share with others, in a format, location and forum which was created for this Purpose to begin with - the very values, principles, beliefs and ideals which have meant the most to me, in my personal search for Truth, or Quest for meaning ... and attempt to Honor the Sacred (inasmuch as I believe I have had some contact with it)? :confused: :eek:

Ever there is the question of proselytism, and however comfortable we are with our own beliefs and approach, I have long been convinced that those who seek most passionately to make converts of others, are the ones least secure regarding their own faith, beliefs and spiritual path! I may catch much flak for this, but I am speaking as much from my own experience (and struggles), as from an analysis of other people, or previous attempts I've survived to be converted, saved, or enlightened to some other way of seeing things. :eek:

So back to my real point. We have an opportunity, but also a Sacred Responsibility ...

I don't even care if, 10 weeks from now - or 10 years - we look back and say, `O-Wa Tagu Siam!' (It's a wonderful mantra; it works best if you begun to say it outloud, very slowly and intentionally, and only gradually, very gradually, repeat it slightly faster!) ;) :)

It may be, that in retrospect, we find that all we cherished and believed is revealed to have been in error, short-sighted, or as having "missed the mark," at least in some significant way or another. I know that most of us probably imagine that such a finding, or revelation, would be devastating! Personally, I can't fathom where this would leave me, and so I certainly hope that it doesn't happen! :eek:

But if it does, or did, then sooner or later (unless I truly am a purely self-centered and selfish individual) ... I'm going to ask myself, What about all those people - even just one or two, let alone hundreds, thousands - who I preached so much & so often to, or whom I assured, that such & such was the case, and that x, y or z is how things really are?

Even the simplest of my assumptions, and beliefs, may be revealed to have been incorrect - and then, I may find myself overwhelmed by a burden of guilt, and of remorse, for having misinformed, or (even unintentionally) misled, wrongly guided, my fellow man. :(


In my own, long-winded way, I think I am trying to make a point, on the one hand, but also apologize, on the other, for a part that I have perhaps often had, at CR, in a terrible misrepresentation ... such that, even though I know it hasn't been intentional, I still find myself facing, squarely in the face, a rather ugly (or ugly enough) creation which I am forced to own as "the result of how poorly I've represented, qualified and charactized the Joy, the Beauty, the Truth, the Love and the Light, as I have had the good fortune to have experienced them!" :eek:

I must leave it for anyone who has had the patience to bear with me thus far, to try and understand what I'm suggesting (either at CR, in 2+ years, or even in this one post on your thread, wil and InLove). I am verbose and not always clear, yet I hope you can either sense, or take me at my word, for once, in this particular case. I can only sum up, by saying this:

Whatever else I have perhaps said elsewhere, on another forum or post regarding Theosophy and the Theosophical Society, as I look back on my 35 years, I know that my life would have been much less pleasant, less meaningful, less full of Joy and Wonder, without the 18+ years in which I have known of Theosophy, studied various teachings, met others on this path, traveled to Theosophical gatherings, belonged to Theosophical and related societies, meditation & study groups, and pondered the verities as they are discussed, explored & revealed via Theosophy and Theosophists. :)

That said, even if I never post again at CR, all that I ask is that anyone truly interested in Interfaith studies, comparative religion, or even man's search for meaning (ty, Mr. Frankl) ... please treat with as much Respect, and as much simple, human decency, anyone (including myself, regardless of my shortcomings!) who identifies him or herself as a Theosophist, or an esotericist in the Theosophical tradition. Any less, and I begin to wonder what we're doing here anway. ;)

From the Theosophical Society in America webpage:
(About Us) The Theosophical Society in America is a branch of a world fellowship and membership organization dedicated to promoting the unity of humanity and encouraging the study of religion, philosophy and science so that we may better understand ourselves and our relationships within this multidimensional universe. The Society stands for complete freedom of individual search and belief. (all emphasis mine)​
And again:
How do Theosophists regard churches and religions?
Theosophy holds that all religions are expressions of humanity's effort to relate to one another, to the universe around us, and to the ultimate ground of being. Particular religions differ from one another because they are expressions of that effort adapted to particular times, places, cultures, and needs. Theosophy is not itself a religion, although it is religious, in being concerned with humanity's effort to relate to ultimate values. Individual Theosophists profess various of the world's religions—Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist. Some have no religious affiliation. The Society itself is an expression of the belief that human beings, however diverse their backgrounds, can communicate and cooperate. (again, emphasis mine)​
Especial apologies for the lengthiness of my post. I am hoping that I have been able to offer something by way of a personal note, and also an apology - for having at times been far too assertive of my own thoughts & beliefs (it is important to distinguish these from what might or might not have anything to do! - with Theosophy).

I am also hoping that I might continue to share at CR, which I regard as a true, virtual {Inter-}Faith Community, and not just a comparative religion forum, although CR is the also best such forum I think I have ever visited! :)

If I identify myself at times as having Theosophical beliefs, or background, please feel free either to ask me about that (as you have often done, InLove, and you as well, wil) ... or to seek clarification on what such affiliation might have to do - with the issue at hand. In this particular case, given the spirit of this thread and the postings so far, I hope my lengthiness can for once be excused ... and that some of this might fit into perspective.

~~~ - ~~~

I look forward to learning more about Interfaith (and ecumenism) both regarding Baha'is and Christians, and certainly many others. Theosophists have been interested in, and contributing to Interfaith, for 125+ years (having a prominent presence at the first Parliament of World's Religions, as well as the second).

Please let me know if I can add anything by way of clarity ... even including (of course), the issue of just how much interfaith is really being sought, vs. seeking one's own personal (religion's) agendas, under the interfaith banner. [The former] was part of my motivation in posting the links from the TSA website, and I hope that is seen as an invitation (and contribution) to dialogue .... :)

cheers ...

Namaskar - Love and Light,

~zagreus/taijasi (Andrew)
Namaste my brothers Zag, And, Tai...

We are all migrating waterfowl at times...

no worries...'cept one.

that your longwinded highly inspirational, informational posts are no longer.

I took a sabbatical once and missed this place.

You took a sabbatical once and we missed you.

As we've all pointed out, this interfaith opportunity is tough on all of us, we all have something in our heart to share.

And love each other enough we don't want the other to miss out...I think that applies to everyone here.

ps I'm not indicating simply everyone on this thread, or this site, or even this planet....
Hey Andrew :)

Let me start off by expressing this thought on screen: I love you very much. Your input in CR has been of significant value in my studies. I don't always know how to address certain ideas you introduce because I do not yet understand all of them. But what I do get is at least the essence of your message. And the essence of your message is brotherhood among all people. This is what I meant when I told you on another thread that if what you have to say contains merit, it will grow, like a seed of understanding.

And that is why I joined CR. ;)

And thank you for posting at least part of the mission statement of the Theosophical Society. It is entirely appropriate on this thread. And I have added it to my Favorites so I may take some time to visit. I am involved in so many different areas of study right now--you should see my list!!! And I love it. The more I can understand about various streams of thought, philosophy, religion, art, science.....you know that I could go on and on here, don't you?;) It is sometimes difficult for me to focus on thread topics and such. Know what I mean?:D

Anyway, I could turn this into a very long post. But I tend to get tired. And I don't want your eyes to start "bleeding" (InLove nods to Dondi).

I am thrilled for you that your friend is joining you at least for a while. I hope he will be interested in contributing some thought here in CR, in both the Baha'i community as well as the extended CR family. Welcome in advance!

Well, gotta get off here how, or Jack Halyard will think I don't love him anymore. Not really--he understands, too. That's one of the reasons I love him so much!

As Always,
InPeace, Love, AND Light!

Actually I've been involved in the Inter-Faith community for the past six years or so as a Baha'i and for the past four years have been President of the local Inter-faith Council..

We Baha'is are very much interested in encouraging inter-faith activities and increasing the dialogue between religions as we recognise that many local social issues can be addressed thorugh a Council representing the various religions... We have successfully addressed issues such as vandalism of local churches and the mosque with City officials and the Human Relations Commission.

Baha'is are more interested in improving the dialogue among religions and reducing the prejudices in our communities...The past fifty years or so has seen a rise in awareness that many of our communities are becoming increasingly pluralistic which means if there is to be a coherent response to community issues the entire religious community should ideally become involved in coordinating a response.

From the Baha'i Writings:

There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed

- Baha'u'llah, Gleanings 217

All must abandon prejudices and must even go into each others churches and mosques, for in all worshipping places, the Name of God is mentioned. Since all gather to worship God, what difference is there?

- 'Abdu'l-Baha, Star of the West vol ix, no.3, p.37
Thanks, arthra!

(And I'd like to comment on your new avatar. I saw the source reference on another thread. It's absolutely beautiful!)