Chichester Quakers Interfaith Meeting 20 Nov 2018

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“Love thy neighbours”: QUAKER INTERFAITH EVENT

Chichester Quakers Interfaith MeetingChichester Vedic Cultural Society, participated in an Interfaith Cultural Meeting held at Quaker Meeting House, Priory Road, Chichester on the theme “Love thy Neighbour”. Ms Vicky Wilson represented the CVCS society along with Mr Yatin Bhatt. She talked on Hinduism – Love Thy neighbours. This is what she explained:

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains to Arjuna that his essence lives in him and in each one of us as our real Self. This divine part of us  is also referred to by the Sanskrit word of Atman. In the Vedic literature, it’s said that our purpose in life is to reveal this Atman which is concealed in all of us. In most people, it’s covered by our egos which have to be removed bit by bit by spiritual practice. One such practice is to see the real Self, or Atman, in others and if this is followed how can we fail to love our neighbour?

In Sanskrit, the language of the Bhagavad Gita, the underlying Reality of life is called by a simple, but very powerful, name: Advaita, which means “not two”. This means there’s no division, no fragmentation in life at all. No matter how much we may appear to differ on the surface, the welfare of each one of us is inseparable from the welfare of all others. The Gita tells us that we can’t fulfil ourselves by going our own, selfish way. Everything we do affects everyone else. If we try to live in harmony, we all benefit but if we violate the unity of existence, everything suffers – our family, our society and even our own health and wellbeing. As Krishna says to Arjuna, in Chapter 6 of the Gita, “He who sees everything alike as similar to himself……is considered to be the highest yogi”.

Chichester Quakers - Vedic Society Chichester-minMr Bill McMellon, 22.11.2018 (Chichester Quakers) response on the event was: On Tuesday 20th November at the Quaker Meeting House, Chichester, a stimulating evening was spent exploring how the theme of Loving thy Neighbour is interpreted by local Hindus (from the Vedic Society), a local Imaam , Jews and Quakers.

After a light supper, speakers from the various groups represented spoke briefly on the theme. Whilst it might be thought to be a purely Christian idea, the idea of caring for each other in this way was shown to be both more ancient, being included in both Hindu texts from some 3,000 years ago and the Hebrew Bible of a similar age, and common to all the faiths present. Love and charity exist for Moslems, Jews and Hindus just as they do for Quakers and Christians.

About thirty people attended and the speakers were followed by a stimulating (and sometimes perplexed) discussion. If these ideas are so widespread, why are people so often at daggers drawn? For all that there was an encouraging  feeling of unity throughout the evening.

The Chichester Quakers Interfaith Planning Group exists to explore ways people of different faiths might usefully co-operate. This is believed to be important at a time when  division appears to be on the increase. People of any faith who wish to join this exploration can contact the group through the clerk of the Meeting at the Chichester Quakers website.