|International Peace Conference Miami, FL|
Peace Awareness Weekend
On Thursday, November 30, 2006, and Friday December 1, The Kriya Yoga Institute together with community partners presented two free public events focused on consciously creating peace in our lives and in the world.
On Thursday November 30, the Kriya Yoga Institute together with Florida International University’s Center for the Study of Spirituality presented a World Peace Conference in Miami, Florida. The theme of the conference was Peace is our Birthright: Creating a Unified Vision for World Peace. The event, held at the Koven Center at FIU, was free and open to the public.
On Friday December 1, the Kriya Yoga Institute and the Unity Church of Ft. Lauderdale presented an evening focused on Living Together in Community ~ Living Together in The World. The event was free and open to the public and began with a reception at 5:00 pm with food and refreshments followed by speakers at 6:00 p.m.
The purpose of both events was to promote peace and inter-cultural understanding through a non-political forum where recognized leaders in a variety of traditions could expound on their views to the challenge of creating a better world.
To achieve World Peace we must come to the realization that people everywhere long for the same harmony, and that peace first starts within ourselves. Bringing like-minded people together serves to create greater opportunities for dialogue and understanding to fulfill this purpose. The goal of the conferences was to provide awareness to the youth and general public on how to create peace in their lives, and how to extend that peace to their family, community, and the world.
Miami Peace Conference - Thursday, November 30
Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, delivered the keynote address which was followed by a panel discussion, including leaders from a variety of world religions moderated by Dr. Nathan Katz of FIU. The Peace Conference closing address was delivered by Paramahamsa Prajnanananda. Topics were as follows:
Arun Gandhi ~ Keynote Speaker
Panel Discussion Religious Leaders – Moderated by Dr. Nathan Katz
- Identify barriers to peace & how they affect peace
- Present a vision for peace
- Present methods to develop and maintain inner peace. Elucidate the connection between inner peace and the family, community and the world.
Panelists included prominent spiritual leaders representing some of the major world religions: Rabbi Mitchell Chefitz (Jewish), Swami Yuktatmananda (Hindu), Imam Mohammed Zakaria Badat (Islam), Samaniji Charitra Prajna (Jain), Lama Karma Chotso (Buddhist), and Rev. Mary Tumpkin (Protestant).
Peace Conference Closing Address - Paramahamsa Prajnanananda
Creating a Unified Vision for World Peace
The Miami Conference was filled to capacity with an audience of more than 500 attendees. The interfaith discourses resulted in many inspiring messages from the eminent spiritual leaders of the different faiths.
Shri Arun Gandhi shared some very heartwarming incidents of his experiences with this grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, the freedom fighter of India known as the “father of the nation.” Reminiscences of Mahatma’s views on untouchables, emancipation of women, channeling anger, peaceful coexistence, and world peace were inspiring and elevating.
Arun Gandhi said, “To live in peace we should have a positive outlook of respect and understanding. We are not here by accident. We have to know what our role is in creation. We labeled people based on nations and religions and built walls and forgot human beings. The relationship among religions should be of understanding and with proper perspective. Religion is not just ritual with no heart in it. A friendly study of all religions is the sacred duty of all individuals. No religion has the whole truth. We should broaden our understanding and learn from each other. Religion is not competition. God is love, compassion and understanding.”
Quoting his grandfather, Mr. Gandhi said, “Religion is like climbing a mountain to reach its peak. It does not matter from which side of the mountain you are climbing. All have to reach the same peak.”
He continued, “Nationalism also is unfortunately resulting in division. We should remember that no nationality can thrive if the rest of the world is going down the drain. The welfare of one depends on all.”
Amidst great applause and a standing ovation Mr. Gandhi concluded his talk with a Vedic prayer:
“Let all be well. Let all be peaceful. Let all be complete.”
In the closing address, Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji quoted how Gurudev always said, “Peace is our birthright.” He continued, “One sleeps in peace at night and gets up with peace. A baby smiles in peace. No one has to teach us how to sleep or how to smile. Peace is within us. God’s beauty, God’s love, and God’s peace are everywhere. We have heard a lot from all the speakers. Now we have to practice it. Practice gives perfection.”
Drawing on Gurudev Hariharanandaji’s life, Paramahamsaji spoke about how Gurudev spent his life of love, serving humanity until his last breath. Gurudev always said, “Breath is my religion.” Paramahamsaji said, “Spirit is breath. We are all breathing and we are all spiritual if we are aware of our breath. This is the message of Kriya Yoga and the masters of Kriya Yoga.” He concluded with, “Move in peace, live in peace, and breathe in peace.”
The program came to a close with Baba Prajnananandaji felicitating the speakers and a vote of thanks.