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Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

Former Philippine Speaker Jose de Venecia speaks at Father Moon’s Ascension Anniversary

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 23, 2013

Former Senator Jose de Venecia who addressed the Commemoration Ceremony of Father Moon's First Ascension Anniversary

Former Senator Jose de Venecia who addressed the Commemoration Ceremony of Father Moon’s First Ascension Anniversary in South Korea




Dear Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon and members of the Moon Family.

Excellencies. Ambassadors for Peace. Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is my distinct honor and privilege to have the opportunity to share with you a few words this morning in honor of the life, the teachings and the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon who passed away to the spiritual world one year ago today.

I am always moved and uplifted when I come to Cheong Pyeong. My wife, Congresswoman Gina de Venecia, and I have had the very good fortune to have visited Father and Mother Moon on many occasions in this holy place, this holy land.

In particular, Gina and I will never forget the kindness and compassion shown to us by Father and Mother Moon following the tragic accident that led to the untimely passing of our beloved daughter, KC (Kristina Casimira). Both of us were deeply moved by the love and care which both Father and Mother Moon provided at that difficult time. Indeed it was one of the most difficult times in our life, and we will never forget their generosity and loving kindness. (Report on Conference

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‘Vaisakhi’ by Sukhbir Singh

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 16, 2010

Sukhbir Singh, Angad Kaur and Amarjeet-singh Bhamra

Vaisakhi of 1699

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a pleasure being with you on the occasion of the Joint Celebtrations. I thank Margaret Ali and Robin Marsh for inviting me to share with you the Sikh celebration of Vaisakhi. Sikhs all over the world celebrated Vaisakhi yesterday, and will continue to do so for another few days.

Vaisakhi for the Sikhs represents the birth of the Khalsa, and has its beginnings in a remarkable event that took place over 300 years ago. During the latter part of the 17th century, India was ruled by the Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb who was bent upon converting the Hindus into Islam.

In 1675, Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, gave the supreme sacrifice, to save Hindu religion from the hands of the Emperor, and was beheaded in Chandni Chowk Delhi. At this time, the only son of Guru Teg Bahadur, Guru Gobind Rai was only 9 years old when He resumed the Guruship as 10th Guru of the Sikhs.

From the very young age, Guru Gobind Rai was a perfect leader & motivator for the Sikhs. He organised Sikhs and led them to follow spiritual route to attain union with God and at the same time, trained them to be self-defendant and guard the helpless against injustice & tyranny. He re-iterated the “Saint-Soldier” concept. At the age of 33 i.e. 24 years since the Guruship, Guru Gobind Rai was set out to accomplish God’s spiritual mission started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji of creating “Khalsa Panth” (God’s Religion). He chose the day of Vaisakhi for such a grand venture. Before the event, Guru Ji has been quoted to have not made any public appearance for over 11 months.

The Vaisakhi Day

In early 1699, few months before the Vaisakhi Day, Guru Gobind Rai sent a special invitation to the Sikhs all over the country to join the special Vaisakhi Celebrations in the town of Anandpur Sahib in the Punjab state of India. He asked them not to cut any of their hair and to come with their turbans on. Masses of people turned up on the day.

About Eighty thousand Sikhs had gathered at this event. The Guru welcomed everyone and reminded them of their duty, commitment, loyalty and faith. Then to everyone’s surprise, The Guru withdrew his long sword and said in a very powerful voice “Who will be brave enough to come forward to offer me a head? The Guru asked for the sacrifice of head for the sake of Dharam, or religion. No one expected this to happen. This amazed and horrified many. There was a pin drop silence. Some people were looking for the way to escape. No one came forward. The Guru repeated this three times.

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Mysticism as Doctrine and Experience: Prof. Karel Werner

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 10, 2010

Mysticism as Doctrine & Experience: Prof. Karel Werner

Thursday 8th April

Prof. Karel Werner of SOAS University, Religious studies Dept. reviewed the history of Mysticism contrasting the themes of doctrinal belief and ecstatic mystical union. His statement that ‘belief in doctrine was childish’ caused some discussion. He compared also the experience of interfaith dialogue and relationships today with the communities of mystics who have appeared throughout history. He added that the backlash of those who could not understand those who transcended their belief to enter an ecstatic, mystical oneness has also been a common historical theme.

The lecture first attempted a definition of mysticism and then search for its roots or beginnings.  

‘In Europe it had its roots in the ecstatic experiences of initiates into the mystery cults of ancient Greece, drew substantially from Judaic tradition and was developed into a doctrine within Christianity. But some influence on Greek mysticism is already detectable as coming from Indian approach to the Divine. It can be traced also in Gnosticism. The same can be said about Muslim mysticism practised within the Sufi movements.

There is nothing specifically European and  Christian about mysticism as such. Its beginnings in the twilight of Greek history and also in mystical trends in the Indian Vedas point to its even older origins in Indo-European antiquity. But the fact that mystical trends can also be found in other cultures in Asia, particularly in Chinese Daoism, points clearly to the universality of the phenomenon of mysticism. Descriptions by mystics of their experiences further suggest that there is a common core to them which goes beyond doctrinal differences between religions. This is where religions should and could meet.’

Photo link

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Experiencing the Sacred: Dr Naznin Hirji

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on February 12, 2010

Experiencing the Sacred: Dr Naznin Hirji

16th February, 2010

Universal Peace FederationInterfaith Committee

Dr Naznin Hirji spoke of the conditions conducive to experience of the sacred. She quoted major figures as Rumi, that “according to the polishing of one’s heart can see the hidden meaning of things”. He described the “silence that speaks” and a “thread that extends from the heart to the lips” while words tear the fabric of that silence.

There was another theme 0f architecture that facilitates experience of the sacred. There were examples of Islamic architecture with explanations of the significance of the design that both symbolised and facilitated experience of the transcendent and the spiritual. There followed a discussion of spirituality and personal experiences of the sacred.

Link for photos:


We have been holding monthly interfaith events in order to explore spirituality from many different traditions. Some monthly events have included talks about mystics and visionaries from various faiths. Other months have featured guided meditations. There have been book launches by interfaith figures such as Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, (photo above on left) that focus upon influential spiritual thinkers or the search for spirituality.

From 7pm to 8.30pm Dr Naznin Hirji (above photo on right) will speak and lead a discussion on the topic, ‘Experience of the Sacred’. Naznin’s Doctorate is about this area. She is a consultant in Change Management and a long time activist in the Aga Khan Development Network.

On Behalf of the Interfaith Committee:

Joyce Suda – UPF Director, Interfaith Committee Chair – Tel: 02084673035

Robin Marsh – Secretary General – Mobile: 07956 210 768 Universal Peace Federation – UK

Naznin Hirji has a doctorate in Politics, International Relations and Policy Studies with specialisation in the Philosophy of Learning, Faith and Human Development. She also has an MSc in Change Agent Skills and Strategies and a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods. She has several years’ experience as an Educator in the area of experiential and existential learning, spiritual leadership and change management using innovative approaches and a passion for Islamic architecture. Naznin represented her community as a Member on the Ismaili Religious Education Board UK from 1992-1995 and as a Member of The Ismaili National Council UK from 1999-2002, both positions incorporating multifaith and multicultural interfaces and global development issues. She has also held several other leadership and Educator positions with emphasis on policy issues. Naznin has worked on various projects within the Aga Khan Development Network including the Aga Khan Foundation, and has long been affiliated with The Institute for Ismaili Studies in London. She has participated in planning Committees on several international events and contributed to the initial thinking for the Festival of Muslim Cultures UK 2005-2006. In 2007-2008 she project-led the planning, research and writing of three Volumes of a community religious education Curriculum, which have been translated for use in Central Asian countries and are also in use in Europe, Canada, East Africa and Russia. Naznin has published several articles and is in the process of writing for an International Handbook on Learning.

Working at individual, group and organizational levels, she has traveled extensively to support the processes of transformation and transition. Her style of work is to blend the artistic, scientific and philosophical in order to inspire creativity in people and to foster openness of approach to lifelong learning.

Interfaith Committee:

Dr. Ghayassudin Siddiqui
Dr. Christoph Von Luttitz
Mr. Sukhbir Singh
Mrs. Joyce Suda
Dr. Raheem Khan
Imam Mahmadou Bocoum
Imam Nabel Haidari
Mrs. Karen Szulakowska
Ms. Brenda Hodgson
Mr. Amarjeet-singh Bhamra
Dr Naznin Hirji (invited to join)
Mr. Ujjwal Banga
Professor Karel Werner (invited to join)
Mr. Robin Marsh

Email: Web: Office Tel: 020 7262 0985

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Peace and Development Network:

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

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Upcoming Universal Peace Federation – UK Programmes Nov – Dec 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 20, 2009

UPF - logos 2-0 cm

Upcoming Universal Peace Federation – UK Programmes

Click on the links for further information.

November 18th – 5:00 pm Commemorating Dr LM Singhvi’s Interfaith Contribution and Joint Celebration of Religious Holy Days:
Hosted by Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh in Committee Room 4A, House of Lords. We have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate National Interfaith Week and to commemorate the late Dr L.M. Singhvi’s contribution to interfaith work. Dr Singhvi, as a distinguished seven year Indian High Commissioner to the UK, left a deep impression particularly in his encouragement of good interfaith relations. The UPF Interfaith Committee’s series of Joint Celebrations of Holy Days seeks to provide opportunities for younger and older faith representatives to express their faith and to both learn about and celebrate other religious traditions.

November 24th – 5:00 pm‘Immigrants Contribution to British Society’
Committee Room 12, House of Commons:  Lord Bikhu Parekh, Chair of ‘Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain’ Report in 2000, Ms Yasmin Alibhai- Brown – distinguished Journalist and Commentator, Mr Tom Brake MP – Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Home Affairs and Mr Keith Best – Chief Executive, Immigration Advisory Service.

November 26th – 6:30 pm: UPF-UK Environment Chapter: 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA “London Initiative ahead of Copenhagen 2009 – ‘Think globally – act locally’ “ Emma Burnell, Vice Chair of SERA and Lawrence Bloom, the chair of the UN Environment Programme, Green Economy Initiative.

November 28th – World Culture Association: 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA

December 5th – 10:30 amUniversal Peace Council: 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA

The UPF Bi-annual Peace Council Meeting is a gathering of Ambassadors for Peace and friends to review activities and strategise how to utilise the cooperative influence of UPF’s growing national and international network. The Universal Peace Federation and its slogans of ‘one family under God’ and ‘living for the sake of others’ has incredible significance in this time of unsettling changes. The UPF Peace Council will begin at 10:30a.m. On Saturday 5th of December, with sessions up to lunch of reports and keynote speakers who have been supporting UPF events during the year.

Recently Held Events:

Rev. Dr Marcus Braybrooke: Book launch, ‘Beacons of the Light‘  October 16th

Green Economy Initiative with speakers Lawrence Bloom and Murad Qureshi September 3rd. For the report please click here.

September 6th 6:30 pm –   Pilgrimage:  A discussion of the role of pilgrimages in different faiths. For photos click here.

Robin Marsh
Secretary General, UPF – UK

Mobile: 44 (0) 7956 210 768     Twitter: RTMarsh

Cllr. Margaret Ali

Director, UPF – UK

Mobile: 44 (0) 7723024750

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Tel: 44 (0) 207 262 0985

Peace and Development Network:

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Posted in Community Cohesion, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

‘Beacons of the Light’ Booklaunch October 16th, 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 18, 2009

Universal Peace Federation

43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA

100 People Who Have Shaped The Spiritual History Of Humanity

‘Beacons of The Light’

Address and Book Launch by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke

Book Signing Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke

Book Signing Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke

Photo link of the Beacons of the Light Event October 16th, 2009.

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke with Respondents Imam Mahmadou Bocoum and Vijay Metha as well as MC Cllr. Margaret Ali

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke with Respondents Imam Mahmadou Bocoum and Vijay Metha as well as MC Cllr. Margaret Ali

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke Booklaunch with Dr Naznin Hirji

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke Booklaunch with Dr Naznin Hirji

Imam Dr Mamadou Bocoum praised Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke’s scholarship in writing such a book covering so many significant spiritual figures and for his investment as his teacher in the Muslim College during his Masters course. He quoted, ‘there is one light and there are different flames coming from that light’.

He mentioned that Abraham is the only prophet who became Haleel or the ‘ultimate friend of God’. He had to pay a heavy price to accomplish this title. Many other faiths want to take this person as their own faith’s exclusive founder or leading influence. This book reveals the claims and counterclaims on Abraham.

Imam Bocuom also reflected on the words ‘wherever there is love there is God but not wherever there is God there is love’.

During the Q. and A. Rev. Braybrooke was asked the question, ‘can spirituality exist without a religion?’  He replied, ‘Religions can meet best where they meet their call in God. The Dalai Llama said that for spirituality religion was not necessary. Others are rooted in a faith during their childhood even if they leave the faith later on in life and so it is difficult to separate their religion and their spirituality.’

Asked about those figures who are not included Rev. Braybrooke admitted that there are many more than one humndred figures mentioned but not as a separate section. In the end he said the criteria was how influential they were and after that there had to be some arbitrary selection.

Please see below or here for the response of Mr Vijay Mehta to ‘Beacons of the Light’.

Photo link of the Beacons of the Light Event October 16th, 2009.

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Pilgrimage – Interfaith Perspectives

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on September 2, 2009


Period of Silence to Begin

Period of Silence to Begin: Angad Kaur, Brother Tashi, Swami Saradananda, Joy Phillipou, Amarjeet-singh Bhamra, Imam Mahmadou Bocoum

What can we learn about pilgrimages that are common to all religions? On September 3rd we heard about jumping queues and ‘culturally determined’ mind sets that are challenged when we join a pilgrimage. Swami Saradananda, who coordinates pilgrimages (, talked of India as a place where Europeans or Americans had to relearn everything from how to eat, talk, sleep and go to the toilet. The happiest pilgrimage was often the one where everything went wrong! Imam Mahmadou Bocoum spoke of wearing the white clothes of the Haj and putting away things of the world. Yet he struggled when others jumped queues, pushed and shoved to fulfil their heavenly duties. Brother Tashi spoke of accumulating merit by pilgrimages as well as purifying our karma. He demonstrated the sequence of devotion when approaching the holy mountain in Tibet near Llhasa: the sequential prostration every two metres along the path.

Angad Kaur talked of two pilgrimages. The first was similar to sightseeing. The second with a spiritual guide and mentor was an external manifestation of an enriching internal journey. She could experience the devotion suffused within the stones and creation where it was practiced by holy people of the past.

Joy Phillipou grew up in the Holy Land of the Levant, providing ample time to experience swimming in Lake Galilee while thinking of Christ walking on that lake or the joy of being given turkish coffee and sanctified bread at 4:00 am by monks after sleeping overnight in the Church of Holy Sepulchre or lying down in the Garden of the Tomb in the place where Christ’s body may have been laid to rest. She felt a sacred presence within the stations of the cross on Via Doloroso holding her arms out like Christ in crucifixion.

A Unificationist, Ashley Crosthwaite, saw life of faith as a journey. The pilgrimage is a small aspect of that journey. On a pilgrimage to a holy place in Korea he and his wife, who were having difficulty to have children, were told by a spiritual lady of that place to fast one day a week and have cold showers each day for three years. At the conclusion of those three years they had their first child.

Swami Saradananda quoted Mother Theresa’s conception of a castle with seven rooms in our inner world. Each room is guarded by those who check whether you have really learned all there is to learn from that room before passing to the next. Real peace must come from within she said as we change our own inner nature. A pilgrimage brings out the real inner nature in a way that allows us to deal with what we can easily hide in our own nation and regular life.

For more photos please click here. For other interfaith activities please use this link.

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Interfaith Meditation and Spiritual Leadership Sept 16th

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 25, 2009

UPF - logos 2-0 cm

UPF-UK Interfaith Committee

Rajesh Ananda:

Foundation for International Spiritual Unfoldment

Guided Meditation


Discussion: ‘The Value of Spiritual Practices (Prayer, Meditation etc):

How do we raise the profile of the value of spiritual practices?’

6:30 pm 16th September 2009,

43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA

Rajesh Ananda will guide a meditation and a discussion of the leadership of his spiritual Guru, the Gururaj Ananda Yogi, from whom he inherited his position and wisdom. Gururaj Ananda Yogi emerged as a spiritual master in South Africa at the same period as Nelson Mandela who is well known in the world. Gururaj was also struggling against apartheid although he was never jailed he was threatened on numerous occasions. Kindly RVSP to reserve your place.


Robin Marsh on behalf of the Interfaith Committee

Mobile: 44 (0) 7956 210 768

Universal Peace Federation – UK Tel: 44 (0) 207 262 0985
Peace and Development Network:    Blog:

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN

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Guided Meditation and Discussion Led by Karen Szulakowska

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 15, 2009

Guided Meditation and Discussion Led by Karen Szulakowska

Guided Meditation and Discussion Led by Karen Szulakowska

On August 12th there was a guided meditation and discussion on ‘Spiritual Leadership’ led by Karen Szulakowska.  It was a profound evening of reflection, healing and inspiration. For more photos please follow this link.

The next meeting will be on September 16th at 6:30 pm led by Mr Rajesh Ananda of the Foundation for International Spiritual Unfoldment.


Follow the link for more about the work of the Interfaith Committee.

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Religious and Spiritual Leaders Series

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 10, 2009

Religious and Spiritual Leaders Series

9th July 2009
43 Lancaster Gate

Presented with a Photo of the Sikh Leader His Divine Holiness Satguru Jagjit Singh

Presented with a Photo of the Sikh Leader His Divine Holiness Satguru Jagjit Singh

Ambassador for Peace Award - Prof. Tara Singh Anjan

Ambassador for Peace Award - Prof. Tara Singh Anjan

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum

Held under the auspices of the Interfaith Committee as a monthly event, the first meeting went well last night.  There was a guided meditation and discussion led by Dr. Amarjeet-singh Bhamra. This was a good opportunity to find peace of mind after our busy working day. This was followed by a talk on the life and significance of Mansur al-Hallaj, the Sufi thinker who was executed for his controversial statements in 922 in Baghdad. Both sections developed into a profound discussion about the experience of divinity. The inner experience of great religious and spiritual leaders has led them to pioneer movements of revival that have profoundly influenced civilisations even if they were inconvenient or unpopular at the time.

The ecstatic intoxication of Mansur al-Hallaj spurred him to witness to others about his experience which shocked the religious and political leadership of the time.  The inner experience of meditation based some of the oldest known religious scriptures has enabled the exploration of the relationship of mind, body and soul that have challenged our concepts of human limitations.

The next event will be on August 13th from 6:30 pm. There will be a guided meditation and a discussion. Please put this in your diaries and let us know if you are going to attend.  (Click here for more photos of  July 9th’s event.)


Presenting Sant Tehal Singh with an Ambassador for Peace Award

Presenting Sant Tehal Singh with an Ambassador for Peace Award

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‘The Search for Spirituality’ Book Launch by Prof. Ursula King

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on June 12, 2009

June 11th 2009

‘Spirituality is becoming popular. Even sociologists have become spiritual!’ said Professor Ursula King while discussing her latest book, ‘The Search for Spirituality: Our Global Quest for Meaning and Fulfillment’. She referred to a  cultural vision of spiritual oneness beyond diversity of race, nationality and religion that is evolving within the human species. It is an evolution that was not discussed by Darwin but it is happening nevertheless. Gustav Jung referred to a coming together of the interconnectedness of humanity.

Prof. Ursula King

Mr Jay Lakhani

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum

Prof. King defined spirituality in terms of the web of life, through the relationship to oneself, to others, to the environment and the Divine Spirit, Creator or God. The growing edge of spirituality, she explained, was not under our control and therefore is full of mystery as we pass through the stages of our life. We need to educate children about spirituality because we need to know how to allow our spirit to flourish throughout the ‘dance of life’.

Interfaith dialogue can enable a person to discover the spirituality within another faith. This can help us to develop both spiritual literacy and the awareness that we have great resources within us.

Mr. Jay Lakhani, the Education Director of the Hindu Council UK, suggested that there is close link between science and spirituality becoming visible at the growing-edge of science. Quantum Physics for example is clearly suggesting that the underpinning to this creation is not matter but something that is guaranteed not to be matter. What is it?  Hinduism has been claiming that the underpinning to this universe and ourselves is essentially the Spirit. First it manifests as matter then it becomes more visible as living things and clearest vision of spirit is Men and Women. This is called Spiritual Humanism.

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum who is a lecturer at the Muslim College, Ealing and a Prison Chaplain, referred to Chapter 1 and 4 as areas of the book that he really appreciated. He emphasised an inspiring figure in history for him was Mansur Al-Hallaj who was executed for proclaiming that he had seen the Lord. He thought that such a figure would have been inspired by this book. He explained the spirituality of submission with reference to the Quran and Mansur Al-Hallaj. Concluding that ‘to know God is to know ourself and the only way to know yourself is to know others.’

The evening progressed well with a number of other contributions including that of Mohammed Ali, CEO of the Islam Channel and Dr Satwant Multani, Chair of Central Scotland Interfaith, who was visiting from Scotland. Prof. King summarised the evening saying, ‘I really wished Prof. Ninian Smart could still have been with us – he would have much enjoyed the evening and the company. I hope it will inspire some people to be more spiritual….’

For more photos click here. Follow the link for more about the UPF Interfaith Committee.

Posted in British Academy for World Peace, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »