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To Order: Universal Life Church - MASTER OF COMPARATIVE RELIGION

This is a sample of the ULC Master of Comparative Religion course.

ULC - Universal Life Church - ULC Comparative Religion Course
Discourse #3

Greetings, Rev. !

This is a sample of the Comparative Religion Course. You are not necessary subscribed to this course, but this sample is to show you a sample of what this course is about. To order this course, go here: http://store.ulc.net/product_info.php?cPath=29&products_id=148

 

Hello  and welcome.  This is week three of the Comparative Religion 1 Course.  If you have a problem receiving the course or go a week without getting one, please contact amy@ulcseminary.org immediately so she can correct the situation and re-send you your material.

Discourse 3 Index
Interfaith Part II:



 

Similar Teachings Throughout Religions

“Mankind comes to me along many roads, and on whatever road a man approaches me, on that do I welcome him, for all roads are mine. “
The Bhagavad-Gita

         For Comparative Religion, and continuing the theme of Interfaith, it is appropriate to briefly review the many similarities of teachings throughout the world’s belief systems.  The texts are divided up to relate to familiar subjects.

The Golden Rule:

ULC - Universal Life Church - bahaiBaha'i Faith: "He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfill."
Gleanings from the Writings of  Baha'u'llah, p. 266

ULC - Universal Life Church - ulc buddhistBuddhism: “Hurt not others in ways you find hurtful.”
Tripitaka, Udnana-varga 5.18

ULC - Universal Life Church - christianChristianity: “Therefore all things whatsoever you desire that men should do to you, do you evenso unto  them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Matt. 7:12

ULC - Universal Life Church - ConfusicianConfucianism: “Tzu-Kung asked: "Is there one principle upon which one's whole life may proceed?"  The Master replied, "Is not Reciprocity such a principle? ...what you do not yourself desire, do not put before others." “
Analects of Confucius, Book XV, Chapter XXIIl (Legge Translation 1861)

ULC - Universal Life Church - ConfuciousConfucianism: “Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence.”
Mencius VII.A.4

ULC - Universal Life Church - HinduismHinduism: “This is the sum of the Dharma: do not unto others that which would cause pain if done to you.”
Mahabharata 5:1517

ULC - Universal Life Church - IslamIslam: “Not one of you is a believer unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”
Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 13

ULC - Universal Life Church - JudaismJudaism: “What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man.  That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary.”
Talmud, Shabbat 31a

ULC - Universal Life Church - JainismJainism: “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.”
Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

ULC - Universal Life Church - Native AmericanNative American: “All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.”
Black Elk

ULC - Universal Life Church - TaoTaoist: “The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own.  He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind.  He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.”
Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 49 trans. by John C. H. Wu

ULC - Universal Life Church - WiccaWiccan: “An it harms none, do as ye will.”


ULC - Universal Life Church - ZorastrianZorastrian:
“That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself.”
Zend Avesta, Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5

Peace:

ULC - Universal Life Church - BahaiBaha'i Faith: "I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity.  When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace.  A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love.  Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.  Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness."
Abdu'l-Baha Paris Talks, p. 29

ULC - Universal Life Church - ULC BuddhistBuddhism: “Victory breeds hatred, for the defeated live in pain.  Happily live the peaceful, giving up victory and defeat.”
Dhammapada 201

ULC - Universal Life Church - christianChristianity: “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of G  d.” 
Matthew 5:9 King James Version

ULC - Universal Life Church - ChristianULC - Universal Life Church - JudaismChristianity & Judaism: “Do you want long life and happiness? Strive for peace with all your heart.”
Psalm 34: 12, 14 King James Version

ULC - Universal Life Church - ChristianULC - Universal Life Church - JudaismChristianity & Judaism: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace.”
Isaiah 52:7 (partial verse)

ULC - Universal Life Church - ConfucianismConfucianism: "Through what can the Empire be settled?  Through unity.  Who can unite it?  One who is not fond of killing." 
Mencius 1.A.6

ULC - Universal Life Church - ConfuscianismHinduism: “As rivers flow into the ocean but cannot make the vast ocean overflow, so flow the streams of the sense world into the sea of peace that is the sage.”
Bhagavad Gita 2.70

ULC - Universal Life Church - OmHinduism: “Peace be to earth and to airy spaces! Peace be to heaven, peace to the waters, peace to the plants and peace to the trees! May all the gods grant me peace! By this invocation of peace may peace be diffused! By this invocation of peace may peace bring peace! With this peace the dreadful I appease, with this peace the cruel I appease, with this peace all evil I appease, so that peace may prevail, happiness prevail! May everything for us be peaceful!”
Atharva Veda 19.9.14

ULC - Universal Life Church - IslamIslam : “And make not Allah by your swearing (by him) an obstacle to your doing good and guarding (against evil) and making peace between men, and Allah is hearing and knowing.”
Qur'an 2.224

ULC - Universal Life Church - IslamIslam: “And if they lean to peace, lean you also to it; and put your trust in Allah; surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing.”
Qur'an 8:61

ULC - Universal Life Church - JudaismJudaism: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”
Talmud, Gittin 59b

ULC - Universal Life Church - JudaismJudaism: “Rabbi Baruqa of Huza often went to the marketplace at Lapet.  One day, the prophet Elijah appeared to him there, and Rabbi Baruqa asked him, "Is there anyone among all these people who will have a share in the World to Come?" Elijah answered, "There is none." Later, two men came to the marketplace, and Elijah said to Rabbi Baruqa, "Those two will have a share in the World to Come!" Rabbi Baruqa asked the newcomers, "What is your occupation?" They replied, "We are clowns.  When we see someone who is sad, we cheer him up.  When we see two people quarreling, we try to make peace between them."”
Talmud, Ta'anit 22a

ULC - Universal Life Church - KhandaSikhism: “Now is the gracious Lord's ordinance promulgated, No one shall cause another pain or injury; All mankind shall live in peace together, Under a shield of administrative benevolence.”
Adi Granth, Sri Raga, M.5, p.  74

ULC - Universal Life Church - TaoTaoism: “Tao invariably takes no action, and yet there is nothing left undone.  If kings and barons can keep it, all things will transform spontaneously.  If, after transformation, they should desire to be active, I would restrain them with simplicity, which has no name.  Simplicity, which has no name, is free of desires.  Being free of desires, it is tranquil.  And the world will be at peace of its own accord.”
Tao Te Ching 37


Seek Within:

ULC - Universal Life Church - bahaiBaha'i Faith: "O SON OF SPIRIT!  I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty?  Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself?  Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone besides Me?  Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another?  Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting."
Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words, Arabic #13

ULC - Universal Life Church - BuddhismBuddhism: “If you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the absolute Law but some inferior teaching.”
Maja writings of Nichinen Daishonion Vol.  1, pg.3-5

ULC - Universal Life Church - ChristianChristianity: “The kingdom of G  d cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here!  or, lo there!  For, behold, the kingdom of G  d is within you.”
Luke 17:20-21 King James Version

ULC - Universal Life Church - ConfuscianismConfucianism: “The Superior Man seeks within himself.  The inferior man seeks within others.”
Analects 15:20

ULC - Universal Life Church - HinduHinduism: “Bright but hidden, the Self dwells in the heart. Everything that moves, breathes, opens, and closes Lives in the Self.  He is the source of love and may be known through love but not through thought. He is the goal of life.  Attain this goal! The shining Self dwells hidden in the heart.  Everything in the cosmos, great and small, Lives in the Self.  He is the source of life, Truth beyond the transience of this world.  He is the goal of life.  Attain this goal!”
Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.1-2

ULC - Universal Life Church - ShintoShintoism: “The deity is immanent in man and man is inherent in the deity; there is neither the divine nor the human; there is no difference in essence at all between them.”

ULC - Universal Life Church - KhandaSikhism:  “This is a wonderful, unique discourse: The living self is the image of the Supreme Being. It is neither old nor a child; Neither it suffers pain, nor in death's snare is caught; It is not shattered nor dies; In all time it is pervasive. It feels not heat nor cold; Neither has it friend nor foe; It feels not joy nor sorrow: All is its own; to it belongs all might. It has neither father nor mother; Beyond the limits of matter has it ever existed. Of sin and goodness it feels not the touch-- Within the heart of each being it is ever awake.”
Adi Granth, Gaund, M.5, p.  868 

If you are interested in reading more topic comparisons between beliefs, visit Rev. Kythera Ann’s website called Peaceseeds.  The site is dedicated to the concept that when one studies different religious traditions, one is struck by the repeated similarities of basic truths.

Why the Hate, Fear, War?  What YOU Can Do


          We have been focusing on the positive aspects of interfaith studies.  We need to remember that, for many, when faced with something that appears different (e.g.: a religion, race, culture), they fear it.  From that fear arises also the need to boost the ego by claiming that they are “better than” or their religion, culture is “better than” …somehow  “more correct, more right” than the way the “other” people are living, believing.  Fear, combined with an overlay of self-proclaimed righteousness, has been a fertile ground for much of humanity’s sad history.

          Differences between various religions and philosophies need not divide and separate, but can instead enrich our lives and deepen our capacity to love.  Any minister can do their part to eliminate religious intolerance and fear by helping those they interface with to find understanding, respect, and a common ground to interact.

          What follows are three tools for you to consider.  It is my hope that they spark your own imagination to find more ways of bringing tolerance and peace into our society.

Adult Education

          As a minister, it is likely that you will have the opportunity to be involved in a formal or informal study group.  The following graphic can be printed and is designed to spark discussion about various religious traditions. 

ULC - Universal Life Church - adult ed
  • The inner circle of Light, Unity, Peace, and Love is what every major religion points towards.
  • The inner circle is the goal, and the various religions are paths to that goal.
  • The outer circle represents all the issues that confuse and separate humanity into groups contending against each other.
  • The outer circle represents the issues that keep humanity from reaching the center goal. 

Light, Unity, Peace, and Love are the goal,
not staying in the outer circle.


Youth Education

            It is a delight to share and teach youth.  Here is an activity that ministers can use to initiate great conversations, and it is a fun teaching aid.  Remember making “cootie” catchers as a kid?  This is a comparative religion version.  It should have a different name, so this version will be called a “Light” catcher.  “Light” as in illumination of thought.   The pattern in this section is one that you can print out.  It actually is to scale and works.  It is a simple principle; you could design your own to suit your needs when working with youth.

ULC - Universal Life Church - light catcher

Instructions to make the Light catcher:
  1. Fold inwards along AA, BB, and open out again.  Mark the center where the fold lines cross.
  2. Fold back each corner to the center along each line AB.
  3. Fold each of the new corners (A,A,B,B) inwards to the center.
  4. Snip each blue triangle along the faint line.  A to the white area, B to the white area (there are four of them).  Do not cut into the white area!  The cuts should line up to the open edges of red.
  5. Turn the catcher over and slip the thumb and three fingers into the pockets that are formed.  Pinch the corners together so it looks like the pictures below.
  6. Practice opening and closing the catcher, first in one direction, then the other.

ULC - Universal Life Church       ULC - Universal Life Church        ULC - Universal Life Church

ULC - Universal Life Church      ULC - Universal Life Church

One way to play with the Light catcher:

After everyone has made their Light catchers and practiced opening and closing them, they could divide into partners.  One person starts with their catcher and asks their partner to choose one of the four symbols on the outer flap.  The person holding the catcher then spells out loud the name of the symbol and opens and closes the catcher in alternating directions with each letter.  On the last letter, show the open catcher to the partner and ask them to tell you the first number between one and twenty they can think of.  Again, open/close the catcher in opposite directions, counting out loud the number the partner gave.  When the number is reached keep the catcher open.  Ask which symbol they like.  Flip the flap up and read what it says under the symbol.

Note to instructors: This Light catcher has symbols of world religious traditions and sayings from major texts and teachers of various traditions.  Further explanations will be needed than this brief exposure, but it is a great activity to work into a larger program.

Public Ceremony

         Being a minister, it often can happen that it is appropriate for you to officiate or contribute to the public forum in a meaningful way.  An example of this might be a dedication ceremony for a new city park.  Imagine you have been asked to give the blessing for this event.  What to do?  There will be tons of people there from every conceivable belief system.  You don’t want to offend anyone, but you do want to engage and inspire everyone.

         Song, dance, and candles are answers for almost any public group situation.  Song because people have to “give voice,” and by doing that participate, “own” the event.  Dance because it connects people physically and creates cohesiveness.  Candles (when it is at night) because 99% of people have warm fuzzy emotions around the concept of candlelight.

Dance:

         The following is an example of a multi-faith dance that could be used as the blessing or as a part of the blessing at a public event.  This is a good one to use in public because it not only honors multiple faiths, there are no dance steps to learn!  If you personally feel a bit daunted about getting a large group together to do something like this, don’t be.  People are amazingly easy to work with in a public situation.  You can also have a few friends who are familiar with what you are going to do and place them strategically through the audience to help.

DANCE OF UNIVERSAL PEACE:
  • In circle, facing center, bow with hands together in prayer and intone Shri Ram (Shree-rawm, Hindu).
  • Turn to right and start walking in circle.
  • Put hands over forehead and form a triangle, intone Ahura Mazda (A-hur-ah Mawz-dawh: Zorastrian).
  • Continue walking.
  • With palms together in prayer stance touch forehead, lips, heart and intone Buddha (Boo-oo-daw: Buddhist).
  • Continue walking.
  • Make gesture like a book opening and intone Yahweh (Yawh-way: Judaism).
  • While walking move arms up over head and out in a circular sweeping motion and sing Eleison (E-lay-ah-sawn: Christian).
  • Stop walking and turn in a circle to the right with right hand over the heart and left hand in the air, intone Allah (Ahh-lawh: Islam).
  • Face center of circle, stretch arms out straight in front, hands (palms) vertical to wrists, intone "Towards the One," a Sufi tradition.
  • Repeat cycle 10 times.
  • On last “Towards the One,” all in circle join by placing arms over shoulders (a T position) and creating a chain of bodies.
  • Intone Om, while taking one step to the right.
  • Repeat 3 times (Oh ....m, Hindu/Buddhist universal sound).
  • One step per Om.

Song:

         There are a great many songs appropriate for public events.  The best public songs (if you want everyone to participate and sing) are those that have familiar tunes and short, repetitive lyrics.  The following song, I have used time and time again in public venues.  People always like it and respond.  The first time I did it in public I led 400 people to sing it in a round.  Awesome.  It is sung to the tune of Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose.

Love, Love, Love, Love Sons and daughters of Spirit
This is your call
Love your neighbor as yourself
For G  d loves us all.
   
Candles:

ULC - Universal Life Church - candle          There are so many lovely ways to incorporate candles in an evening event.  Offered here, for your consideration, is one candle-lighting ceremony.  I have used it on several occasions and people (yes, especially the strangers) have always been moved.  Since this has sixteen speaking parts, if the group is bigger, place non-speakers evenly between the speakers.  Give each non-speaker a white candle.  They can light theirs at the end of the ceremony and take it home with them for a remembrance.  Alternately, if it is very dark, have them stand in the circle with the white candles lit, so that those with speaking parts and an unlit candle can read their lines.  Also, if you have less people than parts, give people more than one part to say and candle to light.

           If you decide to do this ceremony, get all the candles well in advance.  It sometimes can be challenging getting the 8”-12” tapers in all of these colors.  Also print each speaking part out in a large font and tape it on a large index card.  This will help people be able to read their part in the dark and not fumble around for glasses.

Put a large white candle in center of circle of people.  As each person reads their part, they light their candle off the center one, then step back into the circle, holding their candle.

  1. While lighting the center white candle the ceremony leader says: “Spirit embodies consciousness. One can find Spirit everywhere on planet earth.  Though each person or form of consciousness may communicate in different ways, they are all a part of Spirit.  Each is a gift and integral part of the whole.”  Ceremony leader then steps back to join the circle.
  2. Speaker:  I light the black candle in friendship, peace and love for all the Black people in the world. Watch the flame closely, please.
  3. Speaker:  I light the red candle in friendship, peace and love for all Native Americans and all indigenous people around the world.  Watch the flame closely, please.
  4. Speaker:  I light the white candle in friendship, peace and love for all Caucasian people around the world.  Watch the flame closely, please.
  5. Speaker:  I light the yellow candle in friendship, peace and love for all the Oriental, Asian and Pacific Island people around the world.  Watch the flame closely, please.
  6. Speaker: I light the brown candle in friendship, peace and love for all the Indian and Semitic people around the world.  Watch the flame closely, please.
  7. Speaker: I light the purple candle in friendship, peace and love for all other people around the world. Watch the flame closely, please.
  8. Speaker: I light the green candle in friendship, peace and love for all the standing people and all other members of the vegetable kingdom.  Watch the flame closely, please.
  9. Speaker:  I light the orange candle in friendship, peace and love for all the four leggeds, and all others in the animal kingdom who live on or in the land.  Watch the flame closely, please.
  10. Speaker: I light the blue candle in friendship, peace and love for all the winged creatures, and all others of the kingdom of air. Watch the flame closely, please.
  11. Speaker: I light the turquoise candle in friendship, peace and love for all consciousness that lives in the kingdom of water, from the dolphins and the whales to water snakes and water sprites. Watch the flame closely, please.
  12. Speaker: I light the gray candle in friendship, peace and love for all consciousness within the element of earth, the mineral kingdom. Watch the flame closely, please.
  13. Speaker: I light the gold candle in friendship, peace and love for all consciousness that dwells within the element of fire. Fire holds the Spirit of our flame, our intent, our sun, our solar system and our Universe. Watch the flame closely please.
  14. Speaker: I light the silver candle in friendship, peace and love for all consciousness that dwells unseen by our mortal eyes, yet reflects its beingness in our world of phenomenal reality. Watch the flame closely, please.
  15. Speaker: Have you noticed the light from one candle is the same as the others, even though the outside color is different on each one? The consciousness of people, of nations, of animals, birds, kingdoms of consciousness within all realms ...vary, one to another; this is necessary for the world to exist ...but all consciousness has basic needs. We wish to be recognized, respected, to be called by name, to grow, and to be loved.
  16. Part spoken by ceremony leader:  The distances between continents, oceans, even planets and stars are easily spanned through modern technology... bringing the awareness not only of our neighbors, country, and planet... but of the whole Universe… closer to us. Science is helping to prove what mystics have always known. That we're all connected ...that Spirit is everywhere ...and all consciousness responds (wherever it is) to our every thought. Let us all strive each day to highlight the ideas of universal love, understanding, and inner connectedness.  In diversity...lies strength.  The freedoms we cherish have a responsibility to them ...understanding and respecting the uniqueness of all other consciousness... working together with love and respect in Unity, as Spirit intended.
Ceremony ends with the Dance of Universal Peace.

As we come to the close of our section on Interfaith, please remember:

  • Interfaith provides a structure through which people of different faiths can share their experiences.
  • Interfaith teaches methods for people to accept and learn about each other.
  • Interfaith reaches to those who feel alienated from mainstream religions.
  • Interfaith provides a spirit of openness and resources for change.
  • Interfaith encourages people to discover new ways to worship.
  • Interfaith allows all to participate in the meaningful ceremonies of life.



Recommended Resources

     Here is a list of general resource material that you are encouraged to have available on the topics of this lesson.  Some of these items will be available online or at your local library.

  • Complete Guide to All Religions & Interfaith Marriage Services, by Abraham Klausner
  • Oneness, Great Principles Shared by all Religions, by Jeffrey Moses
  • Spiritual Dance and Walk: An Introduction to the Dances of Universal Peace and Walking Meditations of Samuel L. Lewis, by Samuel L. Lewis, Neil Douglas-Klotz, Marie Demcho-Wagor (Editor)
  • Consult Girl Scout and Boy Scout councils in your area.  As youth organizations that have members of diverse faiths, they have designed many ceremonies and activites that honor all religious traditions.  I have been a Girl Scout and then a leader for the last thirty years.  The resources for anything to do with "inclusive" religious activites is fabulous.
  • If you find you have need of graphics* involving various religious traditions, visit Rev. Kythera Ann's site Crystal Cloud Graphics, where she has designed a multitude of religious graphics.  Graphics on that site are free for personal use.  Crystal Cloud Graphics is also available for commissioned custom work.

* Reminder:  Graphics appearing in course material need permission to use elsewhere unless it is specifically stated that it is created for you to use in a teaching setting (i.e.: graphics under Adult Education and Youth Education in this lesson).

Recommended Activities for the Week
Here are some suggested activities for this week.
As a reminder, the more you do, the more you will get out of the course!
  • Print out this packet and add it to the three-ring binder you have for this course.  Be sure to write notes on the pages as things strike you.  It will help you to remember things.
  • Browse the web site Dances of Universal Peace.  It is a great compendium of information, songs and music that one can use for interfaith activities.  Also you can find links to search for groups in your area to join with to learn the dances and songs.  Almost always these activities are free or donation.
  • Here is a question for you to ponder, which arises when considering Interfaith and secular Religions that we haven’t discussed.  There is no right or wrong answer, but it is something, as a minister you need to think about and resolve for yourself.  The question is, “Where is the line drawn between the separation of church and state.”  Another way of wording it might be: “Is it appropriate for religious leaders to take political action publicly.”
    An interesting web site is Sojourners.  It has done a lot of pondering on this question and was instrumental in promoting the Interfaith petition of “G  d is not a Republican, or a Democrat.”  On that page be sure to scroll down to read the reasoning behind the petition. 

    Note that this activity is not an endorsement of Sojourner's position.  It is put here to help you look at the question, perhaps from perspectives you had not thought of before.  Your conclusion is yours.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Kythera@ulcseminary.org.  You can also post any questions or comments in the forum at www.ulcseminary.org/forum.

 

 

 

 

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