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RELIGION FOR PREVENTING TERRORISM
A RESOLUTION TO BE ADOPTED BY THE WORLD COUNCIL OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS AS A RECOMMENDATION TO THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS MAY 21, 2003.
Being Aware that fear and aggression are primarily mental events, and consequently, only a terrorised mind terrorises others;
Taking into account that individual and collective events occur as part of historical forces, developed over centuries and millennia, in which all parties have been participants in a continuous chain of actions and reactions;
Based on the fact that in the sacred books of all religions there are equally commandments and admonitions to take to the path of non-aggression, meekness, love, tolerance and forgiveness, that these truths are held equally self-evident by the adherents of all religions, and many practices are common to the followers of all religions;
Re-establishing that, contrary to above principles of harmony, the practice of making derogatory statements concerning other religious and ethnic groups is a violation both of divine will which is good and benevolent towards all living beings and of the basic human rights to live in peace and prosperity;
Observing the profuse evidence that in long periods and large geographical areas of the earth frequently no inter-religious strife has taken place and the said teachings of love have been successfully applied in inter-personal and inter-societal relationships;
Recognizing the power of confession and forgiveness as a common spiritual and ethical principle, and its practice enjoined in all religions;
Be it resolved that the participants of this meeting of the World Council of Religious Leaders unanimously agree among themselves, and herewith recommend to the Secretary General of the United Nations,
(1) That a study and research programme, and the dissemination of its outcomes, be instituted with the aim
* to look into the forces that historically brought about the success of the teachings of non-aggression, love and tolerance where such has been evident in the various periods and geographical areas of human history; and
* to find ways for consciously implementing the patterns of such forces in our times;
(2) That the scholars and theologians of all religions categorically state that the admonitions to aggression against non-adherents are to be interpreted only as indicating an internal struggle towards the Good within a human being and not to be directed against another individual or group;
(3) That the supreme leaders and the councils of all religions advise their adherents to totally refrain from condemnation of others’ belief systems;
(4) That the leaders and authoritative councils of various religions find ways for seeking and extending forgiveness in order to support and deepen the mutual understanding and harmonious relationships in the present to lay a foundation for universal inter-religious harmony in the future;
(5) That as a natural accompaniment to the resolve to undertake and encourage such studies as well as acts of mutual forgiveness and harmony, the participants of this meeting of the World Council of Religious Leaders
* Exert pressure on the political entities, whether they are in power de facto or de jure , to prevent all such vocal or physical acts as violate the teachings of non-violence and cause hurt or harm to individuals and groups of the adherents of other religions and societies,
* Encourage all in the field of various systems of education that
—– the teaching imparted about other religions should be done so only by the adherents of the particular religion and not by those who are unsympathetic to the same, and
—– the teaching of the principles and the history of non-violence and the methods thereof be made an essential part of the school and college curricula; and
* in that context Declare all acts of terrorism as violations of religious edicts and of human rights;
(6) So that through such positive scholarly, educational and spiritual endeavours the entire humanity be spared the scourge of intolerance, mutual condemnation, persecution, oppression and terrorism.
The Council of World Religious Leaders further recommends to the Secretary General that the United Nations General Assembly adopt such a declaration of mutual respect among religions as an article of faith common to the entire humanity.
NOTES TO THE RESOLUTION
(1) No events in human life and history occur but within the context of interactions among perennial forces. It is therefore incumbent that for the prevention of the recurrence of any undesirable events, any action of choice needs to be planned in the framework of a holistic view of history. This means that in doing so we must address the long-term causes of the events – and deflect their effectiveness – towards a true course beneficial to all.
(2) All human experience arises from spiritual and mental sources and it is in the realm of spirit and mind, that any progress towards the ethical choice of individual and collective conduct can be made. It is therefore incumbent upon the leaders in the religious and educational fields to set an example of love and tolerance towards those with whom they may happen to disagree. Thus all inter-religious communication needs to be free of derogatory expression in which alone the rise of religion-based violence is rooted.
(3) Because of a strong aversion to aggression and violence in a human being, we tend to neglect the fact that the geographical areas, and periods of history where no violence has occurred are far larger than the ones where such unfortunate events have taken place. In order to arrest the recurrence of aggressive behaviours among societies, we need to study deeply and research the causes of successful peace so that the peace-generating forces of those time periods and societal areas may be understood and encouraged and thus the experiences of such courses in human history may be replicated for the present and the future.
(4) Acts of forgiveness begin with considering to seek forgiveness from others for the aggressions ‘we’ may have committed. Each religious group in the world needs to research into its history and seek forgiveness of others whom ‘we’ may have wronged. Only then would ‘we’ gain the forgiveness of others and will cease to be subjected to terror arising from anger.
(5) Social groups of peaceful individuals cannot become violent. The contemplative paths in religion are scientifically proved to generate peaceful inclinations. The pursuit of such contemplative ways will bring back to religion the power to grant peace, instead of encouraging condemnation of and violence towards others. The true antidote to terrorism is to free the human mind from the tendency to be terrorised. As stated in the Resolution, only a terrorised mind terrorises others.
(6) A statement declaring terrorism to be undesirable will be efficacious only with a spiritual, socio-psychological and educational change within the context of a holistic view. Only spiritual education in contemplative content of religion remains the way to bring about peaceful conduct in the minds, words and acts, first among individuals and thereby among the societies. The Unesco Report “Learning: the Treasure Within” may serve as a good starting point in this direction.
It is hoped that the Council of World Religious Leaders will take steps to institute the necessary programmes to realize the above ideals in the form of practical plans of study and action.
Swami Veda Bharati, Dr. Lit.,
Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies