Newsletter – March 2017

1. Release of new volume

Elijah is proud to announce the release of another book in our series of Interreligious Reflections, published by Lexington Press.

This volume is entitled, Sharing Wisdom: Benefits and Boundaries of Interreligious Learning.  It is edited by Alon Goshen Gottstein and contributors from the Elijah Academy are Pal Ahluwalia (Sikh), Timothy Gianotti (Muslim), Sallie B. King (Buddhist), Anantanand Rambachan (Hindu), Meir Sendor (Jewish) And Miroslav Volf (Christian).

As Lexington says in its synopsis:

… In a globalized age, when food, music, and dress are shared freely, how should religions go about sharing their wisdom? The essays.. explore what wisdom means .. why it should be shared—internally and externally—and how it should be shared. … Authors reflect on specific wisdoms their tradition has or should share, as well as what it has to receive from other faiths. Special emphasis is placed on the themes of love and forgiveness and how these illustrate the principles of common sharing. Love and humility emerge as strong motivators for sharing wisdom and for doing so in a way that respects the tradition from which the wisdom comes as well as the recipient. This book offers a theory that can enrich ongoing encounters between members of faith traditions by suggesting a tradition-based practice of sharing the wisdom of traditions, while preserving the integrity of the teaching and respecting the identity of the one with whom wisdom is shared.

In his introduction,  “Finding a Common Voice and Sharing Wisdom: A Personal Project Synthesis,”  Alon Goshen-Gottstein as the question, “How is ‘Sharing Wisdom’ similar to or different from interreligious dialogue and collaboration? What is the uniqueness of our emphasis upon “Sharing Wisdom?”

Miroslav Volf introduces the reader to the Christian understanding of what Wisdom is. He says, “Christians have [also] understood wisdom as something far more particular than a whole way of life, namely, as concrete pieces of advice about to how to flourish.”

Anantanand Rambachan quotes the Hindu sacred texts to distinguish between a wise person and one who might have acquired information. He tells us that the Bhagavadgita (2:42), speaks critically of those who delight merely in the words of the sacred text (vedavadaratah).

Pal Ahluwalia explains that in Sikhism, wisdom is also a call to action. Practice and service are two keys to the acquisition and expression of wisdom. He also clarifies that there is a significant difference between one who has acquired knowledge and one who is wise.

Timothy Gianotti presenting the Muslim perspective, suggests that rather than thinking of ourselves as sharing “our” wisdom with others, we should conceive of ourselves as engaged in the common quest for wisdom.

Sallie King says that according to the Buddhist perspective, wisdom is a certain kind of character: negatively, it is freedom from craving, aversion and delusion; positively, it is selflessness, compassion, loving-kindness, deep non-violence and spontaneous morality.

The concern for authenticity informs Meir Sendor’s entire presentation. Protection of the authentic teaching and approach to the divine constitutes the core narrative of Judaism’s sharing wisdom with other religions.

An appendix to the volume is the “Declaration on Sharing Wisdom,” the Statement of the Elijah Interfaith Academy.

2. Elijah Interreligious Summer School and Leadership Training Institute

“Sharing Wisdom” is the theme of this year’s Summer School and Leadership Training Institute, to be held July 23rd to August 3rd at Ecce Homo, in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Week 1 is a seminar on how “Wisdom” is understood in six religious traditions and why and how it is shared with those from other faiths. What are the benefits and the dangers of sharing Wisdom? How can sharing Wisdom can help us experience the oneness of humanity and creation?

Week 2 is a training workshop for emerging religious and community leaders, with an emphasis on healing painful memories and building models of sharing Wisdom which respond to past divisions and answer contemporary challenges.

You can book for one week or two.

3. Sharing Wisdom

In his chapter on “Sharing Wisdom” from the Hindu perspective, Anantanand Rambachan quotes Mahatma Gandhi:“I believe in the truth of all religions of the world. And since my youth upward, it has been a humble but persistent effort on my part to understand the truth of all the religions of the world, and adopt and assimilate in my own thought, word, and deed all that I have found to be best in those religions. The faith that I profess not only permits me to do so but renders it obligatory for me to take the best from whatever source it may come.”  “I hold it the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others’ religions as we would have them to respect our own, a friendly study of the world’s religions is a sacred duty.” In her chapter, Sallie King brings the following Buddhist teaching, suggesting that there still needs to be a system for discerning which teachings are worthy of being followed:[Villagers from Kalama in Kesaputta speak first; the Buddha replies]“Venerable sir, some ascetics and brahmins who come to Kesaputta explain and elucidate their own doctrines, but disparage, debunk revile, and vilify the doctrines of others. But then some other ascetics and brahmins come to Kesaputta, and they too explain and elucidate their own doctrines, but disparage, debunk, revile, and vilify the doctrines of the others. For us, venerable sir, there is perplexity and doubt as to which of these good ascetics speak truth and which speak falsehood.”“It is fitting for you to be perplexed, O Kalamas, it is fitting for you to be in doubt. Doubt has arisen in you about a perplexing matter. Come, Kalamas. Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of texts, by logic, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think, ‘The ascetic is our teacher.’ But when you know for yourselves, ‘These things are unwholesome; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practiced, lead to harm and suffering,’ then you should abandon them…[And] when you know for yourselves, ‘These things are wholesome; these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practiced, lead to welfare and happiness,’ then you should engage in them.”



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Thank You!

Wisdom enables us to become mindful of the memories and impressions that condition our response to the world. Wisdom enables to respond to the world, not from the dualism of like and dislike, love and hate, but from a vision of the unity of existence and the seeing of the limitless in all beings. Wisdom frees us from responding to the world on the basis of historically formed memories and enables us to do so on the basis of compassion. – Anantanand Rambachan