Amritsar Statement

Concluding Statement of the Board of World Religious Leaders

Amritsar, Punjab, India
26-30 November 2007

We, the Board of World Religious Leaders, representing 6 of the World’s great Religious Traditions, have just concluded our third biennial meeting.  This gathering in Amritsar, the holy city of Sikhism, was characterized by a profound sense of openness, mutuality, respect for one another’s faith, and trust.  The sense of shared spiritual longing pervaded our deliberations our and our commitment to taking our learnings from our meeting to the larger world infused our discussions.  There was both an intimacy to our discourse and expansiveness to our vision. Through this Declaration, we invite others to join with us in affirming the profound Wisdom of our religious traditions and how that wisdom can inform the world.

Our meetings have not taken place in a vacuum.  We are building on the insights of the previous meetings of the board and of the august Think Tank of scholars whose teachings guided our work.  We have previously articulated the many and often overwhelming needs which we feel mandate our attention.  In light of our earlier statements, we, the teachers of wisdom of religious traditions acknowledge that none of our traditions is exempt from the crises of our time, nor of the responsibility to address them.

Our Mandate

Although there are no facile solutions to the ills of the world, we must reaffirm our commitment to do all we can to alleviate present suffering and to contribute to a solution of those problems that we can address.

We wish to state our recognition that in the world’s present state, all traditions have become interdependent, and must therefore face the challenges of the world in a collaborative manner.

We wish to affirm our belief that within our traditions are resources of wisdom that can speak to the ills of society and the misuse of religion.

We wish to call upon all our religions to offer their finest teachings as resources to guide humanity to safe harbor, and to identify the teachings they can jointly offer a suffering humanity.

We wish to further call upon practitioners of all religions to become aware of the life wisdom and spiritual wisdom of all religious traditions, as a means of obtaining a truer understanding of other religions, in the service of peaceful living.

We invite thinkers and religious leaders to explore the possibility of addressing their own internal crises in light of the experiences and accumulated wisdom of other religious traditions.

Our Respect for Our Own and Other Traditions

While we recognize the need of the hour points to opening towards the other, rather than to isolation, leading to violence and enmity, we call attention to the following considerations that are the basis of respectful learning and sharing between people, as individuals and as representatives of religious traditions

· Sharing Wisdom should never lead to the violation of the integrity of religious identity. Sharing wisdom is not a means of influencing others to change or abandon their religious identity, either willfully or by coercion, but rather an invitation to deepen it and become more faithful to it.

· Sharing Wisdom has a broad universal mandate, almost a human right, grounded in the dignity of the human being, as understood diversely by our religious traditions. It is closely related to the right of religious freedom. As a spiritual process, it should be broadly open, beyond considerations of gender, caste and other forms of limitation.

· Sharing Wisdom should respect the integrity of religious teachings. It should not lead to the cheapening of teaching, nor to the loss of authenticity. Consequently, care must be taken to be mindful and respectful of broader theological structures, within which wisdom is couched, and to the internal processes, commitments and conditions that are necessary for successful realization of the age old wisdom of religious traditions.

· Sharing Wisdom implies responsibility on the part of leaders. Our words and our actions should be accompanied by careful consideration of what forms of wisdom are most suitable to broad sharing with others, so that wisdom is always shared with value and integrity.

Our Aspiration and Prayer

It is our faith that the ills of the world and the abuses done in the name of religions may be addressed through an attitude of openness to sharing and learning from one another. In an increasingly interdependent world we are called to share our wisdom, to offer it to others, and to listen to what they in turn have to offer. It is our sincere hope and prayer that such sharing, carried out in the right spirit, will make our traditions better vehicles to achieve their designated purpose and will make the world a better and more peaceful place in which our religions and humanity can flourish.

Statement Signatories

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, India

Sheikh Mohammed Mohammed Ali, UK

Jan Chozen Bays, USA

Chandra Swami, India

Sri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji, India

Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, India

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, UK

Swami Shatatmananda, India

Rabbi Richard Marker, USA

Rabbi Joseph Azran, Israel

Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma, Sri Lanka

Father M.D Thomas, India

Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, USA

 Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, UK

Bishop Gali Bali, India

 Swami Atmapriyananda, India

Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Taiwan

 Ven. Jinwol Sunim, Korea

Swami Swatantranand, India

 Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, the Netherlands

Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Israel

 Dr. Adamou Ndam Njoya, Cameroon

Guruji Sri Rishi Prabhakarji, India

 Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, USA

Rabbi Naftali Brawer, UK

 Ven. Sanghasena Mahathera, India

Moulana Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, India

 Ven. Khandro Rinpoche, India