2010 Interfaith Dialogue

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2010 Interfaith Dialogue was witnessed as a great success

Conflict is both common and of great interest to many people, and the news media covers it extensively. But, collaboration is also of great interest to the public, although much less publicized.

Collaboration was strongly emphasized Saturday, March 13, as leaders of many diverse religions explored the benefits of collaboration. At the University of the West, Rosemead, they participated in an Interfaith Dialogue to explore the role of compassion in daily activities. Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and many other socially conscious groups used lectures, songs and rituals to focus on the potential benefits of compassion for the individual and society.

212 registrants and 166 participants had a great time to enjoy a comprehensive whole day interfaith program in this event: dialogues and conversation,  performance and ritual presentation, sharing of social and charitable projects,  and much more...

The Panel 1 discussion have attracted many youngsters


Robert Lawrence Kuhn, creator and host of the television series Closer to Truth, began the daylong discussion by describing how his journey began at the age of 12, when he was frightened by the thought: “Why not nothing.” That is, why is there something, anything that exists, instead of nothing at all.

“Why is there anything at all?” is the question, according to Kuhn, that has dominated his life ever since. And in his quest for answers, he has visited “120 of the world’s leading physicians, cosmologists, philosophers and theologians” in an attempt to find an answer.

Kuhn did not offer any absolute answers, but shared with the audience some of what he has discovered about religious beliefs: we need to learn to be tolerant of other religions; contradictions among religious views doesn’t mean that one is right and the other is wrong.

                                                                Dr. Robert L. Kuhn delivering the keynote speech:
What Does It Mean to Get Closer to Truth?


Compassion and Youth were the focus of the discussion in Panel 1.  The panel moderator, Dr. Terry Mathis, set the tone by asking panel members to talk about the importance of relationships between young people and adults.  Dr. Mathis suggested that a child’s early relationships create the bedrock for other experiences of life, and that children need an environment in which it is safe to explore their natural boundaries.  The way in which religious tradition may provide such a safe environment was explored from the vantage point of each of the panelists: Dr. Muhamad Ali and Imam Mahmoud Harmoush talked about the influence of Islam; Rabbi Sabine Meyer brought Judaism into the discussion; the Christian tradition was represented by Dr. James Feliciano and LDS Bishop and Counselor Lawrence Slusser; and Mr. John Shin Jin Byrne, who has the unique perspective of one who was raised as a Christian, now identifies as a Buddhist and articulated the Buddhist way of life.  Each of the panelists agreed that a person’s capacity for compassion is often importantly the result of their own parenting.  They agreed that, ideally, primary relationships between children and their parents and religious leaders should be based on love and care.  Appropriate love was seen as a kind of elixir in relationships with children, even when such relationships are accompanied with strict religious restrictions that are usually intended to protect and enhance the quality of a child’s life.  Such relationships were seen to potentially have far reaching effects, perhaps to heighten the capacity to center one’s self in meditation or to simply be compassionate with those who are different and in need, and there was agreement among panel members that responsible sustained love of parents and religious leaders for their children is foundational for compassion.  Such primary relationships eventually result in a similar capacity in future generations to carry on in much the same compassionate way.  

                                  Panel 1 discussion 


During a panel discussion on “A Life of Compassion from Birth to Death”, Varun Soni, dean of Religious Life at University of Southern California stated: “Compassion is not passive but pro-active.” This statement was echoed by the three other panel members -Tahara Akmal, Interfaith Chaplain Resident (Muslim), at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles; Bryan Ferry, Interfaith Chaplain at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles; David Jamir, Senior Pastor at United Methodist Church, Santa Ana -who explained their ongoing struggle to infuse compassion into decisions made by them and others.

Panel 2 discussion
Varun Soni, Dean of Religious Life at USC:
“Compassion is not passive, but pro-active”


Music was a strong component of another panel: “Compassion in Practice --- Sing, Chant, Dance, Other.” After participating in a song about compassion and diversity, the Rev. Shawn Kindorf of Ministers in Religious Science said:  “Just as we have a category called food … religious diversity shows up because we have different tastes. But still, the basis is Oneness. We are all one.”  And Maharaj Nithya Bhaktapriyananda, disciple of Paramahamsa Nithyananda, Nithyananda Temple, added that people should “pick the flowers from all the [spiritual] gardens and make your own bouquet.” Other panelists added their voices to this common theme: Deborah Roberts, campus minister, University of La Verne said: “We can learn from all religions;” Venerable Miao Hsi, director, Fo Guang Shan, Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, said: “We embrace everyone;” and Ahmad H. Sakr, president of the Foundation for Islamic Knowledge and director of Islamic Education Center, Walnut, said: “Diversity is the beauty of life. We can improve by learning from others.”

Rev. Shawn Kindorf shining the auditorium and audience with compassion

Steve Kinzie: the song of "compassion"

Maharaj Nithya Bhaktapriyananda:
“pick the flowers from all the [spiritual] gardens and make your own bouquet”

                                                                           Dr. Ahmad H Sakr: "compassion begins with a smile"


The last panel of the daylong activities was “Compassion in Charity and Social Work.” Panelists explained how their organizations attempt to deal with the health issues, homeless people, alienated groups, imprisoned youth, and hundreds of other problems that plague communities throughout Southern California. These panelists told of how compassion for the down-trodden men, the battered and bruised woman, and the neglected and abused children has changed the lives of many who were hopeless. Many of the group’s comments seemed to urge the audience to participate in activities for social change.

Panel four: filled with wonderful speakers and discussion


Throughout the day, example after example emphasized that acts of compassion benefit not only the receiver of compassion, but also the provider.

Venerable Jue Wei: the initiator and major booster of the Conference                                                                                     planning her schemes with emcee Dr. Bruce Long 

The "Hello" from the organizer to the honorable guests speaker:
Rev. Dr. Terry Mathis and
Rabbi Sabine Meyer

Where is my name?

Participants enjoying their conversation during the refreshment break

Dr. Kuhn singed his books to present to Venerable Hui Chi, the Abbot
of Hsi Lai Temple, for the University of the West Library's Collection

What a wonderful lunch!

Organizers' Thanks

Hsilai Friends and BudaWest
would like to thank

Venerable Abbot Hui Chi, Hsi Lai Temple
University of the West
Dr. Robert L. Kuhn
Conference Facilitators & Speakers
Conference Donors & Sponsors
Conference Staff & Volunteers
212 Registrants and 166 Participants
your support, effort, and participation
the success of 2010 Interfaith Conference

Hsilai Friends,
Mar 19, 2010, 2:29 PM