What is our relationship with "GOD"?“ “To what extent, if any, is Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace and the Peace Cafés a religious or spiritual organization?”

 

BACKGROUND COMMENTS:

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."   Buddha

The above quote attributed to the Buddha is prominent on our web site www.peace.ca of Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace (“CCTP”).   All Participants in CCTP activities (trustees, staff, volunteers, guests or clients) are autonomous, responsible for their own choices (empowerment), discernment and finding their own truths. In this light, I wish to make it clear that we are not “proselytizing” or promoting any one perspective of “GOD”, religion or spirituality.  We subscribe to Gandhi’s philosophy of studying all religions (and non-religions) and find our own truths that serve us as individuals.  And the true test is not what you believe but what you do.  We do not recruit participants, but we welcome them.  All the cultures, faiths, atheists and agnostics are welcome to our process and resources, and to contribute in whatever way they choose.

You will note that I have placed the word “GOD” in quotes.  I do this because many people have different names for “GOD” and many different interpretations.  You may find various versions of this on our web site.  You will find many different articles and references to books, videos, workshops, etc. about “GOD”, religion and spirituality authored by many different people on our web site.  CCTP does not “own” these interpretations.  When material that serves to help build peace and understanding comes to our attention, we are happy to refer to it on our web site to help others learn in a fraction of time what has taken us years to learn.

The CCTP process is to create space for safe dialogue (ref. http://www.peace.ca/CCOPPprotocol.htm ) of issues in all communities, tailored to and by those communities.  We see our role as process consultants and guides, to help point the way to a safe journey for people to find their own path, answers and solutions.  We are not in control of others  or responsible for them – they are.

CCTP is a fellowship of men and women of all ages who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to achieve peace and reject violence (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual; direct and indirect). The only requirement for membership is a desire to achieve peace and reject violence. There are no dues or fees for membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions and socially profitable service/work and products.  Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to educate, stay peaceful and help others to achieve peace.  Our work is based on broad spiritual principles (ref. http://www.peace.ca/processvalues.htm ; http://www.peace.ca/processgoals.htm ; http://www.peace.ca/processprocess.htm ).

Through working on the development of CCTP, we have learned a number of things about peace and ourselves.  We try to keep these facts fresh in our thinking at all times, because they seem to be the key to our own inner peace.  For us, Peace must always come first.

 

TO THE SPECIFIC QUESTION, WHAT IS CCTP’s AND DIRECTOR BOB STEWART’S RELATIONSHIP WITH “GOD”?:

“God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, including being and nonbeing.” – Joseph Campbell

 

Since CCTP does not endorse nor oppose any cause, CCTP’s only relationship with “GOD” is as a result of a compilation of the individuals that make up the organization.  CCTP is guided to model the Culture of Peace of which we speak, be and do.  The six key principles of the Culture of Peace Program are “Respect all Life”, “Reject Violence”, “Share With Others”, “Listen to Understand”, “Preserve the Planet”, and “Rediscover Solidarity”. 

As for Bob Stewart (current Director of CCTP), I have found my truth in the following (and I recognize it is, and I am, a work-in-progress):

·         I have a conscious mind and subconscious mind (the subconscious being the much larger of the two, and I must constantly check to ensure my subconscious is in synchronization with my conscious).  In addition, I have a higher wisdom that I can call upon, which I (and others) refer to as the superconscious.

·         I find merit in Carl Jung’s thesis in the existence of a collective unconscious.  From experience, I believe in the power of my own intuition, and believe that it is connected with something that is more than myself.  There is an Intelligence that permeates me, and it is vast.  I believe that Intelligence is available to me through inspiration, intuition, and revelation to guide and direct my Life.

·         I discovered that a key factor in this process seemed to be humility, coupled with a Power greater than myself.  While some prefer to call this Power “GOD”, I understand that this is a matter of personal interpretation; I can conceive of the Power in any terms I think fits. 

·         Since many things in my Life had obviously been a greater power than myself (eg. Ego, Societal enculturation, advertising, propaganda, parents, employers, the Unknown, etc.), I had to admit that perhaps I could not run the whole show myself and that it made sense to turn elsewhere for help.  I found that if I humbled myself to an Intelligence greater than myself, miracles happen. I believe that humans are wise to acknowledge the loving Intelligence of the Universe.

·         As I have grown in my Peace Consciousness, my concept of a greater Power has become more mature.  But it has always been my personal concept; no one has forced it on me.

·         I grow by finding the balance in all things and acknowledging the Intelligence greater than myself that governs all things.

·         I have found benefit in thinking of the term “GOD” as an acronym for “Grand Organizational Design” and “Grand Organizational Designer”.  I also equate the term “GOD” with the terms such as Life, Nature, Creator, Universe, Universal Laws, Laws of Nature, Cosmic Consciousness, Divine, Great Mystery, etc.  I recognize and accept that there are a thousand names for “GOD” (ref.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God ).

·         I accept that I will never fully understand “GOD”, because the “Grand Organizational Design”  is infinitely complex – how could I ever know it all?  (For example, look at the incredible and beautiful complexity and workings of the human body, and the star system – I can imagine these as Divine Perfection.)  Life truly is a miracle, and miracles don’t happen by chance alone but by laws and Intelligence.  The truth is an underlying order, and I believe that it is our job to discover it.

·         “That Intelligence has set in place the principles that govern Life.  The Deity doesn’t watch over and judge us any more than It personally directs the movement of every molecule in every cell of every being.  The Universe is a big place, and it works like any big organization, by hierarchy and delegation.  God is too busy to punish anyone; He just sets up the dynamics of evolution through Universal Laws and stands back emanating Divine Love.  In that Divine Order, Life and death are in perfect balance, conserved throughout time and space.” – John Demartini

·         I believe that I am connected with the “Grand Organizational Design” Spirit, through my Spirit (Self).  The root of the word Divine means “to shine”, and as we shine, illuminate, and become brilliant, I believe we approach Divinity.

·         I believe that a Universe with Intelligence has a point to it, and I am part of the Divine Plan.  I have surrendered my Self to the Divine Will, and position my Self to serve the Divine Will as best I can, with Divine guidance.  I work to attune with the Divine.  

·         I take some significant comfort in the concept of reincarnation – that I will never really die – and in the concept of karma (I reap what I sow). 

·         I believe that my Life is Divinely guided, and I do not walk alone.  I have been inspired to help advance peace through peace education, raising peace consciousness, light, love, and the development of Community Centres for Teaching Peace and Peace Cafés across Canada and around the World.  Living with this special purpose simplifies the rest of my Life, and everything else seems to flow and neatly fall in to place.  I believe that one of my roles is to help bridge between the material, business world and the spiritual world, and that I can comfortably migrate back and forth to help and serve others.  According to Gandhi, “if your wishes are pure, then they become true”.  I believe that I will make a difference, with “GOD’s” help.

·         When I am faced with a challenge or choice, I ask myself “in this situation what would “GOD” and the Christ Consciousness be and do?”  and “what is in the highest and best interests of the Universe and All concerned?”  I meditate, ask for guidance, and imagine/intuit the answer (i.e. my contemplation and interpretation of Divine Will), and try my best to be and act accordingly.

·         Where is “GOD” not?  I believe that everything that happens is a vital part of the Divine Order that most of the great minds understood.  Even the most apparently terrible events always contain hidden blessings and have a reason.  There are no mistakes in a Divinely ordered Universe, only learning opportunities.  Any time we judge anything and don’t see its magnificence, we are denying “GOD” – while “GOD” is in everything.  The Masters know this great truth and remain undisturbed by events.

·         As I have been building CCTP, even more important is the fact that I have been building my Self.

·         I believe that there have been many beings of high consciousness (terms such as Avatars, Saints, Sages, Spiritual Teachers, Masters, etc.) which we can learn from.

·         “The word genius comes from the Latin root meaning “guardian spirit”, and that is exactly what great teachers and immortal thinkers are: creative, guardian spirits who shine light on what seems dark to others.  Our own Soul is the ultimate guardian spirit, and a genius is one who listens to their Soul and obeys.” – John Demartini

·         I have read the following book/materials that have helped to shape my continuously improving understanding of “GOD”: the Christian Bible; the Bhagavad Gita;  Self Realization Fellowship books and lessons by Paramahansa Yogananda; Conversations With God series by Neale Donald Walsch; The Coarse in Miracles; books of David Hawkins and Steve Rother, etc.  (Highlights of a number of these books can be found at http://www.peace.ca/proposalsindividual.htm and http://www.peace.ca/advanced_reading_personal.htm .)

·         I believe that if every night at bedtime I say “thank you” for what I have experienced during the day, that great Intelligence resonates with me and speaks clearly through my heart.

·         I feel blessed and am very grateful for all the guidance, support, resources and inspiration that I have been given. I feel in grace when I acknowledge Divinity in my Self and in every part of my Life.  I love “GOD” and the “Grand Organizational Design”.

·         I would describe myself as a spiritual person (not practicing any specific religion but appreciative of the wisdom of all).  I feel at home and connected in the temples of all great religions.

In conclusion, I speak for myself, without presuming that what I say is true for anybody else.  I have pledged to follow the key principles of the Culture of Peace Program and respect your world view.  It has been my pleasure to share my thoughts on “GOD”, religion and spirituality with you, and I look forward to having a dialogue on this and many more interesting subjects, to help advance Peace and world understanding.

 

“If you believe in God, work with Him.  If you do not, become one.” – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

 

“To those who believe, no proof is necessary.  To those who don`t, no proof is possible.”  ~ Stuart Chase

[Please note: we are in the process of having all Moncton Centre for Teaching Peace related web site material translated into French.  Assistance with translation would be greatly appreciated, if you know of anyone who might help.  In the meantime, we apologize for any inconvenience.  Translation will be available at meetings.]

[Attention: Nous sommes intéressé de traduire en français toute la documentation du site internet du Centre de l'éducation à la paix de Moncton.  Nous sommes à la recherche de personnes qui voudraient nous rendre ce service.  Entre temps, veuillez accepter nos excuses.  Aux rencontres, un service de traduction sera offert.]