How does one unlearn intolerance? Does a double negative cancel itself out? One could hope. Intolerance is like a bad habit. The more you try to avoid it, stamp it out, the more it rears its ugly head. It’s a known fact that the only way to change a habit is to build a new one. Habits, I’m afraid are here to stay. So what’s the action to unlearn intolerance? Learn tolerance! How do we do that? Well, for one thing, we have to talk, communicate, share viewpoints. And what’s to make that happen? Maybe things have to get so bad that there’s no other choice. It seems such a shame to let it go that far. Will it get to the point where there is one Muslim, one Jew, one Christian, (etc.), facing each other each with a finger on a button that could annihilate everything?
“Faith, Dialogue and Integration” was the focus of a symposium organized by the United Nations Academic Impact in the Department of Public Information, held on November 26th at the United Nations.
Organized in association with the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, the symposium coincided with the 800th “urs” — or anniversary of death — of Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty. For years, the urs of Moinuddin Chishty has brought together people from all walks of life and from all religions to his shrine in Ajmer, India. The symposium focused on a renewal of dialogue, aimed at building better understanding, harmony and collaboration among peoples of different cultures and faiths. The following speakers participated in the conversation: Dr. Deepak Chopra, Author and Physician, Syed Salman Chishty, Director, Chishty Foundation (India), Jonathan Granoff, President, Global Security Institute, Tene Howard, Associate Director, Global Kids (New York), Dr. Neal King, President, International Association of University Presidents (IAUP), Shula Koenig, Founding President, People’s Movement for Human Rights, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice-President (and former President) of the New York Board of Rabbis, and Roland Schatz, Founder and CEO of Media Tenor International (Switzerland)
The symposium also included readings from poetry and sacred writings, by Ambassador Eduardo Ulibarri, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations and Chairman of the Committee on Information; Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri, Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations; Roberto Cuccia of Bellini Conservatory, Italy; Prof. Alvaro Romo, Secretary-General-elect of IAUP; and Prof. Ichiro Tanaka of Osaka College of Commerce, Japan.
Dr. Deepak Chopra gave the keynote address. He is a medical doctor, scientist, author, spiritual teacher. He is interested in what makes human beings behave the way they do and noted that most of the conflicts in the world have to do with religion. Using his hand, he showed us a model of the human brain as having three layers. As a fist, the oldest and most primitive part, our reptilian brain, has been around for 300 million years with four functions, all beginning with F–fighting, fleeing, feeding and…reproduction (ha!) He opened his hand and pointing to his thumb named it the limbic brain which is found in mammals, not reptiles. It is our emotional brain, and when it is functioning well we experience peace, love, compassion, empathy, joy and equanimity. When it’s not functioning well we feel hostility and anger, jealousy, shame, guilt and resentments and the need for vengeance. The limbic brain is about 100 million years old. And finally we have the cortical brain which is only 4 million years old. This is where we express ourselves when we write poetry or listen to music or art in any form. It is also responsible for self-reflection, awareness, intuition, introspection, transcendance, i.e. the religious experience. The problem is we are ruled by these very primitive older parts of our evolutionary level. How can we use our cortical brain to override the primitive parts? How can we take the essential religious experience to nurture our cortical brain? Good science teaches us ways to have a conversation without conflict. We know the rules of conversation that lead to a peaceful outcome. Treating each other with respect, refraining from being belligerent, refraining from ideological discussions about religion but going to the experience of religion.
Chopra described three things that are common to religious experience: Transcendence is going beyond space, time, causality and experiencing the unity of consciousness. Emergence of truth–love, kindness, joy, compassion, equanimity. Third is the loss of the fear of death because you find yourself in a place that is not affected by space time reality. This is the basis of every religion.The way to the truth is transcendance, love, understanding and service.
He asked: what can we do practically instead of having endless discussions? And then he answered his own question. We need as a global community to create a dynamic network of art, poetry and culture that speaks to the soul. The Persian poet Rumi and Indian poet Tagore can teach us through their poetry where they express truth that speaks to the soul and gives us the experience of the intoxication of love. No one can resist this. Love and its intoxicating qualities are addictive. But that love has to go beyond the superficial definitions of love which have been trivialized by Hollywood and the media.
Our social networks, Chopra noted, have become such an important place for people to have conversation. We need to take advantage of the global brain as the neural networks are being laid out. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter…We need to embrace this technology to create a global dynamic network of Love In Action. There are ways to make it sustainable. We cannot depend on governments, businesses, military complex because they all have their agendas. We are the ones we have been waiting for to create this network of sustainable peace.
As a senior scientist at Gallup he shared that there is data monitoring the well-being of different countries and communities in the world. Gallup monitors social, community, physical and financial well-being. Well-being is the number one indicator of what’s going to happen to a country. Well-being correlates with how we treat the environment, hospital population which has nothing to do with health reform and a number of other social aspects of our lives.
According to Gallup, it is a known fact that If you have a happy friend, your happiness goes up by 15%. If your happy friend has a happy friend that you don’t know it goes up another 10%. This goes on and on to the point where the happiness of your perceived enemies can improve your well-being. With this in mind, Chopra suggests that the fastest way to get rid of an enemy is to improve their capacity for happiness and well-being. And we have the technology to do it. “Everyday on Twitter I ask two people to make two other people happy by giving them a little attention, affection, appreciation and they should do that to two other people and in less than half an hour we have a pandemic of happiness. Global celebration of the human species that has become aware of itself through the human neural system. We know exactly what it takes to do that. We create a dynamic network of Love in Action. We know how to make it sustainable, celebrative, powerful and democratic.”
He closed his address with a poem by Rumi:
There is a love that is beyond time;
There is a love that breathes life into a corpse;
There is a love that turns enemies into lovers;
There is a love that transforms people into wizards;
There’s a love that turns poison into nectar;
There’s a love that conquers death.
You will know this love when my spirit will meet your spirit;
You will know this love when my breath touches your breath;
You will know this love when my soul kisses your soul.
That’s the kind of love we need to put into action. Our global brain is emerging right now. We must use the best that technology has to offer to bring about peace, harmony, laughter and love.
Brain World invites you to take up the “Love in Action” challenge and make at least two people happy each day. Write in your comments, stories, and let’s have a love-sharing. Let us hear from you!