A national call has been made to better prepare our students for the world they will inherit. This call is not just to teachers and schools, but also to the institutions that teach, train and support them. Traditionally, the response to this call has been “educational reform”. Reform efforts historically addressed technical issues of teaching practice such as curriculum, assessment and pedagogical approach or have addressed institutional structures through re-organization. While important, these reform efforts present only part of the story. The fabric of the teacher’s world consists of a complex weave of factors; these threads are not just technical or structural, but also deeply personal and even spiritual. If teaching is not simply a job, but a vocational calling as asserted by Hansen (1995) and others (Farkas, Johnson & Foley, 2000), then tending to the internal personal aspects of the teacher’s well-being is just as important as tending to the external or technical aspects of teaching.
The above excerpts are from “Finding Common Threads: Selected Summary of the Research on the Courage to Teach Program and the Process of Teacher Formation”. (August 2005) Mike Poutiatine, PhD.
We are each carrying our gifts from Spirit inside ourselves. We are the richness of our ancestral worlds and it is a sacred time we are living in, this time of weaving the worlds. The dialogue that can happen, the medicine that can be shared, and even the hard lessons and occasional miscommunications that may happen between brothers and sisters, between nations, during this time is part of a sacred teaching.
When we each bring our medicines and gifts to the world circle we all walk a medicine road where all people meet inside the colors of the medicine wheel. Each strand represents each of us and our nations and traditions. Each nation’s medicine ways support and nourish the others. All colors of God’s people together provide for the healing of our beloved Earth, fueled by all nations’ sacred rituals and ceremonies that we carry within us, practiced with respect and protocol as learned through the rites within our nations: traditions that are both alike and different in many ways: all guided by the Great Spirit: Alle Far/Alle Mor (All Father/Mother).
Myself and my Nordic relatives and ancestors who carry the old stories, songs and wisdom ways, just as our brothers and sisters who have forgotten these ways, are all native to our homelands, and yet we are all children of this earth. Spirit welcomes all nations to stand in a place on the sacred world medicine wheel- – -to sing and weave, give new life, mend and heal- -ourselves and each other. In the spinning of the wheel, no one stands alone- -the spinning weaves all colors into the multi-colored strands and creates the hum of the earth prayers.
The above excerpts are from “WEAVING WORLDS Reflections from the North”, by Nancy Hansen-Zuschlag.
Over time, I came to see and treasure the central element that Michael, Nancy and I share in common. It is a wish to work out of ‘true will’ or ‘Purpose’ originating from the deepest, innermost core of our being. This “God space”within empowers each of us as we take progressive steps to manifest our virtues, values and beliefs in the work that we do inwardly motivating ourselves to persist in the face of frustrations, controlling our impulses and delaying gratification when necessary, by regulating and monitoring our moods and learning to keep the stress of daily living from swamping our ability to think and be love in the world.2
We may have little or no idea what our true will or Purpose is, but if we reflect upon what Purpose means to us, and what we would like to manifest in our lives that has ‘real meaning’, we can start getting at least an inkling of it. You too might like to try some reflective, receptive and creative meditation on ‘Purpose’. Remember that Purpose always follows the rule of non-interference – it cannot be your real Purpose if it involves you interfering with or altering someone else’s Purpose.3
Although Michael, Nancy and I each work in different domains, we have become empowered around a collective vision found in mind awareness, that of true calling and common cause. The following statement is a summary of what we unknowingly have drawn together despite the darkness of physical separation, with our spirits enjoined, and a shared sense of responsibility for a new organism; a Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue.
Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue (CISD)
The Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue (CISD) is intended to become a grassroots religion neutral, educational training, life-skills development, and community service organization. Its goal is to share knowledge about people and their beliefs in a way that lessons fear, “spiritual narcicism” (Ferrer, 2009), and the tendency of religious traditions to look down upon one another, each believing that their truth is more complete or final, and that their path is the only or most effective one to achieve full salvation or enlightenment.
The Center for Inter-Spiritual Dialogue (CISD) intentionally “fosters both an overcoming of self-centeredness and a fully embodied integration that makes us not only more sensitive to the needs of others, nature, and the world, but also more effective cultural and planetary transformative agents in whatever contexts and measure of life or spirit calls us to be” (Ferrer, 2009).
CISD promotes the Eight Articles of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief and the resolutions on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief adopted by the General Assembly and by the former Commission on Human Rights. Additionally, CISD fully supports “The Principles of a Global Ethic” as described by the Parliament of the World’s Religions and addressed by Leonard Swidler in his article, “TOWARD A UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF A GLOBAL ETHIC.”
According to Rev. Dr. Hans Ucko, formerly the Director of the Program “Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation” of the World Council of Churches, based in Geneva, Switzerland, “Inter-religious relations and dialogue are meant to help free religion from …misuse, and to present opportunities for religious people to serve together as agents of healing and reconciliation”.
- CISD does not affiliate with any church, mosque, synagogue or denomination. Moreover, CISD does not conduct any religious activities as part of its day-to-day programming.
- CISD affirms a number of spiritual principles, teachings, or values endorsed by all religious traditions as articulated by the late Christian author Brother Wayne Teasdale (1999) who offered its most compelling articulation in terms of a “universal mysticism” grounded in the practice of “interspirituality” or “the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions” (p. 26).
- CISD holds out the prospect that members of different religions can have co-current spiritual experiences through participating in each other’s religious rituals and ceremonies; the assumption is one need not be integrated in a particular religious way of life in order to achieve spiritual experiences through varying religious activities.
- CISD views world religions as radically distinctive systems of meaning that organize the lives of those who live within them; there is no content to the category “religion,” other than as a placeholder. We can respect the distinctiveness of the organizing systems within which others live by deferring to them, allowing them to define themselves, and living a vibrant spiritual life ourselves.
- CISD seeks to cultivate a fresh appreciation of religious diversity that avoids the dogmatism and competitiveness involved in privileging any particular tradition over the rest.
- CISD encourages a “participatory approach to religion that seeks “to enact with body, mind, heart, and consciousness a creative spirituality that lets a thousand spiritual flowers bloom” (Ferrer, 2009).
- CISD promotes a spiritual orientation about life that “protects humans against non-desirable and non-adaptive behaviors like acting in destructive ways, socially or even personally” (Emmons, 2000).
- CISD advocates a inter-spirituality “that can help us to outgrow our immediate ego selves and to reach beyond those deeper layers of potentiality that lie hidden within us” and “helps us to live at a deeper level of meaning (Hosseini & et al, 2010).
In the twenty-first century, a dramatic increase of intolerance and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief is motivating a worldwide search to find solutions to these problems. This is a challenge calling for enhanced dialogue by States and others; including consideration of an International Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief for protection of and accountability by all religions or beliefs. (http://www.tandemproject.com).
Additionally, CISD supports The World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, March 1995) core issues: eradication of poverty, promotion of full employment, and fostering social integration. (UNESCO)
At “The 24th Special Session of the General Assembly, entitled “World Summit for Social Development and Beyond: Achieving social development in a globalizing world” was convened with three objectives:
- reaffirm the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme Action adopted at the World Summit for Social Development;
- identify progress made and constraints encountered;
- recommend that concrete actions and initiatives be taken to further efforts towards full and effective implementation of the agreements reached at the Summit.” (UNESCO, 2002)
UNESCO called upon by its Member States, through various General Conference resolutions and Executive Board decisions, makes specific contributions to poverty reduction – which is now the priority of the international development agenda – through the design of an appropriate long-term strategy.
As President Barack Obama stated in Cairo, Egypt on June 4, 2009 “America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.”
The CISD will work with groups and people from many religious and nonreligious perspectives that share a common vision to build integrity, self-awareness, creative reasoning, wisdom, trust, respect and moral character, by stimulating, and furthering spiritual community, and the training of people as volunteer spiritual mentors, community leaders, and problem solvers with common ‘religious attitudes and practices’ (Pfandtner, 2009). Spirituality is not an attribute completely learned intellectually from theological, spiritual, and religious writings. Although the writings help to categorize experiences and to develop a concise set of items, spirituality must be experienced by being lived and personally worn over an extended time and mastered through a series of progressive and uniquely arranged steps.
According to Dr. Larry Culliford (2002), “the primary Spiritual Care Practices – religious and secular” consists of the following:
- Belonging to a faith or belief tradition and a responsible community
- Ritual practices and other forms of worship
- Pilgrimage, rites of passage and retreats
- Meditation and prayer
- Reading wisdom literature and scripture
- Sacred music (listening to and producing it) including songs, spirituals, hymns, psalms and devotional chant
- Selfless, compassionate action, and “relationship that connects people and things, events and possibilities, ideas and images, linking or weaving them together” (http://www.cointelligence.org/l-6partsofwholeness.html)
- Other ‘secular’ spiritual practices, include deep reflection (contemplation), engaging with and enjoying nature, also aesthetic appreciation of the arts
- Maintaining stable family relationships, marriages and friendships (especially those involving high levels of trust and intimacy)
- Some types of regular cooperative group or team activity (such as in some social, sporting and recreational clubs or work-related volunteer initiative) involving a special quality of fellowship and service to others
- Social advocacy of Community Development and Improvement through a Collaboration
- Contributing to the well-being of others in terms of long, happy and meaningful lives – and agreed upon local, regional, national and international priorities (i.e., The Geneva 2000 Forum – Outcome Document initiative to reduce the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by half by the year 2015.)