Last week, with little fanfare and under heavy security, an historic meeting took place in Rome which marked a turning point in interfaith relations. Inside the 16th century Casina Pio IV villa, home to the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, seven clerics representing over five billion people overcame lingering traditions of suspicion to commit to the eradication of modern day slavery by the year 2020.
I love to do my practice but I've managed to break free of that 'must do' mentality as it was driving me round the bloody bend. It was turning good stuff into bad stuff and what was practised to alleviate/manage the suffering actually became a part of the suffering. So some weeks, I'm a six day kind of guy and on others maybe one or two as I've got to do what's appropriate there and then.
Talking of spiritual paths, I was reading a blog post by another teacher the other day who was basically saying that doing yoga for mental or physical well-being was akin to putting square pegs in round holes. I was like, 'Eh? Really?' I was thinking that's exactly why I started Yoga - to sort out my mind.
Our world evolves at an unimaginable speed. We have become so impatient and demanding, that we even expect that after a few meditation sessions we will be as zen as the Dalai Lama, but the reality is far from there, even if positive changes happen after a few sessions, it takes weeks, before we start to really notice the benefits.
Many scholars, marked by the schism between Christianity and postmodernity, respond by exploring other spiritualities. Would it not be easier to simply return to Christian spirituality? This is, after all, the spirituality that shaped the West. All westerners still carry it inside, even if in a hibernated version.
The so-called war of words involving North Korea, South Korea and the United States, raises an important question for our time: how do we define violence? Many people have pointed to the threat of violent conflict, but I believe that it has already taken place. In Buddhism, violence is thought of not just as physical action, but in terms of our thoughts and words as well.
What are we? English? Welsh? British? Are we bothered? Most of the time our "identity", national, religious or whatever, probably isn't at the top of our list of concerns. But sometimes circumstances come along which make us less secure in ourselves, less able to take our place in the world quite so much for granted.
What would happen if the different faiths began automatically adding 'humanism' to their names, Islamic humanism, Buddhist, Judaic, Hindu, Christian humanism, for example - then explored what each meant. We'd probably end up with a rich dialogue based on a celebration of two great realities: our shared humanity and the richness of our different religious traditions.