Conscience and Peace: Bahrain’s Religious Diversity
(Yin Liu/Bahrain) Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze, President of the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL) and Zhang-men-ren (grandmaster) of Tai Ji Men, had a dialogue of love, peace, and wisdom with Bahrain’s religious leaders in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, on May 31, 2017. Over 10 leaders from various religious branches and divisions, such as Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and the Eastern Orthodox Church, attended the meeting. Dr. Hong exchanged his ideas about religion, peace, culture, and education with them. With the support of Bahrain’s royal family, the Bahrain Association for Religious Coexistence and Tolerance was established; its objectives are to foster respect for different faiths and advocate religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence. A member of the association said that "if Bahrain is like a garden, different religions are like different types of flowers, adding colors to the garden and making it more beautiful."
Islam, one of the three major religions of the world, is a peace-loving religion. Most Bahrainis are Muslims. The Sunni and the Shia have coexisted peacefully. There are other religions in Bahrain, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Catholic, etc. Religion seldom causes conflicts in the nation. Generally speaking, Bahrainis of different beliefs respect one another and coexist in harmony, and religious leaders often interact with one another and jointly hold peace forums and cultural activities.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Hong stressed the correlation between tolerance and peace and their importance. He stated, “Looking up to the sky, one learns from the broad, selfless sky and learns to care for all creatures; looking at the earth, one learns from the earth’s unlimited tolerance and learns to accept all matters. The ability for humans to accept and agree with the different ways of expressing love establishes peace within the self and marks the beginning of peace with others as well.” He clearly pointed out that the key to peace amidst today’s tumultuous world is to respect and tolerate diversity. The Federation of World Peace and Love is composed of members from different backgrounds and cultures, representing 95 countries. Under Dr. Hong’s leadership, FOWPAL members respect and tolerate one another and strive together for world peace.
Bahrain’s religious leaders asked Dr. Hong’s opinions about ways to enhance love and peace in the nation. Dr. Hong urged Bahrainis to promote conscience-driven education as soon as possible because conscience is the key to improving the world. When all people’s consciences are awakened, they will follow their consciences and fulfill their responsibilities in their respective positions. This way, they will bring positive energy and peace to the world. With this conviction, in 2014 Dr. Hong initiated the movement of An Era of Conscience, which was co-organized by FOWPAL, Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy, and the Association of World Citizens, NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC and associated with the UN DPI. To date, people from 197 nations and more than 3,000 organizations have participated in the movement, actively promoting the awakening of conscience in global citizens.
The in-depth dialogue between the FOWPAL delegation and the religious leaders of Bahrain not only fostered cultural exchanges, but also inspired concrete actions for world peace. Mr. Yousif M. Buzaboon, Ambassador for Peace of the Bahrain Association for Religious Coexistence and Tolerance, especially presented an antique wooden boat, which symbolizes Bahrain and had been a precious possession of the association, to Dr. Hong. Mr. Buzaboon sincerely hopes that the association will work closely with FOWPAL to spread peace and other conscience-oriented values through cultural exchanges and forums and from religion to other facets of society so as to inject more positive energy into Bahrain, the Persian Gulf, and the Earth.