From merchant banker to monk

Laurence Freeman OSB, Spiritual Teacher of the World Community of Christian Meditation is in Auckland April 17th to 21st.

From merchant banker to monk and a life of meditation – that was the path taken by Laurence Freeman after he graduated from Oxford with a Master’s degree in English Literature.

He tried his hand at journalism, at working at the United Nations and at merchant banking.

But, as one who had been educated by the Benedictines, he found his true calling as a Benedictine monk.

Along the way he embraced meditation and went on to become the founder and spiritual teacher of the London-based World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM).

He is also founder and director of the John Main Centre for Christian Meditation and Inter-religious Dialogue at Georgetown University.

Internationally, Laurence Freeman is regarded as one of the leaders in the burgeoning contemplative interfaith dialogue movement. A good friend of the Dalai Lama, these two spiritual leaders have jointly led The Way of Peace dialogue; in Bodh Gaya, India in December, 1998, Florence, Italy in May, 1999 and Belfast, Northern Ireland in October, 2000.

Writing in Interreligious Dialogue Laurence Freeman says:

“If religions – with all their rich diversity and contradictions and all their cultural roots – can listen to each other, to learn from their differences and to share what they have in common, then there is ground for hope that political, military and economic power-holders in our different nations, states and trading blocks will learn to do the same. Indeed, if religions cannot do this, what hope is there that politicians, multinationals and soldiers will ever do it? The stakes for dialogue are much higher than ever before in history.”

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Protests greet Buddhist visit to Catholic church (Associated Press)

Associated Press: A splinter group of conservative Catholics has disrupted a demonstration of Buddhist chants and prayers at a Roman Catholic Church in western Michigan.

The Basilica of St. Adalbert in Grand Rapids hosted seven Tibetan Buddhist monks in the church’s sanctuary Tuesday evening, where about 35 people gathered to see them.

But about 50 members of a conservative Catholic splinter group and their spiritual leader from Allendale said allowing the Basilica to be used by non-Christians amounted to sacrilege.

The members of St. Margaret Mary Church, which included several children, sat in the front pews and loudly recited prayers of the Rosary, preventing the monks from giving the demonstration.

That prompted the monks to move from the stage peacefully, confounded by the events.

Those who came to see the monks were not happy and accused the group from Allendale of being rude and not behaving like Christians.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Chris Kantor of Grand Rapids told The Grand Rapids Press. “If this is a sign of the times, we’re in big trouble.”

The Rev. Thomas DeYoung, pastor at St. Adalbert’s, asked the Allendale group to leave several times, but members ignored him and continued their recitation. Grand Rapids police were called but decided to let the group disperse peacefully.

The monks and those who came to see the demonstration moved to the basement, and once the sanctuary cleared out, the Allendale group left.

Protest leader the Rev. Michael McMahon said allowing the Buddhist monks into the Catholic church was offensive. His congregation, which practices Latin Mass, is not part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.

“This goes against everything we as Catholics are supposed to believe,” McMahon said. “We can’t stand by while this irreligious group uses this beautiful basilica.”

The monks were invited by Yosay Wangdi, a Tibetan faculty member of Grand Valley State University’s history department. The monks also were to appear at the university Wednesday.

Wangdi called Tuesday night’s protest “unfortunate,” adding Christians have nothing to fear from Tibetan Buddhists.

“Buddhism is a very tolerant religion,” Wangdi said Wednesday. “The Dalai Lama has extreme respect for other religions. He and the pope are good friends.”

McMahon’s church is part of the Society of St. Pius X, a group that rejects many of tenets of the Vatican II edict that modernized the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s.

The society, which has churches worldwide, is rejected by most Catholics, and the Vatican does not recognize its priests or traditions.

Original article no longer available…

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Peace meditation in Sri Lanka’s Parliament

Daily News, Sri Lanka: In view of ushering peace and prosperity to the country, all parliamentarians will observe meditation and take part in inter-religious services at the first sitting of the House in 2003.

Chairman of the Saumia Youth Foundation P. Anthonymuttoo told the Daily News that the Speaker has given his consent to the suggestion made by his organisation to hold religious services and a peace meditation in Parliament and accordingly, parliamentarians will meditate in the new year for the dawn of permanent peace in the country.

The program organised by the SYF in collaboration with other social groups will be conducted by religious leaders from all parts of the country including the North and East.

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