Hope in Difficult Times: Religious Perspective

23 April 2015
Participants gathered for an interfaith symposium in Vancouver in February. 

All over the world , tremendous violence is committed under the banner of religion but religion is also a movement for peace and hope. The interfaith symposium "What Resources Religious Tradition Offer to Encourage Hope in Difficult Times" was organized by the Iona Pacific Center of Vancouver, School of Theology, University of British Columbia in Epiphany Chapel on February 24, 2015. The symposium started at 6:45 pm with introduction of Iona Centre and the the topic by the Interim Director Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan. The courses are primarily offered and research is being done on inter religious subjects in the Centre.

Hope is the foundation of religious belief systems and practices. Hope means to wish for a particular event that one considers possible or feeling what is wanted will turn out best.

Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based upon positive outcomes. The term optimism, belief, faith and expectation are close to it.

The term "difficult time" may be of a personal physical, economical and mental nature but it also be of impersonal kind-social, religious, cultural,political and global one.

To overcome the personal difficulties , religious people offer prayer based upon their holy books. They believe that God (Brahman, Allah or Vahe Guru) who is merciful, kind and compassionate will grant them blessings and will make them free from the suffering,trouble and miserable time. To them God is omnipresent, omniscient, absolute, bliss and truth. Prayer is that cosmic power which transforms the misgivings and conflicts into compassion and love. Prayer offered in any language of the world goes to God. It is an unique gift bestowed by God to only human-being not to other living species.

Some people perform religious rituals to get the problem solved and some prefer to go on pilgrimage to seek the remedy of problem.

In some religions to purify the body and mind; and also to develop control on senses there is provision of observing fast . Fast is another type of prayer to get rid off the bad time.

The scriptures promote charitable work. To give donation and help to needy people is the best service to God. God is pleased and bless them for their good work.

The following spiritual leaders - Acharya S.P.Dwivedi (Hindu Dharma), Rev. Jennifer Wilson (Christianity), Imam Balal Khokar (Islam)and Rabbinic Susan Shamash (Judaism) presented their views based upon their religious traditions.

The symposium was sponsored by Ahmidya Community of British Columbia. The event was well attended and guests took part in question-answer session. At the end refreshment was served to all guests.

This report was written and submitted by  Acharya S.P. Dwivedi.