Gabriola Ecumenical Society 2014 Forum
East meets West : Celebrating Spiritual Diversity

Friday night May 9, 2014

Nick Halpin spent a year wandering the mountains of Tibet, Nepal, India and Pakistan. He has studied intensively with Lama Gangchen Rinpoche learning various Buddhist practices. Nick is dedicated to the belief that Buddhism offers an effective means to enhance our human potential. Nick shared some of what he has experienced with the participants both in his talk and with his many amazing photographs. The Noble Eightfold Path is one of the principal teachings of the Buddha, who described it as the way leading to the cessation of suffering and the achievement of self-awakening. It is used to develop insight into the true nature of phenomena (or reality) and to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion. Nick pointed out that in life sometimes we need to make changes, different choices and let go of attachment.

Nick read Portia Nelson’s poem “Becoming” [a highly popular self-help and recovery text]

  1. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost … I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.
  2. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
  3. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in … it’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
  4. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
  5. I walk down another street.

Nick and his family with the aid of a DVD lead us through a series of healing and meditative actions and movements. Nick’s talk was enlightening, educational, motivational and inspiring.

Saturday Morning May 10, 2014

Pandit Tejomaya is a Hindu priest in the 5,000 year old lineage of Himalayan Yoga Masters. In a previous life as Brother Timothy, he was trained in the Roman Catholic Dominical Order of Preachers. Tejomaya offered an exploration of Jesus from the ancient Hindu perspective. Hinduism was introduced into the English language in the 19th century to denote the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India. Tejomaya’s presentation about his life’s journey followed on what we had learned about Buddhism the night before with Nick. Tejomaya’s told how his Christian training gave him a different perspective on his Hindu studies. We explored how meditation and centering prayer becomes a middle path. There is a Christ consciousness and divine potential in us all. Divinity is universal.  Ignorance, absence of knowledge, fear, evil and attachment become aversions that colour our humanness.  Challenge: Any act through word or deed that is exclusive is not divine but human. Our Goal should be to achieve a divine level [the path]. Question: What do you control? Answer: Individual decisions. We can’t control other people. We should try to lead by peaceful example. Love with no expectations. The difficulty in life is not punishment. Sin is destructive without God. There is truth in the meeting of opposites. Black should meet White. There are two kinds of knowing through the head and the heart.  Love is a relationship. Trinity is not two or one but a relationship. We chanted to music expertly played on Tejomaya’s sitars.

Through Tejomaya’s presentation the atmosphere of the east and Hinduism was brought to life for the forum participants through word, chanting and music.


Saturday Afternoon

Shelagh Huston a former Quaker and now an Anglican Deacon told us how Eastern and world religions have had an influence on the development of Shelagh’s Christian point of view. We looked at what were the common threads and how community and unitive consciousness interconnected both east and west. A DVD about Bede Griffiths: a British-born Benedictine monk who lived in ashrams in South India and became a noted yogi. Griffiths was a part of the Christian Ashram Movement. He became a leading thinker in the development of the dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism. Inter-spirituality can be inclusive and ecumenical.  Shelagh explored with us the importance of community and the necessity of compassion, reconciliation and service. Her concluding dissertation on why she was a Christian was insightful and a revelation for us all.

The combination of the three Forum speakers and how the threads of each journey became intertwined to show us all how East meets West. Another extremely successful Gabriola Society Ecumenical Forum.