Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Rev. Leland Stewart, B.S.E., B.T.
Gathering of Creative Community
4 October 2015(15)


The non-violent approach gives (people) new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage they did not know they had.
              Martin Luther King, Jr., Science and Spirituality, p. 173

Once again, now at a college in a small Oregon town, a mentally unstable person shot and killed, as well as wounding, a large number of people.  Prayers were uttered, and many people throughout the country felt very sorry about what had happened.  What was supposed to be a place where people could come to live a safe life became a place of shock and disillusionment. 

President Obama spoke very clearly and forcefully as to what was needed.  While prayer and mourning are appropriate in such a situation, they are not enough.  We are no longer a nation out on the western frontier settling new and gun-toting wildernesses.  We are a country that is being called upon to be a leader in the world and an example as to the value of the democracy we have sought to establish.  Instead, we have far more violent incidents brought on with the use of guns than any other country in the world, with the possible exception of war-torn nations such as Syria. 

Our Congress points out the political influence of the National Rifle Association, which for many years has fought for gun rights and opposed any kind of gun control, saying that it is not the guns which cause the problem, but rather the mental condition of some of those who have guns. 

It is time now to move beyond the influence of the NRA and other individuals and organizations that refuse to establish sensible gun controls.  Those who have mental instabilities, and those who would do others harm, should not have access to guns.  People should not have to fear for their lives when they gather in groups.  We need to do whatever it takes to become responsible, alert citizens, and to see that our laws are followed. 

There are an increasing number of groups now who are working for peace, justice, and a compassionate society.  In addition to encouraging the spiritual awakening that is taking place, we have a moral obligation to create a society that is safe for its citizens.  It is now time for this effort to increasingly be successful in accomplishing these goals.  We owe it to each other and to the world.  Let us come together and see that our concerns are paid attention to and the results brought about.

May peace prevail on earth!!!

C/o Unity-and-Diversity World Council, P.O. Box 661401, Los Angeles, CA 90066-9201, Phone: 424-228-2087; Email: udcworld@gmail.com; Website: www.udcworld.org

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Rev. Leland Stewart, B.S.E., B.T.
Unity-and-Diversity Fellowship
April 26, 2015

 “The human soul is a lamp of God”, says a wise Hebrew proverb.  Individuals are weak, miserable animals until in their souls there burns the fire of God.  But when this fire kindles, and it kindles only in souls illuminated by faith, those individuals express the greatest power in the world.  And this cannot be otherwise, because then it is no longer their power which is at work, but the power of God.
- Count Leo Tolstoy, World Scriptures Vol. 2, page 140

With the advent of democracy, there has come a confusion as to what faith is and what happens when all valid religions come together into a larger whole and try to cooperate.  Where is one’s own religion in a world where all religions have an important part to play? All of a sudden, what was a clear picture seems to get unclear.  Some people reject religion as being valid in this new setting, while others are attached to one religion and still finding the others as less adequate.

It is crucial to understand that the essential qualities of faith continue to be valid, and that the power of faith still is a powerful force in the world.  Some people confuse the power of heart energy as being either a substitute for faith or an equivalent to it.  The heart is a powerful energy as well.  The problem is that the heart is part of the emotional level in human beings, and emotions can run high or low.  Marriages, for example, can be very intense in a positive way but also at times antagonistic and destructive. 

The soul is the term most often associated with the spiritual center of the Self and that which is beyond good and evil, right and wrong, and our connection with the Infinite.  It is in that state where the power comes and where transformation is likely to follow.  People of faith generally can accomplish great deeds that others are not capable of.  People of faith can often endure unbelievable suffering and still up out on top, as was achieved by Nelson Mandela with his twenty-seven years in prison in South Africa.

What is needed today is an increasingly powerful faith on the part of many individuals.  This faith is beyond the separate religions; it is a condition of how we lead our lives.  As a result, the interfaith movement is becoming more and more powerful and transformative.  It encourages people of different religions and of no official religion to come together and share the energy of faith which they have in common.  We must get beyond where we find one religion as being the only right one, while all others are inferior.  We must come to recognize that faith is common to all religions, and that the respect of that quality regardless of which religion or experience it is coming from is essential to the global civilization now being born.  When that happens, we will have a powerful force for growth and transformation superior to any experience from our previous civilizations.  This is the most important development in the concern for peace within ourselves and in the world at large.

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Rev. Leland Stewart, B.S.E., B.T.
Gatherings of Creative Community
5 April 2015 (15)

The time for the healing of the wounds has come.  The moment to bridge the
chasms that divide us has come.  The time to build is upon us.
Nelson Mandela, Science and Spirituality, page 169

The coming of spring is a time of awakening, with new life being born all around us.  Religiously speaking, it is also the time of celebration for many of the religions of the world.  Christians observe Good Friday, followed by the celebration of Easter.  Jews observe Passover, beginning on April 4th, which is during the time between Good Friday and Easter.  Buddhism observes the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha either in April or May, and Hinduism has its own spring festival.  Islam observes the month of Ramadan, the time of which rotates throughout the year.

Religions have had their challenges, such as the crucifixion of Jesus and the events surrounding that tragic occasion.  The Baha’is had the death of the Bab, the forerunner of Baha-U-llah, the central figure of the Baha’i Faith.  Islam had to contend with the initial resistance of forces in Mecca which were opposed to the Muslim religion.  

However, the main purpose of religion is to support moral and spiritual values, as well as the building of community.  It is to give purpose to life, to help people to meet their challenges with peace and goodwill.  Even though the different religions have different rituals and ceremonies, their deeper purpose is to bring people together and to bring understanding.  At the birth of every new civilization, there is a new birth of faith. 

The challenge of our time is that we are at the end of Western and other civilizations and the beginning of global civilization.  It is the confusion of values as we transition from the old to the new that tends to bring conflict and violence.  Therefore, it is important for us to understand this transition and to support the emerging values which bring healing and cooperation among all peoples and all life.

I have observed that various portrayals of Jesus’s life have put the stress on the conflicts he went through, rather than on his beautiful teachings.  Easter, on the other hand, is the time when those conflicts are transcended, and on the Day of Ascension forty days after Easter Jesus is said to have ascended into heaven.  It is time to put the emphasis on what Christianity has to offer that can bring peace and harmony to a world greatly in need.  Islam and Judaism are also both in conflict, especially with the emergence of the violent actions of the “Islamic State”.  May this time be one of the willingness to accept different faiths and cultures within the emerging global community.

Spirit is One, paths are many!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Rev. Leland Stewart, B.S.E., B.T.
Unity-and-Diversity Fellowship
22 March 2015(15)

This is a new cycle of human power.  It is the hour of unity among all peoples, 
and of the drawing together of all races and cultures.
Baha’i Faith, Science and Spirituality, pages 169-171

Friday, March 20, was the beginning of spring.  In many parts of the country and world there have been most unusual climate conditions.  In much of the East Coast there have been record-setting low temperatures and amounts of snow, whereas in Southern California, temperatures have been unduly warm and with almost no rain for months, even years. 

Around the world there are presently many areas of violence and chaos.  How then can the Baha’is say that this is a cycle of human power?   Pitirim Sorokin, the late world-renowned sociologist of Harvard University, said that in every major crisis two things are happening at the same time.  While on the one hand most people are taken in by the crisis and experience a worsening of life, others either see bottom or hit bottom and are able to transcend the crisis and begin to rebuild their lives.  This is also true at the societal level. 

What we see and hear most about are the negative effects of the crisis, whereas at the same time more and more people and societies are moving beyond the crisis and beginning to build a new world.  This is the situation in our time, and it is urgent that we support that which is courageously rebuilding and recreating the inner life and the outer world.  Sorokin pointed out that in the second half of the crisis the forces of transformation will get stronger and stronger, and that sooner or later the destructive forces will be reduced or eliminated.

As this polarization becomes more intense, we as individuals and groups need to respond in a similar way and become more effective in our constructive endeavors.  In the last two days, three members of the Unity-and-Diversity World Council executive board were invited to participate in an Annenberg Alchemy Leadership Seminar, whose purpose was to help the various nonprofit organizations involved to improve how their boards function, including how they raise funds to pursue their goals.  This experience was an excellent example of cooperative effort between the groups and the Annenberg facilitators to educate and inspire the organizations to work on the areas where improvement is needed to reach their maximum effectiveness.  It was clear to myself and the others from UDC who participated in that seminar that we have much to do to transform our executive board so that it can accomplish what it is expected to do.

May the forces of truth, beauty, and goodness increasingly transform ourselves and the world around us, so that in fact we will soon realize the emergence of a sustainable global civilization!

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


A musician must make music, an artist must paint, poets must write if they are to be at peace with themselves.  What we can be, we must be.
        Abraham Maslow, Science and Spirituality, page 157

We are told by researcher and interfaith minister Linda Groff that there are five kinds of interfaith, going all the way from the willingness to dialog among people of different faiths who remain in their original faith, to those who no longer have a single faith among the religions and spiritual movements of the world.  What is arising from these five variations of interfaith is a separate movement that has a common identity.  People who have a particular faith and are open to interfaith participation may well find themselves closer to their interfaith associates than to their separate faith.  Others may find themselves equally at home in either setting.

What has been missing until recently in the world of worship services is the realm of interfaith.  Traditionally, you had to be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or some other faith in order to find a spiritual home.  No longer is this true.  Among various other efforts in this direction is our own effort, which is presently called Gathering of Creative Community.  We draw upon all of the faiths both in terms of the scriptures we use and the people who participate.  We have speakers from the different religions and from those who are not identified with a particular religion.  This gives us the flexibility to speak to what is closest to our hearts and souls. 

What is the inner face of interfaith?  It is the realm within us that allows us to be who we really are.  We are not constrained by the teachings of a particular religion, and therefore we are freer to rely on what we are given by our inner awareness.  It also calls us to listen carefully to those who present themselves to us, because new revelations are likely to be forthcoming.  We are free to express ourselves, and this gives us the opportunity to search for that new reality that is awakening within us.

There is a new kind of faith being born in the world, which has many shades and varieties.  It is in our openness to receive that new reality that gives hope and a deep sense of purpose for living.  Those who have discovered it are likely to live longer and to be healthier.  It is the Source of Life which is at the center of our Being.  It is what makes life worth living and the joy that carries us forward despite what happens in the world around us.  It is the strengthening of that reality among us that increases the strength of the emerging global civilization.

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

C/o Unity-and-Diversity World Council, Inc.
P.O. Box 661401, Los Angeles, CA USA 90066-9201
Phone: 424-228-2087; FAX: 310-827-9187

Monday, August 5, 2013


Rev. Leland Stewart, B.S.E., B.T.
Unity-and-Diversity World Council, Inc.
28 July 2013

The need for cooperation can only strengthen humankind, because
it helps us to recognize that the most secure foundation for a new
world order is not simply broader political and economic alliances,
but each individual’s genuine practice of love and compassion.
The Dalai Lama, World Scriptures Vol. 2, page 4

Compassion is a term which has been stressed for many years by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, who was originally from Tibet. Around 1955, The Dalai Lama, who was serving as the spiritual and political head of Tibet, was forced to flee to India in order to continue his worldwide work as a Buddhist monk. The Unity-and-Diversity World Council played an important role in getting His Holiness to this country during his early years in India by working with the U.S. State Department to agree to his coming here. We were also one of the sponsors of his speaking in the Los Angeles area during his first visit.

The term “compassion” is now being brought into the limelight as a way of transforming human behavior in a world still full of violence and antagonism. Sande Hart, who has been working with our Peace Sunday committee, is a leader in this movement. She has helped to establish a number of Cities of Compassion and is inviting us to have compassion as the focus of our special Peace Sunday in 2015, the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Compassion Games are being developed as a way of making this effort more real and understandable.

The United States needs to take to heart the meaning of compassion in its effort to remain a leader in the effort to bring the world together to cooperate among peoples and nations. Our present course of carrying on wars without end will not gain for us the respect that is needed to have a global civilization that serves the well-being of all. Instead, we need to learn how to listen to others, including those who disagree with us, and seek to find common ground. Our practice of compassion toward all peoples and forms of life is a necessary part of that transformation.

You are cordially invited to help UDC prepare itself for this special role in relation to Peace Sunday, the Culture of Peace Series, and in the other work in which we will be engaging in the near future. This is an important time for all of us as we seek to assist in the creation of a peaceful global community.

May peace prevail on earth!!!

Unity-and-Diversity World Council, Inc.
P.O. Box 661401, Los Angeles, CA USA 90066-9201
Phone: 424-228-2087; FAX: 310-827-9287
Email: udcworld@gmail.com - Website: www.udcworld.org
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